The Hindustan Zinc Limited Company of the Vedanta Group faced the ire of the villagers in Gujarat for its upcoming zinc smelter plant at the Doswada industrial estate in the Tapi district.
Villagers of the district staged protests against the company earlier this week and allegedly resorted to violence.
According to The Indian Express report, the incident took place on Monday, July 5, during a public hearing set up by the officials of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Tapi collector HK Vadhvaniya in Doswada village to listen to the grievances of people protesting against the setting up of the plant.
The hearing began at 11:00 am, and the board collected the written complaint of the villagers to submit them to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
A GPCB official informed the media that nearly three halls were set up to accommodate 700-800 persons. The board was taking complaints from 200 people at a time. Many who came forward to submit complaints did not leave, due to which the halls were overcrowded.
The official told the media that some tribal people passed a resolution during the hearing against the project. The board tried to explain to them that they were only recording the complaints and the final call decision on the project would be of the government and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Exchange.
Violence Broke Out
After one hour of hearing the grievances, the violence broke out. The villagers allegedly hit policemen deployed and vandalised the police vehicles. In defence, the police fired nearly 50 rounds of tear gas to disperse the crowd of hundreds of people.
Booked For Violence
A day after the violence broke out, the police booked 250 persons on Tuesday, July 6, for rioting and attempt to murder. An FIR was lodged at the Songadh police station.
The department said the accused barged into the assembly with an intention to suspend the hearing and had blocked the National Highway 53, interrupted the police personnel, pelted stones at them and destroyed the vehicles.
Nearly 14 policemen were injured. In the complaint, the police said the accused intended to kill them.
However, the district Superintendent of Police, Sujata Majumdar, said no detention or arrest was made, and the investigation into the case is underway.
Zinc Smelter Plant
The proposed plant is worth Rs 10,000 crore project, spreading over 415 acres of the land. According to the October 2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Vedanta Group and the Gujarat government, it would create more than 5,000 direct and indirect job opportunities after it will be operation by 2022.
The tribal people, under the banner Adivasi Panch, have raised concerns about the plant and its effect on their livelihood and the environment. According to The Hindu report, around 91 villages are within the radius of 10km from the site.
The villagers said it would significantly affect public health, as the plant would release chemicals like arsenic, sulphur dioxide, etc., from the factory, which would further ruin the agricultural land.