The Jagatsinghpur district administration has filed FIR against 18 villagers for encroaching upon the land acquired for Posco project and illegally raising betel vines.
These villagers, who had dismantled their betel vines to clear the land for the Posco project, have re-occupied the land after Posco decided to freeze its project.
The FIR against the encroachers from Gobindpur, Nuagaon and Gadkaujang villages has been lodged at Abhayachandpur police station.
"The re-occupation of the reclaimed land is an act of illegality. Hence, the administration had directed the tahsildar, Erasama to take action to evict these encroachers. The villagers have no right to re-occupy the land after receiving the compensation. If they do not clear from there, the administration would demolish their betel vines forcibly," said Jagatsinghpur collector B K Upadhyay. Police have registered cases against the encroachers under section 447 of Indian Penal Code and notices have been sent to them.
Villagers, however, criticised the move of the administration and the police. "Both Posco and the district administration had committed to give job opportunity, sustenance allowance and compensation to betel vine labourers but nothing has been given to them yet. While some of the betel vine labourers have been forced to migrate to other states in search of jobs, others have re-occupied land to raise betel vines," they said. Nirvaya Samantray, secretary of pro-Posco outfit, United Action Committee (UAC) said, "More land would be re-occupied in the coming days because villagers are left with no avenues for their livelihood after Posco's decision to keep on hold its steel project."