Orissa titanium plant construction stopped after clashes

June 27th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 27 (IANS) Construction work at the site of a proposed titanium dioxide plant in Orissa’s Ganjam district has been stopped following clashes between villagers over employment opportunities at the plant, police said Friday. “The work of levelling earth at the plant site began about 15 days ago. However, it was stopped Wednesday after a group of villagers attacked those working at the site. The labourers retaliated,” D.P. Chakraborty, inspector of the Chatrapur police station, told IANS.

Kolkata-based Saraf Group and the Russian government are jointly setting up the plant in two phases in over 600 acres of land near Chatrapur town, about 175 km from here.

At least five people were injured and 10 motorcycles were damaged in the clashes.

“The villagers who attacked the labourers said they were also affected by the plant and should also be given work at the site,” Chakraborty said.

Additional District Magistrate Madan Mohan Deo said a peace committee had been formed and company officials had been asked to solve the dispute by holding discussions with the villagers. The company has been asked not to start work till the villagers were satisfied.

Titanium dioxide is a pigment used in wide range of applications - from paint and sunscreen to chocolate wrappers and food colouring.

S.L. Modi, general manager of the project, said: “People have welcomed the project and we are going to re-start the work at any moment after discussing it with the villagers.”

The integrated plant will produce 40,000 tonnes per annum of titanium dioxide per year. The first phase of the project, with an investment of $250 million, is expected to turn commercial by the end of 2009.

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