Massive violence and chaos erupted at the public hearing held for major power plant expansion plan of Lanco Amarkantak Power Private Limited (LAPPL) in the industrial town of Korba about 200 km north of Raipur on Saturday.
The police resorted to lathi-charge and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the villagers who strongly opposed the public hearing convened for securing environment clearance for the proposed expansion plan of Lanco The enraged mob pelted stones on the force and damaged official vehicles of district collector, sub-division magistrate and the police.
The public hearing couldn’t held at the declared venue after the villagers refusing to part their land for the proposed project sat on demonstration and blocked the road since morning. The district officials reached the spot only at around 3.30 pm and took the decision to held the public hearing at the new venue at Imlibhata, about a kilometer away from the actual site.
“The collector and other officials conducted the hearing in haste and allowing around 15 people to register their opinions and closed the proceedings. Large number of villagers were deprived to lodge their concerns”, said the aggrieved villagers.
Trouble began when the police prevented the way of several women, children and elderly villagers who tried to reach out to the collector and the SP to express their displeasure over the manner the public hearing was carried out. It resulted into a clash with the force.
Activists lashed out at the Korba administration for showing utter negligence to the concerns of the villagers who alleged that Lanco never kept the promises it made earlier for the locals. “The entire process was illegal since the venue cannot be changed. And how any public hearing be conducted in just half an hour and allowing handful of people to speak”, an activist who was present at the spot told HT.
Policemen too sustained injuries during the scuffle. “There were disgruntled elements and hooligans who deliberately created nuisance after the public hearing, which was properly recorded. We apprehended plenty of them. Some of our men were injured as they struggled to control the troublemakers”, Korba superintendent of police Sunder Raj P told HT.
The Lanco management avoided giving any comment. The public hearing was held for the second time as the one held in October last was postponed following strong protest lodged by the villagers.