The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Saturday demanded shifting of the site of the proposed steel plant of Posco India Private Limited in Erasama area of Jagatsinghpur district to a vacant land at any other place to avoid displacement.

At a press conference here, secretary of the State unit of the party Janardan Pati said the State Government should refrain from making attempts to hand over land of three gram panchayats in Jagatsinghpur to Posco as the land that it was trying to acquire for the project was fertile and most suitable for cultivation.

Mr. Pati came down heavily on the Biju Janata Dal Government for not considering the demand of thousands of villagers who had been opposing land acquisition for the project since 2005 as many of them would be displaced and many would lose their land and livelihood sources.

The CPI (M) leader also questioned the acquisition of forest land for the proposed steel mill without proper approval of the Gram Sabha (Village Committee) in the respective villages.

The administration was going ahead with the acquisition of forest land despite a Committee sent by the Ministry of Environment and Forests terming such acquisition of land against the existing laws, Mr. Pati pointed out.

Stating that Posco cannot be handed over any land coming under forest land category without the prior approval of the Village Committees, Mr. Pati blamed the State Government for making attempts to acquire such land in violation of the laws.

On the controversy over the coal scam which has affected the proceedings of the State Assembly during the past two weeks, Mr. Pati demanded that the State Government should hand over the coal scam case to the Central Bureau of Investigation for investigation.

All those involved in the scam, be they Ministers or officials, should be removed from their posts to ensure a fair probe into the scam, he said.