Friday, April 13, 2007

Posco's Orissa land acquisition evokes local ire

Almost two years after South Korean steel giant Posco signed an MoU with the Orissa Govt, battle lines to acquire land for the proposed steel plant have been drawn. The steel plant will displace 450 families in eight villages with highly fertile agricultural lands, many of them dependent on betel plantations for a livelihood now fear their loss.

At least 12 platoons of police have been deployed near the Posco's proposed steel plant site worth 51,000 crore in Jagatsinghpur. Police stations have been piled with stocks of arms and ammunition.

"These people are breaking the law, we have made them understand through dialogues - and if they still do not listen we are ready to take strong action against them," states YK Jethwa, SP, Jagatsinghpur.

At Posco's proposed site, villagers are preparing strategies to protest the acquisition of their land. Bamboo fences have been erected at village entry points and farmers are gearing up for a confrontation with the government. Abhaya Sahoo, Chairman, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti says, "We are ready to fight till the last drop of our blood and for any situation like this, the Orissa government will be fully responsible."

The chief minister of Orissa has always maintained that he would deal with the rehabilitation and the resettlement issues in the most humane manner, but the heavy deployment of police forces at Posco's site suggest that he too is running out of patience. It now seems the battle lines have clearly been drawn there.


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