Kesinga: About 37 years ago, efforts had been initiated to set up a paper mill at Kurlupada under Kesinga block in Kalahandi district, but that project could not be realized. Now efforts are being made to set up an MSME park at the place. This has enraged the farmers of the area. The farmers strongly opposed it and halted its work a couple of days ago.
According to reports, land was acquired at Kurlupada for the paper mill project in 1983. Locals were upbeat about employment scope for them. In 1984, then Chief Minister Janaki Ballabh Pattnaik and then MLA Bhupinder Singh laid the foundation stone of the project. But the project was not executed even after 37 years, local farmers alleged.
“The paper mill project was shelved, but an MSME park is being developed instead, they lamented. Over 3000 families of ST/SC and other communities live in Kurlupada and Nuapada villages. Farming is the sole source of their livelihood.
“When the land acquisition was carried out for the paper mill, 300 families were promised jobs. 180 acres were acquired by Seva Paper Mill of Jeypore at throwaway price,” they said.
The land losers kept their fingers crossed for the ambitious project for 14 years, but the project could not happen. Thereafter, the paper mill authorities sold off the land to IDCO in 1994-94 without the knowledge of the land losers.
Then, IDCO renamed the area as Kurlupada Industrial Estate. A signboard was put up there while barbed fences were raised around the land. The farmers were upset over this development and moved the Bhawanipatana civil court. The farmers demanded return of their land.
In 1995-96, the IDCO authorities, after facing legal tangle, assured the farmers to return their land. 150 farmers were told to send demand draft of Rs 500 each in favour of IDCO, Bhubaneswar, they added.
“After receipt of the demand drafts of Rs 75,000, the IDCO tried to play delaying tactics, by asking farmers to submit various documents. We were harassed,” they pointed out.
Then, farmers again moved the court in this connection. In 1995-96, the IDCO paid Rs 10,000 as compensation per acre of Bhata land and Rs 15,000 per acre of Bahal land while an acre of Bhatta land was valued at Rs 30,000 and an acre of Bahal land was Rs 60,000.
In 2007-08, the IDCO leased out 12 acres of this land to Kesinga NAC for a new bus stand. Kapila Majhi of the area had moved the High Court against the lease of the land.
“The land was taken away from us at throwaway price. Now the IDCO will earn in crores of rupees by leasing out the land for the MSME park, schools, industrial units, food parks,” the farmers said, adding that what they will get.
Alok Ranjan Bai, a junior engineer of the IDCO, said, “An MSME park will be developed, apart from establishment of school and industries on the land. No paper mill will be set up there.”