Villagers prevent officials, police from entering Posco site

KENDRAPARA: Posco officials and police faced a major stumbling block at Gadakujang village, the site of the company’s proposed steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district, as a large number of irate villagers prevented their entry into the area on Thursday.

Many agitated villagers prevented the entry of police forces by blocking the road at Gadakujang. Last week, the Posco authorities had started land-leveling works after acquiring about 1,980 acre land at Polanga, Noliasahi and Bhuipala in Nuagaon and Gadakujang gram panchayats. But the villagers opposed the construction work on Thursday.

Surjit Das, the additional district magistrate (ADM) of Paradip, said, “We stopped the construction work on Thursday. On August 24, senior officials will hold a discussion with the villagers to sort out the problem. The construction and tree-felling works have been stopped due to a road blockade at the main entry point of the proposed steel plant site. Some villagers with an ulterior motive blocked the road at Gadakujang.”

Meanwhile, the president of the newly formed Kunja Bihari Gramya Surakhaya Committee (KBGSC), Sricharana Parida, said, “We had earlier warned the company officials and the police umpteen times not to enter Gadakujang village. We even constructed wooden gates at Gadakujang to prevent the entry of officials and police.”

Villagers have put up various impediments to Posco’s attempts at restarting the tree-felling and boundary construction works in the area, including the road blockade at Gadakujang, a dharna at Nuagan and a human chain at Gobindapur village.

At least 2,900 acre of the total land required for the project is forest land. Posco authorities said villagers have encroached on a large patch of the forest land illegally and they need to vacate the area. “The state government has no right to acquire fertile lands of these areas for Posco. Naveen Patnaik is trying to make another Kalinganagar in these areas by using police force,” responded Parida .

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