The Jagatsinghpur district administration hopes to acquire the required land for the Posco steel project within next couple of days.
"We are close to acquire 2,700 acre land required for the 8 MTPA plant of Posco in first phase. But we might have to wait for some time to start construction work. The NGT (National Green Tribunal) has ordered status quo which is why we have not started tree cutting to clear the area as of now. The tree felling will begin only after the NGT vacates the stay order. We are planning to start the trench digging work after the demolition of betel vines," said Satya Kumar Mallick, district collector, Jagatsinghpur.
It may be noted the district administration has already acquired 2,000 acres at the Posco project site and needs to get possession of another 700 acres before it hands over the land to Posco for establishment of the steel project. In its final phase of land acquisition drive, the administration has dismantled nearly 59 betel vines in last two days.
But the land acquisition is not without its share of controversy as the district administration is accused of using force to acquire land at Gobindpur village in the project site. Those betel vine owners who were unwilling to hand over their vines and their family members including women and children were beat up by the police and their vines were forcibly pulled down, sources said.
Meanwhile, the leaders of CPI and other parties with limited presence in the state slammed the government for using force to acquire land for the Posco project.
Expressing solidarity with Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), these leaders, who held a meeting at the project site on Sunday, termed the police lathi charge on villagers as inhuman. They said, the current round of acquisition is completely illegal since the validity of MoU with Posco has expired and National Green Tribunal has suspended the project's environmental clearance.