The Odisha government on Tuesday submitted a status report on the Posco steel project at a meeting of an inter-departmental ministerial committee of the Union government in New Delhi even as land acquisition drive continued at the project site.
"Land acquisition for the project is continuing peacefully as per the policy of the state government. The information sought by the ministerial committee has been submitted," said Bipin Saxena, principal resident commissioner (Odisha).
As of now, 1,700 acres of land have been already handed over to Posco where they have started peripheral works, he added.
The submission of the status report comes a day after Posco India chairman and managing director Y W Yoon called on the state development commissioner, J K Mohapatra on Monday.
Posco India which had proposed a 12 million tonne per annum (mtpa) steel plant near Paradip in coastal Odisha, had sought at least 2,700 acres of land to start construction on an eight mtpa plant. The proponent would later expand to 12 mtpa on receipt of its full land requirement of 4,004 acres.
Meanwhile, despite agitation at the project site, the district administration maintained that land acquisition remained unaffected.
"Our team has demolished 12 betel vines by paying compensation of Rs 15 lakh. In addition to this, 263 fruit bearing trees were cut and compensation of Rs 2.50 lakh was paid. Out of 700 acres, we have already acquired nearly 550 acres of land in Gobindpur so far," said Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick.
Activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organisation spearheading the anti-Posco stir and leaders of six Opposition political parties staged an agitation at Gobindpur. The protest, however, was conspicuous by the absence of PPSS leader Abhaya Sahu and failed to make any impact on land acquisition due to participation of few activists.
On the contrary, villagers of Gobindpur, who had sided with the PPSS in its stir against Posco, have pledged their support to chief minister Naveen Patnaik in his move to expedite land acquisition for the project.
Later, the district collector interacted with the 52 ostracised families at Posco transit colony to resolve their issues. These families had threatened to gherao Naveen Nivas (chief minister's residence), demanding fulfillment of their demands that included resettlement at their village at Patana in Dhinkia panchayat.
The district administration has committed to put their demands before the state government and take steps to hike their daily allowance from Rs 80 to Rs 150 per day within seven days.