| Gates in place to resist the resumption of land acquisition for the Posco steel project near Paradip. Telegraph picture |
Paradip, Jan. 12: Barrier gates are back in place at Dhinkia village even as authorities are all set to resume land acquisition and project work for the Posco steel venture.
The renewal of resistance movement by opponents of the project has the authorities in a spot. The protesters have picked up the resistance movement from where they had left off about a year ago, when violence had led to suspension of project.
Since December 16, 2011, the project work has failed to move as the district administration had suspended the work after the violence at Bose-callis’ point near the proposed coastal road project had claimed a life leaving several others injured. Despite hurdles from the anti-project resistance brigades, the government is intent to resume the project work shortly.
“The government has acquired 2,000 acres. Exercise would shortly be on to pull down the betel vineyards at Gobindpur village for acquisition of 700 acres. Once the acquisition is over, the state government will hand over 2,700 acres. The first phase of 12MTPA steel plant will get operational by 2016,” said Jagatsinghpur district collector Satya Kumar Mallick.
“There is show of resistance movement in Dhinkia gram panchayat. However, it is symbolic in nature. The majority of people want the steel plant to come up. We are holding dialogues with cross sections of people, land losers and representatives of various outfits,” he said.
“We are apprehensive that the administration could resume the project any moment from now. So, we are getting ready to start the anti-project movement in an orchestrated manner. Round-the-clock watch has begun at the barrier gates. Besides, we are planning to start the human barricade sit-in at entry point to the project area,” said Sisir Kumar Mahapatra, general secretary of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, an anti-plant outfit.
The protest will go on till the steel-maker decides in favour of relocating the project from here, said Manorama Khatua, the women wing chief of the samiti.
“The fight against the project will go on. People have vowed here to fight against the project with renewed vigour. Any use of force on unarmed people will end in bloodshed as people here are ready to confront government forces,” said samiti president Abhaya Sahu.
In the wake of resistance, authorities and government officials, despite concerted efforts, have so far not managed to gain foothold here to take possession of betel vineyards that have come up in forestland. On the other hand, the company officials, it is learnt, are prioritising on the acquisition of forestland at Dhinkia, the hot bed of resistance movement against the project. The officials are insistent on transfer of the Dhinkia land as it will stop future roadblocks for the project.