JSPL had started prospecting work on the 1,100 hectare area without consent from gram sabha
The company had been allotted the mine in Bailadila hills of the restive Dantewada district. JSPL has started prospecting work on the 1,100 hectare area. While the work is in progress, villagers had come out in protest against the project.
“The pocket is under the 5th schedule area and without the consent of gram sabha, the project cannot be taken up,” Suresh Karma, district president of Koya Samaj, said. The six villages have passed a resolution opposing the mine to be operated by JSPL.
The copy of the resolution passed by the village gram sabha along with petition has been sent to the President of India, Governor, Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of High Court and Chairman of National Scheduled Caste/Tribe commission. The villagers had urged to cancel the lease granted to the JSPL.
The villagers charged that the company had started drilling work secretly as they vow not to give an inch of land for the project. “How can you trust a private company when even public sector undertaking had failed to provide employment to the local people,” the villagers said pointing at National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) operating in the same area.
The mine is crucial for the JSPL that has recently started operation in the Angul steel plant of Odisha. The company had planned to develop the mine in three years and feed its steel plants in Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The Bailadila hills have been endowed with world class high grade iron ore deposits.
JSPL spokesperson said in line with its corporate social responsibility (CSR) ethos to work towards the socio-economic development of the neighboring community, the company will engage with the constituents to appraise them of the potential opportunities arising from the project – both in terms of employment generation and societal benefits – as and when the company decides to go ahead with the project.
The raw material sourcing of the 6 MTPA Integrated Steel Plant at Angul, Odisha and for Raigarh Plant have already been planned. Their operations are not linked with the development of this iron ore mine at this point of time, the spokesperson added.
The other challenge that the company was likely to face was from the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) as the area had been Naxal infested. The fear of Naxalites backing the villagers in the protest cannot be ruled out.