Orissa halts Posco land acquisition

Orissa government today halted the land acquisition process overnight for Posco`s Rs 51,000 crore mega steel project near here after facing stiff opposition from villagers.

Paradip: Orissa government today halted
the land acquisition process overnight for Posco`s Rs 51,000
crore mega steel project near here after facing stiff
opposition from villagers.

"The land acquisition and verification work, which
began yesterday, was halted today due to opposition from
people. We will start it soon after holding talks with
villagers," Jagatsinghpur district collector N C Jena told
reporters.

Though the administration yesterday carried out land
acquisition work and paid compensation to two betel leaf
cultivators, the official team was prevented from entering
Gada Kujang in the proposed project area during the day as
villagers blocked the main link road.

"We could not enter the village as the people
blockaded the road," Additional District Magistrate (Paradip)
said, adding the administration had planned land acquisition
at Bhuyanpal and Noliasahi area in two days.

State Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout and Ersama-
Balikuda MLA Prashant Kumar Muduli, along with the District
Collector, had rushed to Gada Kujung to speak to villagers.

They held a marathon meeting with the representatives
of the pro-project United Action Committee (UAC) for
facilitating the land acquisition process.

UAC, the BJD-backed local body supporting the Posco
project, is resisting land acquisition by the administration
for not informing villagers.

"We oppose the land acquisition process before
finalising rehabilitation package. Though the company had
announced the package, UAC has rejected it seeking more
assistance to the people," UAC leader Tamil Pradhan said.

Civil rights groups have accused the state government
of knowingly violating norms under Forest Rights Acts and
sought the intervention of Orissa High Court Chief Justice.

"We will launch civil disobedience across the state
opposing the government`s forceful acquisition of land for the
Posco project," Lok Shakti Abhijan leader Prafulla Samantray
told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

CPI-backed Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) is
opposing land acquisition for the project, which requires
4,004 acres.

Orissa government had earlier today said a total of
470 families could face displacement due to the mega plant,
which would also require to demolish 1,877 betel vines and 31
prawn ponds located in the three gram panchayat areas of
Dhinkia, Gada Kujang and Nuagaon.

"The Rehabilitation & Periphery Development Advisory
Committee (RPDAC) had already finalised compensation package
for the affected families," state Revenue and Disaster
Management Minister Suryanarayan Patra informed the Assembly
during the day.

The project by the South Korean steel giant has failed
to take off for five years due to opposition by local people.

PTI