Locals stop soil testing work for steel plant in Odisha
The Indian Express | March 18, 2023
Villagers alleged that without taking the consent of locals, some officials of the steel company started soil testing work on the village land.
KENDRAPARA: Opposing the government’s decision to hand over land to ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AM/NS) for construction of a steel plant in Mahakalapada block, a large number of villagers stopped the soil testing work of the company at Hariabanka here on Friday.
Ratan Kanjilal, an agitating villager, alleged that without taking the consent of locals, some officials of the steel company started soil testing work on the village land. “We will oppose the steel plant project as the state government has no right to hand over our land to a company without paying us proper compensation,” he said.
The agitators who opposed the soil testing work included many women. One of the protestors Ashalata Mandal said, “We eke out our livelihood through paddy cultivation. Due to the proposed steel plant, we will lose our land and become displaced,” she said.
Contacted, public relations officer of AM/NS Rabindra Prusti said the soil testing work, which was underway on government land, had to be stopped after some locals opposed it. “We will restart the work soon after holding discussions with the district administration and locals,” he added.
Mahakalapada tehsildar Manas Kumar Tripathy admitted that AM/NS officials were forced to stop digging on government land as locals opposed the work. “The work was stopped with an ulterior motive. We will take legal action against the miscreants who opposed the work,” he added.
In March 2021, the state government had signed an MoU with AM/NS for setting up a 12 million tonne integrated steel plant in the seaside villages of Mahakalapada block with an investment of Rs 50,000 crore. In August the same year, executive chairman of ArcelorMittal Lakshmi Niwas Mittal had visited the project site to chalk out plans for the proposed steel plant.