Villagers dig up approach roads to Posco-hit Dhinkia panchayat

An uneasy calm prevailed in Dhinkia panchayat in the proposed Posco steel plant site with irate villagers of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Patana, Noliashai digging up approach roads from Jatadhari river mouth side at 15 points protesting the decision of the state government to start land acquisition process for the project from Dhinkia.

Although no fresh incident was reported since the visit of senior cops and government officials to the project site through Jatadhar river mouth yesterday, tension is palpable as villagers are preparing for a showdown.

Sources said, the state government has chalked out plans to start land acquisition process from Dhinkia panchyat after obtaining full-fledged forest clearance from the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MOEF). The director general of police, Manmohan Praharaj and nodal officer for the Posco project and chairman cum managing director of Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Orissa (IDCO) Priyabrat Pattnaik visited the site and conducted review meetings with the district and police officials yesterday.

Talking to media persons, Pattnaik said, ‘IDCO would start approach road and construction of boundary wall for the proposed Posco project on government land as soon as possible”.

Aggrieved with the state government’s move, the villagers of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Patana, Noliashai on Sunday vowed to protest the land acquisition work and entry of police, government officials and Posco authorities into the site.

Hundreds of irate villagers dug up the four Kms approach road from Jatadhar river mouth to Dhinkia at 15 different points.

Anti Posco leader Abhya Sahu said, “we are organising villagers for the battle against the police and the district administration. Besides, guarding of village boundaries has been reinforced to block the netry of government officials”.

Erection of barricades and digging of roads have made the core area of the project inaccessible for vehicles.

The pro-Posco outfit, United Action Committee (UAC) has asked both the Posco authorities and the state government to talk directly with the affected villagers before starting work on the project. Secretary, UAC, Nirvya Samntray said, “villagers greeted the effort of the state government to start land acquisition process from trouble-torn Dhinkia, but the demands of the affected people should be considered sympathetically and due rehabilitation & resettlement package should be awarded”. He urged the administration to resettle 52 ostracized pro-Posco families at their Patana village before start of Posco related activities.

District collector Narayan Chandra Jena said, the state officials visited Jatadhar river mouth to assess the start of land acquisition work from Dhinkia side after getting the forest clearance. The digging of roads by PPSS activists would not affect the project work, he added.

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