Activists threaten to intensify protest against Posco

June 17th, 2008 - 8:08 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 16 (IANS) Activists and villagers opposing South Korean steel major Posco’s project in Orissa Monday announced plans to intensify their protests from June 22. The Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (Anti-Posco Agitation Committee) has decided to observe a ‘black week’ from June 22, the organisation’s president Abhaya Sahu told IANS.

It was on June 22 three years ago that the Orissa government and Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a $12 billion steel plant near Paradip port in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur by 2016. It is said to be the largest foreign direct investment in India.

Sahu said his organization was also planning to hold a massive protest meeting June 23 at Balitutha, a village considered as the entry point to the proposed site.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Subash Marandi are some of the leaders likely to address the gathering there, he said.

“During the black week, we all will wear black badges and organize several rallies and meetings in all project-affected villages,” he said.

In the three years since the MoU was signed, there has been little progress on the ground as activists have launched agitations and united villagers against the project.

Over 20,000 people from around 15 villages have been protesting against the project, saying it would take away their homes and livelihood.

The company says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs.

Posco needs 4,004 acres of land, out of which 438 acres are in private hands. The state government said it had sought clearance from the central government so that it can hand over to the firm 2,900 acres that belong to the forest department.

The company is awaiting clearance before it can use this land. It is also waiting to get a prospecting licence for the Khandadhar mines in the state that will provide raw material to the plant.

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