Govt accepts demands of pro-Posco agitators

Paradip: After work for construction of the boundary walls and rehabilitation colonies for the Posco project was stalled for the last six days, the state government on Friday accepted the demands of the agitators paving the way for resumption of work.

The pro-Posco United Action Committee (UAC) has been opposing the work at Jagatsinghpur district in support of its six-point charter of demands.

"Talks between district officials and UAC members held at Gadakujanga were cordial. We discussed matters relating to resumption of work and it was a success," District Collector Narayan Chandra Jena said.

Jena said the district administration would fulfil all six demands, but it would take some time as the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), Central Division, was busy with the car festival at Puri.

"The RDC is now busy in organising the car festival of Lord Jagannath at Puri. Necessary action will be taken after he is free," Jena said.

"It was agreed to accept their demands. I assured them that the administration is prepared to give in writing after RDC level talks," Jena said voicing confidence that the villagers backing the mega steel project would continue their support.

UAC leader Tamil Pradhan said villagers had certain reservations on construction of boundary walls and the rehabilitation colony near the Noliasahi-Polang area.

The UAC, however, agreed to allow felling of trees, clearing of forest areas, measurement of betel vine plantations and civil work in the area, where the government has already acquired 1800 acre.

Asked whether the people wanted a written assurance on fulfilment of their demands, Jena replied, "as such they did not insist on a written assurance or any time-frame for fulfilment of their demands."

With the talks positive, work at the proposed site for the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel project is likely to be resumed tomorrow, sources said.

The Dhinkia area, however, still remained out of bounds for officials and police with anti-project agitators of the Posco Pratirosh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) continuing dharna near Gobindpur.

Protestors of the Bhitamati Suraksha Manch, backed by Congress, also staged a dharna at Nuagaon in protest against the steel project.