PARADIP: For over 15 days now, villagers of Handia here are on a dharna protesting construction of a boundary wall by Arcelor Mittal-Nippon Steel (AMNS) India for expansion of its steel plant. Alleging that none of their demands has been fulfilled, they said the administration has kept them in dark about displacement, rehabilitation or compensation for affected families.
Essar Steel had set up a 12 million tonne pellet plant in Paradip and wanted to expand production to 24 million tonne production capacity per annum. In 2008, the company served notice under section 4 (1) of Land Acquisition Act to around 80 families in Handiaw for displacement as around 394 acre land was required for the purpose of expansion.
Along with resettlement, one member of each family was promised job in 2012. Since nothing moved, a joint meeting was held between company officials and villagers in 2014 again promising jobs, allowance to unemployed youths, stipend to students besides developmental works. In the mean time, Essar Steel was acquired by AMNS but there was no clarity on displacement of land losers.
Village leader Sashikant Mohanty alleged youths identified by the company were trained for jobs 10-12 years back but none got recruited. “Families to be displaced were identified but without rehabilitation. So when 15 days back boundary wall construction began without fulfilling any of the promises, we sat on dharna,” he said. MLA Sambit Routray reportedly joined the protest on Monday and assured to redress their issues within four days.
However, AMNS authorities clarified, in a meeting convened by administration last month, it was decided to give jobs to 54 identified persons as per resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) policy 2006, within six months. ADM, Paradip Kanhu Charan Dhir was unavailable for comment.