Jajpur/Kalinganagar: The expansion of the Tata Steel plant at Kalinganagar in Jajpur district got a boost after it won the conditional support of residents at a public hearing camp on the JCDL premises in Pankapal village Friday.
Kalinaganagar ADM Santosh Kumar Mishra presided at the meeting which was organised to raise the capacity of crude steel production in the steel plant from 6 million tonne annually to 8 million tonne and jack up the production of finished steel to 9 million tonne.
The hearing began with Pramod Kumar Behera, regional officer, state pollution control board (SPCB) presenting an executive summary prepared by the Tata Steel seeking environmental clearance for expansion of the steel plant.
RR Satpathy, general manager of Tata Steel, briefed the residents and public representatives on the expansion of the steel plant. Satapathy tried to allay fear of residents stating that Tata Steel will invest over Rs 2,620 crore to combat environmental pollution in the area.
As many as 144 persons including residents, Zilla Parishad members and sarpanchs put forth their opinion on the expansion of the steel plant while another 114 persons presented their opinion in writing.
At least 10 persons attending the camp opposed the expansion of the company while residents and public representative extended their support for expansion but with a rider. Many of them stressed the company should meet stringent rules to combat pollution, employ locals, ensure healthcare facilities and develop human resources in the area.
Zilla Parishad member Bhagylakshmi Rout alleged that the steel plant had neglected extending healthcare facilities to locals. Another member Surendra Haibru questioned under which rules the steel plant is conducting public hearing after completing half of its expansion.
Public representatives and residents again reiterated their demand over employment of locals in the steel plant and aggressive steps to combat air and water pollution.
They alleged that the plant authorities were neglecting local employment, peripheral development and environment management while the local administration stays mum and does not take action against them.
Some people opposing the expansion alleged that the establishment of the steel plant has only helped in growth of the steel major while the area and local people continue to remain neglected.