| File photo of betel leaf farmers in Paradip. (AFP) |
Paradip, Oct. 19: The Meena Gupta committee has found flaws in implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) at the proposed Posco area.
While the opponents of the project are jubilant at this development, those favouring the plant are disappointed.
The betel leaf farmers whose plots have already been acquired are worried about their future. “We received compensation against our plots, acquired for the steel project. We have already spent a considerable amount of the compensation,” said Sapan Dhade, a betel vine plot owner of Gadakujang grama panchayat. Dhade is among the 96 betel vine plot owners who have surrendered their land and received compensation.
Dhade received Rs 1.15 lakh as compensation. With annual earning from betel leaves varying between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.25 lakh, he had been supporting his family comprising wife and three children.
“An amount of Rs 1.36 crore as compensation has been disbursed among the land owners whose plots were acquired. According to bank officials, many recipients have begun drawing cash,” special land acquisition officer N.C. Swain said.
“Many farmers who have received compensation are indulging in extravagant lifestyle. They are risking their financial security,” said panchayat samiti member Vasudev Behera.
People of Dhinkia, Gobindapur and Nuagaon, who have been vehemently opposing the project, are jubilant. “The ministry of environment and forests will certainly scrap the project,” said Dhinkia sarpanch Sisir Kumar Mohapatra.
“There is no reason to jump to the conclusion that the panel has gone against the steel project. The central government would certainly favour setting up of the plant. However, it will lay down certain norms while giving clearance to the Posco,” said Nirvaya Samantaray, general secretary of the united action committee (UAC), a pro-plant outfit.
“We are not aware of the forest rights laws. The issue—whether the Posco is going to set up its plant here—should be settled soon. The plant should come up here. Many people in our panchayat want the plant which is expected to give a boost to the region’s economy,” said Damodar Behera of Gadakujang.
“The committee is of the view that Jagatsinghpur district administration erred in implementing the Forest Rights Act. Let the administration convene fresh palli sabhas to settle the FRA issues. Majority of people would give consent to diversion of land for steel project,” said UAC chief Anadi Rout.