Land acquisition for Posco project halted for 2nd day

Paradip: Land acquisition for the Rs 52,000 crore mega steel project in Jagatsinghpur district remained suspended for the second day on Friday with protests continuing even as Posco-India expressed optimism about completion of land clearance in few days.
 
The state government which halted land acquisition at Gobindpur village on Wednesday did not attempt to enter the area where demonstrations by children, women and elderly persons took place.
 
"There was no land acquisition today for certain reasons," Additional District Magistrate (Paradip) Surjit Das said, adding that the administration would take appropriate steps with the consent of the local people.
 
With Posco requiring about 2,700 acre to start construction of its 8 mtpa integrated steel plant in stage one, the state government has acquired 200 acre since Sunday out of 700 acre targeted. It had acquired 2,000 acre earlier.
 
"We are happy that the land clearance process has resumed again and hope it will be over smoothly with the support of villagers, without any further halt or obstruction. We hope to start land preparation work soon," Posco-India Chairman and Managing Director Yong Won Yoon said.
 
With the current phase of land clearance by the authorities progressing peacefully and well with the consent of villagers, it will take some days for the completion of the process, Yoon said. .
 
Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who reached the area to express solidarity with the people, said, "The state government has no right to acquire land forcibly. Whatever was done at Gobindpur village is undemocratic, illegal and above all criminal in nature." 
 
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who was in Bhubaneswar in connection with the 48-hour strike on February 20 by central trade unions condemned the use of force for land acquisition.
 
Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) president Abhay Sahu's hunger-strike demanding withdrawal of the police entered the fourth day.
 
The police lodged an FIR against Sahu and others accusing them of using children as human shields.
 
At least two platoons (about 60 personnel) of armed police were patrolling the villages.
 
"The police force is being deployed in view of the prevailing law and order situation at Gobindpur village and nearby areas," Jagatsinghpur SP Satyabrata Bhoi said.
 
He rejected the allegation of use of force for land acquisition.
 
"Anybody can go to the spot and talk to people. There has been no use of force as alleged by certain leaders," the SP said.
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