Heavy police deployment around POSCO’s plant site in Orissa

December 1st, 2007 - 9:10 pm ICT by admin  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), Dec 1 (ANI): A tight security arrangement has been made in Jagatsinghpur in Orissa to prevent escalation of simmering protests against the proposed 12-billion-dollar steel plant to be set up by South Korean steel giant POSCO.

The plant in Orissa would be India’s single largest foreign investment project, but has been delayed by months of protests by villagers opposed to the plant.

On Thursday, small clashes broke out between villagers in favour of the plant and those protesting against it in Jagatsinghpur district of the state, where authorities are planning to acquire land for the project.

At least a dozen villagers were injured in the clash, forcing the government to deploy a large police force and intensify patrols.

However, those protesting against the setting up of the plant said they were used to the situation and were ready to face the challenge.

“This is nothing new. We have been dealing with this for the last 22 months. We have prepared our army; we have prepared our anti-POSCO fighters to confront the police and administration, and ready to face the challenge,” said Abhay Sahu, leader of anti-Posco movemet.

At least five platoons of police are deployed to bring the total area under the control of the force.

Meanwhile, the administration said that calling off the project would be a national disgrace.

“(If) it happens, it will be a national disgrace, not only a disgrace to all of us but a national disgrace, said Priyabrata Patnaik, Nodal officer to the government for POSCO project.

On being asked I it would be set up at the cost of farmers, he said: No, never at the cost of farmers. It will be proven that the farmers will be better off after POSCO than before.”

The state government and POSCO have said they are serious about pushing ahead with the project.

But villagers have erected barricades in the form of huge gates at several entry points to stop government and company officials from visiting the site.

Last month, armed protesters abducted four senior POSCO officials, including three South Koreans, when they were inspecting the plant site.
They were later released following an assurance by the police that executives from the firm would not visit the area until the dispute was resolved. (ANI)

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