Orissa villagers reject compensation
After having begun smoothly, land acquisition for South Korean steel company Posco’s plant faced resistance on Friday when a villager refused compensation and tried to prevent the demolition of his betel vine.india Updated: Jun 04, 2011 00:14 IST
After having begun smoothly, land acquisition for South Korean steel company Posco’s plant faced resistance on Friday when a villager refused compensation and tried to prevent the demolition of his betel vine.
To make him fall in line, the Jagatsinghpur district administration had to use force — for the first time since land acquisition for the $12 billion (Rs54,000 crore) steel plant near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, eastern Orissa, began on May 18.
Police detained Basudeb Behera, the vine farmer of Noliasahi village, and some other villagers for some time, to make way for land acquisition to resume.
The incident triggered tension in the area with the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading the movement against the project, condemning the alleged police high-handedness.
“The forceful land acquisition belied the administration’s claim that people were volunteering to give up their land. Behera, his family members and some neighbours were assaulted and detained by police while his vine was forcibly demolished,” said Prasanta Paikra, spokesperson of the PPSS.
Paradip additional superintendent of police Shantanu Das said the vine owner refused to accept his compensation cheque of R2,99,000, and, along with some others, prevented the administration from working.
“The land acquisition continued after they were whisked away from the site. No one was assaulted or arrested,” Das said. The district administration has so far acquired about 450 acres (one acre = 43,560 square feet) and disbursed about R5 crore to vine farmers.
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 greenfield steel plant.
Of the total 4,004 acres required for the plant, about 3,000 acres is forest area. The Union ministry gave clearance for diverting 1,253 hectares (3,100 acres) of forestland for the project, which was stalled for nine months since August 2010, on the basis of the state government’s claims that no traditional forest dwellers lived in the affected area.