February 4, 2013
Activists demand immediate suspension of land acquisition for POSCO in Odisha, claiming the process to be illegal.
The protest against the land acquisition by Odisha government for south-Korean industrial giant POSCO reached the national capital Delhi on Monday. A group of activists gathered at the office of Odisha government’s representative in Chanakyapuri, shouting slogans against the atrocities by police on women and children during the acquisition process. They claimed that the entire process is illegal and without the permission of the villagers living there and demanded that it be stopped immediately.
Surya Shankar Das, an activist and a documentary film-maker from Bhubaneshwar, demanded that the people who led the land acquisition process should be booked under the law which protects the rights of Dalits. “POSCO doesn’t have any legal status. Their agreement with the government has already expired. They also do not have any environment and forest clearance or clearance by the gram sabha (local unit of self governance),” he said.
Describing the terror among villagers, Sanjeev Kumar of NGO Delhi Forum said that the government is slapping fabricated cases against the protestors to suppress their dissent. “More than 2000 cases have been registered in the past few years against 250 people who refused to give their land for the project,” he said. Kumar also claimed that in many villages, people haven’t left their house in the past eight years fearing forceful acquisition by the government.
The protestors later submitted a memorandum for Chief Minister of Odisha, Navin Patnaik, asking him to stop the land acquisition process and take action against the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police who led the lathi-charge against the villagers.
The acquisition began early on Sunday with almost 400 policemen barging inside Govindpur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsingpur district after breaking the human-chain formed by the villagers. Three women and an old man have been seriously injured in the skirmish that followed while many police vehicles have also been reported to be damaged. The villagers, scared by the presence of policemen in large numbers from past few weeks, had been on guard day and night.