Odishatv Bureau

Paradip: With the pull-out of police forces from the proposed Posco steel plant site in Jagatsinghpur district, the situation on Tuesday returned to normal in the area where tension had prevailed due to protests by anti-project activists using school children as human shields.

One platoon of police force deployed at Mangalachak near Gobindpur to maintain law and order was also withdrawn and only a single platoon (about 30 personnel) was now camping in the place, police said.

Of the 14 platoons of police deployed in Dhinkia panchayat for land acquisition purposes, 12 platoons were withdrawn yesterday and now another was pulled out apparently in an effort to pacify some villagers opposing the establishment of the Rs 52,000 crore mega steel plant in the area.

The police camp at Mangalachak is only a formality as there was no magistrate on duty from today, Superintendent of Police Satyabrat Bhoi said.

Land acquisition, which had resumed on February 3 after a gap of more than one year, continued for three days but was stalled from February 6 following clashes between anti-Posco protesters and police. Finally, the government yesterday decided to put on hold land acquisition for the time being and withdrew police force from the area.

Meanwhile, people in Dhinkia, one of the three gram panchayats where the proposed steel plant is to come up, today went to their work instead of assembling at nearby Patna to protest under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Only a few villagers went to the dharna site near Patna where PPSS Leader Abhay Sahu was sitting on the dharna demanding scrapping of the project.

Extending their helping hand to the family of an anti-Posco leader of Dhinkia, who was now in jail for alleged involvement in several offenses, villagers ploughed his farmland today to initiate cultivation.

School students in the area who had boycotted classes to join anti-Posco demonstrations, today attended their schools.

Anti-Posco leader and sarpanch of Dhinkia, Sisir Mohapatra said new betel vines had come up in the area.

"The government claims that betel vines in the area have been dismantled. But many betel vines had come up after that and farmers straightened the demolished vines after the government agencies left", he said.