Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Jan 21:
Continued protest, a tense law and order situation and media activism forced Essar Steel to dismantle part of the walls it had constructed to draw water from Baitarani River at Basantpur panchayat of Keonjhar district in Odisha yesterday.
However, in the process, it ended up committing another blunder as the dismantling was done while section 144 was still in force in the area. Odisha police once again was a silent witness to the offence.
It may be noted that, the walls were constructed in police presence while section 144 was in force a few days back. The company had been losing money in transportation of iron ore due to the continued protests of the locals. It had used the cops and section-144 to disperse the crowd and erect the walls.
It was part of many run-ins with the law by the company, which we had reported earlier in http://odishasuntimes.com/109123/row-baitarani-water-odisha-essars-bluff-called/ and http://odishasuntimes.com/108958/baitarani-water-row-odisha-govt-turns-blind-eye-essars-contract-violation/
“As per rule, construction and demolition is prohibited while section 144 is imposed. We have asked the police to submit a report,” said Additional District Magistrate Sangram Keshari Swain.
Also, the citizen forums of the area such as residents of Basantpur panchayat, Progressive Citizens Forum, Keonjhar Citizens’ Forum, State Unit of Jal Biradiri, Secretary of Lawyers’ Association and many others.
Unable to take the concerted attack, the administration of the steel major had to change their strategy and decided to demolish some of the 3-4 walls they had erected.
However, once the media reached the spot and started taking pictures of the demolition, the workers stopped the work and fled the scene with their JCB machine.
The police were seen watching the events unfold as a mute spectator.