Land parcel being acquired is our lifeline, says JSW’s revised compensation offer has been rejected
Hundreds of villagers on Sunday protested against the setting up of an integrated steel project proposed by JSW Utkal Steel Ltd under the leadership of industrialist Sajjan Jindal near the port town of Paradip in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.
JSW Group has proposed to set up a 13.2 million tonne per annum (MTPA) capacity plant at an estimated investment of around ₹55,000 crore on land acquired earlier for the project of South Korean steel major, POSCO.
Strong opposition to land acquisition
The project had to be put on hold in 2017 following stiff resistance from land acquisition. Now, new efforts are being made to install it at the same location.
A 900 MW captive power plant and 10 MPTA cement grinding and mixing units are also proposed to be set up near Dhinkia, Govindpur, Nuagaon, Bayanala Kanda, Polanga and Jatadhar villages under Erasama tehsil in Jagatsinghpur district.
Information and Public Relations Minister and local MLA Raghunandan Das, District Collector Parul Patwari and other officials participated in the meeting called to explain the project in Dhinkia village. However, the presence of company officials in the meeting made the villagers agitated.
“We have been opposing the industrial project for the last 17 years on our land, which is suitable for lucrative betel cultivation. Most of these land blocks fall under the forest category. The government should first take steps to provide us with the Record of Rights (ROR) of our forest land as per the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 – which we have been using properly for more than 100 years,” Devendra Swain said Dhinkia, who is leading the movement, is a resident of the village.
“During the forced land acquisition for the POSCO project, officially 1.79 lakh trees were cut. Persons and agencies involved in unauthorized harvesting should be taken to action,” Mr Swain said.
Villagers are protesting at a public hearing organized to garner support for the project.
Despite the lack of consensus, JSW announced that construction of the boundary wall would begin in December. It claimed to have organized tripartite discussions involving its representatives, the district administration and members of the Panchayati Raj Institution.
To woo people, JSW announced revised compensation for betel, prawn cultivators and fruit trees.
“The betel nut farmers will get ₹17.50 lakh per acre while ₹44,000 will be paid as a one-time lump sum amount to each betel-dependent family. Similarly, ₹2.5 lakh per acre of prawn cultivation will be paid and ₹40,000 will be paid in lump sum to each family under forest conservation committee in the project area,” the company said.
Mr. Swain said that the villagers are firm on their stand that they will not take any compensation. “When arecanut farmers are earning much more than what is offered, why would they opt for lump sum compensation? The land being acquired is the lifeline of the villagers. They are not in a mood to give their land.”