Ramakanta Biswas

An eight-member team from Mumbai, which had camped in Balasore district to undertake a survey on the proposed Subarnarekha port project, was detained by some locals who have been strongly opposing the project, on Friday.

The survey team members were detained by the members of Bhitamati Surakhya Committee, a local outfit which is spearheading a campaign demanding withdrawal of the port project proposed to come up near Choumukh village at the river mouth of Subarnarekha. 

Hundreds of residents from six panchayats including Dagada, Choumukh and Bedagadia under Baliapal tehsil organised a Praja Meli and threatened not to leave their native land till their last breath.  

They alleged if the port was constructed, about 30,000 to 40,000 local residents will lose their land and livelihood. 

Arun Jena, convenor of Bhitamati Surakhya Committee, said, “This area is covered with greenery and all types of crops can be grown on the rich soil. Such fertile land will not be found anywhere in the entire country. If the port is constructed at the proposed site, many locals will lose their livelihood.” 

“The survey team has promised that they will inform the Tata authority that people do not want the construction of a port in the area. They have made the promises in front of the public,” Jena said. 

According to sources, the Subarnarekha Port Private Limited (SPPL) promoted by Chennai-based Creative Port Development Private Limited in which Tata Steel holds 51 per cent stake proposes to develop the port with handling capacity of 25 million tonne per annum. A sum of Rs 5000 crore is estimated to be spent for the construction of the port.