Protest mounts, but Posco firm on steel plant

BHUBANESWAR: Unmindful of the anti-Posco voice getting louder with every passing day, the company on Friday said it is firm on building the 12 mtpa steel plant at the earmarked site and sent kudos to Odisha government for resuming land acquisition for the purpose.

“We are happy that the land clearance process has resumed,” Posco India chairman and managing director Yong Won Yoon said in a media release issued here. He hoped the government would complete the land acquisition works ‘without any further halt or obstruction’ so that the company could begin work for the ‘first stage eight mtpa plant soon’.

The Posco chief’s statement came two days after the state government stalled land acquisition work in the face of strident opposition from the local villagers. Some national leaders reached the site to lend support to the protesters. The Posco chief, however, said the land acquisition works had been going on peacefully.

“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. As per the information received from the concerned government authorities, from last Sunday a total of 50 betel vines were demolished in Gobindpur area and owners accepted the compensation cheques from the authorities,” the release said.

Though the project does not have environment clearance and many issues are pending in court, Yoon hoped the land acquisition works would be completed soon.

Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallik denied speculation that the land acquisition work was stopped because of mounting pressure on the state government. “We have halted the works only for a brief period,” the collector said.

Noted social activist¬†Swami Agnivesh¬†visited Gobindpur on Friday and announced he would campaign against the Posco project at the national level. “It is unfortunate that the state government is using force to acquire lands,” Agnivesh said as he led a procession in the area. State Congress spokesman Arya Gyanendra and party leader Umesh Swain were present.

Meanwhile, the NHRC, in response to a complaint, has issued notice to chief secretary and DGP seeking detailed report about the alleged attack on the villagers by police.

[Source — Times of India]

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