Paradip (Odisha), Apr 29 (PTI): Land acquisition for Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant was resumed on Monday in east India state Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district after a three-day break but had to be abandoned mid-way following protests by anti-Posco activists.
Land acquisition involving demolition of betel vines and felling of trees, which had been suspended since April 26, resumed at Gobindpur village near Paradip, a senior district administration official said.
However, only three betel vines could be demolished and 20 trees felled with payment of Rs four lakh to land losers as the administration suspended the work for the day following demonstration by anti-Posco activists, sources said.
After a brief lull, anti-Posco brigade upped their ante and attempted to disrupt the land acquisition process for the mega project proposed by the South Korean steel major.
In the face of resistance by villagers belonging to Dhinkia panchayat, considered the epi-centre of anti-Posco agitation, the administration decided to stop land acquisition operation for the day, they said adding that the work would be undertaken Tuesday.
Slogan shouting protesters demanding immediate halt to demolition of betel vines and felling of trees entered into Gobindpur area from east Indian city Patna under Dhinkia panchayat.
The administration appeared to have been caught off guard as many opponents had changed their strategy by reaching the site much before the work for the day had commenced.
Ten platoons of police comprising about 350 personnel were deployed in the area. District collector S K Mallick and SP Satyabrat Bhoi were present. However, no untoward incident was reported, official sources said.
Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Paradip, Surjeet Das said there was no reason to oppose land acquisition in Gobindpur because the lands of only those who had given their consent were being acquired.
“We are not going to Dhinkia nor damaging betel vines in that area. There is no point in protesting demolition of betel of the owners (in Gobindpur) who had given their consent for the purpose”, Das said.
After work was stopped for the day, the opponents assembled near Patna hat to chalk out their future strategy.
“We’ll intensify our protest tomorrow and prevent the administration from carrying out the process”, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) leaders said.
The present phase of land acquisition, which commenced on April 22, was temporarily suspended on April 25 during which 53 betel vines were dismantled and 500 trees felled with payment of Rs 71 lakh.