Paradip: Land acquisition began for the proposed Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district but project supporters opposed any move to construct boundary wall before announcement of a rehabilitation package for affected villagers.
As many as ten betel vines were dismantled and more than 600 trees felled in Gobindpur area since yesterday with resumption of land acquisition, Additional District Magistrate, Paradip, Surjit Das said
"The land acquisition process will continue on Monday with dismantling of old betel vines and felling of trees by two teams ", he said.
The district administration paid Rs 12.5 lakh to people whose betel vines were razed down today, while Rs 6.35 lakh had been disbursed yesterday, the ADM said. However, payments for clearing the trees would be made later, he said.
In the face of protests by both supporters and opponents of the project, the administration had suspended the land acquisition work on April 30.
The supporters, led by Ranjan Bardhan, had asked the district administration to announce rehabilitation package before proceeding further. "Though we are allowing demolition of betel vines, any move to construct boundary wall around the area before the administration announces a rehabilitation package will be opposed tooth and nail," Bardhan said.
"We are not opposed to the project. We have assisted the administration to undertake land acquisition. But, it does not mean we have given up our demands. We want rehabilitation and other benefits including jobs first", Bardhan said.
While supporters of the project sought immediate fulfilment of their demands to facilitate land acquisition, the opponents under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Committee (PPSS) held meetings to chalk out future plans.
Another interesting aspect facing the administration was that even as existing betel vines were being dismantled new structures were coming up at the site in equal number.
Truck loads of materials for construction of new betel vines in the area were reaching from others places for the purpose, official sources said.
The administration made it clear that old betel vines would be dismantled from Monday and also the new ones cleared. However, no compensation would be paid for newly raised betel vines, the ADM Said.