KENDRAPDA: Anti-land acquisition leader and president of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Abhay Sahoo reached the proposed steel plant site in Jagatsighpur district on Sunday. This was his first visit to the area after being released on bail on November 30.
Addressing the villagers at Dhinkia, Sahoo exhorted them to rebuild their flattened betel vine farms in Gobindpur and other villages. The district authorities had pulled down the betel vines in June during land acquisition for the project.
Sahoo said the authorities illegally and forcefully acquired the farms. “The fight against the Posco project would be launched with renewed vigour. It would go on till it reaches a logical conclusion,” he said. Sahoo’s release is expected to boost the anti-Posco movement. The movement had considerably weakened following his absence, said a villager.
Collector (Jagatsinghpur) S K Mallick said, “The landowners had given consent for acquisition of their betel vines. Accordingly, those were pulled down after GPS measurement and compensation was given to them. The whole process was video-graphed.”
“Under the given circumstances, rebuilding of betel vines will amount to forceful land grabbing and breach of law. Officials have been directed to demolish the rebuilt vineyards. Criminal cases would be registered against the occupiers under provisions of IPC and Odisha Prevention of Land Encroachment Act,” he added.
The steel project got a boost after the district administration acquired 2,700 acre on July 4 in three gram panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang. Posco had earlier proposed a 12 million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant. But later the steel company sought at least 2,700 acre to start an eight mtpa plant.