Villagers vow to fight Posco in Orissa

April 9th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by admin  


Bhubaneswar, April 9 (IANS) Hundreds of villagers, including children, Wednesday took oath in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district to protest against the setting up of a $12 billion steel plant there by South Korean company Posco. Prasant Paikray, spokesperson of the anti-steel mill Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), told IANS that at least 207 families of Gobindpur, one of the villages affected by the coming up of the plant, took oath to protest against the setting up of the factory.

They had earlier supported the project and helped the local administration in conducting the socio economic survey of the area for the proposed plant.

“They have changed their mind and decided to oppose the plant,” Paikray said.

The villagers gathered at Hindu temple Gorekhanath Peeth and took the oath before the deity.

Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a deal with the state government in June 2005 to build the plant near Paradeep port in the district of Jagatsinghpur, about 100 km from the state capital here, by 2016. It is the largest foreign direct investment in India.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have been protesting against 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.

PPSS has been spearheading the campaign against the proposed plant. It had on April 1 organised a massive rally in Balitutha, considered the entry point to the project area, despite an order by the local administration prohibiting the assembly of four or more people at one place.

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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