Home Economy Orissa villagers come to table over Posco project

Orissa villagers come to table over Posco project


Jagatsinghpur (Orissa) : At least 50 people from the villages affected by the proposed steel plant of Posco-India Thursday attended a meeting with company and government officials over the project they had been protesting.

Residents from about a dozen villages attended a meeting organised by the local administration at Erasama, some 120 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, to expedite land survey and acquisition.

This would bring normalcy in the region, a senior district official told IANS.

It was the first time since South Korean steel giant Pohang Iron and Steel Co (Posco) and the Orissa government signed a deal in June 2005 for a $12-billion plant, that people from affected villages discussed their problems with company and government officials, he said.

The project, to come up near Paradip port by 2016, is considered to be the largest foreign direct investment in India.

Although about 20,000 people of over 15 villages were protesting the project in the past, a majority now want the project, the official claimed.

Activists of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) have been leading the agitation against the project in the region.

The villagers were earlier afraid of PPSS, the official maintained.

People supporting the project had recently written to the district administration to provide security and at least 600 armed policemen have been deployed in the region, he pointed out.

However none from Dhinkia – an affected village with a population of over 1,200 – joined the meeting, he said.

This village is considered the stronghold of anti-Posco activists, he said.

The administration claimed to have got success after policemen entered the proposed project site after supporters and protestors clashed Nov 30 at Balitutha village – considered the entry point to the project site.

Seventeen people were injured in the clash.

On the other hand, PPSS leader Abhaya Sahu alleged that the local administration was using goons and police against them to suppress their agitation.

“The government has mobilised a huge number of policemen in the region, describing the situation as volatile. It has also alleged that Maoists have entered into the area, which is not true,” Sahu said.

The government on one hand says the situation is volatile. On the other, it is conducting meetings to take acquired land. This is unfortunate, he said.