Cong-CPI verbal duel at PPSS convention

Bhubaneswar: A convention organized by anti-Posco groups on Tuesday to intensify stir against the South Korean steel major witnessed heated exchange of words disrupting the meeting for a while.

Trouble began when Congress leader Umesh Swain objected to certain anti-Congress remarks made by CPI National Secretary Atul Kumar Anjan. The two leaders came face to face and engaged in a verbal duel. Following the boisterous scene, Swain left the meeting half-way along with fellow congressman and former MP Braja Kishore Tripathy.

“It seems Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has laid down his arms before MNCs and World Bank. If it hurts anyone’s sentiments, we cannot shy away from reality,” CPI National Secretary Atul Kumar Anjan said.

While Swain was off stage, Tripathy was sharing the dais with Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) supremo Abhay Sahu. Apparently disgruntled over Anjan’s remarks, the duo walked out of the convention.

“It was an anti-Posco meeting. There is no justification to drag PM, Sonia Gandhi and Indira Gandhi into it. When he made unacceptable remarks about these leaders, we objected to it,” Congress leader Braja Kishore Tripathy said.

However, leaders of anti-displacement groups opposing the proposed mega steel project decided to organize ‘maha samavesh’ (anti-Posco gathering) at Dhinkia on March 13.

On the other hand, the state government has decided to constitute a high-level expert monitoring committee to oversee the construction of Posco’s captive port at Jatadhari so that no Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules are violated.

The committee which would supervise the works from beginning to end would submit reports to the government in regular intervals.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has warned that, with setting up of the steel mill around 2000 farmers would lose their livelihood in the coming months. The organization extensively campaigning for rights of people had earlier raised concerns of violation of forest rights act (FRA).

It may be recalled that though Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had accorded conditional clearance to the project, it had not permitted diversion of forest land.

“The committee would look into dredging, dredging disposal and marine life conservation,” state Environment dept Director Bhagirathi Behera said.