Special Correspondent

Naveen Government not able to convince tirbals to end blockade

  • High Court fixes March 9 as deadline to lift blockade
  • Authorities yet to hand over land to POSCO

    BHUBANESWAR: The current phase of mineral-based industrialisation in the State seems to have landed in deep trouble with the failure of the Naveen Patnaik Government to facilitate the whole process.

    The Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance government has so far not been able to convince the tribals of Kalinga Nagar to lift their road blockade agitation on the Daitari-Paradip national highway.

    The tribals have been blocking the highway since January 2 last year when 13 tribal men and women were killed in police firing. The police had opened fire while tribals were opposing construction of a boundary for the proposed six million tonne capacity steel plant project of Tata Steel.

    The Jajpur district administration has been trying its best to hold deliberations with the Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch of Kalinga Nagar for the past several days. But so far, they have not been able to talk to the tribal leaders to resolve the crisis.

    Last-ditch effort

    The authorities are now making a last ditch effort to talk to the tribal leaders for lifting of the road blockade agitation because the High Court has fixed March 9 as the deadline for the State Government to lift the road blockade from the highway.

    Similar is the situation in coastal Jagatsinghpur district where the Korean steel major POSCO is striving to set a 12 million tonne capacity steel mill and a captive port with the highest-ever foreign direct investment of Rs. 52,000 crores.

    The authorities have failed to hand over even an acre of land to POSCO although the company had already made payments for acquiring 1135 acres of land in Dhinkia area of Jagatsinghpur for the project. As a result, the implementation process of the project has been delayed.

    The stiff opposition to the steel project from a section of the villagers was reflected during the recently held panchayat polls.

    Clashes between the opponents and supporters of the project led to ordering of re-poll in 14 booths.

    The authorities have not been able to conduct re-polling in the area as the situation remains tense.

    Of late, the top political bosses in Bhubaneswar seem to have realised about the gravity of the situation prevailing at Kalinga Nagar and Dhinkia area.

    They have also developed a feeling that unless there was progress on these two steel projects, opposition to other projects in different areas may gain strength thereby derailing the entire process of mineral-based industrialisation across the State.

    According to sources, the Government is also considering use of force to lift the road blockade at both the places to make things move.

    Whatever be the next move, time has surely come for the alliance government to do some tightrope walking to convince the people that acquiring their land displacing them to make space for industries would not have adverse impact on their livelihoods.