Odisha govt resumes land acquisition in tense Posco proj area
Paradip (Odisha): Amid tension in proposed Posco plant area where three anti-project activists were killed last night while allegedly making bombs, Odisha government on Sunday resumed land acquisition for the mega steel project.
Police today recovered the three bodies and materials like gun powder and blades used for making explosives.
Jagatsinghpur SP Satyabrata Bhoi said three persons were killed and another was critically injured in the blast when members of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) were making crude bombs at Patana village, a charge denied by the anti-project body.
"Police have recovered the materials used for making crude bombs from the site," Bhoi said, adding the bodies were sent for postmortem, while the injured was rushed to SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack in critical state.
While tension prevailed in the area, three betel vines were demolished in the presence of top officials at Gobindpur village as Jagatsinghpur district administration resumed the land acquisition process, a senior official said.
"Betel vines of Krupasindhu Dalai, Ranjan Barman and Subrat Swain were acquired by the administration during the day and the process of land acquisition will continue," district Collector S K Mallick said.
Meanwhile, Bhoi claimed the bombs were intended to be used against the police and supporters of the proposed mega steel plant,
However, Nachia Mandal of Gobindpur, who was injured in the blast, claimed that unidentified persons hurled two bombs at him and others when they were standing near a pond at Patana village.
While police claimed it had gathered evidence showing the explosion took place during bomb making, PPSS alleged that some miscreants hurled bombs on its activists.
PPSS president Abhay Sahu claimed the attackers had targeted the house where he stays at Patana which was rejected by the police.
"In fact, bombs were being manufactured in the backyard of the house where PPSS leader Abhay Sahu used to stay," said a police official.
Meanwhile, Jagatsinghpur district administration deployed 12 platoons (360 personnel) of armed force at Posco's proposed plant site villages. "I ensure that peace will soon return to the area," district collector S K Mallick said.
As police staged a march at the tension-hit areas, the anti-project activities assembled at Mangala Chhak and held a meeting alleging bomb attack on them.
Police force is going to camp in the area in order to prevent any untoward incident, a senior official said.
Notwithstanding tension in the area, land acquisition process which had been halted last month, resumed but after continuing the operation for four days, government on February 6 temporarily withdrew the operation due to protests by locals and pressure from civil society outfits and opposition political parties. The process however resumed last month after a gap of more than a year.
First phase construction of the mega project requires 2,700 acres of land of which the state government has already acquired over 2,000 acres.