Opponents of Posco project ensured my ouster: Rout

Bhubaneswar: A day after resigning from the Naveen Patnaik`s Cabinet, senior BJD MLA Damodar Rout on Tuesday felt that his open support to the Posco project proved costly for him.

Rout, who was holding agriculture portfolio, said: "I feel some leaders within the party who are internally opposing Posco project, ensured my ouster."

Participating in a news channel discussion, Rout said the recent clearance of forest land diversion proposal for Posco project by the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) came as a major set back for the people opposing the mega steel project.

Stating that the reshuffle of the ministry was the chief minister`s prerogative, Rout said he would continue to support Posco project for the development of the Paradip region.

Rout, who was elected from Paradip seat in the last elections, had been representing the Posco`s proposed plant site villages since 31 years. He was first elected to the state assembly on Janata Party ticket from Ersama assembly segment in 1977.

Posco-India Chairman-cum-Managing Director Gee Woong Sung had last week met Rout at his residence here seeking help for establishment of the mega steel project.

While a large number of people at the proposed plant site villages were opposed to the steel plant, Rout`s efforts had helped the Jagatsinghpur district administration to hold several meetings with people, a senior revenue department official said.

However, sources said Rout came under flak for allegedly making certain casteist remarks about dalit leaders — Jagatsinghpur MP Bibhu Tarai and MLA B C Das besides some officials — at a meeting in Jagatsinghpur district in August, 2010.

A case was registered against him under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 following a complaint lodged by two persons, they said.