Despite protest, land acquisition continues
CPI(M) activists stage a protest in Bhubaneswar on Monday against the alleged forcible acquisition of land for the Posco project in Gobindpur. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty | The Hindu

The land acquisition for Posco’s planned steel mill continued at Gobindpur in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district for the second day on Monday, even as hundreds of villagers resisted the process peacefully.

Government officials stopped the process after paying the farmers compensation for 10 betel vineyards destroyed on Sunday. Twenty platoons of armed policemen were deployed to guard the site and seal the entry points to the area.

“The acquisition work was carried out peacefully, and the process will continue on Tuesday,” Collector S. K. Mallick said. He was happy that officials held discussions with the residents on their demands.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahu has condemned the deployment of the armed policemen and demanded their immediate withdrawal. “We will continue our resistance in a peaceful manner.”

Meanwhile, leaders of the Congress, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Forward Bloc, the Samajwadi Party, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal joined a rally the Samiti organised on the outskirts of Gobindpur to oppose the land acquisition. The project, touted as India’s biggest single foreign direct investment, has been pending since 2005. Samiti spokesperson Prashant Paikray charged the State government and the district administration with adopting a divide-and-rule policy to acquire more land.

Tension continued as officials camped in the area, and the Samiti staged the dharna.

The administration demolished 15 betel vineyards on Sunday, despite severe criticism from various quarters over the entry of the police into the area much before sunrise.

About 2,000 acres had been acquired earlier, and the current exercise was aimed at getting 700 acres more to meet the South Korean steelmaker’s need for 2,700 acres to establish the eight million-tonnes-per-annum plant.

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