Tribals displaced by Rourkela steel plant
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is all set to examine whether the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) gave jobs meant for tribals, whose land was acquired for setting up the plant, to those who were ineligible.
Following a complaint from 163 displaced people, who were assured jobs as part of the rehabilitation policy of the government, the NCST has summoned the chief secretary of Odisha, the secretary of the ministry of steel and the senior management of the plant.
A review meeting, to be chaired by the new chairperson, Nand Kumar Sai, will be held in the Capital on May 16.
The issue has been simmering in the state which goes to polls in 2019. It is likely to be drummed up by the BJP, which is hopeful of expanding its footprint in the coastal state.
In 2016, it came to the NCST’s notice (based on complaints) that the RSP had provided incorrect information about giving jobs to those whose lands had been acquired; and given employment to individuals who did not meet the hiring conditions.
According to sources in the tribal affairs ministry, under which NCST is a statutory body, the former chairman Rameshwar Oraon, held a hearing in November 2016, and in a scathing observation said either the RSP had not been honest in giving details or there were irregularities in employment.
“Authorities at RSP informed the Odisha government that employment had been offered to 6,000 displaced people. But when the list was checked, only 3,000 were found to have been employed. Among them, many had no link to the displaced families,” a source said.
It came to the NCST’s notice that the company also failed to verify the land records of about 2,211 individuals who had claimed the jobs, claiming displacement.
In 1995, while hearing the case, the Supreme Court had identified a list of 1,098 families who had to be rehabilitated; it was mentioned that the number of people on the list would not be increased.