PARADIP: Despite the State Government’s claim that there has been no communication from South Korean steel major Posco on shelving the mega steel project in Odisha, the villagers displaced for the plant are returning to their native places to reclaim their land.
Sources said the land losers have reoccupied nearly 500 acres of land in Nuagaon, Gobindapur and other villages in Dhinkia panchayat in the last two days. They include 140 activists of Dadhibaman Jew Forest Committee who had supported Posco in erecting 10 containers to expedite project-related activities including land preparation and disbursement of compensation in 2012.
Posco officials used to provide Rs 9,000 per month to the committee to take care of their Nuagaon office. The members, who used to keep a watch on the site office on rotation basis, distributed the money among themselves.
Though the site office was closed about two years back and the remuneration stopped, the villagers did not lose hope and were waiting for the company to start operation to get jobs. But, their hopes came crashing down when South Korean company announced to stall operations in Odisha.
Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-Joon had recently announced after an investors’ relations session in Seoul that the company has decided to tentatively stop the project as there was no visible progress.
Earlier, Posco had closed down its Human Resources Development (HRD) centre at Paradip after withdrawing its local staff and auctioning the equipment to a private firm. On Saturday, the company shifted the remaining equipment and two security guards from Nuagaon site office to Bhubaneswer.
Leader of United Action Committee, a pro-Posco outfit, Tamil Pradhan said those who have returned to their villages have fenced their land but in absence of a boundary wall around the acquired land, the chances of encroachment are more.
Collector Bijay Kumar Upadhaya said, “The district administration has taken steps to construct a boundary wall to prevent encroachment and the tehsildar concerned has been asked to evict encroachers from the company’s land.”
Meanwhile, pro and anti Posco people have urged the State Government to return their land in Nuagaon, Gadakujang and Gobindapur villages to help them restart their lives.