Tension grips POSCO site after villagers clash

May 15th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by admin  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), May 15 (IANS) Tension gripped the project-site of the South Korean steel major Posco in Orissa after supporters and opponents of the mega-project clashed, an official said Thursday. The trouble broke out Wednesday at Gobindpur village in Jagatsinghpur district, some 120 km from here. Villagers are divided over their support to the project, which is billed as the largest foreign direct investment in India.

The villagers clashed after a group of residents, claiming to be supporters, hurled a bomb at a meeting of project opponents in the village, Prasant Paikray, spokesperson of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) that has been spearheading the campaign against the proposed plant, told IANS.

At least three people were injured, he said.

But, Pradeep Kapoor, inspector general of police (law and order), said one person was injured in the clash.

“We have deployed at least 100 armed policemen Thursday in the area after the clash apprehending more trouble,” he said.

Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a deal with the state government June 2005 to build the plant near Paradip port by 2016.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have been agitating against the project, saying that 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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