Thousands of villagers from Navelim in Bicholim taluka of Goa today observed a day-long bandh against Sesa Goa’s metallurgical coke plant in the village, claiming that it is polluting their surroundings.

Police officials said the bandh which started at 7 am has remained peaceful till now. Locals were seen sloganeering on the road and blocked the entire stretch which connects Panaji to Bicholim taluka.

Sundar Gawas, one of the protestors, said Sesa Goa had taken the entire village and State Government for granted.

He claimed that expansion of the existing metallurgical coke plant has increased pollution levels in the surroundings.

“We can see black dust powder on our food. God knows how much of such particles we have been inhaling,” he said.

Sesa Goa, which set up its plant here in 2006, has begun expansion of its facility since this month. The company spokesman earlier had confessed that the high capacity diesel burners had misfired during pre-heating activities, releasing black smoke in the air on August 17 and August 18.

The villagers today claimed that the State Pollution Control Board and even the Ministry of Environment Forest (MoEF) did not conduct any public hearing while allowing the expansion of the plant, which is mandatory according to law.

The gram sabha held on Sunday had decided to hold a one-day bandh to attract attention towards the gross illegalities committed by the plant.

The villagers claimed that the plant has been polluting their water sources.

Sesa Goa Ltd has been operating a 250,000-tonne pig iron manufacturing plant since 1992 and a 280,000-tonne metallurgical coke manufacturing plant since 1994 at Amona which was shifted to Navelim in 2006.

(This article was published on August 27, 2012)
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