Bhubaneswar, May 20(ANI): Members of a voluntary group along with many forest rights activists on Friday protested against the decision of the Orissa government to resume land acquisition for the mega POSCO project.
The government resumed land acquisition after the Union Environment Ministry gave a final clearance earlier this month to the project, after the state clarified that the area did not belong to forest-dwellers.
Political party workers as well as activists have been protesting the state government's action since January 31.
Agitating activists in Bhubaneswar said that they were going to submit a report to Orissa Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare against the state government's move of acquiring tribal land.
"The Orissa government has violated the Forest Right Act of 2006. Tribals of Orissa and many people those who are working on tribal rights and forest rights, they have gathered here. They will submit a memorandum to the Governor of Orissa to give a direction to the government of Orissa not to acquire the forest land for the POSCO," said Ramkrishna Panda, head of the NGO Survival And Dignity.
Rejecting reports that stated locals accepted had compensations from the government in exchange of their lands, Panda said the locals would not give away their lands for the project.
"Four thousand families are there. The government has acquired the land of 10-15 people. Also, 3,900 people are there and they would not allow government to acquire their land at any cost," he said.
Touted as the largest foreign investment in the country, the project by the South Korean steel giant failed to take off for five years due to opposition by locals.
POSCO had signed a memorandum of understanding with Orissa in June 2005 for the 12-million-tonne-capacity steel plant to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 at the completion of the first phase.
However, from 2005, continuous local opposition delayed the project amid allegations the Union and state governments had been illegally trying to acquire land and forests for the project. (ANI)