After a gap of nine months, the Orissa government today resumed land acquisition work for the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant amid tight security, even as those opposed to the project started thronging the area.
The land acquisition work is being undertaken by four teams comprising over 60 officials and personnel from revenue, forest and other departments at Polanga village under Gada Kujanga area, Land Acquisition Officer Surjit Das said.
"The work is progressing smoothly in a peaceful atmosphere. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure smooth acquisition of land," he said.
The land acquisition process for the 12 million tonne steel plant was halted on August 6 last year on orders of the Union Environment and Forest Ministry.
The approval has come with certain conditions, including ensuring tribal rights and compensatory afforestation, while the South Korean steel major was also asked to bear the cost of regeneration of an equivalent amount of open, degraded land in a district to be determined and indicated by the state government.
The conditions also include ban on iron ore exports from the project.
Sarbeswar Behera and Kalindi Behera of Bayanala locality of Polanga village located in Jagatsinghpur district were among the first to receive cheques for parting with their betel vines during the land acquisition process, Das said.
While Sarbeswar was handed a cheque of Rs 1.40 lakh, Kalindi received Rs 1.60 lakh.
As the process of land acquisition was set in motion, anti-project activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti started assembling in the Dhinkia area, while those of Bhitamati Suraksha Janamancha congregated at Nuagaon.
"However, there has been no attempt by anti-Posco activists to disrupt land acquisition work," the police said.
Around 600 police personnel have been deployed in the proposed plant site area to prevent any untoward incident during the land acquisition, official sources said, adding ambulances and fire brigade were also stationed in the area.
Besides Baliltutha and Kujanga, the police force was also deployed in areas like Trilochanpur, Gobindpur and other places where land is to be acquired, they said.