The anti-Posco movement in Dhinkia village in the heart of Posco project site has suffered a major blow as hundreds of villagers, who were agitating under the banner of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), have switched their support to the pro-Posco camp and assured their cooperation to the district administration in its drive to demolish betel vines operating on the government and forest land and acquire the land for the project.
However, putting up a brave face despite this setback, the PPSS activists have been organising rallies at Balitutha, the entry point to the Posco site, since last three days in a last ditch effort to obstruct land acquisition for the project which is set to start from May 18.
The Jagatsinghpur district administration conducted a preparatory meeting at Erasama block office on Saturday with the help of village chiefs of Posco affected panchayats of Naugaon, Dhinkia and Gadkujang and the activists of United Action Committee, a pro Posco outfit and other elected representatives to expedite land acquisition for the project.
The administration got a moral boost yesterday when hundreds of anti Posco activists, defecting from the clutch of PPSS, attended the meeting and gave assurance to extend all cooperation for enumeration of betel vine farmers and demolition of their vines in Dhinkia and Gobindpur villages.
The district collector Narayan Chandra Jena presided over this meeting where additional district magistrate Sarojakant Chaudhry, project officer, rehabilitation and resettlement Surjeet Das, special land acquisition officer Nrusingh Chandra Swain and other officials were also present.
Dhinkia sarpanch and PPSS leader, Sisir Mohapatra, termed the villagers who had joined hands with the administration as “traitors beggars who have switched over their allegiance for the lure of money and liquor”. He asserted that PPSS would not allow the government's dream to acquire land for Posco to be a reality and oppose land acquisition and demolition of betel vines on government land tooth and nail.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up by the district administration through deployment of 15 platoon police forces at Balitutha, Trilochanpur, Kujang and other areas of the project site in the run up to the start of land acquisition on May 18, said a senior police officer.