|File picture of betel vines being demolished in the proposed Posco project area
Paradip, Jan. 10: Authorities’ efforts to resume work for the Posco steel project suffered a setback with protesters warning the landlosers not to receive the government relief.
“Activists of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti have warned us against receiving relief. They have told that the entire village will boycott me if I receive the compensation,” said Shatrughna Behera, owner of a dismantled betel vineyard.
“I am confused. The government should ensure our safety. We want the plant to come up here. If the officials fail to provide us security, we would be forced to dissociate ourselves from the exercise,” said Behera.
“Co-operating with the government officials would lead to their social ostracisation. Unless they are provided with security cover, the officials’ plan to distribute compensation would go awry,” said Nirvay Samantray, general secretary of the United Action Committee, a pro-plant outfit.
However, the samiti refuted the charge. “We just asked the 26 earmarked beneficiaries not to co-operate with the government. They have been requested not to receive the cheque. It’s not a pressure tactic,” said samiti general secretary Sisir Kumar Mahapatra.
An official of the district administration said they were not aware of any such threat to the landlosers.
“Local residents, who are feeling insecure, should be given security. The relief disbursal would take place as scheduled. Later, dismantling of betel vineyards that have come up on encroached forestland would be carried out at Gobindpur village,” said Paradip additional district magistrate Surajit Das.
Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick said: “We are holding fresh talks with the villagers before resuming the project work. The demand for revised rehabilitation package will be discussed at the meeting of the Rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee.”