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Poor footfall at anti-Posco rally

Paradip, May 31: A protest rally, organised by the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, an anti-plant outfit locked in a six-year resistance movement against the South Korean steel-maker, on the outskirts of the proposed project site evoked lukewarm response.

The rally followed by a public meeting at Nuaratanpur village to register their protest against the government’s move to find an alternative road connectivity to the project site was thinly attended, leaving the organisers disappointed.

Expectation of both the civil and police administration was that there would be a large turnout of crowd. Accordingly security had been stepped up at the venue to maintain law and order. While police sources put the attendance at little over a hundred, organisers were of the view that humid and hot weather resulted in the poor turnout.

“People of Kunjkothi, Japa, Nuagaon, Gadakujang, Balitutha, Bamdeipur, Chatua, Baleipur, Nuadidhi and Bhitarandhari gram panchayats are opposing the construction of the road connectivity bridge at Baliamara. The bridge is not going to serve the interest of the steel project. This is not being built to provide better communication to the people. People have realised the corporate-friendly intent of the government,” said Samiti chief Abhaya Sahu.

The movement against the bridge project has made a humble beginning. It would be intensified further in the coming days.

People would offer resistance and under no circumstances, the bridge would be allowed to come up at Baliamara, he said.

However, the officials and various other outfits are optimistic of commencement of work of the bridge project shortly.

“The Samiti had resorted to a desperate move to carry forward its movement against the Posco steel project after the government decided to exclude Dhinkia, the epicentre of its base, from the project boundary,” said Nirvaya Samantaray, general secretary of the United Action Committee, an anti-Posco outfit.

“The movement to stop the bridge project defies logic. It’s out and out anti-people. Thousands of people from thickly populated villages of Kujang and Ersama blocks are going to reap benefit from it. The poor turnout of people in today’s rally justifies the fact that people are opposed to such agitation. The project may have been conceived to facilitate road connectivity to the steel project villages. But people would be the principal beneficiaries of such bridge project,” he said.

“The agitation against the bridge project was bereft of people’s support. As the Samiti is losing ground in its area of operation in places of Dhinkia and Gobindpur, it is trying to mislead the people,” said Surajit Das, additional district magistrate, Paradip.

“The coastal road project that faced people’s resistance and violent clash on December 14 has now been put on hold. A road bridge over a creek near Baliamara on the outskirts of the project has been planned to facilitate hurdle-free transportation of construction materials to the project site. The steel-maker has given consent to the proposal,” said Das.

Executive engineer of the rural works department A.U. Subudhi said: “The proposed bridge would be a 100 per cent steel-framed one. It would be 123-metre long with its estimated cost pegged at Rs 4 crore. The bridge construction would begin once the land handover is made to us.”