People who reside in places where land acquisition is a raging controversy are faced with a new problem - not many are willing to marry them out of fear that their agricultural land and houses might soon be taken away.
"Social life has certainly been affected due to our agitation against Posco (a South Korean steel company). Marriages in Dhinkia panchayat have not come to a complete halt, but there has definitely been a sharp decline after the agitation was launched," said Abhaya Sahu, the chairman of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.
Bhakata Charan Das, the convenor of Green Kalahandi which is spearheading an agitation against Vedanta Alumina Ltd, has a similar point of view.
He told the Hindustan Times, "It is for obvious reasons that eligible bachelors residing in areas where land is being acquired for industries are getting either a few or no marriage proposals at all. This has happened in the Lanjigarh area of Kalahandi too, where Vedanta is setting up an aluminum plant.”
"In rural areas, people look for stability. And generally, a family's house and agricultural land determine the kind of marriage proposals they get. If both land and houses are being taken away, then marriage proposals will dry up too,” Das added.
There is statistical evidence to back this statement.
Most Hindu marriages take place on tithis, or auspicious dates. Over 30 tithis have already passed in the first five months of 2007. Sahu, however, could recollect only two marriages during this period, while earlier at least one marriage was held on each tithi in Dhinkia and its adjoining areas.
Land and houses being dispossessed apart, there is another reason behind this reduced number — the growing number of police cases registered against the anti-Posco campaigners. For, the fear of arrest acts as a deterrent against possible matrimonial alliances.
But Sahu remains optimistic that normalcy would soon be restored in his panchayat.
“The people who live in the villages adjacent to ours have come to realise that Posco can never acquire an inch of land in Dhinkia. So, they are gradually losing the apprehension of getting their sons or daughters married in our panchayat,” he said.