Land acquisition for Posco's mega steel plant in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur, which was to have resumed on June 17 and remained stalled, was again put off after the president of a pro-project group resigned on Monday.
The resignation of Anadi Rout, president of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), apparently came after resentment brewed among leaders that contractors from outside would be employed for setting up the boundary wall of the project.
The resentment gained ground as some members alleged involvement of a kin of the JAC president in engaging an outsider as contractor on his behalf, sources said.
Officials of state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IIDCO) and contractors on Sunday night visited Polanga and Noliasahi villages under Gadakujanga panchayat for laying the foundation for the boundary walls.
During the visit JAC leaders demanded fulfilment of their demands including appointment of locals as contractors.
Their other demands were employment for one member from each family, enhanced compensation to land-losers and proper rehabilitation of the projected-affected people.
The officials and contractors left the area in the face of protests, the sources said.
Gadakujanga, Nuagaon and Dhinkia are the three gram panchayats where the Posco project is proposed to be set up.
"I have resigned as president of JAC on health grounds," Rout told PTI but said he would continue to support and cooperate with the Posco project.
Rout's resignation seemed to have put the district administration in a tizzy and it suspended land acquisition which was to begin on Monday.
"We will first clear up areas where betel vine plantations were demolished. Then we will take a decision when to resume land acquisition," additional district magistrate of Paradip Sarojkanta Choudhury said.
The police were deployed at Balitutha near Dhinkia gram panchyat, considered the epi-centre of the anti-Posco agitation.
The opposing group, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti meanwhile held a meeting at a temple at Gobindpur and resolved to put up a three-tier human chain comprising children, women and youths against land acquisition.