Land acquisition work stalled for fourth straight day

In a last-ditch attempt at mounting pressure on the Naveen Patnaik Orissa government for stopping forcible land acquisition for the Posco Steel project, five political parties on Thursday went on an indefinite dharna here, even as the Jagatsinghpur district administration failed to acquire land or carry out boundary wall construction work due to stiff opposition from the locals.

A large number of activists and leaders from the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Forward Bloc, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal took out a procession before starting their dharna in front of the State Assembly building.

Holding banners and party flags aloft, the activists raised slogans against the State government for having deployed a police force in and around the area and declaring the villagers' agitation outside Gobindpur illegal.

The leaders who took part in the dharna demanded that the government shift the project elsewhere so that the land and livelihoods of over 20,000 people in the three gram panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang may be saved.

Lenka visits protesters

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister K.C. Lenka visited the protesters outside Gobindpur and expressed solidarity with the agitation spearheaded by the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Opposition to the project also grew with the sarpanch of the Nuagaon panchayat, Bhaskar Swain, who also heads a local outfit, Bhitamati Surakshya Manch, announcing that the villagers of Nuagaon and Gadakujang would no longer support the steel project.