Women, kids rally against Posco plant

Women, kids rally against Posco plant

The local villagers in Dhinkia panchayat of Orissa’s coastal Jagatsinghpur district, who have been opposing the proposed Posco steel project, have set up a human barricade to prevent the entry of district officials into their villages to acquire land for the Rs 52,000 crore South Korean steel mill.

This has thrown a spanner in the district authorities’ attempts to begin the land acquisition process in Dhinkia. In the last two days more than one such abortive attempts were made. On Friday as well as on Saturday a team of district officials headed by Collector N C Jena and Superintendent of Police D D Singh accompanied by about 20 platoons of armed police tried to enter Dhinkia but had to backtrack upon seeing the human barricade.

What created a big hurdle for the officials to use force is the local villagers’ decision to keep small children and women on the forefront of the barricade.
Hundreds of children, women and men squatted on the ground and challenged the officials to use force against them to make their entry into the area despite the SP and the collector declaring the gathering as illegal and appealing the villagers to leave the place.

The authorities are keen to enter the village, considered a stronghold of local anti-Posco outfit, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), as early as possible as the land acquisition in other panchayats like Gada Kujang and Nuagaon is almost over.
The Jagatsinghpur district administration, it may be recalled, had begun the land acquisition works for the proposed mega project nearly a fortnight ego.

“We are going to resist any attempt by the district administration to enter the area in a democratic manner and the villagers are not going to withdraw the human barricade”, PPSS president, Abhaya Sahu said.

 The Jagatsinghpur district administration, however, has strongly criticised the PPSS and the villagers’ move. “What they are doing is illegal as they have no legal authority to prevent us from stepping into the area. Moreover, they are obstructing the villagers who are willing to co-operate in the land acquisition process”, the collector said.

The Orissa government has since announced its decision against acquiring any private land in Dhinkia. It said only  government land encroached by the villagers would be acquired. Compensation is also being paid for encroached government land, officials claimed.

The collector also charged the villagers and the PPSS members with violating the human rights laws by using small children in their protest. “Use of small children for any activity is illegal”, he said.

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