PARADIP: In yet another blow to the Posco project, the State Government has initiated the process of withdrawal of notifications for acquisition of 438 acres of private land in seven villages in the project site near Paradip.
It comes following the recent order of the Chief Justice of the High Court V. Gopalagowda, pointing out several irregularities in land acquisition for the Posco plant and violation of fundamental rights of landowners in the project area.
The HC had directed status quo on private land in villages till the disposal of a writ petition filed by six land losers opposing land acquisition for the project.
Hearing the writ plea, Justice Gowda, in his interim order, stated that the acquisition of land in the name of Posco through a state-owned corporation is not permissible in law as the acquisition of land is in favour of a private company and not for public purpose.
Issue of notifications for land acquisition without the State Government order is a gross violation of Fundamental and Statuary Rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, said the Justice.
It may be noted that Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco), the land acquisition agency of the State Government, had issued the impugned notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition (LA) Act, 1894, to acquire land for the Posco steel plant.
Justice Gowda observed that the corporation was not competent to acquire land exclusively for any particular company and could only, under certain circumstances, acquire land for an industrial estate or an industrial area as defined under the Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation Act, 1980.
Out of 438 acres of private land earmarked for acquisition in three panchayats of Nuagaon, Gada Kujanga and Dhinkia, the administration had paid compensation of `1.43 crore to the land losers for acquisition of eight acres of private land at the rate of ` 17 lakh per acre.
The HC observed that the impugned notifications under Section 6 (1) were published beyond one year from the date of publication of notification under Section 4 (1) in respect of the land covering these villages.
Similarly, notification under Section 9 was issued and served upon the landowners before passing awards by determining the market value of their acquired land and those awards have been passed beyond a period of two years.
Meanwhile, Additional District Magistrate, Paradip, Surjeet Das said, “The district administration is awaiting the directive of State Government to de-notify all 438 acres of private land earmarked for acquisition for Posco plant. As per Section 48 of LA Act, the government has liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of these lands of which possession has not been taken.”
Posco required 4,004 acres of land for its 12-million tonne steel plant of which 3,566 acres were government and forest land and 438 acres were private.