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Feb 03, 2013 at 07:58pm IST

Odisha: Police uses lathicharge on farmers, tries to acquire land for POSCO

Jagatsinghpur: Tension broke out at POSCO's plant in Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha after the police tried to forcibly acquire land for the steel giant that was allotted to farmers on Sunday. Betel farmers protested after the police dismantled seven betel vines.

Villagers claim the police resorted to lathicharge on them, including on women. However, the police claimed there was no lathicharge.

Meanwhile, 12 platoons of police have been deployed at the site. The District Collector and the local Superintendent of Police are present at site. The local MP too stepped in later and the situation was brought under control.

Land acquisition for the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant started in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district on February 3 after a gap of more than one year amid allegation by anti-project activists that protesters were lathicharged and detained by police.

"We have begun acquisition of land at Gobindpur village this morning. Betel-vines and land of those who had already given their consent are being acquired," Additional District Magistrate Surjit Das said. Though leaders of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), agitating against the project since 2005, alleged that about six people, including women were injured in lathicharge by police, Das refuted the charge saying no force was being used during the fresh land acquisition drive.

PPSS leader Abhay Sahu also alleged that about seven persons were taken by police to some unknown place, but police denied having detained anyone. The fresh operation aims at acquiring an additional 700 acres of land required for the mega project by the South Korean steel giant, the ADM said, adding the administration had earlier taken into possession 2,000 acres.

Land acquisition work had been halted more than a year ago following violence during construction of a coastal road near the proposed project site. "Betel vines belonging to only those who had given applications expressing their willingness to hand over land for the project are being demolished," he said, adding so far 15 betel-vines have been demolished and about 40 trees cut.

(With Additional Inputs PTI)