Kalinganagar (Jajpur), Feb 1:
While land-losers and displaced people staged a day-long protest dharna against the management of the Mideast Integrated Steel Plant [Mesco Steel] at the Kalinganagar Industrial area on Friday demanding jobs in the company, a company official made it clear on Saturday that all land-losers are not eligible to claim employment in the company.
Angry land losers of the nearby Siaria village on Friday had staged a protest dharna in front of the Mesco Steel plant and obstructed the employees of Mesco from entering the factory premises.
The strike ended in the evening after the authorities assured the protestors that their demands and issues would be taken up for discussion on Monday.
However, a company spokesperson told OST on Saturday that under the provisions of the Orissa Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R&R) Policy-2006, the all land losers cannot be termed as ‘displaced’ and that they are only entitled to compensation in the form of cash.
All the land losers have already got cash compensation long back, he clarified.
“Jobs can be provided to those who have lost their homestead land [called as ‘land oustee’] and are displaced from the project area,” he further added.
The Orissa R&R Policy specifies, “Displaced family means a family ordinarily residing in the project area prior to the date of publication of notification under the provisions of the relevant Act and on account of acquisition of his/ her homestead land is displaced from such area or required to be displaced,” the official said.
So far, there are around 53 displaced [land oustee] families in Dhuligada village out of which 49 families have been given employment, 3 have been given cash in lieu of employment and one has been financed for his shop as part of the rehabilitation package.
Similarly, 78 families have been displaced in Siaria village of which, 61 people have been provided jobs in the company, 6 have taken cash compensation and the rest are in process of getting the benefits, the Mesco official informed.
In Khurunti village itself, which is a common corridor of various industries like JSL, BRPL, NINL, Mesco etc, will have the joint onus of employing the affected people.
“Mesco has the obligation of providing employment to 20 displaced families which we are committed to fulfill,” the company spokesperson said.
He said all the land losers who are projecting themselves as ‘displaced’ and demanding employment to their family members can not be entertained.
However, the local people have a completely different picture to offer in their defence.
“Mesco has recruited about 25 people in 2007 and made a vague promise to engage 3 from the Siaria village which has not been fulfilled yet. Even the company has issued an advertisement regarding further requirement for 64 workers in 2013 but no displaced has been included in that list,” locals alleged.
“The company has grossly violated the Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) policy of the government. We will resort to fast-unto-death if our youths are denied job opportunities by the company,” one of the protesters said.
The company spokesperson said they hope to resolve the issues with the protesters in the presence of district officials as well as the local tahasildar and IIC when they sit across the table on Monday.