Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Balangir, Jan 30:
People displaced by the ongoing Lower Suktel project in Odisha’s Balangir district are back on the agitational path – this time demanding one-time estimation of their losses by the government and payment of compensation thereof.
Protestors blocked the Patnagarh- Balangir road for the third consecutive day today bringing vehicular movement to a halt.
The Balangir Collector rushed tothe site of the blockade with a contingent of armed police and held discussions with the protestors today. However, the protestors remained adamant with their demand for direct talks with the Principal Secretary, Water Resources department and one-time estimation of their losses, payment of compensation and rehabilitation as per the provisions of the 2013 R & R policy.
“We are agitating for appropriate compensation for our losses. We had staged rasta roko. Yesterday, the secretary had come, but he left without bothering to meet us. We are asking for our rights. We want compensation as per the Central government’s announcement. We are peacefully agitating; there is no reason for any kind of coercive action. People who are located in the backwater area of the project are crying. We do not know whether we will be dying or going somewhere. We will intensify our stir,” said Kailash Pradhan, an agitator.
Principal Secretary Water Resources department Pradip Jena, who was on a visit to the Lower Suktel project site to review progress of work on the site, didn’t meet the protestors nor had any discussions with them.
“Whatever is possible within the ambit of law will be done. Compensation will be provided to them. The maximum benefit possible under the law and the rehabilitation policy will be provided to them. But I cannot comment on the 2013 policy. We do the maximum that’s possible under the realm of law. I am always available for discussions,” Jena told reporters during his visit to the project site yesterday.
The protestors have vacated the road block following discussions with the district collector M Muthukumar today. But they have made it clear that they will continue with their agitation.
“We will do everything according to the law. We will hold RPDAC meeting and will write to the government for payment of some ex-gratia amount to some people who are not eligible under the present policy,” said M Muthukumar, Collector Balangir.