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Road to revive Posco project

Paradip, May 20: The Odisha government has decided to construct an alternative road connecting the Posco project site with Ersama block.

The idea of building the road was mooted after work at the site came to a halt following violence at Bose Callis’ point near Dhinkia village in the project area over the construction of a road on December 14 last year.

The construction of the alternative road, which is crucial to the project, was reportedly discussed when chairman-cum-managing director of Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha Ltd Pradeep Kumar Jena and officials of the Jagatsinghpur district administration visited the area yesterday. They made an on-spot inspection at Baliyamara village under Gadakujang gram panchayat to explore the viability of building a new bridge, which is a crucial part of the road.

“A bridge over a creek near Baliyamara on the outskirts of the steel project is now under consideration to facilitate hurdle-free transportation of construction materials to the project site. The steel-maker has given consent to the proposal,” said Paradip additional district magistrate Surajit Das.

Executive engineer of the rural works department A.U. Subudhi said: “The proposed bridge would be a 100 per cent steel-framed one. It would be 123-metre long with its estimated cost pegged at Rs 4 crore. The construction would begin once the land handover is made to us.”

Jena also interacted with the landlosers, stakeholders and the panchayat-level people’s representatives to break the project work standoff. The discussion was fruitful and result oriented though people from various walks of life remained insistent on fulfilment of the pending demands related to relief and rehabilitation.

In another development, as Posco is now unlikely to acquire land in Dhinkia gram panchayat, the Odisha government has initiated process of hammering out a rehabilitation package acceptable to the people of Gadakujang and Nuagaon. The villages, such as Dhinkia and Gobindpur, led the resistance movement against the project.

The recent meeting between Posco chief Yong Won Yoon and chief minister Naveen Patnaik led to the steel-maker considering the possibility of not acquiring land from the unwilling landowners. Now, the officials are trying to win confidence of people.

“The process to hold separate talks with representatives of various outfits and factions has got under way to put to end the rehabilitation and compensation standoff. The outfits that are either opposing or extending support to the project are being involved in the talk process. Besides, the administration is reaching out to the landowners, farmers, betel vineyard owners, betel vine workers to reach bring out an amicable settlement of the issue,” said Das.

General secretary of the United Action Committee Nirvaya Samantaray said the Odisha government would have to take people into confidence before resuming work at the site.