Land clearing on in Posco site amidst protests

Paradip: Betel vines were dismantled and trees felled in the Posco steel project site on Tuesday amidst protests by anti-Posco brigade in some places of Jagatsinghpur district, including in this port town.

Additional district magistrate (Paradip) Surjeet Das said a total 15 betel vines were dismantled and 385 horticultural plants cut down during the day. "We also cleared a large chunk of kewda plantations by using excavators."

The administration also paid compensation to affected families at Gobindpur village, he said.

Das said the administration was poised to complete land acquisition process for the Rs 52,000 crore steel project soon and it would continue the activities for a few more days before land is handed over to Posco-India for the mega project.

The South Korean steel major requires 2,700 acres to begin construction of the 8 mtpa steel plant near here in the first phase.

The administration has already handed over about 1,700 acres to the company and the rest would be given soon, Das said.

Meanwhile, anti-Posco activists held a meeting at Patana village, about half-a-km from the land acquisition place.

The protesters led by CPI-backed Posco Pratorodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) held demonstrations at Kujang, Ersama, Biridi and Paradip, demanding release of their leader Abhay Sahu, arrested on charge of being involved in an explosion in which three persons were killed on March 2.

"We will fight till the end," local Sarpanch Sisir Mohapatra who is leading the anti-Posco group in Sahu's absence said.