Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists stage a demonstration

Tension prevailed in the Posco project area in Jagatsinghpur district on Thursday as hundreds of agitated villagers came out to oppose digging of a trench for construction of a boundary wall along the land acquired for the proposed steel plant.

The digging of the trench and demarcation work was carried out by the administration at Mangalapada, Gobindpur and Patana Haat despite the people’s opposition.

Two betel vineyards were demolished and more than 150 trees were felled by the administration even as the villagers staged a demonstration under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti demanding that the work be stopped immediately. The betel vine owners were paid compensation amount on the spot.

But the trench that the administration had dug up along the land acquired for the project was filled with mud by the villagers after the administration returned from the spot, according to Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of the Sangram Samiti.

Mr. Paikray questioned the administration’s work of digging the trench and felling of trees saying that it was illegal since the environment clearance granted for the project by the Centre in the past had been suspended by the National Green Tribunal last year. He said the administration’s move would be opposed tooth and nail again on Friday.

Administration plan

According to sources, the administration planned to complete acquisition of 2700 acres of land for Posco within a few weeks.

The company brought down its land requirement from 4004 acres to 2700 acres as the administration found it difficult to acquire land in Dhinkia village due to stiff opposition from the locals. As per its changed strategy, the company plans to establish a steel plant with an annual production capacity of eight million tons over a land of 2700 acres instead of establishing a 12 million ton per annum capacity steel mill over 4004 acres of land.