Villagers intensify protest against POSCO

April 1st, 2010 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), April 1 (IANS) Hundreds of villagers congregated in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district Thursday to rally against South Korean steel maker POSCO’ steel project planned in the region, police said.
Carrying posters and banners and raising slogans against the South Korean company and the state government, the protesters also took out a procession at Balitutha village - the point of entry to the proposed site, a police official told IANS.

Some protesters drew three lines on the ground with red paint near the site’s entry point, and dared the government or company officials to cross these.

“Any attempt by officials of the government or the company to cross the lines would bring dire consequences,” POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) spokesman Prasant Paikray told IANS.

Addressing the gathering, speakers from various parts of the country strongly criticised the government for using force to acquire land for industries in different parts of the state.

POSCO, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a deal with the Orissa government in June 2005 to build a steel plant near Paradip, some 100 km from Bhubaneswar, by 2016 but the project has not made any progress because of the local villagers’ agitation against land acquisition.

Activists opposed to the project allege that over 20,000 people from around 15 villages around the site will lose their homes and livelihood, while the company and the state government say the plant would affect about 500 families but create thousands of jobs.

Posco India general manager (external relations) Simanta Mohanty said there will be no forcible acquisition of private land. “Displaced families would be provided with permanent houses, having three rooms and a latrine,” he told IANS.

“The company has also agreed that displaced families will be first resettled before their land is acquired,” he said.

POSCO wants about 4,004 acres of land for its project, of which 2,900 acres is forest land. Although it has got final clearance from the central environment and forests ministry in December last year for acquiring the forest land, the protests have continued.

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