Paradip, Sept. 1: The Odisha government has decided to hand over the logs of felled trees to local settlers in the proposed Posco steel project villages, to prevent opposition towards the scheduled forest clearance drive in coming days.
According to Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee’s recommendations, the local settlers were entitled to get a 20 per cent share of trees pulled down in the project area. The rest of the logs were to be put up for public auction.
However, it has now been decided to give away logs entirely to people residing along the forest-side villages, said an official.
The government’s move aims to cultivate a pro-people image and win confidence of local residents in the project villages ahead of an all-important RPDAC meeting for settlement of revision of rehabilitation, resettlement and compensation package.
The first phase of felling of forest classified and fruit-bearing trees in village orchards was carried out last year amid protest and resistance.
“Those who lost out fruit-bearing trees were paid compensation as fixed by state horticulture department. The cutting down of forest species had led to huge accumulation of timber logs last year. People residing near the forest areas had been handed over 20 per cent logs free while the rest was sold off by way of public auction,” said additional district magistrate Surajit Das.
The district administration has taken note of people’s request and has decided to give away the felled trees to people in totality, he said.
Sangram Mahapatra, general manager of Industrial Development and Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) said a decision to this effect was taken in a meeting held recently.
The project work had come to a halt after December 16 group clash near Bose-callis Point over laying out of a coastal roadway to connect the project site. The violence that had claimed a life and injured several others had prompted the authorities to suspend the project-related work till further order.
The anti-Posco movement had come to a halt since then. While the stalemate continues, the resistance movement against the project has mellowed down with Posco authorities scaling down the required land to 2,700 acre for the project.