, Jan 14: Taking their protest against setting up of mega steel plant
by South Korean
and acquisition of their land by the district administration for the purpose, about 500 villagers including school-going children and women started a fresh agitation against the proposed project by forming a human chain
at Balitikira in Jagatsingpur district Monday.
Apprehending that the district administration might use force to enter the proposed Posco site at Gobindapur to acquire 700 acre of land and provide cheques to 26 affected betel
vine growers, the villagers once again shielded the Nuagaon-Gobindapur border to force the district administration to beat a retreat, said Abhaya Sahu, President of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) who is spearheading the movement.
Around 250 school children of Gobindapur also participated in the human chain
. The children, members of the Baji Rout Children’s Battalion, the children wing of PPSS, are in the front of human barricade, said Sahu. Villagers
of Gobindapur, Patana and Dhinkia have asked their children to actively participate in the human chain formed to deter the police and district administration from acquiring land in their locality.
According to 12-year-old Ratikanta Sahu, “We, the members of Baji Rout Children’s Battalion, have taken a vow to squat on the road as long as we have not been able to completely prevent the entry of police and officials into our villages for acquiring land for the proposed Posco project.”
“We don’t want Posco to come up in our fertile land which is suitable to grow ‘dhaana’ (paddy), ‘paana’ (betel) and ‘mina’ (fish),” he added.
Sahu also alleged that Collector Satya Kumar Mallick had recently claimed that 80 per cent of people in Gobindapur village wanted Posco to come up in the proposed site. “If the Collector can prove that 80 per cent of people are in support of Posco, I will leave the protest. Else, he should resign from his post,” thundered Sahu.
Meanwhile, about nine platoons of security forces are camping at the Posco transit camp
in Gadabagapur and Balitutha since Saturday, said sources.
As long as the district administration does not withdraw police force
from Balitutha and also at the transit camp at Gadabagapur, the human chain will continue for indefinite period, Sahu warned.
“Let the police force come to the site and apply force with the children, women and the elderly to acquire land for Posco. The villagers are determined not to quit the ground and the human chain would continue round the clock at Balitikira,” he added.
“We have taken a vow to fight against the project till our last breath. If the Government
uses force on innocent people, bloodshed would take place. Only the district administration and the State Government
would be responsible for that as people here are ready to confront the forces till the last drop of blood,” said PPSS Secretary Sisir Mohapatra.