Move to buy land for 8-mtpa steel project resumes after year’s gap
The process of acquiring land for Posco’s $12-billion steel plant near Orissa’s Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur district resumed on Sunday, leading to tension in the area. Officials from the Orissa government made a surprise entry into Gobindpur village early on Sunday morning led by district collector Satya Mallik accompanied by police.
The authorities faced resistance from women and children at Gobindpur, the epicentre of the anti-Posco movement. However, the state officials uprooted betel vines and paid over R15 lakh as compensation to eight farmers.
“We have begun acquisition of land at Gobindpur village this morning. Betel vines and land of those who had already given their consent are being acquired,” PTI quoted additional district magistrate Surjit Das as saying.
Though leaders of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organisation spearheading the resistance movement against the project since 2005, alleged that about six people, including women were injured in lathicharge by police, Das said no force was used during the fresh land acquisition drive, which comes after a gap of more than a year.
PPSS convenor Abhay Sahoo also alleged that about seven persons were taken away by police, but police denied having detained anyone.
The fresh operation aims at acquiring an additional 700 acres of land required for the mega project by the South Korean steel giant, Das said. The government had earlier taken into possession 2,000 acres.
Later Sahoo, PPSS secretary general Sishir Mohapatra and local CPI MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai sat on dharna on the road at Dhinkia protesting against the forceful land acquisition.
Sahoo told FE that the police resorted to lathicharge at Bata Tikira, the entry point to Gobindpur village, leaving injured 25 persons including women and children.
It was after almost a 20 months that the district administration made a successful attempt to enter the village and resume the land acqusition process. In June 2011, the district administration was able to pave the way for land acquisition.
With Posco India now agreeing to reduce the size of the plant to to 8 mtpa, the land required for the project has been scaled down to 2,700 acres from about 4,000 acres.
Posco signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2005 to incorporate an Indian subsidiary and build a steel plant in Orissa. Posco India was incorporated by Posco in August 2005 with the registrar of companies, Orissa, under the Companies Act, 1956.