South korean steel major posco has announced a rehabilitation package for people using the forestland diverted for its proposed steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa through Oriya newspapers.
Activists led by the posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (ppss) made a bonfire of the printed copies of the rehabilitation package on February 14 and demanded shifting of the project site.
“Who would accept one time payment against land that has fed them for generations?” asked Sisir Mohapatra, general secretary of ppss. Villagers affiliated to the United Action Committee, perceived as a pro- posco group, also rejected the offer saying it is too little (see box).
Rates for compensation
- Betel vine owners will be paid at the rate of Rs 7,000 per 0.004 ha
- Betel vine workers will be paid 15% of total compensation payable to owners as well as jobs under the POSCO project contractor
- Prawn cultivators to be paid Rs 1 lakh per 0.4 ha
- Paddy field owners will get Rs 75,000 per 0.4 ha
posco plans a 12 million tonne per annum integrated steel plant in the area for which it needs 1,620 ha, including 1,253 ha forestland (see ‘Blockade’, Down To Earth, July 16-31, 2008). The Union environment ministry gave permission to divert the forestland in December 2009 while stipulating that forest dwellers’ consent be obtained.
Part of the project will be on land belonging to the panchayats of Nuagaon, Dhinkia and Gadkuganj. Dhinkia and Nuagaon have passed resolutions against the diversion of forestland. The villagers have been using the land for prawn cultivation and growing betels; they demanded pattas under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.
Land acquisition officer of Jagatsinghpur, meanwhile, issued a notice through local newspapers saying people encroaching on forestland will be evicted.
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