The land acquisition process for Korean steel major Posco’s plant in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur is the perfect example of how not to do it.
Posco signed a pact with the state in June 2005 to set up a 12 million tonne per annum greenfield steel project, touted as India’s single largest FDI over 4,000 acres of coastal land, about 120 km east of Bhubaneswar. Posco is yet to produce an ounce of steel.
Industry watchers blame the faulty land acquisition policy for the standoff. The government, which didn’t have enough land for the project, started scouting for it after signing the agreement.
The move faced stiff resistance from eight villages under the Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga gram panchayats, who survive by cultivating betel leaves, paddy and fishing.
After the villagers opposed the land acquisition process when it began in 2011, the state scaled down the project’s area to 2,700 acres and the plant’s production capacity to 8 million tonne per annum.
The government completed land acquisition in July last year after demolishing 1,118 betel vines.
Many villagers have since “re-claimed” the acquired land and re-erected betel vines. In February, villagers demolished a boundary wall constructed by Posco on the Nuagaon village land.