Even as the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahu began an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday demanding withdrawal of police, the administration continued land acquisition for Posco’s proposed steel project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district for the third consecutive day.
As many 18 betel vineyards were destroyed on the outskirts of Gobindpur village during the day in heavy police presence and compensation was paid to farmers as hundreds of villagers opposing land acquisition and heavy police presence in the village sat on a dharna at the nearby Patana hamlet where Mr. Sahu began his hunger strike in the morning.
Mr. Sahu’s other demand is that an all-party committee be formed by the State government to find out whether there was any truth in the administration’s claim that a majority of residents of Gobindpur supported land acquisition.
He claimed that he was in possession of a recent resolution passed by more than 80 per cent of the villagers opposing land acquisition. “If the administration has any such documents, they must make it public to justify their claim,” Mr. Sahu said.
He appealed to all democratic forces and Opposition parties to reach Gobindpur to oppose the “forcible acquisition of land” for Posco.
When betel vineyards were being demolished at one end of Gobindpur, about 500 children gheraoed the administration officials and police, who were camping at the other end. The children, however, left the place after demanding that land acquisition in the locality be stopped and police withdrawn from the area, said Sangram Samiti spokesperson Prashant Paikray. “The ongoing land acquisition for Posco is illegal as the environmental clearance for the proposed steel plant was suspended by the National Green Tribunal last year, and the State government has so far not renewed its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Posco that expired in June 2010,” he added.