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Resentment over compensation for Posco project

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Paradip, 31 July :

Though 2,700 acres were acquired for the proposed mega steel plant by Posco near here, resentment seems to be brewing among locals who felt the administration had adopted a dilly-dally approach on issues of compensation, rehabilitation and peripheral development.

Alleging neglect by the district administration of Jagatsinghpur, irate people had damaged a machine meant for preliminary construction work and detained one person recently. A case has been registered in local Bijayachandrapur police station, police said today.

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Jagatsinghpur district collector S K Mallick had recently announced that land acquisition had been completed with government taking possession of 2,700 acres. Altogether 1,116 betel vines were dismantled and Rs 16 crore paid as compensation for betel vines, Rs 1.15 crore for farm land, Rs 1.10 crore and Rs 3.50 crore for tree felling respectively.

Denying any use of force during the exercise, the district collector said today, “We have acquired land from the people who were willing.”

Besides, it was assured that those who lost their betel vines and labourers working there would be paid Rs 4,500 and Rs 2,250 per month respectively till permanent solution for their rehabilitation was made.

However, after land acquisition there is no sight of any senior district official in the area nor any concrete effort to address the problems facing people, project protagonist Jeebanlal Behera of Gadakujanga alleged.

A general perception now pervades the area that the people were taken for a ride by the administration. Even several project supporters appeared to have toughened their stand on issues relating to compensation, re-settlement and rehabilitation as well as peripheral development.

Groups of people are often seen holding meetings and discussions as to how to face the situation in the aftermath of land acquisition.

Project supporters, opponents and fence-sitters appear to be upset preparing to resist ancillary works being undertaken by state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) before land formally handed over to Posco.