TALCHER: Police arrested 150 people of Rakas village here on Wednesday for obstructing tree felling exercise in their village forest by the Forest Department to clear the way for mining by Jagannath Coalmine.
Villagers opposed the move demanding a resettlement site before possession of the 20 acre dense forest land around their village.
The entire village and all its agricultural land have been acquired by MCL. Jobs and all other rehabilitation benefits have been given to villagers. Only a resettlement site is yet to be given, said an official of MCL.
According to source, the 20 acre Rakas reserve forest land was acquired by MCL two years back with stage two clearance for operation of the coalmine.
The mine was in dire need of the land to run the mine, which is on the verge of closure. But, Rakas villagers were opposing the possession and tree felling on that part of forest demanding resettlement first.
The stalemate has been continuing for several months and the matter was also raised at Chief Secretary level meeting from time to time. Finally, the Government is learnt to have ordered Angul district authorities to go for tree felling to hand over the land to MCL.
On Wednesday, about 10 platoons (250) of police force led by SP Kabita Jalan and a host senior police and administrative officers rushed to the forest and started arresting people opposing tree felling. The felling was later resumed by Forest Department officials.
All the arrested were lodged in Deulbera Colliery Institute. The tree felling work will take two to three days to complete, said a police official.