Human chain to prevent land purchase by Posco

In a bid to oppose the Posco steel project in Odisha’s coastal Jagatsinghpur district, local villagers have set up a human chain and are squatting on the border of Govindpur and Nuagaon to prevent any attempt by the district administration to acquire land for the multi-crore South Korean steel mill.

The human chain includes hundreds of children and women. The children have skipped their school to join the agitation. The local organisation spearheading the villagers’ protest, called Posco Pradhirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), has already announced that the children and women would be used as “shields” to prevent any attempt by the district administration to use force and enter the area for land acquisition works.

“Any use of police for forcible land acquisition will be strongly resisted by the children and the women”, PPSS president Abhay Sahu said. The Jagatsinghpur district administration has reacted strongly against the PPSS’s decision to use children in the agitation.

“It is an illegal act. Those who are spearheading the agitation would be fully responsible if anything happened to these children. I have already asked my officers to investigate as to under which circumstances the children were made to skip their classes and join the agitation,” said district Collector S K Mallick.

The PPSS, however, has defended its decision saying that the children cannot remain mute spectators when their father and forefathers’ land are being forcibly snatched away.  The organisation’s view has been supported by Bibhu Tarai, the CPI Lok Sabha member from Jagatsinghpur.

Despite its alliance with the ruling Biju Janata Dal, the CPI has been backing the anti-Posco protestors right from the beginning.

The PPSS and anti-Posco villagers set up a similar human chain in 2011 creating a hurdle in the district administration’s land acquisition process.

The Jagatsinghpur administration has already acquired 2,000 acres for the prestigious steel project. It is now contemplating restarting the process to acquire 700 acres more required for the foreign direct investment project.

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