Reported by Ranjan Rath
Rayagada Nov 25:
The under-construction plant of controversial Utkal Alumina at Doraguda in Rayagada district is back in the news again for the wrong reasons. The plant, which started in 1992 but is yet to be fully functional, now faces a PIL in the Odisha High Ccourt for alleged unlawful land acquisition.
The PIL in the High Court comes one top of an ongoing sit-in by the affected people from nearby villages to protest the absence of CSR and developmental activities by the company.
An RTI query revealed that Utkal Alumina had acquired 277 acres of Bhoodan land at Dwimundi and 200 acres from nearby villages in 1994 with the help of IDCO and district administration while acquiring 2400 acres of land for the plant and its colonies and 1700 hectares of land for mining. The land in question cannot be used for industrialization and is not transferrable as per Bhoodan and Gramdan Act passed by the Odisha Assembly in 1972.
On behalf of ‘Bhoodan Jana Samiti’, senior journalist and social activist of Rayagada Pitabasa Tula filed a PIL in high court on Monday challenging the fraudulent acquisition of 277 acres of land near village Dwimundi, which the court has accepted.
It may also be mentioned that hundreds of residents from nearby villages such as Maligaon, Paikupakhal, Surugunja, DangasKhal, Dutura paga, Kebidi, Rayalaghati, Bhejapadar and Chandragiri are staging a dharna and have blocked the road, which connects Kashipur-Kalahandi-Rayagada and Bafalamali near Salaghati square since November 17 to protest pollution and crop loss allegedly caused due to red mud and the refusal of the company to provide employment to locals in the plant and take up CSR activities in the afffected villages.
Neither the company administration nor the government representatives have spoken to the protestors in the last eight days of protest and the situation remains volatile in the area.