Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Posco site turns into a war zone

Sampad Mahapatra
Tuesday, December 4, 2007 (Bhubaneswar)
The Posco battle is getting uglier by the day. The anti-Posco protestors, who had to retreat from the checkgate they had erected to prevent the entry of police and company officials following an armed attack by Posco supporters on Thursday, have now taken a belligerent stand.
Posco site turns into a war zone

On Sunday, the protestors held a rally in Dhinkia, the stronghold of the anti-displacement agitation to announce their decision to take to arms if there is any forced eviction.

''We have been peaceful so far but after the attack we will take up arms. Let there be bloodshed. We are ready to face the challenge,'' said a local resident of Dhinkia Village.

The protestors are preparing for a final showdown with whatever weapons they can possibly lay their hands on. And they do not just expect an attack from the Posco supporters, but even the police or private militia as was the case on Thursday.

''The government should not try to play the game with the blood of the common people who are resisting Posco. Bloodshed will invite bloodshed. Violence will invite violence,'' said Abhay Sahu, Chairman, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

The state government seems to be in a catch-22 situation. After the Kalinga Nagar massacre in 2006, it is unwilling to use the police and it cannot openly use private militia.

However, 500 armed policemen have been deployed in the area and the village has been cordoned off. But it isn't clear about how it can pave the way for Posco's plans to start construction by the 1st April, 2009

''The project is getting delayed because of some mischievous people. Everything was on course until now but some mischief mongers have created problems. We are trying to sort things out,'' said Padmanabh Behera, Minister, Steel & Mines, Orissa.

Mega projects in Orissa are facing serious challenges from local people being displaced.

There have been fresh incidents of violence in Kalinga Nagar and the protestors in Kalahandi have asked Vedanta to leave or face serious consequences.

Surely, the state government has to find a way out of the impasse or else the much-hyped industrial boom in Orissa will have few takers.


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