Daily Archives: April 9, 2013

Villagers cry foul over more land demand by Viraj Steel plant

It has been around five years since notices for land acquisition were issued to the villagers of Pandloi and Bomloi in Rengali Block of the district for expansion of Viraj Steel and Energy Limited at Gurupali.

But a couple of years back, the plant was closed down putting the villagers in a lurch as they are unable to plan their future.

Though the notices were issued twice in a gap of one year, the villagers have not been paid compensation against the land to be acquired.

Now, they can neither sell the land nor use it.

Viraj Steel and Energy Limited had applied for additional land to IDCO after which the notices were issued for acquisition of 88.24 acres in the villages of Pandloi and Bomloi.

But the question has been raised why the company had applied for additional land while it had failed to utilise 4. 65 acres of land sanctioned by IDCO in Gurupali village along the State Highway-10 at a paltry rate of Rs one lakh per acre against then prevailing rate of Rs 30 lakhs in 2006.

Moreover, the company has failed in fulfilling its commitment as envisaged in the MoU with the State Government including development of greenbelt, peripheral development.

It has also not started production over the land when it should have commissioned work on the project within six months and commercial production within two years.

While doubts are raised about the motive behind acquisition of land when the company has failed miserably to use the existing land under its possession, the villagers alleged that Viraj is planning to sell off the plant and the land which it has acquired at a throw away price.

While the company has closed down the plant, what is the need for it to acquire more land, they questioned.

The villagers have demanded that the notices must be cancelled immediately and the land acquired by the company but not in use returned to its original owner.

Tourism proposals for Sambalpur hanging fire

The promises made by the State Government to promote tourism sector in Sambalpur have remained confined to pen and paper.None of the proposals has materialised yet.

As per the proposals, the second zoo of the State was supposed to come up at Laxmi Dungri Hill, a place between Burla and Sambalpur on the bank of river Mahanadi, here.

It was announced by the Chief Minister himself in the Assembly nearly 10 years back. Last year, the Government planned to request the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to expedite the process to set up the zoo.But, as on today, no one is sure about the progress of the project.

On January 17 last year, five proposals had been sent under Mega Destination Development (MDD) for development of tourist spots in and around Hirakud reservoir, erection of rope-way in Sambalpur town besides development of Samaleswari temple.

The proposals included beautification of three islands in Hirakud reservoir along the right dyke, creation of gardens, picnic facilities, parking and kiosks upto entrance of Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary and motor launch facility at ‘Zero Point’ along the dyke for visiting the Sanctuary through waterway.

This apart, there were proposals for erection of ropeway connecting Budharaja Hill and Brooks Hill touching two major attractions of the town with famous Budharaja temple on one side and Wildlife Conservation Centre on the other.

Similarly, landscaping near the famous leaning temple at Huma and construction of hanging bridge of about 180 metres long connecting the temple with the nearby river island under the Destination Scheme were proposed.

Construction of public convenience centre, garden and deep borewell at Kandhara in Rairakhol sub-division of the district which is the birthplace of poet Bhima Bhoi was also mooted under the Destination Scheme.But more than a year after, there has been little development on these works.

District Tourist Officer Sanatan Naik said the State Government has already sent the proposals to the Ministry of Tourism but has not received any reply till date.