Jamshedpur: Stakeholders of Jamshedpur today chose industrial township status with Tata Steel as civic guardian over the alternative of Jharkhand taking over the city under a municipality, the preference underlining the steel major’s urban amenities in a region where power cuts and cratered roads rule.
State urban development secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh, who met elected representatives, petitioners Tata Steel and Jawaharlal Sharma, members of trade outfits and NGOs at the East Singhbhum district collectorate, confirmed that most wanted industrial township status with the rider that Tata Steel should provide amenities to 86 urban slums in its lease area.
Urban development secretary Singh quoted Tata Steel managing director T.V. Narendran as saying in the course of the meeting that the company had agreed to provide amenities to the 86 slums in principle before the Supreme Court.
Today’s meeting had been called by the state government in the wake of a Supreme Court directive on September 2 asking it to file an affidavit on whether it wanted industrial township status for the city after seeking stakeholder opinions.
The state will submit the findings before the apex court during the next hearing on September 26.
Tata Steel had approached erstwhile Bihar government in 1998 for Jamshedpur’s industrial township status. In 2006, it filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, challenging Jharkhand government’s notification and publication in its official gazette in 2005 of its intention to form a municipal corporation for Jamshedpur.
The Supreme Court had directed status quo on the issue.
In 2008, social worker and Sonari resident Jawaharlal Sharma had filed an application for impalement for an elected municipal body for Jamshedpur, also accepted by the apex court.
Sharma’s main contention was a parity of civic amenities across the city. It is well known that Tata command areas enjoy 24/7 access to power and water supply, something their counterparts in areas serviced by state-run civic bodies don’t get.
Besides Singh, Narendran and Sharma, others at the meeting were Jamshedpur MP Bidyut Baran Mahto, Jamshedpur West MLA Banna Gupta, Jamshedpur East MLA Raghubar Das, Ghatshila MLA Ramdas Soren, Potka MLA Meneka Sardar, Jusco MD Ashish Mathur and Tata Steel plant head A.B. Lall.
Urban development secretary Singh said that today’s meeting had a fair representation of all the elected representatives, political parties, petitioners, NGOs and trade bodies and others.
“Most agreed that city should get industrial township status. Stakeholders also wanted Tata Steel to include the 86 bastis (urban slums) in its lease area and provide them basic amenities such as water and power,” Singh said after the two-and-half-hour meeting.
However, even if Jamshedpur becomes an industrial township it will still come under the ambit of Jharkhand Municipal Corporation Act 2011 and will need a governing committee with representation of MPs, MLAs and zilla parishad members, bureaucrats and corporate functionaries.
Chief secretary Sudhir Prasad will take a final decision on the panel’s composition and its functional modalities tentatively on September 20.
Singh added that though Tata Steel had agreed to provide civic amenities to 86 urban slums, it wants the state government to clear squatters from those areas. “There have been suggestions to include areas of Mango, Jugsalai, Adityapur and other fringes of the city in the industrial township area. Let’s see,” he said.
Social worker Sharma added that he wanted areas within 15-km radius of the city to be included in the industrial township. “I also want people to be able to exercise third voting rights to elect the governing committee of the industrial township,” he said.