26 families return to Posco site, still apprehensive

Kendrapara:  Uneasy calm prevails at Gobindpur in the proposed site for Posco steel plant in  Jagatsinghpur district even after the return of 26 pro-project families to their native village after over two years of life elsewhere.

While the homecoming of these families is being seen as weakening of movement against the mega project, an air of uncertainty looms in Gobindpur under Dhinkia Gram panchayat, the epicentre of anti-Posco stir.

Fear of recurrence of violence grips the just-returned families while many are hopeful about return of good old days of peaceful co-existence. "We have got reports of over 20 families returning to Gobindpur, (four years) after these permanent residents were driven out of their houses in 2007. It`s a positive development. We hope that 52 other families presently staying in Badabagapur transit colony would return to Patana village soon," Additional District Magistrate, Paradip, Surajeet Das said.

The families were literally hounded out of their houses by opponents of Posco project. While some were living in Badabagapur Posco-transit colony, the rest had sought safe refuge in relatives` houses.

As the families, which had earlier paid the price for supporting the steel project, are slowly picking threads of life with their homecoming, the opponents of Posco project are apparently not in a mood to take the things in their stride.

"The atmosphere is still hostile and unfriendly. The officials have not come forward to provide us security", said Manindra Rout, a local driven out of the village four years back.

"After receiving consent from majority of residents of Gobindpur, we have returned to our village last week. We have not faced any hostility so far but we are scared. Anti-Posco activists are mobilizing the people to against us," said Baina Mohanty, another local.

The General Secretary, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samity (PPSS) Sisir Mahapatra said ?some villagers had left the village on their own. As they had turned into agents of Posco, we socially boycotted them.

While claiming these people are free to live here, Mahapatra, however, added "we neither support nor oppose their home-coming. But, they have to withdraw false cases against anti-Posco activists."

Chandan Mohanty, an original settler of Patana village now living in transit colony at Badagabapur, said "they are lucky to return to their village but not we. We are leading a condemned life. Though the government has given us shelter in transit colony, we are leading a miserable life.

In a related development, senior bosses of Posco-India returned from Paradip having failed to visit the steel project village sites. The top bosses put off their visit to the project site in view of likely protest from land-losers on rehabilitation and compensation issue.