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Naveen urged to follow Mamata model

Staff Reporter

Demand for return of land acquired for Tata Steel in Ganjam district


State government showing undue favour to Tata Steel to reuse the land: former Union Minister

CPI(M) leader says land should be handed over to displaced families immediately


BERHAMPUR: There has been growing demanding in the State for return of land acquired by the Tata Steel for its shelved steel plant project in Ganjam district to the peasants who had been displaced.

The demand has got rejuvenated in the wake of efforts of the West Bengal government for return of the land acquired by Tata Motors for its ‘Nano car' project to the farmers of Singur. The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal came up with the Singur Land Rehablitation & Development Act 2011 in the State Assembly for the purpose. “But the Orissa government continues to act like an agent or offshoot of the private company as it is only interested in protecting the company's interests rather than that of the common people,” alleged former Union Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu.

Mr Sahu asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to learn from his West Bengal counterpart and initiate legislation so that the land remaining unused in the hands of Tata Steel could get returned to the peasants as it was not used for the purpose it was taken over.

He alleged that the Orissa government was showing undue favour to Tata Steel to reuse the land it acquired in Ganjam district for its shelved steel plant project to establish a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). He alleged that the State government did not have political will to take decision in favour of the peasants against the interests of Tata Steel.

It may be noted that the Tata Steel has proposed to develop a Special Economic Zone on around 3,200 acres acquired about a decade back for a proposed mega steel plant project. Social activist and former president of the Ganjam Bar Association Bhagaban Sahu also demanded immediate return of this land to the peasants as the company was not using it for the purpose for which it had acquired. Gana Sangram Samity (GSS), the organisation that had vehemently opposed Tata Steel project near Gopalpur in the past, has reiterated that they would oppose efforts to establish any SEZ in the area, which according to them was against the interests of the State.

According to State secretariat member of the CPI(M) Ali Kishore Patnaik the displaced families had handed over the land for establishment of a steel plant as per notification made during the nineties under the Land Acquisition Act. As the land was not used for the purpose it is duty of the State government to get it returned back to the owners and it should not be allowed to be utilised for any other commercial purpose by the company as the displaced families are not going to gain anything from it, he said.

Senior Congress leader Chittaranjan Dash said by remaining silent over the issue the Orissa government was betraying trust of the common man.

According to him it was high time for the State government to take over the unused land acquired for the shelved project of Tata Steel in Ganjam district and redistribute it to the farmers who had lost their fertile land for it.

He demanded the State government to come up with legislation like that of West Bengal for the purpose.

Social activists such as Prafulla Samantra of Lok Shakti Abhiyan and Rabi Dash of Orissa Jan Sammilani also have similar view. “It is an irony that till now the Orissa government has not issued a single notice to Tata Steel regarding non use of land it acquired in Ganjam district for the purpose it was taken over,” Mr Samantra said.

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