Dhinkia steel plant: Villagers block entry points with bamboo structures to oppose JSW project

The resistance came after police officials entered Dhinkia to arrest “anti-industry” villagers December 4

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Tuesday 07 December 2021
Dhinkia steel plant: Villagers block entry with bamboo structures to oppose JSW project Photo: Ashis Senapati

Villagers in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district erected bamboo barricades December 6, 2021 to restrict entry to Dhinkia village, intensifying their resistance to a steel plant project planned by Jindal Steel Works Ltd (JSW) at the site. 

This came after police officials entered Dhinkia to arrest “anti-industry” villagers December 4, local residents told Down To Earth.

The villagers have been vociferous in their protests against land acquisition for the 13.2 million tonnes per annum  (MTPA) steel plant on the seaside Gram Panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang since the project was proposed in 2017. On November 22, several residents opposed the project at a public hearing in Dhinkia.

Debendra Swain, panchayat samiti member of Dhinkia Gram Panchayat, said:

The state government has no right to hand over 2,900 acres of our land to any company. The state had illegally acquired the land five years ago for setting up a steel plant by South Korean steel giant POSCO. That proposed project was shelved. There will be no steel plant in our area and so, we want our land back.

Dhana, paan and mina (rice, betel vines and fish) are our main sources of income and the authorities are trying to take these away by handing our land to JSW, said Bhamarabar Das, another resident of Dhinkia. “As per the Supreme Court’s decision in 2016 on Singur (in West Bengal), we  are now entitled  to get back their lands after POCSO withdrew.”

The SC judgement for Singur has major ramifications for Odisha as well, he said. “The state government claimed the steel plant is for public purpose while handing over our land to POCSO. But SC clearly stated in its judgment that the Tata Motors’ project was not for public purpose and directed the state to return the “illegally acquired” land to the farmers.”  

The court also allowed farmers of Singur to keep the compensation amount they received from Tata, Das added. “We hope the state government will return our land as soon as possible.”

The Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation, a state government agency, is now the  owner of the acquired land, pointed out  Kanhu Charan Dhir, additional district magistrate, Paradip.

The high-level clearance authority chaired by the chief minister transferred the land June 2, 2017 in favour of Sajjan Jindal-led JSW,” Dhir added. “The authorities acquired lands legally after properly compensating villagers. They have no legal right to reoccupy the land.”

On the night of December 4, 2021, we went to Dhinkia to arrest miscreants who had hurled a bomb at the house of a villager, said Pradumnya Kishor Behera, inspector-in-charge of Abhayachandapur police station. “But around 200 villagers stone pelted us and didn’t let us enter.” 

The local residents also assaulted some policemen and damaged two police vans, the officer claimed. 

A case has been filed against around 200 villagers and all accused will be arrested soon, Behara added. 

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.