Amidst protest from anti-Posco activists, Orissa government on Wednesday resumed land acquisition work for Korean steel major’s proposed $12,000 (Rs 54,000 crore) steel plant near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, following union ministry for environment and forest’s final forest clearance to the project on May 2.
Jagatsinghpur collector NC Jena said the teams comprising officials from the revenue department and Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IIDO) were involved in the land acquisition process. “The process will continue,” Jena said.
On the first day, however, the administration could demolish betel vines belonging to just 11 villagers in Gada Kujanga and Nuagaon gram panchayats, about 200 km east of Bhubaneswar, and disbursed about Rs 8 lakh to them.
About 1000 activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) held a demonstration at Balitutha, the entry point to Posco’s proposed plant. At least 10 platoons of police force were deployed to ensure smooth acquisition process.
PPSS president Abhay Sahu said that the demonstration had been peaceful so far, but they would not allow the land acquisition at any cost. “The state government had acted undemocratically by resuming work with police force without pallisabha resolution. Let them organise pallisabhas in all villages,” he said.
Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel producer, signed an MoU with the Orissa government in June 2005 to set up its 12-million-tonne-per-annum greem field steel plant near Paradip.
Of the total 4004 acres required for the plant about 3000 acres are forest land. But villagers facing imminet displacement because of the proposed plant have been it construction under the leadership of PPSS.
The administration had earlier acquired about 1000 acres of land in July last year. However, the land acquisition work had been halted for nine months as per an order by Union ministry for environment and forest on August 6, 2010 on the ground of violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA).