NATIONAL

Despite protests, Odisha continues with land acquisition for POSCO

A woman protesting against the demolition of her betel vineyard for the proposed Posco steel project in Gobindpur village near Paradip on Wednesday. PTI Photo  

Odisha government continued the final phase of land acquisition for proposed steel plant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district on Wednesday despite strong protest from the locals.

The labourers engaged by the district administration went on demolishing the betel vines to acquire land as armed policemen beat up a few farmers who came out to protect their vineyards to save their source of livelihood. As many as 35 betel vines were demolished during the day and a sum of Rs. 72 lakh was paid to the farmers as compensation.

The administration, which had refrained from land acquisition during the past two days due to stiff opposition from the locals, was successful in demolishing betel vines at a place away from the spot where hundreds of agitating men and women had gathered to prevent the exercise.

Meanwhile, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti condemned the forcible acquisition of land. “The administration is playing double standards. They are actually using police force to acquire land while making false claims that work was going on with the consent of the people,” said Prashant Paikray, spokesperson for the outfit.

In another development, International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of the New York University School of Law and International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to suspend the POSCO-India project until and unless international human rights standards were fully complied with.