Mine-hit villagers threaten boycott
    Date :07-May-2024

villagers threaten boycott 
Our Correspondent
RESIDENTS of nine villages affected by the Kusmunda project of the South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) have announced a boycott of the Lok Sabha General Elections voting on Tuesday. Conversely, some members of the village community have decided to participate in the election process. If sources are to be believed, this decision stems from dissatisfaction with unfulfilled promises following the acquisition of their ancestral land by the SECL for coal mining operations. Despite assurances of compensation and employment opportunities, the affected villagers find themselves stranded, with neither compensation for their land nor the promised jobs materializing. According to the land-displaced villagers, their appeals to officials have gone unanswered, exacerbating frustration and resentment among them. The decision to boycott the elections was made collectively during a meeting in Pali Padania.
According to sources, a significant number of villagers from nine villages, including Pali, Jatraj, Sonpuri and others, have declared their intention to boycott the elections due to concerns regarding employment, rehabilitation and compensation. Officials from SECL Kusmunda stated that hundreds of unemployed individuals from the villages have been hired by contract companies in the mine, and 109 people have been employed as regular SECL employees. Efforts are being made for rehabilitation at Sarwamangla dumping, Barampur dumping, Khamariya, and Sarvamangla Nagar. The process is also underway to provide eligible villagers with regular employment opportunities. Meanwhile, a team from SECL Kusmunda visited the villages on Monday to engage in dialogue with the residents.
The team attempted to persuade the villagers and appealed to them to participate in the election process. Notably, this issue has come at a time, when Korba braces for the third phase of voting, where the competition is fierce between BJP candidate Saroj Pandey and Congress candidate Jyotsna Mahant. Rajeev Singh, Area Manager of SECL Kusmunda, has appealed the SECL officers, workers, villagers, and labourers to ensure a 100% voter turnout. Talks between the SECL team and the villagers were continuing when this report was being filed.