The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 14 , 2014
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Villagers protest work at Posco site

Paradip, Jan. 13: Villagers, who have lost their betel vineyards and land to the Posco steel project, today resorted to agitation, protesting against non-implementation of rehabilitation and resettlement measures.

Over 1,000 villagers living in the proposed project area demonstrated in front of the Erasama tehsil office in Jagatsinghpur district and stepped up demand for suspension of project-related civil construction.

“On numerous occasions, the state government had committed to fulfil our demands. But they have failed to keep it. On the other hand, the officials have acted in favour of the steel company by allowing it to erect the project boundary wall,” said Nirvaya Samantaray, general secretary of United Action Committee, a pro-Posco outfit.

“We are not opposed to the project. But we are voicing protest against the anti-people policies. People have been let down both by the steel company and the government agencies,” said a protester.

“Unless our demands are met, we will continue with the agitation. The committee would intensify the protest, if Posco goes ahead with boundary wall construction,” said Jivanlal Behera, a local.

“The competent authorities have been apprised of people’s grievances. The Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Authority Committee (RPDAC) is to decide the rehabilitation issue. The government is planning to hold the RPDAC meeting in the first week of February,” said Satya Kumar Mallick, Jagatsinghpur collector.

“The administration has adhered to its dilly-dallying tactics in fulfilling rehabilitation demands. It has become desperate to resume project work despite people’s protest. There ought to be clear-cut rehabilitation and resettlement policy for people losing out on land for the steel project,” said Samantray.

The six-point charter of demands include hike in compensation against the acquired betel vineyards, private and homestead land, inclusion of about 75 families who have deserted Dhinkia under the relief scheme, compensation coverage to betel vines demolished in 2008, engagement of local residents in the project work and employment in the project from every family.