| A file picture of protesters blocking the Kalinga Nagar road
Cuttack, Jan. 5: After more than seven months of adjudication on a petition, the Orissa High Court today ordered for removal of obstruction on NH-200, near Kalinga Nagar, paving the way for breaking a year-long impasse over a road blockade.
Twelve tribals and a policeman had died in a clash on January 2, 2006, after which, the displaced tribals of Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex have been blocking the highway, lifeline of mineral-rich Keonjhar and Jajpur districts, connecting with the Paradip port, under the banner of Bisthapana Birodhi Janamanch.
Though the Manch had partially lifted the road blockade for light vehicles recently, the blockade for ore-carrying trucks continued.
Earlier the district administration had initiated efforts for a dialogue with the agitating tribals and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, and had held one round of discussion with them. The Manch, however, is yet to call off the agitation.
Recently, the Manch resolved to continue the agitation while observing the first anniversary of Kalinga Nagar police firing.
Against this backdrop, the High Court today directed the state government to take appropriate steps to clear the blockade, but did not specify any time frame.
A two-judge bench comprising B.P. Das and M.M. Das issued the interim direction on a petition filed by Chambara Soy of Gobarghati village, seeking judicial intervention against the blockade. The petitioner’s counsels Milan Kanungo and Arupananda Das had alleged that the blockade was causing hardship to people and was pushing the area into a “state of near anarchy”. Law and order situation had also deteriorated in the area due to the blockade, they alleged.
The petitioner also alleged that his 25-year-old son suffering from malaria had died on April 22 because “he could not be taken to a hospital due to the blockade at Ambagadia.” His counsels sought compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the death.
The high court admitted the petition on May 16 and directed the state government to pay an interim compensation of Rs 10,000 for the death of the petitioner’s son.
The state home secretary was also asked to file an affidavit on the blockade at Kalinga Nagar, along with the number of road and rail blockades in the state since January last year and the steps initiated to address the malady.
The state counsel, however, pleaded more time to file affidavit. The court granted time till February 2.
Meanwhile, the state government has decided that the Justice A.S. Naidu Commission, which was appointed to probe the Kalinga Nagar incident, will continue the inquiry.
Justice Naidu had sought a clarification from the government on whether he would continue the judicial probe after the Supreme Court had ordered that no sitting judge of a high court could head an inquiry commission.