Although the people of Gobindpur village in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha continued their agitation demanding the withdrawal of police from their area, Posco on Friday expressed the hope to get the required land for the first stage of the steel plant soon and start land preparation work.
“Posco India is very keen on this integrated steel project and welcomes the recent initiative undertaken by the administration to clear the required land for the project with the consent of the village people concerned,” the company said in a press release.
“With the current phase of land clearance by the authorities progressing peacefully with the consent of the villagers, we understand it will take some days for the completion of the clearance of the required land,” said Posco India Chairman and Managing Director Yong Won Yoon, in spite of the fact that the government had halted the land acquisition work since Wednesday.
In another development, social activist Swami Agnivesh criticised the Naveen Patnaik government for the police action against the villagers who came out to oppose land acquisition at the break of dawn on February 3.
The government had no right to use force for acquiring land as it was undemocratic and illegal, he said, while addressing a meeting organised by Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti at Patna village near Gobindpur.
The indefinite hunger-strike by Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahu, demanding complete withdrawal of police force from the village, entered its fourth day on Friday.
Even though the administration had on Wednesday withdrawn police from the place where land acquisition had been carried out by destruction of betel vineyards, at least two platoons of police were camping at Gobindpur.
Bhubaneswar, Feb 8 : Posco India Friday said it was hopeful of getting the land soon for its proposed steel plant in Odisha even as the state government said the land takeover has been suspended temporarily due to protests at the site.
“Posco India is very keen on this integrated steel project and welcomes the recent initiative undertaken by the administration to clear the required land for the project with the consent of the concerned village people,” the company said in a statement.
“We are happy that the land clearance process has resumed again and hope that it will get completed smoothly with the support of the villagers, without any further halt or obstruction,” it said.
Citing information received from the authorities, the company said over a period of four days from last Sunday, a total of 50 betel vines were removed from the area.
“The betel vine owners had given voluntary consent for dismantling of their vines and accepted the compensation cheques from the authorities. Also, compensation cheques were received by 11 other betel vine owners whose vines were dismantled in 2011,” it said.
“With the current phase of land clearance by the authorities progressing well peacefully with the consent of the concerned villagers, we understand it will take some days for the completion of the clearance of the required land,” Posco India chairman and managing director Yong Won Yoon said.
“Posco India believes that the world class steel facility it is going to set up in Odisha will benefit all stakeholders including the local people and the state,” he said.
Posco’s proposed 12 million tonnes per annum steel plant, the largest foreign investment in India, is to come up near the port town of Paradip, about 120 km from here.
However, there has been almost no progress on the ground due to local opposition.
The government claims the project would create jobs and increase economic activities, while those who do not want to give up their land say the project will destroy their forest-based livelihood.
The administration, which had earlier acquired 2,000 acres of land for the project, now wants to acquire 700 acres more in the region.
Although it acquired about 200 acres this week, the work suffered a setback when hundreds of villagers, including women and children, obstructed the officials Wednesday and did not allow them to proceed.
“We did not carry out any work Thursday. The work will resume only when the government will direct us,” a senior district administrative official told IANS.
The indefinite hunger strike launched by anti-Posco agitation leader Abhaya Sahu near the site against police deployment entered day four Friday. Protests also continued in the area.