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Betel farmers get cheques

Paradip, Jan. 29: The Jagatsinghpur district administration has begun disbursing compensation to betel vine owners, two years after dismantling their vineyards, to end the deadlock in work at the Posco steel project area.

The disbursal of compensation began yesterday. Compensation has been paid to six of 26 affected betel vine owners in the past two days, said an official.

“Six betel vine owners have been provided compensation cheques. The remaining plot owners did not turn up. We expect them to receive the cheques from Kujang tehsildar tomorrow,” said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.

“The project opponents had warned us against receiving compensation. They said the whole village would boycott me if I received the money. But, I took it as I am in urgent need of money,” said Banamali Das, a land loser from Gobindpur.

Das received a cheque of Rs 7.70 lakh. Officials hope that the compensation payment will pave the way for congenial atmosphere to resume the acquisition process of 700 acres at Gobindpur.

The Odisha government had assured the Posco authorities to hand over 700 acres to the company to facilitate construction. Posco authorities decided to scale down the project size from 12 million tonne to eight million tonne to avoid acquisition of private land. The land requirement was reduced to 2,700 acres from the original estimate of 4,004 acres.

Another government official said they had handed over 2,000 acres to the company and would provide the remaining 700 acres shortly.