PARADIP: Amid the ongoing stir against the proposed steel plant by JSW, laying of the pipeline for IOCL’s Paradip-Hyderabad Product Pipeline (PHPL) project in Dhinkia village got underway on Wednesday much to the chagrin of the villagers.
The villagers alleged that the company has taken over the gochar land to lay pipelines which is in violation of rules as it has not yet been de-reserved and their consent has not been taken in the matter.
Sources said, villagers are mostly dependent on livestock and their grazing grounds are being taken over by the administration allegedly in nexus with IOCL. A tussle between the villagers and IOCL authorities has been going on for years now.
A petition was also filed in the Orissa High Court to direct the parties involved to refrain from using gochar land under the provisions of the Odisha Government Land Settlement Act 1962. As per the Act, there is provision of de-reservation of gochar land.
Under the Act, no government land recorded as Gochar can be reserved for any purpose or settled without being de-reserved in accordance with provisions. Despite orders, in December 2020, IOCL again started laying the pipeline without getting the right of way (ROW) from the State government thus inviting resistance from villagers.
In January 2021, the HC directed the then Jagatsinghpur Collector Sangram Keshari Mohapatra to restrain the IOCL authority from use of grazing land for industrial purposes in accordance with law but work on the same continued intermittently. Finally, on December 22, 2021, IOCL vacated the land by shifting pipes after villagers erected bamboo fences restricting the entry of company officials.
“Our lands are being taken away forcefully for the pipeline project on the pretext of job generation and other benefits, but its is all being done illegally and not benefiting us at all,” said Debendra Swain, member of the Jindal Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (JPSS). Contacted, Erasama tehsildar C Pragyananda Das said that laying of the pipeline has started again with no resistance from villagers. “We have not received any orders from the HC to restrain IOCL from carrying out the activity,” added Das.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli cancelled a felicitation programme at Paradip Refinery of IOCL on Thursday in view of the model code of conduct promulgated by the State Election Commission (SEC).