Land acquisition for Posco's mega steel plant near here was halted soon after it began today in the face of opposition from both the supporters and opponents of the project. "We could demolish only two patches of betel vines and cut 54 trees today," Jagtsinghpur district collector S K Mallick told reporters as the officials wind up the day's work at the proposed plant site villages. While supporters of the project led by Ranjan Bardhan asked the district administration to announce rehabilitation package before proceeding further, the opponents held a demonstration near the betel vine demolition site. "We are not opposed to the project. We assist the administration to undertake land acquisition activities.
But, that does not mean we have withdrawn our demands. The villagers want rehabilitation before further progress," Bardhan said adding that the people who lost jobs due to demolition of betel vines were not compensated. Meanwhile, the opponents for the first time held talks with the District Collector and demanded complete withdrawal of the project. "We have told the people opposing the project that the administration acquired land from those who wanted to give away their betel vines. There has been no forceful land acquisition as alleged by them," District Collector Mallick said. The district administration also made it clear that it would again go on land acquisition drive with consent of the people. The land acquisition process which was suspended for three days, had resumed yesterday at Gobindpur village.