MAC: Mines and Communities

Orissa mulls tough action against anti-Posco activists

Published by MAC on 2007-04-10

Orissa mulls tough action against anti-Posco activists

Pioneer News Service. Bhubaneswar

10th April 2007

* Centre calls high-level meeting
* Hurdles to be cleared within three months

The Orissa Government has decided to take tough action against anti-Posco activists and remove all impediments on the path of establishing Posco's proposed plant at Paradip.

"If all obstacles would not be removed through dialogue, tough action would be initiated against those who oppose the Posco-project," said a senior Government official on the condition of anonymity.

The Jagatsinghpur district administration has sought for more police force in this connection. The district administration has issued notices to the Samiti members and Sarapanchs of Dhinkia, Patana, Gobindpur and Gada Kujanga to clear the gates erected at the thoroughfares in these villages. These are the villages, where the South Korean steel giant has decided to set up its 12 million tonne per annum Greenfield steel project with an investment of $12 billion.

The district administration has fixed April 5 as the dead line to remove eight bamboo gates, which have been erected on both sides of the four villages. The people in these areas have erected 8 gates in Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Nuagaon and Trilochanpur to restrict entry of Posco and Government officials into these villages.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday called a high level meeting at the State Secretariat to decide future course of action. As per the decision of the meeting, Government will take soft stand and persuade anti-activists to help administration so that the proposed Posco project can become a reality.

"If activists don't support the Government stand, the Government would take all possible mean to clear the hurdles," said officials of the State Mining Department. "All obstacles would be removed within three months," said State and Mines Minister Padmanav Behera.

It may be noted that due to continued resistance, the State Government was unable to acquire lands. Posco is waiting to acquire 4004 acres of land in seven villages of Kujang Tehsil in Jagatsinghpur since it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the State Government on June 22, 2005.

Even the Government was unable to conduct panchayati election in 13 booths in these areas. The Centre has also expressed its annoyance with the State Government's failure to settle the land acquisition issue and acquire land for Posco's proposed project.

In this connection, the Centre has called a high level meeting at New Delhi to deal with the issue. Chief Minister is expected to attend the meeting and meet the Prime Minister. However, Chief Minister Patnaik expressed hope that all the matters would be amicably settled taking the human values into consideration. Jagatsinghpur SP Yaswata Yethua said if the talks fail, stringent action would be taken against them.

However, Abhaya Sahu, president Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) is adamant over the issue of allowing officials to enter the village. Sahu said "Let the Government use force, there will be another Nandigram and Posco will take over land over our dead bodies".

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