The Orissa government on Saturday suspended land acquisition for Korean steel major Posco’s $12-billion (R54,000 crore) plant in Jagatsinghpur district due to bad weather. However, the 2,000-people strong anti-Posco resistance group stood their ground, heavy rains notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, social activist Swami Agnivesh has offered to mediate between the government and the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS). The PPSS has been spearheading the agitation against the mega steel project for the last six years.
Swami Agnivesh, who visited the demonstration site near Gobindpur-Nuagaon village border on Saturday, said: “I appeal to the state government not to continue land acquisition with force. The chief minister should visit the area to know the ground realities and sort the matter out after having a dialogue with the people.”
Agnivesh said he would seek the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh in the matter. “It is the responsibility of the Centre as the state is resorting to forcible land acquisition because of its order,” he said.
“Our teams were ready but, just like on Friday, we could not start land acquisition works due to heavy rain. We will resume it on Monday,” said Paradip additional district magistrate Sarojkanta Choudhury.
The resistance, which started on June 8 has drawn the attention of civil society and political parties to the issue of “forcible land acquisition”.
Political parties in Orissa, including Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party , which supports the state government from outside, have opposed the “forcible land acquisition”. “The government cannot acquire the farmers’ land forcibly.
The state government is trying to create a Nandigram-like situation in Orissa,” said NCP leader Arun Dey, who visited the area on Friday.