Anti-Posco activists detained in Orissa

April 1st, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, April 1 (IANS) A large number of protesters were Tuesday detained near the proposed steel plant site of South Korea major Posco in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district. They had gathered at the site to demonstrate against the project. While a witness said hundreds of people had been held, a police official put the number at around 50.

The protestors belong to various parts of Orissa and had come to attend an anti-Posco rally convened by the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) - an organisation that has been opposing the $12-billion plant to be set up by the firm.

Prohibitory orders have been clamped at Balitutha - considered the entry point to the proposed site. The order prohibits the assembly of four or more people, but the PPSS plans to hold a rally there.

“We have not received any information about their rally,” District Collector Pramod Kumar Meherda told IANS. “They have not taken any permission from the administration.

“We apprehend that the people who have arrived here might go to the prohibited areas, therefore we detained them as a preventive measure,” he said.

Posco had earlier planned to hold a ground-breaking ceremony for its plant - the largest foreign direct investment in India - at the proposed site Tuesday. However, it was postponed last month due to procedural delays in various sanctions.

The world’s fourth largest steel maker had signed a deal with the state government in June 2005 to build the plant near Paradeep port in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, some 100 km from the state capital here, by 2016.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have been protesting the project, saying that it would take away their homes and livelihoods. Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs.

The company 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 forestland.

It is also waiting to get a prospecting licence for the Khandadhar mines in the state that will feed raw material to the plant.

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