Angul: Locals of as many as three villages in Chhendipada area have levelled serious allegations of encroachment of public lift irrigation project land by Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) in Angul district.
According to sources, the State government constructed a micro lift irrigation project in Parang adjacent to JSPL plant in 2002 after acquiring land from the locals.
However, even 10 years after completion of the project, the farmers are yet to get any benefits from the project and the locals have blamed the JSPL authorities of arbitrarily encroaching at least 4.5 acre land meant for the project.
An investigation by OTV revealed that while Jindal authorities have filled up the canal system constructed for the lift irrigation project, the district administration seems to have turned a blind eye towards the development. Taking note of allegations by the locals on illegal activities by JSPL, the then district collector directed Banarpal Tehsildar on July 18, 2011 to conduct field enquiry and take necessary steps for eviction if JSPL authorities are found to be illegally occupying the area.
Thereafter, the collector also asked Executive Engineer of Micro Irrigation project of Dhenkanal division to take immediate measures like demarcation of land allegedly encroached by Jindal authorities and the amount of land illegally given away by the irrigation department. However, 8 years after the development, the directives have not materialised into action.
“We are the ones who had to suffer the most because not only we lost our land but also we are yet to get any irrigation benefits from the project,” said Saroj Dalabehera, a complainant.
“Now after such a long period of inaction, when we try to approach the administration, we are forced to move from pillar to post because one is passing the buck to someone else. If the government plans for some kind of compensation or alternative irrigation facility, we are also ready to give our land,” said another local.
Asked about the issue, the current Chhendipada Tehsildar, Daniel Ekka accepted that it is the responsibility of the district administration to look into the issue but he clarified that since it has been pending for quite some time, they don’t have any records of previous investigation.
On the other hand, despite multiple attempts, no comments could be obtained from JSPL authorities.