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Situation under control at Odisha’s Vedanta plant; company announces Rs 25 lakh to family of two dead

A Dalit villager living near Vedanta’s refinery in Lanjigarh was killed and a guard of Odisha Industrial Security Force (OISF) charred to death when protesting locals clashed with police.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2019 13:54 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Odisha,Vedanta
A Dalit villager living near Vedanta’s refinery in Lanjigarh was killed and a guard of Odisha Industrial Security Force (OISF) charred to death when protesting locals clashed with police. (HT PHOTO)

Officials said Vedanta Ltd’s alumina refinery in Odisha’s Kalahandi district was operating normally on Tuesday, a day after two people were killed during clashes, and that villagers held discussions with the company’s officials on Monday night.

A Dalit villager living near Vedanta’s 1.5 million tonne refinery in Lanjigarh was killed and a guard of Odisha Industrial Security Force (OISF) charred to death when protesting locals demanding permanent jobs clashed with police outside the refinery on Monday.

“The tensions have cooled down around the plant. We hope the situation would normalise soon,” Kalahandi’s district collector Dr Parag Harshad Gavali said.

Vedanta has agreed to give Rs 25 lakh each to the next of kin of the two men who died, Gavali said. The state government will also give an additional Rs 5 lakh to their families and a job to the OISF personnel’s relatives, he added.

“The sub-collector and the police would conduct a joint inquiry into the incident and accordingly action will be taken as per emerging evidence. How the violence started would be known only after a detailed inquiry,” Gavali said.

Dani Patra from Khambesi village in Niyamgiri and OISF’s Sujit Minz were killed in the violence after villagers around the plant clashed with the personnel of the state armed police force to guard private and government industrial installations over the demand to reinstate a retrenched Vedanta employee.

The district collector denied that the violence had anything to do with rehabilitation of people of three villages around the plant, who are going to be displaced due to the expansion of red mud pond of the factory. Red mud is bauxite residue, a toxic waste product of alumina manufacturing.

“Compensation for the land acquired by the government for expansion of the red mud pond has been given. Now, the resettlement and rehabilitation plan is being finalised. The process is going on,” he said.

Kalahandi’s superintendent of police Battalu Gangadhar said the violence seems to have escalated after protesting locals first burnt down the closed-circuit television or CCTV camera tower at the entrance of the company.

“The villagers sat on dharna before the company gate protesting the retrenchment of a contractual staff. When the locals tried to forcefully enter the main gate, OISF jawans led to lathicharge which led to the death of a local,” said Gangadhar.

“The mob then forced its way into the company premises and burnt down the CSR building and the security guard shed. The charred body of an OSIF jawan was found from the shed later,” he said.

The chief executive of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh plant Ajay Dixit had said on Monday that the violence seemed premeditated. Dixit said the company has about 3,000 people at the Lanjigarh plant, of whom 2,500 are contractual and the rest permanent employees.

OISF was formed in 2012 on the line of Central Industrial Security Force to look after the security of the private and government industrial units.

The chromite and iron ore mines of Tata Steel, mines of Odisha Mining Corporation, Indian Rare Earth Limited, Hirakud Dam, Utkal University and Vedanta Alumina are some of the concerns that have deployed the armed jawans of OISF.

While the state government pays the salary of OISF personnel, the organisations that deploy them have to pay 11.8% supervision charges and 18% GST.

First Published: Mar 19, 2019 13:08 IST