The arrest of five front ranking anti-Posco leaders, including the president of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti president Abhaya Shaoo in last one month has breathed some life to the 12 million tonne, Rs 52,000 crore (Rs 520 billion) project of the South Korean steel major which otherwise was in limbo for last three years.
The Jagatsinghpur district administration, under whose jurisdiction the site falls, has decided to convene a meeting of the Rehabilitation and Periphery Development Advisory Committee next week to finalise land valuation, compensation and rehabilitation packages.
Even after three years of signing of memorandum of understanding with the state government, the Posco project was a non starter due to stiff opposition by the locals led by PPSS activists.
However, sources said, following the arrest of five front line PPSS leaders within one month, the base of the organization has been significantly weakened.
Encouraged by this development the district administration and Posco officials have renewed their efforts for land acquisition in the site area.
A senior official of Posco while declining to comment on the arrest of Sahoo on the ground that 'it was an administrative matter of the state government', said, "It will definitely change the scene at the site. We will continue our communication programme with the local people to win their support and cooperation for the project".
Meanwhile, Sahoo's arrest has brought cheer and happiness to the families supporting the project in the site area. Fifty two families of Patana village who were ostracised by the anti Posco brigade celebrated Shaoo's arrest by burning fire crackers on Monday night.
These families said, they were eager to return to their villages as soon as possible. Similarly, members of United Action Committee for Posco steel plant appealed to the villagers to restore peace in the area for greater interest of the villagers.
It may be noted Posco required 4004 acres of land out of which 435 acres are private land belonging to villagers of Dhinikia, Nuagaon, and Gadkujnag panchyats.
The detailed socio economic survey report has been submitted to the state government and the company to facilitate finalization of land valuation and compensation. UAC demanded Rs 30 to Rs 40 lakh (Rs 3 to 4 million) per acre of private land against which the company agreed to pay Rs 300,000 per acre.
Meanwhile, the district administration has reportedly convinced Posco officials to give Rs 10 to 15 lakh per acre (Rs 1 to 1.5 million) to match the amount paid by ESSAR Steel for acquisition of land for its project at a location close to the Posco site near Paradip.
Posco India, sometime back, had announced a compensation package as per which the company offered to give Rs 7,000 per decimal towards loss of betel vine. It had also agreed to pay Rs 1500 per month to each betel vine labourer till the person is engaged under a contractor and agent during the construction stage of the plant.
Besides, 15 per cent of total compensation towards the loss of betel vines will be given to the labourers working in them for their rehabilitation.
The displaced families would be provided houses in the rehabilitation colony with the cost of one unit being at least Rs 300,000. Each house would be equipped with facilities like cow shed, kitchen and electric and water supply.
Similarly, the company has promised to provide ITI training to the local unemployed youths to improve their employability in the project.
However, the rate of land valuation, which is yet to be finalized, is likely to be decided after discussion with the villagers in RPDAC meeting.
The district rehabilitation officer, Surjeet Kumar Das said, the villagers have expressed their interest for the Posco project following which the administration has decided to conduct RPDAC meeting on October 25 or 26 for finalisation of land valuation and compensation.