Work at the proposed Posco mega steel plant site was stalled again today after 11 days with a pro-Posco body saying it would not allow it to continue as the fate of the project in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district was uncertain while its demands also remained unfulfilled.
"Work had to be suspended as our teams were prevented from entering the site by villagers," Land Acquisition Officer Surjit Das said.
A large number of villagers including women went on a dharna near Gadakujang junction cutting off the road to the area where trees were being felled and the ground levelled. "Around 113,000 trees have been felled already though a new MoU is yet to be signed.
We cannot allow our trees to perish when the fate of the project is uncertain," Working President of the United Action Committee, Dhirendra Palai said. "Though UAC has been supporting the project, it is pointless to go on extending cooperation blindly in the absence of any MoU between the state government and Posco. There is uncertainty after the old MoU lapsed on June 21, 2010," he said. Moreover, he said, the state government needed to meet the six demands, including increased compensation to land losers, jobs to the affected people and adoption of revised method for measurement of betel vines. Job cards were given to 1300 youths with a promise to pay Rs 6,000 each per month, but neither work nor payment has been given, the UAC leader alleged. "We will not allow work as the government is yet to take any concrete step to meet our six major demands," he said. Demand would be taken up with the revenue divisional commissioner while protests continue.