Raipur, Jan 9 (IANS) Chhattisgarh’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress Monday traded charges over last weekend’s police action in Korba district against dozens of villagers who were protesting the expansion plan for a power project.
Police had burst teargas shells and severely beaten up dozens of men, women and children at Imlibhata area, some 220 km from here, Saturday when they blocked roads and stopped officials from reaching a venue of public hearing over expansion of a power project. Lanco Amarkantak Power Private Ltd (LAPPL), a subsidiary of the private Lanco Group, is planning the plant’s expansion. Some 37 people were injured.
In a statement, the Congress said, ‘It was a brutal act by police against villagers who are refusing to surrender their prime farm lands for the power project.’
‘Police pulled out power project-affected villagers from their houses and severely beat them up because the ruling party was determined to push Lanco’s expansion project,’ Congress state president Nandkumar Patel alleged.
But state BJP president Ramsewak Paikra said, ‘Congress workers merged with local people in Korba and created trouble that led to police action.’
The public hearing, which was mandatory to secure environmental clearance for the Lanco expansion project, was delayed by about five hours and was held at a venue that was changed at the last-minute amid heavy protests.
According to district collector Rajpal Singh Tyagi, ‘Roughly 25 people had registered their views’.
Sources say that some environmental activists of Korba district have planned to move to court against the ‘last-minute change in the public hearing venue and the manner in which it was conducted’.
The Lanco, under the expansion programme, plans to raise the capacity from the existing 1,920 MW to 3,240 MW by installing two more units of 660 MW each.