Plans gone awry

The current attitude of BCCL, according to Jharia Bachao Abhiyan Samiti, is contrary to its declared Rs 10,000 crore rehabilitation plan which it had proudiy announced in 1984. Sources within the company say it had drawn up a plan to create seven satellite townships, away from the endangered area, for about nine lakh people. As part of the plan, a global tender was floated and a team of Polish experts had even visited the sites, but the company suddenly developed cold feet. Said a senior BCCL official, 'The chapter was closed long ago." However, one of the sources disclosed that when coal mining was nationalised, BCCL had worked out Jharia reconstruction plan and the capital required then was just Rs 3,000 crore. Now it would cost an unmanageable Rs 30,000 crore. Sources said that as the threat to the township as well as to the precious prime coking coal reserves increased, BCCL asked the Centre for financial assistance. But the Centre turned it down. The local people at the same time refused to move out. To make things worse the Centre also withdrew budgetary support from 1992 and by 1995, BCCL was gripped by a financial crisis amid administrative abuse and mismanagement (its monthly wage bill alone amounts to Rs 94 crore). It had no alternative but to took the other way while people spent sleepless nights awaiting doomsday.

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