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Anti-Suktel protesters demand compensation


OST Bureau
Balangir, Jan 20:

Protesting the anti-people move of the state government in the Lower Suktel area in Balangir district, activists of the Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad (LSBASP) on Sunday demanded adequate compensation to the displaced families and action against the district administrative officials for forcible acquisition of land of the displaced.
Briefing newsmen at Gadshankar Dungripali, president of the Parishad Gunu Sahu and vice-president Udaya Singh Thakur threatened to stall construction of the Suktel dam in Magurbeda if their demands were not met at the earliest.

They demanded compensation to the family of Gyana Gadatya, one of the members of the Parishad of Pardhiapali village, whose crops were damaged by the district administration that acquired his land forcibly in his absence on Friday.

The erring officials who had forcibly acquired his land must be prosecuted they said.

“We have decided to conduct a series of meetings in several villages in the Lower Suktel periphery to unite people to protest the ongoing construction work of the project. Besides, we have decided to stage a dharna before the State Assembly from February 3 and before the Parliament in New Delhi by mid-February against the controversial dam project”, the Parishad members informed.

Stating that the Parishad is in favour of zero displacement and small barrages that would bring development in the agriculture sector in the area,Thakur demanded implementation of the new Land Acquisition Bill, 2013 in which a lot of power has been vested with the Gram Sabha to decide the fate of any project in its locality.

“Once the Gram Sabha approves of a project, then only it can be moved forwarded”, Thakur pointed out.

Taking a dig at the political representatives, he said they are least concerned about difficulties of the people if the dam is constructed over Suktel. In view of this, it is the displaced villagers who have to take a decision that is in their best interest, he observed.

Meanwhile, Balangir district collector M Muthu Kumar, Superintendent of Police Ravi Prakash and other Suktel project officials had a meeting with the villagers at Pardhiapali on Sunday.

It may be mentioned that the Lower Suktel project work had begun on April 8 last year following which there was a series of protests by the Budi Anchal Parishad and the affected villagers.

The agitation later took a violent turn on April 29 when the protesters had a clash with the police which later arrested more than 100 people.

Soon after the incident, the project work was taken up on a war-footing. Though the work was stopped during rainy season, it again picked up in October last year.