BALANGIR: More than 50 displaced families of Khuntpali village under Balangir tehsil met Chief Engineer of Lower Suktel dam project here and demanded early payment of compensation recently. Around 400 households of the village, who are affected by the project, have been deprived of compensation.
According to sources, after a prolonged opposition, the construction work of the project was started in April, 2013. The dam is located around 20 kms from Balangir town. The major irrigation project is proposed over river Suktel, a tributary of river Tel which is a major tributary of Mahanadi. The project is slated to submerge more than 30 villages in the district.
The survey for the project was conducted in 1979 and the environment clearance was obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forest in 1998.
Project work had been stopped for some time due to protest by Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad (LSBASP). They have been opposing displacement and inadequate compensation for the land losers.
Displaced families alleged that though the survey has been completed, compensation amount is yet to be paid to them. The government had promised to provide land to them in Larkipali village, but it is yet to be fulfilled.
Similarly, the administration had declared that the construction of the project and payment to the displaced persons will be made simultaneously. Though one year has passed since the construction work was started, the compensation is yet to be paid.
Secretary of Budi Anchal Agragami Sangha (BAAS) Upendra Sahu said they have been supporting the project from the beginning. But the administration sidelined them. The administration officials should talk directly to the project affected people and not through the middleman or agents, Sahu suggested.
When contacted, Chief Executive Engineer of the project Belarsen Bhoi said gross financial irregularities have been made in the project earlier. He is not getting 77 vouchers and the expenditure statement of ` seven crores. It will take more than two months to make final payment for the survey work conducted in Khuntpali village, he added.
Bhoi assured that the proposed land for the displaced families will be identified shortly in Larkipali village and handed over to them after the payment for survey work. The administration is serious about the compensation issue and the matter will be resolved soon, he added.