Posco land takeover to resume Saturday, protest intensifies (Lead)

June 17th, 2011 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhubaneswar, June 17 (IANS) The protest against Posco steel plant in Orissa intensified Friday as authorities set to resume land acquisition for its $12 billion project from Saturday.

The villagers, including women and children, continued their demonstration at troubled Govindpur village in coastal Jagatsinghpur district to prevent entry of officials to the site.

“More than 2,000 villagers created a human barricade,” Prasant Paikray, anti-Posco agitation leader, told IANS. The protest will continue till the government withdraws the project from the area, he added.

He also accused the officials of forcibly acquiring lands from the villagers.

The movement against the project has received a boost with political parties extending their support to the villagers.

Protesting the forcible land acquisition, hundreds of activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Forward Bloc, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party and Ekta Parishad staged a demonstration in Bhubaneswar Friday against the project.

The state’s main opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also said they will send their senior leaders to the area to make an assessment of the ground situation.

While the Congress has planned to send a team Saturday, a BJP team led by its state vice president Bimbadhar Kunar will visit the area Sunday.

The land acquisition was earlier stopped for four days due to a local festival.

“We were preparing to resume the land acquisition today (Friday), but had to cancel it due to rains,” Additional District Magistrate S.K. Chaudhuri told IANS.

“If the weather remains conducive, we will start the process again from tomorrow (Saturday),” he said.

Posco has planned to built a 12 million tonnes steel plant - the largest foreign investment in India - near the port town of Paradip, about 120 km from here.

The company requires about 4,004 acres of land for the project, of which 2,900 acres is forest land.

The local administration said it has already acquired nearly half of the land required for the project.

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