30 July, 2021

Steeling For A Fight

A Rs 35,000-crore project, Left activists and a flower called kewda make for trouble in paradise

Steeling For A Fight

WHEN, at the 89th Tisco annual general meeting in July, Chairman Ratan Tata threatened to relocate the company's prestigious 10-million-tonne expansion project at Gopalpur away from the state of Orissa if he had to, he was probably just being rhetorical. For, inside the state secretariat at Bhubaneshwar and Tisco headquarters at Jamshedpur, things were moving at a frantic pace. Barely two weeks later, 14 MLAs from Ganjam district of Orissa were signatories to the document approving the plant site, and Project Gopalpur was on.

At stake is Rs 35,000 crore of investment that is to flow into Ganjam over the next decade. At stake is also the livelihood and residence of over 26,000 locals who will be uprooted and displaced to accommodate the steel plant. 

For, the proposed project threatens to eat into 7,500 acres of lush coastal area of rice fields, coconut groves, and plantations of banana, mango and the aromatic flower kewda, which is the source of livelihood of most of the locals ( see box, page 50 ). This land will...

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