Paradip: Landowners have intensified their protest as fresh hurdles cloud land demarcation process for the proposed rehabilitation colony meant for sea-erosion affected people of Satabhaya.
Incidentally, the proposed resettlement colony at Bagapatia under Rajnagar tehsil happens to be Odisha's first resettlement and rehabilitation project for sea-erosion-hit villagers in Kendrapara district.
On December 12, the private landowners had opposed the land demarcation work at Bagapatia.
The private landowners had registered protest and refused to part with their land. They disapproved the "paltry" compensation paid to them for land acquisition.
The landowners renewed their protest today as officials tried to erect concrete poles along the demarcated line of the colony. Officials were forced to retreat and the work was suspended.
Land losers are opposing the work on the relief ground. They said the administration could resume work only after paying them legitimate compensation.
"The state government is paying us Rs 30,000 per acre as compensation. The awarded compensation is meagre in comparison to the land acquisition sum paid elsewhere to the land losers. Landowners have been paid compensatory sum as high as Rs 17 lakh per acre in Paradip. But, we are being given a raw deal. We are not against the establishment of rehabilitation colony at Bagapatia. People are living in constant threat in Satabhaya cluster of villages. Their resettlement needs to be prioritised. But, we, the land losers, should be duly compensated," said Baikuntha Barik, a landowner.
"The revenue and tehsil officials were trying to erect fences on our land. We protested and stopped the work," said another landowner, Dayanidhi Biswal.
The decision to relocate the 571 families living at the vulnerable costal villages in the Satabhaya cluster was taken in 2008 at a high-level meeting, chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. However, things have hardly moved on the desired direction as 132.97 acres needed for the resettlement colony are yet to be acquired.
Of this, the government owns 84.47 acres, while 48.50 acres are private land. The administration had acquired the government land, but till date, could acquire 16 acres of private land.
"It has become a cumbersome process to take physical possession of the 32-acre private land for the project as people are demanding higher compensation," said Rajnagar tehsildar Khirod Kumar Behera.
"Residents of Kanhupur and Satabhaya villages are worst hit by sea erosion. The government is ready with funds to relocate the affected people to Bagapatia rehabilitation colony. Regarding the hike in land acquisition rates, raised by private landowners, the administration is taking up the matter with the higher authorities. We are optimistic of resolving the issue by January 20. The beneficiaries of the proposed resettlement colony would be handed over the land records by then," said Kendrapara collector Pramod Kumar Das.
Once the relocation process is over, it would be the state's first ever rehabilitation and resettlement project for people displaced by sea erosion. While people are registering their discontent against land acquisition elsewhere, things are a bit different in Satabhaya.
People here are hell bent on leaving their ancestral land forever as the Bay of Bengal is eating up their settlements every passing day.