MAC: Mines and Communities

Orissa villagers damage roads protesting steel plant

Published by MAC on 2007-04-12

Orissa villagers damage roads protesting steel plant

12th April 2007

Hundreds of villagers, protesting the proposed steel plant by a South Korean firm in their area, Thursday damaged roads and set up barricades in this Orissa district to prevent the police or company officials from entering their villages.

'The villagers cut off roads at three places after the local administration deployed over 500 policemen in our locality,' said Abhaya Sahoo, a leader of a local organisation that opposes the proposed steel plant by South Korea's POSCO.

The roads linking Nuagaon, Dhinkia, Trilochanpur and Gobindapur villages were cut off by villagers, said Sahoo, who is the president of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS).

POSCO, one of the world's biggest steel makers, signed a deal with the state government in June 2005 to set up a $12 billion plant near the port town of Paradeep by 2016. However, there has not been any significant progress on the project due to local opposition.

While the state government claimed that it deployed police personnel to bring normality in the area and to help the administration conduct local bodies election, villagers alleged it was an attempt by the local administration to acquire their farmland for industrial use.

Elections to local bodies were held in February across the state barring some villages in the region following clashes between supporters and protestors of the proposed steel plant.

According to Sahoo, hundreds of villagers are guarding some other roads to prevent policemen and government officials from entering the district.

'The villagers have also placed wooden gates at nine places to prevent the entry of any officials,' A. Panda, a local police official, said.

More than 20,000 people of about 15 nearby villages including Dhinkia, Gada Kujanga and Nuagaon have been opposing the project, fearing eviction. The villagers say the project will displace them and ruin their betel leaf farming.

POSCO, however, says although the plant would affect only 500 families it will create thousands of jobs

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