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Rehab issue sparks protest at Posco site

Paradip, Jan. 30: Protesters today picketed at three entry points to Nuagaon gram panchayat to stop government and company officials from entering the proposed Posco project villages over the issue of non-revision of rehabilitation and resettlement measures.

“People are demanding revised rehabilitation package. As their demands have not been fulfilled, they have begun staging protest at Nuagaon and Gadakujang gram panchayats. The majority of people support the steel plant. We are holding dialogues with them,” said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.

“We are not opposed to the project. The steel-maker is going to invest crores of rupees for it. We find it illogical and arbitrary, because the company is not ready to suitably compensate the people, who are losing everything due to the plant. So it’s high time the government and the company came out with a clear-cut rehabilitation package before starting work,” said local villager Tamil Pradhan at Nuagaon gram panchayat.

People are fed up with the government’s lip-service regarding the rehabilitation package. That’s why they are giving vent to their frustration and have resorted to agitation path as a last resort. The protesters will not allow work at the proposed plant site villages till they are satisfied with the rehabilitation package,” said Nakul Sahu, former sarpanch of Gadakujang gram panchayat.

The United Action Committee, a pro-Posco outfit, which later turned anti-administration over non-revision of the rehabilitation package, today also reiterated the fulfilment of various pending demands on rehabilitation, resettlement, compensation and employment before the start of the project.

“People are no more reposing faith on government agencies and company personnel. They are feeling let down. The government has backtracked from keeping up its commitment on the rehabilitation issues. Unless demands are met with, there would be en-masse people’s protest across the project areas,” said general secretary of the committee Nirvaya Samantaray.

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