Electrosteel Steels Ltd (ESL), now acquired by Vedanta Ltd, received environmental clearance (EC) to set up a steel plant in Bokaro in 2008. The steel plant was proposed to be constructed on 2,000 acres of land in Siyaljori and Bhagaband villages. Since the beginning, the project was embroiled in two major disputes- one, involving the encroachment of forestland by ESL and two, failure to compensate the villagers for their land acquired for the project.
From March 2009 to March 2017, the forest department of Bokaro filed 53 cases against ESL, alleging encroachment of 174 hectares of forestland under the Jharkhand Public Land Encroachment Act, 1956. The case went to the High Court of Jharkhand, which ordered a stay on the project. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) revoked the EC for the project and the Jharkhand Pollution Control Board rejected its Consent to Operate.
Since 2012, the plant was also surrounded by controversy over the acquisition of private land from the farmers of Chandankyari village. The farmers had demanded better compensation rates from ESL. Many of them were marginal farmers, who say they lost their land at much lower rates than the market price for the land. The farmers also demanded jobs in the company and had organised regular blockades to protest. They claim that they were not informed about the purpose of the land acquisition in advance.
Following the protests, the company asked the farmers to negotiate on the issue to reach a long-term settlement. Based on a report, some of the affected families were later given better compensation, and ESL was forced to pay minimum wages to its 700 contractual workers employed from Chandankyari in its plant.
In December 2019, the MoEF&CC regularised the encroached forest land and granted forest clearance to ESL. By regularising, the ministry deemed the encroachment legal, with a payment of a fine on ESL citing that "such instances do not happen in future".
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Electrosteel Steels Limited (ESL), Vedanta Ltd
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Non-rehabilitation of displaced people
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