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Eviction notice served on slum settlers

- Jagatsinghpur district authorities to free land for oil refinery project

Paradip, Dec. 17: To meet additional land requirement for Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)’s oil refinery project, the Jagatsinghpur district administration has served eviction notices to illegal settlers in Sandhakuda slums on the outskirts of the port town.

“Modalities are being worked out to evict the unlawful occupiers of government land at the earliest. We are also trying to resettle the soon-to-be displaced families somewhere near the port town,” said special land acquisition officer Nrusingha Charan Swain.

“As IOCL gears up to undertake projects such as sea surge protection wall and the laying of underground pipelines for the oil refinery project, eviction notices have been served on the land encroachers in Sandhakuda. The occupied seaside territory would be made encroachment-free and would be handed over to the IOCL authorities shortly,” said additional district magistrate Surajeet Das.

The encroachers have been served notices under the Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment (OPLE) Act, 1972, asking them to vacate the unlawfully occupied land at the earliest. “If they do not do so on their own, they are going to be forcefully evicted,” said Kujang tehsildar Vasudev Pradhan.

Though the settlers in question have no rights over the encroached government land, the administration has decided to rehabilitate them.

The settlers are willing to part with the 266 acres of encroached land. But they have stepped up their demand for resettlement before the government acquires the land for the refinery project.

About 455 families have occupied around 266 acres in Sandhakuda for over four decades. The Odisha government has original ownership of the land. But it was leased out to the Port Trust after the port came up in 1964. But it was systematically occupied by migrant fishermen and milkmen as the Paradip Port Trust left the land vacant without carrying out its infrastructure development projects, according to officials.

Those living in encroached government land had offered resistance to the eviction attempts made earlier. “The state government is sensitive to the displacement issue as the said slum is home to over 8,000 settlers. We are in search of land to resettle them. However, they have to vacate the land,” said Das.