Odisha Sun times Bureau
Paradip, June 10:
With 10 more families leaving the Posco transit camp at Badagabapur and heading for their native village Patana today, the number of ‘homecoming’ families in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district has now gone up to forty.
Only 12 more families now remain in the transit camp, which was set up to accommodate the 52 families from Patana, who had been driven away by the anti-Posco brigade for their alleged support to the mega steel plant being set up in the area by the Korean giant.
“The families are returning with the consent of the village committee. The district administration would provide assistance for their rehabilitation,” said Ramakrushna Sahu, Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Paradip.
Each family returning to the village is being given a one-time assistance of Rs 2, 400 to cover their immediate expenses, besides a polythene sheet, he said.
As their houses have been badly damaged during their absence for the last seven years, several families are now staying in a school building at Patana while others are putting up in makeshift houses on their respective plots.
The 52 families had been driven out by supporters of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) ahead of the panchayat elections in June 2007 at the height of the agitation against the steel plant.
Those returning to their village after seven long years were understandably ecstatic. “We are extremely happy to be back in our village,” said Ranjan Mohanty, one of those who returned to the village today.
The returnees said they had been assured by village seniors and the PPSS of all help and support in their rehabilitation.
PPSS leader Abhay Sahu corroborated what the returnees said. “They are most welcome. The village committee will tender all possible help for their full and proper rehabilitation,” he said.
The development assumes significance as it comes ahead of the ensuing panchayat election in Dhinkia panchayat scheduled early next month in which the anti-Posco brigade is fielding its candidate, sources said.
Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over the return of the 12 families still left in the transit camp to their village due to a battle of attrition between them and the village committee. While the inmates of the camp have maintained that they would return only if the village committee asked them to do so, the committee has made it clear that they have to make the first move.