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Naveen to keep Posco date

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 22.12.07

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 21: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today exuded hope that the construction of the Posco plant would begin as per schedule, though land demarcation in affected areas has been deferred following resistance.

“The target date for the beginning of the construction has been given as April 1. We certainly hope that the foundation stone will be laid on the scheduled date,” Naveen (in picture) said after returning from Delhi this afternoon.

The proposed 12 MTPA steel plant, the biggest FDI project in the country, has been hanging fire for more than two and half years due to stiff opposition from those facing displacement due to the plant. Land demarcation, leaving aside land acquisition, could not be carried out due to the resistance.

The proposed $12 billion mega steel plant project has another roadblock with the pro-plant group insisting on the announcement of a special rehabilitation package.

Recently members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) — constituted by plant supporters at Nuagaon, Gadakujang and Govindpur — announced they would not allow land demarcation to start unless the state government and Posco spell out the special compensation package.

Tamil Pradhan, a prominent JAC leader, said they had laid certain conditions before land demarcation and acquisition at a meeting convened by the district administration on December 6. Though a fortnight has passed, the authorities have not announced the special compensation package, said Pradhan. JAC has convened a meeting at Gadakujang tomorrow to discuss the issue.

The committee members had given a peace offer and invited the anti-Posco protestors to the meeting. However, anti-Posco protestors turned down the invitation.

“Those who have formed JAC and sent the invitation are doing so at the behest of Posco officials. They do not want to build relations with us but (want) to play tricks”, said a senior member of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

This was the first peace effort by Posco supporters after the November 29 clash between the two groups, in which bombs were allegedly used.

State government’s Posco project nodal officer Priyabrata Patnaik, who had led the negotiation with plant supporters, said the next round of discussions would be held soon. Priyabrata said they have not received any proposal from JAC.