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Protests Over Posco Land Ministers On Car Roof

Published by MAC on 2006-03-12

Protests over Posco land ministers on car roof

12th March 2006

Bhubaneswar: Two Orissa ministers had to clamber to the roof of their vehicles and plead with people to let them go after hundreds of villagers surrounded them protesting South Korean giant Posco's mega steel project here.

Panchayati Raj Minister Damodar Rout and Revenue minister Manmohan Samal were on their way to address a public meeting Tuesday at Gadakujanga village near the proposed site of the plant to persuade people to support it.

But they were obstructed for about three hours near another village, Oriya daily The Samaja reported Wednesday. The protestors shouted slogans and lay down on the road preventing the ministerial convoy from proceeding, it said.

The ministers in a bid to save their skin climbed on to the roof of their vehicles, appealing to people to make way for them, the local media reported.

"People obstructed us for about one hour," Rout told IANS. "But when we convinced them, and they allowed us to proceed," he said. "We addressed the scheduled meeting, which was attended by more than 8,000 people," he said.

The $12 billion plant by South Korea steel major Posco that will be built in Paradeep in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur by 2016 is billed as the largest foreign direct investment deal in India.

It proposes to generate direct employment for 13,000 people and indirect jobs for 35,000 others but faces resistance not only from locals but also leading social activists and several politicians.

Some oppose it for environmental reasons while others say it will displace a large number of people. Noted social activist Medha Patkar says at least 10,000 villagers who depend on betel farming will lose their livelihood.

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