Two-day break to land acquisition for Posco project

Land acquisition work for the project was affected earlier in the day as a group of villagers, who had initially backed the Rs 52,000 crore project, staged dharna at the proposed site.

"We could acquire only three betel leaf vines today due to non-cooperation from the people," Jagatsinghpur district land acquisition officer Surjit Das said.

"We want people to hand over land voluntarily for the Posco project. No force will be used in acquiring land, which resumed on May 18 after a gap of nine months," Additional District magistrate (Paradip) Saroj Choudhury said.

Land acquisition teams visited Polanga and Bayanala in Gada Kujanga panchayat area and carried out measurement of different sites including betel vines, he said.

Meanwhile, Orissa High Court issued notices to the state and central governments and Posco-India after admitting a PIL filed by six residents of the proposed plant site villages.
The villagers alleged that their rights under the Forest Rights Act-2006 had been violated by the Centre by according forest clearance to the Posco project. They sought HC's intervention and prayed for stopping of work at the proposed plant site till the case was disposed.

Activists of United Action Committee(UAC), who earlier backed the mega project, staged a dharna at Gada Kujanga opposing the land acquisition drive, a day after 320 of their members were arrested for trying to disrupt the move yesterday and later released.UAC President Anadi Rout said though the outfit supported the project it would oppose the land acquisition work till its demands are fulfilled.

The dharna by UAC activists would continue till May 30, the day when the revenue divisional commissioner has convened a meeting to discuss the demands.

The agitators held two public meetings at Nuagaon and Gada Kujang villages where they resolved not to hand over their land for the Posco project.

There was, however, no untoward incident in any part of the proposed Posco project site during land acquisition work, according to Jagatsinghpur district superintendent of police S Devadutta Singh.

Though activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) blocked the road to Dhinkia and Gobindpur and supporters of Bhitamati Suraksha Manch (BMSM) staged blockade near Nuagaon, the situation was peaceful, he said.

While UAC is opposing land acquisition before fulfilment of its demands, PPSS and BMSM are against setting up of the Posco project in the area.

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