GADCHIROLI marked a milestone this week, with the first iron-ore mining project beginning operations in Surjagadh of Etapalli tehsil. The company officials had a tough time tackling a horde of people who flocked to the site demanding work, underscoring the importance of job creation in one of the most backward, Maoist-affected districts of the country.
Sources told The Sunday Express, “The first three trucks carrying ore, worth at least 50 tonnes, reached their destination Lloyds Metals & Energy Ltd’s sponge iron plants at Ghuggus in Chandrapur district on Gudi Padwa day (March 8).”
The mine of 348 hectares leased to Lloyds Steel began extracting ore on March 5, with 300 labourers getting jobs on the site. On Saturday, hundreds of villagers reached the site, demanding work. Sources said, “They were told that it would not be possible to offer work immediately. Among the job seekers were also some pregnant women and young boys, to whom no work can be offered. Yet, they were insistent.”
Two companies, Lloyds Steel and Gopani Iron and Power (India) Pvt Ltd, have been granted lease in the Surjagadh area for iron-ore mining. For many years, the mining issue kept hanging fire due to Maoist influence in the area and differences between the rebels on whether mining should be allowed.
Senior leader Narmadakka had been in favour of mining, since she thought it would generate jobs, but another leader Aitu, who has surrendered before Telangana police, had been strongly opposed to it.
Aitu had also led the fatal attack on then vice-president of Lloyd’s Steel Jaspalsingh Dhillon in 2013 in Gadchiroli forest over a dispute.