Sunday, August 09, 2009

Cobra Battalion on OUAT land opposed

Express News Service First Published : 09 Aug 2009 04:44:00 AM ISTLast Updated :

KORAPUT: Even as the State Government is in a haste to establish Cobra Battalion in Koraput, the district administration has failed to initiate construction work of the battalion near Rajuput village after villagers opposed it on Friday.

About 23 villages are opposing the construction of the battalion on the Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) land which was acquired 40 years back from the villagers for agricultural purpose. As the land lay unutilised the government decided to establish a Cobra battalion on it to combat Naxal moment in the region.

The villagers however claimed that the land was given to OUAT to develop the agricultural sector in the region. Kamlu Pangi, a villager, said they will not allow establishment of the battalion at the site at any cost. ‘’We would not hesitate to allow the land for setting up the proposed Central University, medical or engineering college wing near their village’’, he added.

The villagers have been agitating for the past few months against establishment of the proposed battalion near their villages. After arresting an anti Cobra battalion leader Trilochan Muduli last month and releasing him from custody, the district administration managed to convince a section of the villagers to establish the battalion. Simultaneously the administration has promised to provide drinking water, communication and electricity facilities including employment opportunities to locals during construction. Similarly the police administration had promised to impart three months pre-training to local youths to qualify in the tests conducted for the battalion.

After an agreement with the leaders, the administration laid a foundation stone on August 4 amidst protests from a section of the tribal villagers on Friday. They forcibly stopped construction work and took away the construction equipment from the area. The district Collector and SP are likely to pay a visit to the villages on Monday to convince the protestors.

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