The state government has decided that Posco India will have to pay the same price for rehabilitation colony land as it has paid for the project area, following a complaint raised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“Steps will be taken to request Posco India to pay equivalent compensation as paid in the case of rate of private land coming within the project area,” the government said while filing a compliance report on the NHRC complaint regarding the same issue.
Villagers near the project area had complained that two private firms in 2009 acquired about a hundred acres near the proposed plant site in the name of establishing fish farms and later sold the same land to Posco for establishment of its rehabilitation colony .
The land was sold by the villagers at Rs 1.80 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per acre then, whereas the district administration has fixed the land rate for Posco project at Rs 17 lakh per acre, they had alleged.
The government, on the other hand, said no such land transfer has been made for rehabilitation colony purpose.
“It is verified from the district administration, Jagatsinghpur that till now no record of rights has been issued with regard to surrender of land in favour of R&DM (revenue and disaster management) department,” the letter sent from the steel and mines department said.
However, it said henceforth, no private parties will be allowed to purchase land for any project related works of the government and said it can only be done with the due permission of government in R&DM department after recommendation by Idco (Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha). While Idco has been entrusted with the land buying work for Posco, the R &DM department has been engaged in constructing rehabilitation colony for the families who will be displaced for the proposed steel plant.
In its latest status report on India's biggest foreign direct investment (FDI), the state government on Wednesday said Posco is currently in possession of 10 acre land where several families have taken shelter in the 'transit camp', after the project opponents ostracized them.
For Posco's 12 million tonne plant and its captive port, five villages with 718 families have to be replaced. As per the rehabilitation scheme, Posco will provide each displaced family a three room house within 743 square feet area and will also pay Rs 5,000 to each family to move to the rehabilitation colony along with 230 square feet area for cattle shed. The latest status report on Posco said the work for rehabilitation colony is going on and 200 local persons has been engaged in the construction work. Meanwhile Posco India has applied to transfer 2,700 acre land in its favour for establishment of 8 million tonne per annum (MTPA) steel plant. Though the Korean steel maker had intended to build a 12 MTPA plant in 4,004 acre area, it later changed its mind to go on with lesser area for 8 MTPA plant as the progress of the project got clogged in getting regulatory approvals and local protests.
The steel and mines department, in its compliance report said it has decided not to go ahead with land acquisition of any private land following the direction from the High Court. Out of original plan of 4,004 acre area, private land consists of 437 acres.