Bhubaneswar, June 20 (IANS) The anti-Posco agitation in Orissa got a boost Monday with social activist Medha Patkar joining the villagers in their protest against the proposed $12 billion project in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur.
The villagers have formed a human barricade in the troubled Govindpur village since the past several days to prevent the entry of officials to the area for land acquisition.
Accusing the government of acquiring the land from the villagers in an undemocratic manner, Patkar said the officials should understand that land acquisition cannot happen at gun-point.
‘People have the right to protest. Without the consent of the local people, how can the government acquire land? It is a gross human rights violation,’ the activist told a gathering of villagers.
Patkar also said there is a need to launch a nationwide protest against land acquisitions as governments are in a habit of frequently misusing the act.
She said that last year Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had promised the villagers to visit the affected area and interact with the local people. ‘But he sent police force instead,’ she said.
‘This demonstrates that the government is afraid of the people,’ she said.
Posco’s proposed 12 million tonne steel plant – the largest foreign investment in India – is to come up near the port town of Paradip, about 120 km from here.
The company requires about 4,004 acres of land for the project, and 2,900 acres of the earmarked area is forest land.
The local administration said it has already acquired nearly half of the land required for the project.
The land acquisition was scheduled to resume Monday but authorities postponed it without citing any reason.
‘We are awaiting further instructions from the government on the matter,’ Additional District Magistrate S.K. Chaudhuri told IANS. He said the government is reviewing the situation.