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More acres in Posco booty

- People cooperate with govt

Paradip, April 22: Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district administration today acquired nearly 30 acres of land and dismantled 19 betel vineyards in Gobindpur village for the big-ticket Posco project.

The land acquisition process for the mega project is now in its final leg with the administration intent on acquiring 200 acres to enable the steel-maker to go ahead with the project.

The process was resistance-free with betel vineyard owners turning up voluntarily. Enumeration of non-forest category trees was also conducted.“More land could have been acquired today because the people extended co-operation. But we fell short of manpower to carry out the entire exercise. A compensation sum of Rs 23 lakh was paid today to the vineyard owners,” Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick said.

Officials of the state government, along with those from Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) and Posco, carried out the exercise. Opponents of the project held a protest meeting at Dhinkia, 3km from the land acquisition site.

“The administration is not bothered about it because majority of the people have sided with the government in its endeavour to provide land to Posco,” Mallick said.

The project has reached a crucial juncture because of growing public support in the recent past. Members of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samity (PPSS), which is spearheading the anti-Posco movement, is now divided in their opinions.

The administration had earlier acquired 2,000 acres and handed it over to the state-run Idco for the steel project. The Idco has transferred 1,703 acres to the steel company. Since the company requires 2,700 acres for the 8 million-tonne-per-annum capacity steel plant, a phase-wise land acquisition was restarted in February. In two phases, 500 acres were acquired. The third phase of the drive is now under way. “Over the past two days, we have acquired about 30 acres. Another 170 acres is yet to be acquired. About 150 betel vineyards are to be demolished in the final phase of land-acquisition exercise,” said Mallick.

PPSS dismissed the alleged rift in the resistance movement. “The outfit is firm and strong... The people of Dhinkia are solidly behind the outfit and have resolved to fight till the end. People will go to Gobindpur tomorrow to stall the land acquisition work,” said PPSS spokesperson Prasant Paikray.