Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Balangir, Apr 15:
The Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) for the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project in Balangir district today decided to recommend to the Odisha government payment of compensation to the families displaced by the project as per the provisions of the ‘Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’.
The meeting held seven full years after work on began on the project was presided over by NBS Rajput, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) for the northern range. Besides reviewing the progress of the project, the meeting discussed issues related to compensation and rehabilitation of the displaced.
Balangir MLA and leader of opposition in Odisha assembly Narasingha Mishra, Patnagarh MLA and BJP Odisha unit president KV Singhdeo, Loisingha MLA and MSME minister Jogendra Behera attended the meeting along with SPs, collectors and other senior officials of Sonepur, Balangir districts.
However, representatives of Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad’ (LSBASP) were absent as they have been opposing to the project citing the large-scale displacement it is set cause.
“If the government is so serious about better compensation for the displaced, they could have implemented the law much before. We have decided not to allow compensation as per old laws and would recommend the government to implement the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 for the sake of Balangir,” said Narasingha Mishra.
“People need to be compensated. The government, however, needs to compensate them as per the latest laws. In the meeting held today, we decided that the collector and RDC would approach the government and inform the present conditions so that we can understand what the government thinks about it,” said Singhdeo.
“I suggested compensating the displaced people as per the 2013 act instead of the 2006 one. People would receive more money as per this and this is going to make them happy,” said minister Behera.
“We would examine the situation and recommend the government to take necessary decisions and once the government gives the go ahead, we would see how the people who deserve to receive the compensation as per the 2013 law actually get it,“ said NBS Rajput, Northern RDC.
It may be noted that Lower Suktel Irrigation Project is being constructed on River Suktel, a tributary of river Tel, a major right tributary of river Mahanadi..
The project was initially planned to be implemented with an investment of Rs. 217 crores but the costs had escalated to nearly Rs. 1,042 crores by mid 2013 and continues to rise. The Environment Clearance to the project was given by the Ministry of Environment and Forest back in 1998.
The dam site, located around 20 kilometres from the Balangir town is expected to submerge more than 30 villages. But upon completion of the project, thousands of farmers in Balangir, Nuapada, and Subarnapur district would be benefited.
NGOs and civil rights organisations, besides LSBASP, continue to oppose the project protesting against the displacement and inadequate compensation given to the land losers of the project. The project work has had to be halted many times due to stiff protests from LSBASP members.