Orissa government to talk to anti-steel plant protestors

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Bhubaneswar, May 21 (ANI): Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that the government has agreed to hold talks with villagers opposing the proposed steel plant project of Posco-India in Jagatsinghpur District.

Talking to reporters after meeting the representatives of the villagers here on Thursday, Patnaik said: "It was agreed that all co-operation will be extended to this project."

"The Collector of Jagatsinghpur district will negotiate with the affected persons to finalise a package and the RDC (Revenue Divisional Commissioner) will have discussions with those who have reservations about the project and I expect this process to be completed in the next few days," he added.

He said officials would commence deliberation with the villagers at the earliest.he Posco project projected as India's biggest foreign direct investment has been delayed by more than three years due to protests by farmers.

Recently, the police had to baton charge and open fire at protestors agitating under the banner of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS).

The workers of PPSS had blocked a road at Balitutha in the region, which is considered the entry point to the proposed site.

Posco signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2005 for the plant, which was to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 upon completion of the first phase.

The steel-maker requires 4,000 acres of land, of which 2,900 acres is forested. Final clearances for acquiring the forested land have been given, but there has been little progress in land acquisition on account of the protests. (ANI)

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