The imbroglio over the Rs 54,000-crore Posco steel plant project near Orissa’s Paradip port showed some signs of easing on Sunday after the first meeting between state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and opponents of the project.
Patnaik agreed to visit the site on the request of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which has been spearheading the stir against the project. The PPSS, on its part, gave a nod to land and forest survey work to be undertaken without police presence at the site in Jagatsinghpur district, 100 km from the state capital.
More than 3,000 families in seven villages spread over 4,000 acres of forest and cultivable land face displacement due to the proposed steel plant.
“Let the survey work be completed and I will visit the area at an appropriate time. We will hold discussions with different groups in the area,” Patnaik said after the meeting.
PPSS leader Abhay Sahoo said, “We wanted to talk with the CM to convey our genuine problems since we launched our movement (against the project). Let the CM visit the area and see for himself the suffering of the people.”
South Korean giant Posco, the world’s fourth-largest steel producer, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Orissa government in 2005 to set up a plant that would produce 12 million tonnes per year.