At least 17 people, including five women, have been injured after two groups clashed on Thursday over the proposed steel project by South Korea steel major Posco in Orissa, sources said.
The clash erupted when around 100 people, supporting the project, attacked protestors at Balitutha village, some 120 km from Bhubaneswar, for rejecting a committee set up by local leaders on Wednesday to bring the situation back to normal in the region.
The protestors, also numbering around 100, including women, retaliated. Both groups reportedly hurled bombs and clashed with weapons.
At least eight of the injured are said to be in critical condition and admitted at the government hospital at Balitutha, a pro-Posco leader Tamil Pradhan told IANS.
A tent, set up by the protestors, was burnt, sources said. The people injured comprised both supporters and opponents of the project. The situation remains tense in the region, the source added.
"Since no one has lodged any complaint with the police, we are not interfering in the matter," a police official at the local police station said.
The region has witnessed a series of clashes since the steel company and the Orissa government signed a deal in June 2005 for a $12 billion plant. The plant is to come up near the port town of Paradeep by 2016.
Those protesting the project say the plant will displace over 20,000 people from around 15 villages and ruin their betel leaf farming. Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but it would create thousands of jobs.