While the event was the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the 1,320-mw thermal power plant of Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) at Nipania in Godda district,Jharkhand,the focus remained on the people of the area.
Speaking extempore at the function,President Pranab Mukherjee underscored the need to better the lives of people in the vicinity of mega power projects. I know that people think of one thing when they see a power plant in their locality. What will we get? After all,most of the power is supplied to cities. But while there is a shortage of six per cent in urban areas,it is 33 per cent in rural areas. We must ensure that power is supplied to the immediate vicinity of the plant, he said.
But Devidhan Besra,BJP MLA of Rajmahal constituency and a popular Santhal leader,did some plain-speaking that ruffled a few feathers. Besra said he was never consulted on the plant. This is a region where the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act is in place. We have had problems in the past where people whose land was acquired for industries were left out. This project is a good thing,but we should ensure that people are compensated, he said. His speech received the loudest applause.
JSPL chairman and Lok Sabha MP from Kurukshetra,Haryana, Naveen Jindal,talked about his firms corporate social responsibility initiatives. We require three-and-a-half years to complete construction. We have requested that the Fortis Group extend us medical support. We will ensure that borewells are dug to help with the water scarcity here, he said.
A JSPL official said the company is yet to acquire more than 50 per cent of the 1,210 acres required for the project. None of the 1000-odd acres required for the Jitpur Coal Block,intended to supply part of the coal to the power plant,has been acquired.
(The correspondent was a guest of JSPL at Deoghar)