Post News Network
Kendrapara, July 19: With reports coming in of South Korean steel major Posco possibly putting its proposed steel project of $12 billion on hold, the project-affected persons ( PAPs) of Nuagaon village have started betel vine and prawn gheries on the land they had earlier handed over to IDCO for setting up the project.
Despite the State Government’s claim that there has been no communication from South Korean steel major Posco on shelving the mega steel project in Odisha, the villagers displaced for the plant are returning to their native places to reclaim their land.
Sources said the land losers have reoccupied nearly 500 acres of land in Nuagaon, Gobindapur and other villages in Dhinkia panchayat in the last two days. They include 140 activists of Dadhibaman Jew Forest Committee who had supported Posco in erecting 10 containers to expedite project-related activities including land preparation and disbursement of compensation in 2012.
Posco officials used to provide Rs 9,000 per month to the committee to take care of their Nuagaon office. The members, who used to keep a watch on the site office on rotation basis, distributed the money among themselves.
Though the site office was closed about two years back and the remuneration stopped, the villagers did not lose hope and were waiting for the company to start operation to get jobs. But, their hopes came crashing down when South Korean company announced to stall operations in Odisha.
Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-Joon had recently announced after an investors’ relations session in Seoul that the company has decided to tentatively stop the project as there was no visible progress.
Earlier, Posco had closed down its Human Resources Development (HRD) centre at Paradip after withdrawing its local staff and auctioning the equipment to a private firm. On Saturday, the company shifted the remaining equipment and two security guards from Nuagaon site office to Bhubaneswer.
Similarly, residents of Gobindapur have also decided to set up betel vine on the land they had surrendered for the project, informed a villager.
Notably, those supporting the project handed over land hoping a better future. They are now struggling to earn bread and butter.
The compensation amount, they were paid by the administration against their land is already spent on marriages of their daughters or on medical expenses. Neither they have money nor land to start the betel vine farming.
The government had promised them of providing alternative livelihoods and pension scheme. However, nothing has been done for them. The district administration had also decided to constitute a rehabilitation and periphery development advisory committee, but it is yet see the lightof the day.
The locals are now finding it difficult to earn bread and butter.
Either the government should return the acquired land to the locals or set up an industry if Posco withdraws the project, demanded a resident Tamil Pradhan.
“We were supporting the government for setting up of Posco, but are now losers. We lost our land and livelihood. What should we do to feed our family?”,questioned a villager from Nuagaon.
With a hope that they would get jobs in Posco the locals handed over their land after demolishing their betel vines. But now, with the project’s future in dark, the locals have started betel vine and prawn gheries on the land that was earlier acquired by IDCO.