Waking up to Posco pipedream

Bhubaneswar: With the future of controversial Posco project in Odisha hanging in balance, people who traded their land along with their livelihood in hope of industrialisation that the mega steel project promised to usher in, are now skating on thin ice.

As the chances of Posco securing raw material supply amidst significant changes in the regulatory environment grow slimmer day by day, land-losers are now finding themselves in dire straits to sustain their livelihood.

Four years have passed since 2,300 farmers in three panchayat’s of Ersama block exchanged their land in promise of employment in the mega steel project and allowances. With the compensation money received by these people now almost exhausted over the period, finding means to make their ends meet now has become a problem, which was least expected four years ago.

The lack of balance in the bank passbook of Arjun Mohapatra, a land-loser, is only matched by the blank look on his face as he rues over his decision to part his land with the Posco authorities.

Same is the case with many who now find themselves unemployed as Odisha government continues to negotiate with the Centre trying to honour its promises which it made to Posco, and in a manner to these people.

The contrast becomes stark and vivid when one notices the sigh of relief on the faces of the farmers who resisted the call to part away with their ancestral land and continue to earn their livelihood from their beetle vines.

It is a contrast which also takes us back to a voice heard during the discussion on Land Bill in the Parliament – ‘I wonder development for whom?’