Reported by Vishwanath Kumar
Dhinkia (Jagatsinghpur), May 22 :
The bugle for panchayat poll has been sounded in Dhinkia, the citadel of the 9-year old intense resistance movement against the big-ticket Posco steel project near Paradip in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.
Dhinkia, the troubled zone, has remained out of bounds for law-enforcing agencies and administrative officials following people’s stiff opposition and that explained why the authorities were not in favour of holding the panchayat polls here in 2012.
However, emboldened by the peaceful polling process and a huge voter turnout” here on 16 April general elections, the state government has issued notification for the panchayat polls in Dhinkia, which remains the hotbed of anti-Posco agitation under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS).
“The model code of conduct has been enforced in Dhikia with the poll notification. The panchayat will go to polls on 3 July. The nomination paper filing process would start on June 7 and would continue till 12 June. Over 7000 voters here would elect 23 ward members and a Sarpanch, ” Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick said.
Dhinkia, the hub of anti-Posco movement, recorded 92% voter turn out on April 17, while in Gadakujang and Nuagaon, the two other gram panchayats that come under the proposed steel project, it was 85%.
“This is the most opportune time to hold the pachayat polls as peace and order prevails in the area. The anti-Posco movement has fizzled out. We held rounds of discussion with a cross section of people including those who were spearheading the anti-Posco movement. There was a unanimity in favour of the conduct of the panchayat polls, ” said Jagatsinhpur Superintendent of Police, Satyabrata Bhoi.
“We welcome the move to hold panchayat polls. But at the same time, the government should keep its commitment and stay away from forcible land acquisition exercise in Gobindpur area. There are many betel vineyards owners whose betel plots were razed to ground in Gobindpur by use of brute force. The land acquired from them should be given back to them so that they could begin their betel farming activity afresh”, said Narottam Rout, a resident of Dhinkia.
However, while some people are of the view that the panchayat polls would be an exercise in futility given the fact that the area would be occupied by the South Korean steel behemoth sooner or later, there are others who see it as a clever move by the administration to gain control over the area and stamp out all opposition to the much touted biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in India.