PARADIP: Livelihood of nearly 450 labourers is in jeopardy after construction work of the boundary wall of IDCO in Nuagaon and Gadakujang panchayats was stopped over forest clearance for the last one month.
IDCO had hired contract agency, Balaji Construction Pvt Ltd, for erection of the boundary wall of IDCO in Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang panchayats. While the project faced stiff resistance from locals in Dhinkia, construction work began in Nuagaon and Gadakujang with help of village forest committees.
Five forest committees of Nuagaon panchayat had engaged locals as labourers in construction of the wall. Similarly, villagers of Nolishai, Bhuiyanpal, Polang and Khilbandha under Gadakujang were hired as masons and labourers for trench cutting, construction work, sand shifting and water supply.It is found that nearly 450 villagers of these two panchayats are living in pathetic condition after construction of the boundary wall was stopped over IDCO’s failure to submit forest clearance to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The livelihood of these villagers has been affected due to the halt in construction work.
Sources said these villagers were earlier engaged in different works for Posco steel project. However, they were left in the lurch after the steel major withdrew from the project. Now, the villagers stare at a similar situation after construction of the boundary wall of IDCO was stopped.Dhuja Biswal, a local, said the fate of hundreds of villagers hangs in balance now. The State Government and IDCO authorities should stop playing with the fate of villagers, he said.
Nuagaon Sarpanch Bidyadhar Mallick said livelihood of 120 workers of the five forest committees has been affected after construction work of the boundary wall was stopped suddenly. Similarly, Sarpanch of Gadakujang Sampad Kumar Barik said nearly 300 masons and labourers of the panchyat have lost their livelihood. “We have requested the State Government to start construction work of the boundary wall soon,” he added.
Block Development Officer of Erasama Kailash Chandra Behera admitted that livelihood of hundreds of villagers has been hit. “The district administration is ready to provide work to these villagers under MGNREGS scheme if they apply,” he said.
IDCO is building the boundary wall on 1,700 acres of land, which was earlier earmarked for the Posco project, to protect it from encroachment. The wall is likely to be built around 18 km covering Nuagaon, Gobindapur, Polanga, Gadakujanga and Baynapalakanda villages at an estimated cost of `13 crore. Out of 18 km, construction work of the wall has been completed for about two km.