Posco land acquisition resumes, company CMD meets official

Posco land acquisition resumes, company CMD meets official Paradip/Bhubaneswar: Land acquisition for the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel project resumed in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district Monday after being suspended for about two-and-a-half months.

The restarting of the demolition of betel vines at Gobindpur village at the proposed plant site near Paradip coincided with Posco-India CMD Y W Yoon meeting Development Commissioner J K Mohapatra at the state secretariat in Bhubaneswar.

Though Yoon described the meeting as a courtesy call, sources said matters relating to the mega project, including land acquisition work, were discussed.

Yoon's meeting with Mohapatra assumed significance with the state government planning to give pace to land acquisition for the steel project. A total of 2,100 acres have already been acquired and of this, about 1,700 acres handed over to the company.

Meanwhile, 19 betel vines were dismantled during the day without any resistance by locals and about Rs 21 lakh paid to the land losers, Jagatsinghpur Collector S K Mallick said.

"Land acquisition involving dismantling of betel vines resumed this morning. The villagers are cooperating in the work undertaken by the administration," he said, adding that the process would continue tomorrow as people are willing to cooperate.

Two teams were engaged in dismantling the betel vines of consenting farmers, while another group conducted a survey of trees and horticultural plants, Additional District Magistrate (Paradip) Surjeet Das said.

Demolition of betel vines was carried out by separate groups led by tehsildars of Kujanga and Ersama and the work progressed smoothly with the use of machines, he said.

Adequate security personnel had been deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident, he added.

With the resumption of land acquisition, a palpable tension prevailed in the area as anti-Posco activists belonging to Dhinkia, Patna and Gobindpur gathered and took out a procession up to Phulkhai temple at Dhinkia and held a meeting there.

Leaders of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samittee (PPSS), which is spearheading the agitation against the mega project, claimed that people in the area would step up their stir to stall fresh land acquisition.

The land acquisition process had been suspended on February 11 ahead of the Budget session of Odisha Assembly.

During the week-long operation, 55 betel vines were dismantled and about 250 acres of land had been taken into possession.

The proposed Posco plant site had witnessed unpleasant incidents including a nude protest by women of affected families at Dhinkia, a bomb blast in which three persons were killed and protest march against the project by different political parties including CPI.

PTI