Violence halts Reliance drilling at CBM blocks

Vol 18, PW 9 (18 Dec 14) People & Policy

Angry villagers have beaten up employees working for driller South West Pinnacle at Reliance’s Sohagpur East and Sohagpur West CBM blocks.

Still unclear is if anybody was seriously injured after locals at Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh turned violent against Reliance and its contractors on November 26. “Villager protests near the drill sites have forced us to stop drilling,” confirms a Reliance source.

“They also protested at the gas gathering station (GGS12) construction site which we had to abandon.” Reliance suspects the campaign was incited by local politicians, but this could not be independently verified.

“Villagers say Reliance hasn’t paid enough compensation for land acquired for drilling, GGS construction or pipeline-laying,” adds a source. Villagers also accuse Reliance of reneging on a promise to provide jobs.

Another concern is Reliance’s plan to transport gas to Uttar Pradesh; villagers want factories to use gas locally, in Madhya Pradesh. “They also want Reliance to set up schools and hospitals,” we are told.

Not all drilling activity has stopped. “At Dhangaon, Deori and Chatha villages and at the GGS12 construction site work is stopped,” says our company source.

“But we are still drilling at Jalli Tola village and construction is on at another gas gathering station (GGS11).” When contacted, local police confirmed that violent protests forced work to stop.

District magistrate Ashok Kumar Bhargava, superintendent of police (SP) Girdhar Gopal Pandey, and additional SP Durgesh Rathor have all visited.