The police entered Govindpur village of Jagatsingpur district all
of a sudden at about 4 o’clock in the morning, “beat the people and raided the
houses. About 50 people were injured in the lathi-charge out of which 3 women
were seriously injured,” alleged Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of POSCO
Pratirodh Sangram Samit (PPSS) adding that male police dealt with women and
children and protestors including Debendra Swain from Dhinkia village were
detained by Police.
On his way to the place of incident,
local MP Bibhu Tarai was detained by police. But later, after a meeting
of the administration, it was decided that forces were to be withdrawn
from the outskirts of Gobindpur. The collector formally announced this
and the police left the place by evening, confirmed Abhay Sahu, PPSS
Chairperson on February 3, 2013.
But, in fact, Police continued to remain
and administration went on acquiring land.
The state government resumed acquisition
activities for 700 more acres of land required for the project. As
claimed by the state government time and again, it has already acquired
2000 acres of land for the project. But, the recent attempt in the wee
hours of a Sunday, usually a holiday for all government officials and
servants, raises several questions. The first among all is why in so
early hours of a winter day? Second, if the aim of the whole operation
was to take Batatikira into control, why there was raid in the village?
Was there any hidden agenda set by the administration?
Again, the attempt was made by the
district administration when green clearance to POSCO has been suspended
by National Green Tribunal (NGT). “This is clearly undemocratic and
illegal to make any such attempt when the clearance is suspended and the
matter is sub judice,” said Prafulla Samantara of National Alliance for
People’s Movement (NAPM).
Many even doubt the intention of the
government behind such hasty land acquisition plans at a time when the
country is going to replace the old land acquisition law with a new one.
While the $12 billion proposed steel cum
power project by Posco is lauded by both the union and the State
governments as the biggest FDI project in the country, the CAG report
has again mentioned that most of the big projects planned in the state
do not have a clear guideline to follow. And, in case of Posco projects
in Odisha, the MoU between the state government and the company that
expired in September 2011 has not been renewed yet.
When acquisition of land without a valid
MoU has been criticised by many, diplomatic pressure is being built by
Korean government on many occasions to make the Odisha project of Posco
move ahead. May be under pressure from diplomatic circles, the PMO has
been taking keen interest in the early implementation of the project.
But the question remains, why Korean government and the Prime Minister
of India do not insist upon renewal of the MoU between Posco and Odisha
government before acquiring land for the project and pushing the project