Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Paradip, June 7:
Seven years after they were forced to leave their homes at the height of the anti-Posco agitation, it was ‘homecoming’ on Saturday for about two dozen families, who spent the intervening period at a transit camp set up by the Korean company at Badagabapur near its site for the proposed mega steel plant in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.
Twenty four out of the 56 families, who spent the last five years in the Posco transit camp, are scheduled to return to Patana, their native village five kilometres away, by the end of the day.
“The residents of the transit camp had expressed their desire to return to their native place, which was entirely natural. Now that the situation has returned to normal, we thought it would be a good time for them to return,” Paradip ADM Ramakrushna Sahu said.
“The other residents too would go back to their places in batches,” he said adding the families would be rendered all possible help by the administration for their proper rehabilitation.
The ADM, along with the local tehsildar and the IIC, was there at the transit camp to oversee arrangements for the shifting of the transit colony residents to their native place.
A sustenance allowance of Rs 2, 400, besides a polythene sheet, was given to each family shifting out from the colony by Posco to take care of emergency operations during the transition.
Those shifting out were ecstatic.
“There is nothing like home. We were not staying here out of choice. But now that the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) has assured us that no harm would be done to us and all possible cooperation would be given to us for our full and proper rehabilitation, we decided to go back,” said Suresh Muduli, one of those leaving the camp.
Seven years ago, it was PPSS supporters who had allegedly driven them out of their home and hearth after branding them Posco supporters. The wheel appears to have come full circle with the families now agreeing to oppose Posco as part of the deal struck with the PPSS, sources said.
Senior PPSS leader Sisir Mohapatra said; “It was the administration’s divide and rule policy which had estranged our brethren from us. We are happy to have them back in the village and shall lend them all help to rebuild their houses.”
Notably, PPSS president Abhay Sahu’s son was a candidate in the recent Assembly election. PPSS has also fielded a candidate in the belated panchayat election taking place in Dhinkia.
Today is the last day for filing of nominations.