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Posco wall work starts

Paradip, Dec. 14: Hassle-free construction of the Posco steel project’s boundary wall was carried out here today.

Fifty feet of the wall was built today, putting an end to the nearly five-month impasse. On July 4, the district administration concluded acquisition of 2,700 acres required for the project after several hold-ups and protests by anti-Posco brigades.

Since then, the project work had made little headway with the National Green Tribunal stalling tree-cutting in the project areas.

“The company has now laid emphasis on the project boundary. The wall is being built to barricade the area from further encroachment. The construction is now going on at the 1,703 acres handed over to the company. The government is yet to hand over the rest of the required land,” said Posco (Odisha) general manager S.N. Singh.

The exercise went on today with consensus and co-operation of local residents. The people got engaged in the construction though the company had employed a private farm with the boundary wall building work, Singh said.

On the other hand, the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samity described the restart of the construction as an act of “impropriety”. Samity spokesperson Prasant Paikray said: “The company, in collusion with the government agencies, has made the mockery of rules and regulations. At a time when the National Green Tribunal has stayed tree-cutting and other project work in the area, commencement of work of this nature is gross violation of the order. We will take up the matter with the tribunal. The anti-Posco resistance movement would also kick start very shortly.”

The Jagatsinghpur district administration held talks with the people from the project areas to expedite the work.

“The steel company has begun the boundary wall task. There is no tribunal embargo on such activity. The project areas were earmarked and properly demarcated under the Global Positioning System methodology,” said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.

The company had decided to exclude private land in resistance movement-affected Dhinkia gram panchayat. It had also declared to downsize the project from 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) to 8MTPA.