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.

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