Killed in a chopper crash in 2005, industrialist Om Prakash Jindal lives on in Raigarh, the heart of Chhattisgarh’s coal belt—not as Om Prakash, but ‘Omni Present’ Jindal. Visitors here are blitzed by O.P. Jindal’s name as also the green and saffron flag logo of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL), which he founded in 1989. Now managed by his son and Congress MP Naveen Jindal, the firm has been on overdrive, stamping its mark across the city. It hasn’t gone uncontested, though.
Whether it is the bridge that JSPL built over the Kelo river, promptly naming it the O.P. Jindal Kelo Setu; the road that it constructed alongside the river called, in keeping with form, the
O.P. Jindal Marine Drive; or the controversial naming of a major city thoroughfare as O.P. Jindal road, none can escape the Jindal patriarch’s reach in the city. Arrivals at the local government hospital are treated in the O.P. Jindal OPD block and residents of the nearby Pathalgaon Bal Ashram received goodies like bags and cots with Jindal stickers on them. The locals here are incessantly reminded of the Jindals’ munificence.
The town’s Jindal Open Cast Coal Mines. (Photograph by Jitender Gupta)
“Naveen Jindal wants to transform Raigarh into Jindalgarh,” says Rajesh Tripathy, a local activist. Subscribers to this view point to how the firm encroached and installed O.P. Jindal’s statue at a public roundabout on the national highway near the city a few years ago without the necessary clearances and despite public opposition. “The National Highway Authority of India told us they had not been granted permission,” adds Tripathy. Finally, the statue was relocated in 2011 to another roundabout on a road that cuts through JSPL’s plant. Jindalgarh also happens to be the name the firm has chosen to confer on a colony of its employees on the fringes of the city.
In this region of Chhattisgarh, it isn’t photographs of CM Raman Singh that one can’t miss. It’s the pictures of a beatific Naveen Jindal pasted on hoardings across the area. One may be forgiven for thinking it’s some strange dictatorial land with a leader obsessed with propagating a cult of personality about himself. Even the hierarchy on JSPL’s signboards on public roads emphasises its units first, subsuming entire towns that follow the units on the boards.
Jayant Bohidar, local Congress worker and president of the Raigarh Zila Kisan Congress, says Naveen Jindal suffers from a “mania for propagating his family’s name”. Deepak Mishra, a former resident of this city, adds, “He wants the name ‘Jindal’ to be seen everywhere. The people should forget Raigarh. Jindal, Jindal, Jindal, Kahan jaana hai? Jindalgarh.” On the other hand, Hemant Verma, manager at JSPL for liaison and PR, says there is no attempt to make a Jindalgarh of Raigarh. He even suggested the statue was relocated from the highway not because of public pressure. “It was because of a Supreme Court ruling that prohibited it,” he qualifies.
As for the major thoroughfare rechristened O.P. Jindal Marg, few refer to it by its new name. For them, it has always been Laxmipur-Dhimrapur Marg and that looks likely to remain so—at least in Naveen Jindal’s lifetime.
Naveen Jindal got a paltry Rs 73.4 crore as annual pay in 2011-12, and spends a hefty 0.00575 per cent in CSR! Congratulations on your amazing generosity, Mr Jindal, I’m sure this earns you the right to plaster your face anywhere you choose (Jindal All the Way). And what about Orissa? After looting that state’s water resources, how much are you investing in CSR in Anugul? It won’t be long before people find out the facts there as well.
Saraswati Chidambaram, Mumbai
Why is it alright to name airports/roads constructed with public money after politicians, but not Jindal spending his own money and lending the projects his name?
Naren R.K., Hyderabad
Apropos the boxed article Jindalgarh: Jindal All The Way and second-lead story Where the Ore Sinks the Earth (Sep 24), we strongly condemn the biased tone demeaning the efforts of our founder-chairman and the misreporting of facts and figures on various issues related to JSPL’s operations in Raigarh/Tamnar. The lines “industrialist Om Prakash Jindal lives on in Raigarh, the heart of Chhattisgarh’s coal belt—not as Om Prakash, but ‘Omni Present’ Jindal” in the first piece are not only misleading but indeed despicable. He was a true business leader who believed in generating social wealth. His vision transformed Raigarh from a small, nondescript centre in Chhattisgarh into a bustling industrial town. JSPL needs no effort by design to change Raigarh’s name to Jindalgarh, it is embedded in the hearts of every dweller in the city by default. There is certainly no need for JSPL to flaunt its visibility. As for the impression conveyed by your second lead that JSPL took land from the villagers arbitrarily and illegally is totally baseless, besides being too naive. We are a responsible business house and do not need to indulge in or encourage any nefarious activities like faking mandatory clearances from local bodies. Also, the said public hearing was conducted as per norms. As for the allegations about the attack on Ramesh Agarwal, we do not indulge in such activities.
Ravi Muthreja, Senior VP, Corp. Communications, JSPL
Our correspondent replies: Muthreja points out no factual inaccuracies. Also, assuming gratuitously that Raigarh is by “default embedded” as Jindalgarh in the hearts of every dweller in the city proves the essential point of our article that JSPL has gone on an overdrive to stamp its founder’s name across the city. If there is no need to flaunt its visibility, why is it that hoardings featuring JSPL’s CSR claims feature disproportionately large logos and its projects are named after O.P. Jindal? Regarding the objections to the second piece, the company may claim that the contested public hearing was held as per norms but it may help if they re-read the National Green Tribunal’s order quashing JSPL’s clearance. Among the many violations, it says the draft EIA was neither made available in the local language nor at a notified place. It added that the entire JSPL “public hearing was a farce and makes a mockery of the public hearing process”. If all rules are adhered to, how is it that a member of the local panchayat can claim ignorance of the clearances given to JSPL? Nor are the complaints from locals fabricated. As for the attack on RTI activist Ramesh Agarwal, for which Muthreja says the company is not responsible, why have two senior security officers working for JSPL surrendered to the police on October 19 in connection with this case?
Wow, that's a hefty 0.00575% in CSR!!! Congratulations on your amazing generosity, Mr. Jindal - I'm sure this earns you the right to plaster your face anywhere you choose. And what about Odisha? After looting that state's water resources, an act which is by now known to the world, how much are you investing in CSR in Anugul? It won't take people too long to find out the facts there as well - they are already quite fed up with you.
25.73 crore of 4002 crore is 0.643%.
Your name seems to be a misnomer.
Atleast the guy is spending his own money. The article does not say whether the profit is before or after tax.
Politicians use taxpayers money to make airports and parks in their name or their parents name.
>Good one rao ! illiteracy is a bane to India
Debarshi Dasgupta-Why are airport/roads etc constructed with public money named after politicians ok but Jindal spent his money and has been getting stuff named after him is not acceptable? This guy has atleast spent his money ....
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