As many as 20 platoons of armed policemen stood guard as land acquisition for Posco’s proposed steel plant project resumed at the break of dawn on Sunday, with the demolition of betel vineyards in and around Gobindpur village in this coastal gram panchayat of Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.

The administration was trying to acquire 700 acres for the project, in addition to the 2,000 acres already acquired, by demolishing around 400 betel vineyards in and around Gobindpur. Posco requires 2,700 acres to set up a steel mill with a capacity of eight million tonnes per annum.

The villagers opposing land acquisition were taken by surprise when a large number of policemen reached the locality at 4.30 a.m. to help the administration demolish the vineyards that belong to the residents of Gobindpur.

At least 25 persons, most of them women and children, were allegedly lathicharged as they tried to stop the police and administration officials from entering the locality. The administration, however, denied the police lathicharged the villagers.