A section of ruling BJD instigate anti-Posco movt

Bhubaneswar: Though chief minister Naveen Patnaik wanted establishment of Posco`s Rs 52,000 crore mega steel plant in Orissa, a powerful section of ruling BJD was hand-in-glove with CPI to oppose the project, former state minister Damodar Rout said on Sunday.

"I was dropped from the ministry at the instance of the group opposed to Posco project," Rout said adding he was ousted just before resumption of land acquisition process for the project and after the centre`s approval of final forest clearance to the Posco steel plant.

While Rout was dropped from the cabinet on May 9, the land acquisition process resumed on May 18 after the centre accorded final forest clearance to Posco project on May 2.

Rout also claimed that he had earlier been dropped from the ministry in 2006 because of his all-out support to the Posco project.

The former minister`s claim came when the state government was finding it difficult to acquire land for the South Korean steel major near Paradip. His statement was also significant as Rout had represented the proposed plant site villages for about 30 years before being elected from Paradip assembly segment in 2009 polls.

Justifying his claim that a powerful section of BJD was close to the CPI that had been opposing the project from the day one, Rout pointed out that the ruling BJD gave Jagatsinghpur MP ticket to CPI in 2009.

Asked whether he pointed at party MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra as the person nurturing nexus with anti-Posco group, Rout said: "There is no doubt about it."

"I can claim that Pyari has been instigating PPSS leader Abhay Sahu and CPI to agitate against Posco project.

Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha ticket was therefore given to CPI to strengthen anti-Posco movement there," Rout alleged.

When contacted, Mohapatra declined to comment on the statement made by Rout.

The day CPI candidate Bibhu Prasad Tarai won the polls with the support of the BJD, he went to the proposed plant site villages along with Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti president Abhay Sahu. Tarai assured the villagers that the project will not be allowed, Rout said.

Further justifying his claim of existence of a "nexus" between the anti-Posco body and a section of BJD, the former minister alleged that party`s Barabati-Cuttack MLA Debasis Samantray had recently floated a trade union along with PPSS leader Abhay Sahu in Paradip.

When contacted, Sahu confirmed that he was the working president of a Paradip-based trade union headed by Samantray.

"We do not have any political difference with BJD other than Posco issue," Sahu said adding both BJD and CPI had gone to polls in 2009 under seat adjustment.