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Posco dialogue hits demand wall

Paradip, Jan. 5: Fresh attempts by the administration to resolve the deadlock in the Posco steel project area today failed to yield results with representatives of various outfits and villagers insistent on fulfilment of their demands before the resumption of project work.

The district administration, on the other hand, is apparently determined to resume work and dismantle betel vineyards next week at Gobindpur village under Dhinkia gram panchayat.

“The talks held today was fruitful. Though the villagers raised various issues related to rehabilitation, they have agreed to extend full cooperation to the project work. The administration also committed to protect the larger interests of the people in accordance with rehabilitation and resettlement policy of the Odisha government,” said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.

The civil and police administration have promised to provide security those who willing to give away their betel plots. Local settlers are apprehensive of intimidation by anti-Posco protesters, he said.

“There were some points of disagreement at the talks held today in Gadakujang. People stressed on the fulfilment of their demands as a pre-condition for resumption of project work. However we managed to convince them,” said additional district magistrate Surajit Das.

As part of the exercise to win back the confidence of the people, senior officials of the district administration have begun holding talks with representatives of panchayati raj institutions, village committees, local forest committees and members of the pro-Posco United Action Committee.

“The objective of district administration is to begin the project work in a conducive environment. It has been decided that work would resume in first week of January. The administration has opened its door open for everybody for amicable settlement of the peoples’ charter of demands regarding the rehabilitation and compensation package,” said Das.

On the other hand, villagers accused the administration of adhering to “dilly-dallying tactics” in fulfilling their demands. “There ought to be clear-cut rehabilitation and resettlement policy for people giving away their land for the steel project. The government should revise the rehabilitation and compensation package before undertaking the project work,” said Nirvaya Samantaray, general secretary of the United Action Committee.

“Majority of the people want the project work to start. The administration has mobilised their support and cooperation. We are hopeful of the work resuming with cooperation from the people,” said special land acquisition officer Nrusingha Charan Swain.

The Jagatsinghpur collector said: “We are holding fresh talks with the villagers before resumption of the project work. The villagers are demanding a revision in the rehabilitation package. The issues can only be decided by the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee”.