The World Bank (WB) ombudsman will investigate allegations of use of force against project-affected people, inadequate compensation and pollution of the environment by GMR Kamalang Energy Ltd in the course of setting up its 1,400-MW coalbased thermal power plant in Dhenkanal district of Orissa.
Resentment is running high among the villagers of the area about the project, which is set to come up on 1,200 acres, including 900 acres of private land. This has led to the Odisha Chas Parivesh Suraksha Parishad (OCPSP) lodging a complaint against the company with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), an independent audit body of WB's private-sector lending arm, International Finance Corp, which has provided financial support for the project.
This is the first complaint accepted by the CAO, said Amulya Nayak, the convenor of OCPSP, which works in the Dhenkanal-Angul industrial belt. "The project would affect 5,000 people in the revenue villages of Kamlang, Manpur and Mangalpur. The land was acquired between 2007 and 2009 and construction work is on in full swing," he said. Nayak said people were paid compensation at the rate of Rs 5 lakh per acre, though the prevailing rate in the area was Rs 15 to Rs 16 lakh. Around 25 per cent of the affected people have not accepted the compensation offered, but the company continues to bulldoze their resistance, alleged Bhakta Bandhu Behera of Kamlanga.
"In 2009, people had demonstrated against the project and since then the company has, in collusion with government officials, been trying to suppress the movement by implicating them in false cases," he said. Cases have been registered against 500 people, he said.
The company has also been dumping the material excavated from the site near the villages despite protests by the people, said Nayak. "They continue to blast rocks, which has caused cracks in nearby buildings. They have even blocked the local panchayat road," he said. Company officials were, however, not available for comment.
Courtesy: Mail Today