Security beefed up at Posco plant site in Orissa

March 20th, 2008 - 3:39 pm ICT by admin  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), March 20 (IANS) The Orissa government has beefed up security and clamped prohibitory order at the Posco steel plant site here. The order, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, was issued Wednesday at Balitutha where Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), an organization which is spearheading the agitations, plans to organize “Bikalpa Samavesh” a massive rally of over 15,000 people April 1 against the project.

April 1 is observed as Orissa formation day and the company with the help of the state government is planning to hold a ground-breaking ceremony at the port town of Paradip for its greenfield steel plant.

“It is a routine administrative measure we have taken to prevent any breach of peace,” district Superintendent of Police R.K. Sharma told IANS.

“It is a deliberate attempt by the administration to foil the rally,” said Prasant Paikray, spokesperson of the PPSS.

“We will hold the rally in a peaceful manner despite the prohibitory order,” he said. “If the administration or police attack us they will be responsible for the consequences.”

Balitutha is considered the entry point to the proposed site. On Nov 29 last year, 17 people including five women were injured following a clash between supporters and protestors of the project.

Orissa signed a deal with the steel major in June 2005 for the $12 billion plant to be set up near the port town of Paradip by 2016, some 120 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

The area has in the past witnessed a series of clashes between those supporting the project and those opposed to it. The state government has deployed over 600 policemen in the region.

Those opposed to the project said the plant would bring pollution, displace them and ruin their betel leaf farms. On the other hand, people supporting the project say it will bring economic activities to the region and generate employment.

The company needs 4,004 acres of land out of which 438 acres are in private hands. The state government claimed that it has 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 administration also claimed that it recently completed survey work in the region excluding a few villages where there was considerable opposition to the project.

“There is no change in our schedule at this moment,” said Posco spokesperson Sasanka Patnaik.

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