Land acquisition for Posco to resume despite protest

May 8th, 2011 - 12:44 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, May 7 (IANS) The Orissa government Saturday said it will resume the land acquisition process for South Korean steel major Posco’s $12 billion project in the state on May 18 despite opposition from the local people.

Priyabrat Patnaik, the government’s nodal officer for the project, said the acquisition work is expected to complete in a month.

Posco requires about 4,004 acres, mostly government land, for the project. Out of the land earmarked, 2,900 acres is forest land.

“By and large people are supporting the project and there will be no trouble,” the official said.

The local administration had earlier claimed that it already has acquired nearly 1,000 acres of the land for the project in July last year.

The process was, however, halted after the central ministry of environment and forests Aug 5 asked the state to stop all work, including land acquisition, related to the project due to violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

The environment ministry gave a final green clearance to the project earlier this week after the state clarified that the area does not house tribals or forest dwellers.

While the government is set to resume the land acquisition process, villagers opposed to the project are also gearing up to intensify their protest.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which has been spearheading the movement against the project in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, said it has appealed to all citizens to write letters to the state and central authorities against the approval granted to the project recently.

“We will not allow the government to acquire our lands. The government is day-dreaming,” PPSS chief Abhaya Sahu said.

Posco and the government maintain the project will bring prosperity and employment to the region.

The PPSS rejected the claim, saying it will displace thousands from their homeland and ruin their betel leaf farms.

The South Korean firm had signed a deal with the Orissa government in 2005 to set up the project near the port town of Paradip by 2016.

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