SARVARDARSHI GUPTA, BHOPAL.NET, JAMSHEDPUR, FEBRUARY 6, 2007
Jamshedpur in jharkhand state is where Tata have their steel plant. It is the oldest of all the Tata companies.
More than 400 families [upwards of 2000 children, women and men] live in this area in makeshift/semi permanent houses. I spoke to some people living in the slums below. One person said, “the miseries begin particularly in summer when the wind blows away the boiler ash making the entire area dark engulfed by solid particles in the air. Monsoon is no less torturing with thick black liquid flowing through the heaps inundating their dilapidated slums.” No one dares to complain because they are “encroachers” at least that is what they have been made to believe.
It is only in the last 2 or 3 years that gas fired boilers have begun to be used in the steel plant and the generation of coal ash has drastically reduced. However, some ash continues to be dumped every day.
The boiler ash dumping ground is spread in over an area of 40 acres. The dumping has been going on for decades and the quality of the ground water must be terrible with the leaching of heavy metals from ash. In the huge heaps of ash people look for pieces of unburnt coal and metal scraps. Many young boys and girls get buried alive underneath the ash while trying to collect metal pieces but no reports are ever made to the police for fear of harassment and eviction. So much for the company which boasts of maintaining one of the country’s best municipal services. About 4 years back the company proposed to convert the boiler ash dumping ground in to a public park but for reasons not known the plan was shelved soon after it was announced.
The place looks like Mordor and life under the iron rule of the Tatas is harsh and full of fear.