Activists want steel plant to shift site
South Korean steel maker POSCO has announced an enhanced compensation package for people affected by its proposed mega steel plant near Paradip port in Orissa. Village residents demanding relocation of the project rejected the proposal. (Read about earlier protest: Police clears way for POSCO)
The company said it would pay Rs 17 lakh per 0.4 hectare (ha) for private land and Rs 11.50 lakh per 0.4 ha for betel vine land. For owners of prawn ponds, POSCO announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh per 0.4 ha. Besides cash, the company would give each displaced family a three room pucca house with cowshed and Rs 5,000 for shifting to the rehabilitation colony. A POSCO spokesperson said the rehabilitation package is a benchmark for other similar projects and hoped people would accept it.
Sources said the Jagatsinghpur district officials had been holding talks with the leaders of the pro-POSCO United Action Committee, which is in favour of the project, to arrive at the enhanced compensation package. The committee had rejected the package offered initially: Rs 7,000 per decimal (0.004 ha) to betel vine owners (15 per cent of the total compensation to owners was payable to the betel vine workers as one-time settlement); jobs under the project contractor after demolition of the vines and, in case of delay in getting employment, a monthly allowance of Rs 1,500 per month till a job could be provided. The company had also offered to pay Rs 1 lakh per 0.4 ha for the prawn ponds in the area.
Since betel vines and prawn gherries exist mostly on encroached government land, the company had expected people to accept the offer but they rejected it outright. The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the outfit spearheading the popular agitation against the project, is firm the project should be shifted. “We reiterate that this area is not meant for industries. This is fertile agricultural land which cannot be put to any other use. Let the chief minister come and see it for himself. They must look for an alternative site,” said Dhinkia sarpanch and PPSS secretary, Sisir Mohapatra. Dhinkia is one of the three panchayats affected by the project.
Mohapatra said PPSS had agreed to the socio-economic survey in June because its purpose was limited to counting the number of betel vines and trees in the area.
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