State government fumes as Posco defies diktat

The holding of a global engineering seminar by Posco at Paradeep close to the site of its proposed 12 million tonne per annum steel mill despite previous advisory against the same has left top government officials sulking.

With the state government’s top brass including the Chief Secretary B K Patnaik and chairman and managing director of Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Orissa (Idco) conspicuous by their absence at the meet coinciding with the visit of Posco India CMD Yong-Won Woon, the sombre mood within government circles is easy to guess.

Posco India defying the government diktat and going ahead with the planned seminar may send the wrong signal to the state government at a time when Idco is making all out efforts to acquire land for the project by continuing dialogue with all the stakeholders.

It may be noted that Idco had cautioned Posco against organizing any seminar at the project site since the ground situation did not favour the holding of such a meet especially in the aftermath of the recently concluded panchayat elections in the state and release of controversial local contractor Bapi Sarkhel on bail. Sarkhel was nabbed in connection with a bloody violence that had erupted between supporters and opponents of the project on December 14 last year during construction of the coastal corridor.

The state government’s land acquisition agency had even warned that organizing any such meet would jeopardize the best interest of the country’s biggest FDI project.

“It is baffling why the Posco India authorities insisted on holding a seminar at the project site when ground situation is still not conducive. Based on feedback received from the district administration, we had advised the company authorities from holding any such meet given the sensitivities involved. Still, they decided to go ahead with the meet without government order,” said a top official source.

Besides, Idco had urged the Chief Secretary B K Patnaik to impress upon Posco India authorities not to hold such a seminar, citing fears of a law and order situation that may be precipitated by such a congregation.

With anti-Posco leaders like Abhaya Sahu, Narayan Reddy and Jayant Biswal still in jail and the PPSS (Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti) ranks apparently demoralized after the outfit’s debacle in the panchayat polls, any untoward incident could not be ruled out.

Meanwhile, hundreds of villagers staged agitation at Nuagaon against the Posco seminar, demanding fulfillment of their six-point charter of demands. The Kujang police raided the Posco site office at Nuagaon late last night and seized tent house materials to avert the holding of the planned seminar.

The police action followed Posco India’s decision to violate government order and hold the seminar at the site office.

Two senior officials of Posco India- K H Lee and Dillip Mohapatra were detained as a precautionary measure. Later, Posco changed its seminar venue from Nuagaon to Paradeep.

“Police released the two detained Posco India officials after the company conveyed its decision to shift the venue of the seminar,” sad Surjeet Das, additional district magistrate Surjeet Das.

On the other hand,the protesters vowed to intensify the stir further.

“Today’s seminar without the participation of the locals and government officials who are the key people to expedite the construction work is meaningless. So, we have decided to oppose the seminar,” said Nirvaya Samantray, secretary of United Action Committee (UAC), a pro-Posco outfit.

[Source – Business Standard]

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