South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed project in Odisha, stuck for more than six years due to sustained protests, saw another outbreak of violence on Wednesday in which one person died and 15 were injured.
The clash in Jagatsinghpur district between villagers opposing the $12 billion (more than Rs 64,000 crore at Wednesday rates) plant and a contractor’s staff occurred around 1.30pm at Vocaslish Point near Paradip, more than 200 km east of Bhubaneswar.Nearly 1,500 anti-Posco villagers were demonstrating at the site against the construction of a coastal road, which they claimed would link Posco’s plant with its proposed captive port in Paradip. The administration, however, said the road had nothing to do with Posco.
Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police S Devdutta Singh said the clash occurred after anti-Posco villagers attacked labourers of Paradip Paribahan, a construction company building the road. “They hurled bombs at the labourers, which resulted in the death of a person. They also abducted a labourer,” Singh said. The victim was reportedly engaged by the contractor.
The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which is spearheading the anti-plant movement, said the contractor’s men attacked the demonstrators and hurled the bombs which killed their own man.
The latest clash adds to the shadow of violence surrounding the project. In 2008, anti-Posco leader Tapan Mandal was killed in a bomb attack.