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Posco on backfoot in Orissa
A BS Reporter | February 13, 2008
Tension mounted in Dhinkia village in the Posco project site near Paradip in Orissa as the survey teams, conducting a socio-economic survey of the project site, came eyeball to eyeball with the villagers of Dhinkia, who vehemently oppose the project.
The survey teams deputed by the Jagatsinghpur district administration, however, did not enter the village for survey, averting any untoward incident.
The survey, on the other hand, was carried out in Gobindpur village, adjacent to Dhinkia, without any incident.
Earlier, apprehending that survey teams may enter the Dhinkia village, the epicentre of anti-Posco movement, hundreds of people, including women and children, had gathered around temporary fences erected by them around the boundary of the village to prevent the entry of survey team into their area. This had led to building of tension.
Meanwhile, the district administration said they had no intention to enter the Dhinkia village. Fearing trouble, the district administration had deployed four platoon police force in the area to provide security to the survey team.
The survey teams had gone to Gobindpur village on Sunday to conduct household survey and demarcate land for the project. But the villagers protested their visit demanding announcement of valuation of land before start of survey work, for which the survey work was paralysed at Gobindpur for few hours.
District officials had entered Gobindpur in the Dhinkia panchayat after completing household surveys in the Nuagaon and Gadkujang panchayats within last four days. More than 1,550 households and 764 betel vines were covered under socio-economic survey in these two panchyats. Similarly, 1,200 poles have been erected for demarcation of lands.
District Collector Pramoda Kumar Meherda, SP R K Sharma, Additional District Magistrate Dilip Mohanty and other officials accompanying the survey team had interacted with the villagers in Gobindpur to defuse tension. Later the survey in Gobindpur started in the presence of a large number of armed policemen.
Interestingly, the survey was undertaken on Sunday and Monday, which was a government holiday for Saraswati puja. Twelve survey teams, including 80 revenue officials and officials of works department, have been pressed into service to expedite survey and land demarcation work.
As survey teams inched towards Dhinika village, hundreds of women, children and other villagers erected fences on the boundary of Dhinikia village to prevent the entry of survey teams. They kept vigil at these fences armed with lathis, bows and arrows and other traditional weapon to check the entry of survey teams.
Sulachana Dei, a villager, said, "We are ready to give our land but not leave one inch of land for Posco steel project."
President of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti, Abhya Shaoo said, "Village women have taken oath near village Goddess not to give one inch of land to the said project."
He informed that villagers have erected the fences for the protection of 1,235 acres of land to be acquired by Posco company. Proposed steel project would displace all families of this village so they are determined not to leave their soil.
He informed that survey work and land demarcation are going on peacefully in Dhinika panchayat and expected that this survey and land demarcation process will be completed within two to three days.