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POSCO PROJECT: Govt gets tough with protestors - Use force if needed, DGP tells cops

Published by MAC on 2007-04-09

POSCO PROJECT: Govt gets tough with protestors - Use force if needed, DGP tells cops

Time News Network

9th April 2007

Bhubaneswar/Kendrapada: The Orissa Govt has begun efforts to check resistance in the Posco project area with DGP Amarananda Pattnayak, asking the district adminstration to take appropriate action against those creating law and order problems there.

The DGP asked police personnel to "persuade" the protestors to give up their opposition, and use "minimum force" if they failed to do so, sources said. The DGP visited Nuagaon, Trilochanpur and other villages under Kujang block of Jagatsingpur district in Saturday along with senior police and other officials.

"We will try to resolve the issue through dialogue and parleys," Pattnayak said. "Use of force will be last resort," he clarified.

The DGP's trip to the area follows a recent meeting chaired by chief minister Naveen Pattnaik, wherein the CM asked officers to make "all out efforts" to expedite execution of the Rs 51,000-crore Posco steel project.

The DGP, however, did not visit Dhinkia village where many anti-Posco activists have erected wooden barricades to block entry. The adminstration has so far failed to hold panchayat elections in 13 booths of Dhinkia gram panchayat. The State Election Commission has also sought the state govt's view on the matter.

Explaining the Govt's intention, a senior officer said, "We don't like to shift anybody, but for the greater good of a greater number of people, some people have to be displaced. The mega project is needed to give a boost to the state economy and the govt is keen to see it concretise."

The anti-Posco activists alleged that the proposed mega steel plant would deprive about 30,000 locals of their livelihood. "The company is a clear nexus with ruling party leaders and police, is patronising local hooligans to spread a reign of terror by abusing and threatening us," alleged Gayadhar Dhal, an anti-Posco leader. "We will not allow this to continue," he said.

The anti-Posco leaders warned the state govt that is popular discontent over land acquisition is not addressed, then the area may witness violence like Kalinga NAgar.

Those villagers who are supporting the South Korean company's proposed steel unit said the plant would create thousands of jobs and have a tremendous impact on the region's economy. The govt officials said, wants to highlight the benefits of the rehabilitation and resettlement package and convince the locals to support the project.

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