Villagers re-occupy lands in Posco project area

Bhubaneswar, July 20 (IANS) Days after South Korean steel giant Posco put the $12 billion mega steel project on hold in Odisha, the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading the movement against land acquisition, on Monday said villagers have started re-occupying lands acquired for the project.

PPSS president Abhay Sahu said Posco India may have made up its mind to shut down the project, but the PPSS agitation will continue till the lands acquired from the villagers have been totally restored to their owners, and false cases levelled against agitators are withdrawn unconditionally.

“The state government had acquired land from the people forcibly. But the villagers are determined to re-occupy the land which has been with them from generations,” Sahu told IANS.

Villagers of Nuagaon have started re-occupying their lands acquired by the government for the proposed Posco project, he added.

He also demanded that Posco should explain in detail the expenditure of Rs.350 crore during the 10 years in Odisha as claimed.

Sahu said 300 false cases were registered against villagers for protesting the project and demanded their immediate withdrawal.

The Odisha government acquired about 2,700 acres of land for the first phase of the project in Jagatsinghpur district. But the administration has not been able to get physical possession of the land.

“We appeal to the state government to resolve the issues affecting the fate of the Posco project at the earliest or else we would be forced to regain our land as it is our prime source of livelihood,” pro-Posco leader Tamil Pradhan told IANS.

A state government official on the condition of anonymity said they were aware of the re-occupation of lands by villagers, but were yet to receive any directive from the administration to initiate action.

The South Korean company recently announced it was putting the project on hold after failing to make any visible progress 10 years after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha government in 2005

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