DHENKANAL: A day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik cancelled the beer bottling plant at Balarampur in the district, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (North) D V Swamy on Tuesday visited the village to look into the irregularities during land acquisition. During his interaction with the villagers, the locals alleged that in 2014, the district administration had allocated 62 acres of land by converting it from ‘Gochar’ category to ‘Patita’ for setting up the bottling plant by Kolkata-based P and A Bottlers Private Limited. “Though the villagers and forest dwellers moved from pillar to post from 2014 to 2018 to protect the village forest, the district officials did not pay heed to our demands. Even the report prepared by Palli Sabha over the matter was not made public,” they said.
Locals demanded before the RDC that the allocated land from ‘Patita’ should be converted to forest kisam to safeguard the green cover, industrial activities in the area should be avoided and action taken against officials involved in the irregularities. Swamy also interacted with revenue officials, including the Odapada tehsildar.
Earlier, the Chief Minister had directed the RDC to inquire into the matter and take immediate steps to stop tree-cutting after the villagers lodged a strong protest.
The RDC, who submitted his report on Monday, recommended cancellation of land allocated for the bottling plant. Gramya Parichalana Parishad president Ambika Prasad Jena and its secretary Susant Kumar Dhal apprised the RDC about meeting the former Collector and the former tehsildar and urging them not to hand over the forest land to any industry, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Samir Mohanty visited the plant site and held talks with the people on the issue. Deogarh MLA Nitesh Gangdev, Remuna MLA Gobinda Das and former BJP Rajya Sabha member Rudra Narayan Pany were also present.