ROURKELA: Defying prohibitory orders, Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey on Wednesday led about 1,500 tribal protesters to the construction site of Sundargarh- II Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Bankia, near Rourkela airport demanding that the work be stopped. Against 120 workers, only 20 workers had turned up on Wednesday.
Apprehending trouble, Sundargarh administration had clamped prohibitory order and deployed about 12 platoons of police, including riot control personnel. Though the protestors under the banner of Sundargarh Zilla Adiwasi Mulawasi Bachao Manch (SZAMBM) were armed with sticks and working tools, they refrained from vandalism. Police were also seen preparing to camp at the troubled site 24x7.
Addressing the protestors, Tirkey blamed the administration of not talking to them before going ahead with the work and demanded that the land should be returned to the original tribal owners. It is learnt that about 70 acres of surplus land at Bankia acquired by Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) long back were surrendered to the State Government and 50 acres allotted for construction of Sundargarh-II KVK of Indian Council of Agriculture Research under the Centre.
Claiming violation of constitutional and tribal rights, Tirkey insisted that the unused land be returned to the original tribal owners.
Rourkela ADM K Sudershan Chakravorty refuted the allegations that the administration was not open to talks with SZAMBM.
The administration is firm on setting up the Government project aiming to benefit majority tribal farmers and vast rural population of Panposh and Bonai sub-division. There is no justification in opposing the project, he stated and asserted that action would be taken if the protestors break laws.
The tribal-dominated Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj are the only two districts in the State to bag two each KVKs to boost agriculture sector and ensure economic uplift of rural population.
Citing violation of land and tribal rights, SZAMBM has stalled a host of development projects in and around Rourkela and several police cases are registered against the Manch leaders.