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Odisha steel project: High Court seeks report on alleged police atrocities on villagers

Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the State Home Department to file an affidavit with regard to alleged police excesses in Dhinkia village in Odisha’s Jagatsinhpur district where people are protesting against the proposed mega steel project the by Jindal Steel Work (JSW) Group.

Thirteen political parties, including the Congress and the Left parties, met Governor Ganeshi Lal seeking his intervention for the immediate withdrawal of police force from Dhinkia village.

The leaders informed the Governor that, “the State government is using force to evict people from their land. The village has been cordoned off and villagers are deprived of essential commodities. Men have fled the village fearing police action.”

“The State administration should be asked to withdraw police from the locality and people should be allowed to move freely. The arrested leaders should be released and a committee should be set up to inquire into police atrocities,” they demanded. Representatives of all 13 parties are likely to visit Dhinkia to assess the situation.

Human rights lawyers and a woman from the village had moved Orissa High Court highlighting police ‘atrocities’ on villagers that left many critically injured.

Hearing their petitions, Chief Justice S. Muralidhar directed that a senior officer of the Home Department file an affidavit detailing the ground situation at the project area of the steel plant.

The High Court also issued a direction emphasising that the administration ensure that all essential commodities were accessed by the protesting villagers.

The JSW Group has proposed to establish 13.2 million tonne per annum capacity steel plant at an estimated investment of around ₹55,000 crore on the land acquired previously for POSCO. Apart from the steel project, a 900 MW captive power plant and a 10 million tonnes per annum cement grinding and mixing unit are part of the project.

However, the project is facing opposition from people who allege the project would spoil their livelihood and cause pollution in future.

Amidst heavy deployment of police force on January 14, the administration tried to demolish betel vineyards and clear the land for the steel project ensuing a scuffle between police personnel and protesting villagers. It left more than 30 villagers injured and some fled the village in fear of police action.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 1:06:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/odisha-steel-project-high-court-seeks-report-on-alleged-police-atrocities-on-villagers/article38302205.ece