Anti-Posco agitators demand force withdrawal before talks

Anti-Posco agitators demand force withdrawal before talks

The Samiti was responding to Orissa government's offer for talks to resolve the dispute.
"The force must be withdrawn from Balitutha area, the entry point to the proposed plant site, in order to create an atmosphere for peaceful talks," PPSS president Abhay Sahu said over phone after a general body meeting of the PPSS.

Sahu said unless security personnel were withdrawn, people would not have faith on the government's sincerity on resolving the dispute. "We will not go for talk either with the district administration or the chief minister unless they remove police," the PPSS leader said.

Sahu said some of the members were initially reluctant to hold talks with officials and demanded to meet the chief minister.

"Now all of us are ready to hold talks with the officials if the condition is met to create a peaceful atmosphere," he said, alleging police had assaulted the people while they were sitting on a dharna at Balitutha on May 15.

The PPSS is spearheading agitation against the South Korean steel major since it inked an MoU with the state government on June 22, 2005 for setting up a 12mtpa steel mill at an investment of Rs 52,000 crore.

CPI general secretary A B Bardhan had on May 19 asked the chief minister to hold talks with the people likely to be affected due to the project.

A CPI(M) delegation had also made a similar demand when it met the chief minister.
"We had urged the chief minister to hold direct talks with the people to be affected by the project," said CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati.

The PPSS also rejected the state government's formula of excluding only private land in Dhinkia village from the proposed project site terming it an 'one-sided' decision of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

A large number of families living at Dhinkia village undertake betel cultivation and fish farming on the government land since generations, it said.

"There is no meaning if one excludes only private land and acquires all government land for setting up the steel plant," the PPSS said.