Posco site tense after villagers raze boundary wall

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Bhubaneswar/Jagatsinghpur: The much-awaited Rs 52,000 crore integrated steel plant proposed by South Korean steel behemoth Posco suffered a jolt today, as pro-Posco activists pulled down the company’s boundary wall at Nuagaon area near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district and set fire to its makeshift office there. According to reports, angry over the non-fulfillment of their long-standing 14-point charter of demands, over one hundred activists demolished the newly built 300-metre long boundary wall of the project.

The crowd of protesters too set afire the camp office of state-owned Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) and a Public Relations office, built near the boundary wall, sources said. “Angry villagers have burnt some steel containers being used as camp office and damaged a portion of Posco’s boundary wall near Nuagaon,” Additional Superintendent of Police Paradip, Madabananda Sahu said.

The company had kept at least seven such mobile containers fitted with state-of-the-art electrical and electronic equipment for use as camp office by officials of Posco and IDCO in its proposed project site near Nuagaon. The electrical and electronic equipment and official documents kept in six of the seven containers were gutted, the sources said, adding tension prevailed in the area.

The agitated villagers alleged that though they have been supporting the project after the initial hiccups over land acquisition, the district administration has not yet convened the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) meeting to address their concerns following the MoEF’s nod a month ago.

“We are unable to understand the government’s is lackadaisical approach towards fulfilling our demands. Our twin attempts to meet the authority earlier were in vain as they are not willing to hold a discussion with the locals,” a villager said. “As long as our demands are not met, we’ll strengthen the agitation in the coming days,” he warned.

Denouncing the act Jagatsinghpur Collector S K Mallick said that it was unfortunate when the project was in such a decisive mode. The RPDAC meeting could not be held due to reshuffling of RDC, he added. “I request the people to wait for next RPDAC meeting and they are welcome to place their issues in it. They must co-operate with the district administration and we are ready to discuss all issues.” Officials said the meeting is supposed to consider the demands of the project affected persons such as jobs and other compensation claims.

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