Tribals stage protest against Tata Steel project in Orissa


Bhubaneswar : Thousands of tribals Friday staged a demonstration against a proposed Tata Steel plant in Orissa’s Jajpur district, while about 200 people supporting the project took out a counter-rally.

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Armed with bows and arrows, tribal protestors including hundreds of women raised anti-project slogans and took out a massive rally at the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex, some 100 km from here.

They were joined by activists from the neighbouring states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. It is estimated that more than 3,000 people participated in the rally, organised to pay homage to tribals killed in police firing two years ago.

Tribals had clashed with the police in January 2006 to protest against the construction of a boundary wall by Tata Steel.

In a related development, about 200 people supporting the establishment of the steel plant also organised a rally in the same area, the police said. “Both the rallies were peaceful,” Jajpur district police chief D.S. Kuttey told IANS.

Tata Steel has planned to set up a six-million-tonne steel project in the region on an investment of Rs.15,400 crore (Rs.154 billion) by 2010. But due to local opposition, the project has been delayed by about 18 months, company officials said.

“The company is taking care of local people and displaced. Although the progress is slow work is going on,” a Tata official said.