Reported by Ranjan Rath
Rayagada, Mar 6:
The Odisha High Court has directed the state government to maintain the status quo on 277 acres of Bhoodan land which were acquired by the Utkal Alumina at Doraguda in Rayagada district in 1994.
A single bench of Justice Pradip Mohanty directed the state government to file a counter within a week after hearing a PIL filed by senior journalist and social activist of Rayagada, Pitabasa Tula on behalf of Bhoodan Jana Samiti challenging the fraudulent acquisition of 277 acres of land near village Dwimundi.
The petitioner had alleged that Utkal Alumina had acquired 277 acres of Bhoodan land at Dwimundi and 200 acres from nearby villages in 1994 with the help of IDCO and district administration while acquiring 2400 acres of land for the plant and its colonies and 1700 hectares of land for mining.
The land in question cannot be used for industrialization and is not transferrable as per Bhoodan and Gramdan Act passed by the Odisha Assembly in 1972, he claimed.
It may be mentioned that hundreds of residents from nearby villages such as Maligaon, Paikupakhal, Surugunja, Dangaskhal, Duturapaga, Kebidi, Rayalaghati, Bhejapadar and Chandragiri are staging a dharna and have blocked the road, which connects Kashipur-Kalahandi-Rayagada and Bafalamali near Salaghati square since November 17 to protest pollution and crop loss allegedly caused due to red mud and the refusal of the company to provide employment to locals in the plant and take up CSR activities in the afffected villages.
The under-construction plant of Utkal Alumina at Doraguda on the 277 acres of Bhoodan land which started in 1992, is yet to be fully functional.