Bhubaneswar, Dec 8: The controversy over setting up of the 52,000 crore steel plant by the South Korea steel major POSCO in Orissa is hotting up with supporters and opponents of the proposed mega steel plant at Paradeep unwilling to budge an inch each from their respective stand.
While the government ruled out any talks with POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti(PPSS) leader Abhay Sahu and determined to start the land demarcation work for the project soon after the global positioning system survey, leaders of PPSS, Nava Nirman Samiti and Bharat Jana Andolan opposing the project said they would continue their struggle and oppose the project tooth and nail.
These organisations argued that the fertile land used for harvesting betel leaves, paddy and fish could not be acquired for industry and demanded the government to find an alternative site for the plant.
Out of the total 4004.24 acres of land, the company had applied for the 12MTPA plant at an estimated cost of Rs 52,000 crore,largest FDI in the country. While 3566.56 acres belonged to the state government, 2951.56 acres of forest land and 437.690 acres of private land.
Both the groups had clashed with each other over the issue several times in the past forcing the government to deploy police personnel around the area recently to expedite the project work.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the government was committed to industrialistion and Posco project. Industrialisation will benefit the state, create jobs and bring in more revenue,he added.
State Commerce and Transport Principal Secretary and the Nodal Officer for POSCO Priyabrata Patnaik quoting a recent survey report of the National Council of Applied Economics Research (NCAER) said if the plant gets SEZ status, the Gross State would get a revenue of Rs 77,870 crore in 35 years and the Gross State Domestic Product of the state would be 11.5 per cent by 2016-17.
Mr Patnaik reiterated that the government would not hold any talk with the anti-project leaders as they had no land in the area and were not going to be affected due to land acquisition by the company for the project.
After meeting the villagers likely to be affected due to the POSCO project recently, Mr Patnaik said besides the Rehabilitation and Resettlement package for the acquired land POSCO has been asked to pay compensation for the encroached land to be acquired for the project.
He has asked the people to give their proposal for additional package if any they have in their mind and said the agricultural workers of the area would be given monthly allowances till they were given job in the plant.
The leaders of Nav Nirman Samiti(NNS) and the Bharat Jana Aandolan have declared to carry on their struggle. The NNS planned to launch a satyagraha infront of the Jagatsinghpur Collectorate from December 14 in support of its demand. Meanwhile, several sarvodaya leaders expressing their solidarity with the NNS had submitted a memorandum to Governor M C Bhandare urging him to intervene into the matter.
PPSS President Abhaya Sahoo alleged that the people in the proposed project area were living in fear and prices of commodities have sky rocketed after the police took control of the area and sealed Dhinkia village from all side.
The daily wage earners were without job as they could not go out due to heavy police deployment around the area and fearing assault from the pro-POSCO supporter group.
Opposition political parties like Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the left parties in the state have condemned the police deployment in the project site and warned the government not to create another ''Nandigram or Kalinga Nagar'' in the area.
They have extended their full support to the anti-POSCO groups and urged the government not to go ahead with the project on the fertile land of the people.
The Opposition political parties were opposed to the captive mining and captive port for the POSCO project and supply of water to the plant from the Jobra barrage of river Mahanadi stating that it would adversely affect the farmers of undivided Cuttack district.