With Odisha government allegedly using force during the last phase of land acquisition for Posco's mega steel project near here, residents of the proposed plant site villages, mainly women, are armed with chilli powder to take on the cops.
Though Jagatsinghpur district administration halted betel vine demolition in the face of stiff opposition since Sunday, the protesters are ready to oppose land acquisition.
"We are ready with chilli powder and broken bangles," said Manorama Khatua, Chief of women wing of the CPI-backed Posco Pratorodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS). She said women will lead protesters and prevent state government from using force.
The members of PPSS's women wing would use chilli powder and broken bangles against police if they lob tear gas shells or resort to lathicharge, she said.
As the state government was on the last leg of land acquisition process, former CPI MLA Marayan Reddy, Samajwadi Party state general secretary Arun Jena, CPI leader Ramakrushna Panda and others camped at Gobindpur village to stall land acquisition activities.
"The protesters will put full strength this time as government has reached the last phase of land acqusition," said Reddy, addressing a meeting at Gobindpur village, where land acquisition was on in the last phase.
PPSS secretary and local sarpanch Sisir Mohapatra also warned that the government would be responsible if there is any violence in the area. "People are very angry. They may take extreme step to protect their land," he said.
Meanwhile, Jagatsinghpur district collector S K Mallick said administration refrained from land acquisition for the last two days due to bad weather.
"We will resume the activities tomorrow," Mallick said adding the government is ready to have talks with the agitators on any issue.
The district officials led by ADM, Paradip Surjit Das had begun demolition of betel vines yesterday. However, the work was suspended for the day due to tension.
The administration has dismantled around 59 betel vines during the last phase of land acquisition while compensation was yet to be paid in current phase.
Only 21 beneficiaries are willing to receive their compensation amounting to Rs 89.90 lakh, sources said.