Villagers of Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district have alleged that the district administration has forcibly acquired land and dismantled betel vines to make way for the project of Korean steel major Posco.
They alleged that over the last seven days, the administration had dismantled several betel vines.
The administration refuted the allegation, but could not carry out the land acquisition on Thursday due to fierce protests by people in Gobindpur, 150 km east of Bhubaneswar. Paradip additional district magistrate Surajit Dash, said, “Force has been used only to dismantle the fake vines -- those that came up recently just to grab compensation.”
Defying the administration, the villagers have re-erected four dismantled vines. “It takes at least four days to re-erect a vine. But we will re-erect every vine the administration dismantles,” said a villager.
Jharana Jena, 38, widow of Mania Jena, one of the three anti-Posco activists killed in a bomb blast in March, reportedly tried to commit suicide after her betel vine was dismantled on Tuesday but was stopped by villagers. “My vine is the only hope for my son and me. But the administration dismantled it despite my pleas,” Jharana told the HT.
The state government has already acquired about 2500 acres in a phased manner amid protests and needs to acquire around 200 acres for the commencement of the project.