BALASORE: Construction work on the much-awaited Deo irrigation project in Mayurbhanj district has been stalled for the last couple of days due to opposition from the displaced people. Initiated in 1992, the project at Hatibari in Karanjia block is yet to see the light of the day owing to displacement related issues.
Sources said the displaced people are up in arms against the project as they alleged that despite several assurances, the authorities have failed to compensate them as promised.
The displaced people from Devigarh, Shyamchandrapur and Thakurmapatana villages are now on a dharna in front of the project office since Saturday demanding land compensation at market rate, monthly pension of Rs 5,000 to above 50-years-old, package for the partially displaced families and release of villagers who were arrested for halting the project work.
Officials, however, said while most of the oustees have accepted the compensation decided by the State Government, a group of displaced people have been creating hindrance to delay the project so that they can continue to cultivate the land and stay in the houses for which they have been compensated.
The project on river Deo was initially estimated at Rs 52 crore in 1989. The then chief minister Biju Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the project in 1992 and it was targeted to be completed by 1997. The cost of the project has now escalated to Rs 500 crore. While a 1,280-metre dam has been built, construction of two main canals is going on. At least 1,235 persons will be displaced in around 100 villages of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts.
The work on the project has been stopped since 2006 on grounds of rehabilitation.
Sources said of 847.50 hectares (ha) land required for the project, 464.95 ha are private land.
Though at least 465 families were rehabilitated and received compensation as per the Government norms in 1994, they demanded more compensation.
Executive Engineer Basant Kumar Rout said a list of 299 families from the three villages has been prepared and compensation of Rs 13 crore will be distributed from Monday.
As per the policy, a fully-displaced family would get a package of Rs 8.26 lakh while the partially-displaced family (those who have lost only agricultural land) would get Rs 75,000 per acre. But by demanding an exorbitant Rs 35 lakh per acre, the oustees have stalled the work, he added.
A revenue official said Deo project is the first irrigation project in this non-irrigated region. Once completed, it would irrigate 6,677 ha in Mayurbhanj and 3,223 ha in Keonjhar benefiting more than 50,000 farmers in both the districts. “But for a group of people, the fate of the farmers now hangs in the balance. People who are opposing it need to be sensible,” he said.