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Orissa farmers rise against Mittal

Bhubaneshwar: Arcelor-Mittal’s mega-budget steel project in Orissa has run into rough weather. The question is, if Orissa Chief Minister will also follow footsteps of West Bengal CM Budhdhadeb Battacharjee—who did not let protests and political turmoil come in the way of Tata’s investment in Singur? Mittal’s Rs 40,000 crore SEZ project along-with South Koreas POSCO are being touted as the biggest investment that Orissa government is welcoming with open arms.
But the projects being placed on multi-crop land has stirred farmers rage for whom the land is their only source of earning.

"We will not allow Mittal steel to come up here. We will not give away our lands as they are our only source of livelihood,” Keonjhar farmer Phulamani said.

The Orissa government claims that it has the best Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy for the displaced people. Chief Minister Patnaik had clearly said that he would only allow the single-crop land to be used for industrial purposes.

"We have selected semi-urban areas where various IT industry projects are also coming up. We are being careful about giving away only the one-crop land for the SEZ project." Patnaik said.
However, Keonjhar farmers say that the CM is giving mere ‘lip service’. “We give an ultimatum to the government. If they want to set up plant, they should look for barren land rather than snatching our fertile crop land," said farmer Hrudayaballav Rout.

People from 17 villages in the area took out a protest march on Saturday to the district Collector’s office protesting the move. "They gave a memorandum saying that since it is a multi crop fertile and irrigated land it should not be handed over for the project," Keonjhar Collector B B Mohapatra, said.

Though the state government is yet to demarcate the exact land that would be acquired for the Mittal project, going by the protest in Keonjhar it seems the affected people are not ready to buy governments’ claims at any cost.


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posted by Bimal 26.1.07,


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