The Orissa government on Wednesday halted the land acquisition process for the Posco steel plant after the environment ministry constituted a committee to ascertain whether the provisions of the Forest Rights Act had been implemented for the project.
The state government began the land acquisition process for the project on Tuesday.
"The land acquisition and verification work, which began yesterday, was halted today due to opposition from people. We will start it soon after holding talks with villagers," Jagatsinghpur district collector N C Jena said.
Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday constituted the committee, headed by former environment secretary Meena Gupta, to look into the land acquisition by the Orissa government.
The state had failed to respond to the environment ministry's letter asking for transcripts in English or Hindi of its claim of having implemented the act.
The state had provided the details in Oriya, to which the ministry objected.
Under the Forest Rights Act, locals' permission is mandatory before acquiring forest land for a project.
Civil organisations have told the ministry that the locals' permission was never sought, which the state denied.
The Rs 51,000-crore steel plant in Paradip had failed to take off for the past five years because of opposition.