Work on the IOCL’s refinery project here came to a halt on Monday after hundreds of oustees staged demonstration under the banner of East Odisha Industrial Development Council, a trade union. They were demanding rehabilitation and employment of land losers and displaced persons as well as recruitment of locals in the project.
The agitators alleged that IOCL officials had been neglecting displaced families who have sacrificed their land for the project. The project required 3,345 acres of land which includes 2,876 acres of private land and the remaining Government
land. Though the project authorities and State Government had assured to provide the oustees with jobs and financial benefits, the agitators alleged that none of these promises have been fulfilled. Advisor of the Council Satyananda Panda said IOCL is yet to implement the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy of 2006 of the Odisha Government although it started work on the refinery project in 2000.
The agitators demanded that the decision taken at the last Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) meeting on September 29, 2010, should be implemented immediately failing which, they would paralyse the IOCL refinery project works completely.
A discussion between the management and the trade union failed to yield any result as the oustees and trade union activists refused to withdraw the agitation unless their demands are fulfilled. As they continued to press their demands, the IOCL management sought intervention of the Jagatsinghpur administration.
The District Magistrate decided to hold a tripartite meeting on December 27 to resolve the issue. However, the trade union activists continued the agitation.
IOCL which has been executing a 15 MTPA refinery project at Paradip at an investment of more than `29,000 crore, targets to go for commissioning in March next year.
The company in a release said it has discharged its obligations under the Relief and Rehabilitation plan by providing cash compensation to displaced people, skill development of the affected youths and building a colony for rehabilitation of the people affected by the projects.
Fifty-per cent of the workforce engaged in the project construction jobs since the year 2009 comprise of local people, the release read.