Land acquisition for the proposed steel project of Posco at Gobindpur village in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha was halted and police force withdrawn from the locality on Wednesday following stiff opposition from the locals, particularly women and children.

The land acquisition exercise that was resumed after a long gap on Sunday came to a halt after hundreds of agitating villagers and leaders of different Opposition parties reached the spot where betel vineyards were being destroyed since morning and came face-to-face with the police.

Fourteen betel vineyards were destroyed before the administration stopped the process after holding talks with the activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and the agitating villagers.

The villagers had been demanding the withdrawal of police force from the area since the land acquisition work was started in a predawn exercise four days ago in and around Gobindpur.

“We have stopped the land acquisition for the day and police are being withdrawn. We will proceed with the process again after getting necessary instructions from the government,” said Jagatsinghpur District Collector S.K. Mallick.

Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahu had been on a hunger-strike since Tuesday morning demanding withdrawal of police.

D. Raja, senior leader of the Communist Party of India, reached Gobindpur to express his solidarity with the villagers opposing land acquisition.