ROURKELA: Tribal villagers of several gram panchayats (GPs) in Rajgangpur on Friday gheraoed the district collectorate at Sundargarh town protesting land acquisition for expansion of Lanjiberna limestone mines of OCL India Ltd, a unit of Dalmia Bharat Group.Hundreds of protestors led by Rajgangpur MLA CS Rajeen Ekka and Rourkela district Congress committee president George Tirkey vehemently opposed the land acquisition process which is underway in the tribal villages.
Ekka said acquisition of private tribal land should be done strictly as per the provisions of the Constitution. “I had raised the issue in Odisha Assembly and drawn attention of the Governor to it besides filing a petition in the court of law. If the government continues to ignore rightful voice of the affected people, the agitation would be intensified,” the Congress MLA warned.
Sources said the land acquisition process was initiated in 2018 but since then, it has met stiff protest from the villagers. The agitators said under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, no tribal land can be acquired in Sundargarh district without the consent of Gram Sabha. From the beginning, the Sabha meetings have rejected the land acquisition proposal but the administration is resorting to unlawful and illegal means to benefit the private company, they alleged.
On August 23 and 25, public hearings for social impact assessment were scheduled at Kukuda, Alanda, Kesramal and Jhagarpur of Rajgangpur and Kutra blocks to facilitate land acquisition. However, the meetings were hurriedly organised on roads after protestors prevented administrative officers from reaching the venues.
OCL needs a total of 717.10 acre at seven villages in Rajgangpur and Kutra blocks for the expansion of Lanjiberna limestone mines. It has proposed to acquire 164.82 acre at Kukuda, 29.79 acre at Bihabandh, 162.82 acre at Alanda, 57.80 acre at Lanjiberna, 293.25 acre at Kesramal and 8.48 acre at Jhagarpur.