Paradip: Land acquisition for the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant today started in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district after a gap of more than one year amid allegation by anti-project activists that protesters were lathicharged and detained by police.
"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," Additional District Magistrate Surjit Das said.
Though leaders of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), agitating against the project since 2005, alleged that about six people, including women were injured in lathicharge by police, Das refuted the charge saying no force was being used during the fresh land acquisition drive.
PPSS leader Abhay Sahu also alleged that about seven persons were taken by police to some unknown place, 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, the ADM said, adding the administration had earlier taken into possession 2,000 acres.
Land acquisition work had been halted more than a year ago following violence during construction of a coastal road near the proposed project site.
"Betel vines belonging to only those who had given applications expressing their willingness to hand over land for the project are being demolished," he said, adding so far 15 betel-vines have been demolished and about 40 trees cut.
The acquisition process started in the presence of about 400 police personnel in the area where anti-Posco activists had been sitting on dharana at Balitikira of Gobindapur for last 20 days.
Some protesters who tried to offer resistance were chased away, sources said, adding demolition of betel-vines and tree felling was undertaken at Mathsahi locality of Gobindapur in the presence of Jagatsinghpur district Collector S K Mallick, Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi and other officials.
Anti-Posco protesters indulged in stone throwing for sometime damaging at least five vehicles of the police and administration, they said, adding police sealed all the entry points to Gobindapur.
Anti-Posco activists on their part also sealed the Gobindapur-Dhinkia road. Protesters from nearby areas like Ersama, Kujang and Jagatsinghpur were gathering in order to chalk out their strategy.