Anti-Posco Agitation Gains Momentum

Anti-Posco agitation shows no sign of weakening. The residents of Dhinkia and Govindapur, who are likely to be the worst affected by mega steel project, have been up in arms. Bowing to pressure from the anti-Posco groups and non-cooperation from the so-called project supporters, the district administration has halted the proposed 700-acre land acquisition process and distribution of financial compensation to persons at Govindapur village.

Meanwhile, the Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) has intensified its agitation. The wooden gate erected earlier on the outskirts of Dhinkia in a bid to prevent the entry of government and police officials, has been at place and the anti-industry brigade, including children and women braving severe cold, have been guarding it round the clock on the Dhinkia-Balitutha road.

Meanwhile, taking into account the law and order situation, the police mobilisation has been made. “About five platoons of police personnel have been stationed at the Posco transit camp at Badagabapur near Balitutha and no untoward incidents were reported so far”, informed S B Bhoi, District Superintendent of Police.

After a lull of one year, the administration has attempted the resumption of land acquisition at Govindapur village. In its bid to woo the affected people, the district collector, including the senior officials, convened the meetings of villagers. There were as many as three meetings held in three different locations two weeks ago.

Acting on villagers’ complaints that some land losers are yet to receive compensation, the administration took the matter promptly and decided to distribute the pending amount to them immediately.

At least seven persons received their pending dues at Nuagaon village, but trouble erupted when the civil administration tried to go ahead with the distribution of compensation at Govindapur village. The opponents of the project challenged the administration’s endeavour. Meanwhile, to avoid trouble, the civil officials had decided to stop distribution of compensation package.

The Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) has staged demonstrations and protest meetings at Govindapur village. “We have stopped the cheque distribution and halted the land acquisition for a few days as the situation was unfavourable. Once the condition improves, we will resume our work,” informed a senior district official associated with Posco land acquisition work.

Abhya Sahoo, who is spearheading the PPSS, said that the ongoing land acquisition and distribution of cheque did not have legal sanction and the government should stop it. Already Posco’s environment clearance is pending with the National Green Tribunal, so any attempt in this regard is totally illegal, he added.

There is undue haste on the part of government to allow the South Korean steel major to start the project works, but the PPSS would not allow the entry of district administration, police and Posco officials in the area, he warned.

Meanwhile, the PPSS proposes a massive protest meeting, and a visit by noted environmentalists Dr Vandana Shiva and Medha Patkar, which are likely to boost the morale of the opponents of the project.

Significantly, the so-called pro-Posco body of the United Action Committee has threatened to oppose Posco works, if their six-point charter of demands were not met and the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) meet was not held. The meeting is likely to give the final touches of compensation package for the land acquired from the villagers.

However, the civil administration stated that the RPDAC meeting was not possible at present as the environmental clearance of the project was pending with the National Green Tribunal and the MoU between the state government and Posco was yet to be renewed.

By Kahnu Nanda from Jagatsinghpur

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