Opp demand shifting of Posco site, Naveen says "good news"

Bhubaneswar, Jan 31 (PTI) Unhappy over conditionalclearance to Posco project in Orissa, opposition parties,including Congress, today demanded shifting of its proposedsite from fertile land even as ruling BJD welcomed UnionEnvironment Minister Jairam Ramesh''s decision.

"It seems to be a good news," the Chief Minister andBJD President Naveen Patnaik said while reacting to theCentre''s conditional clearance to the Rs 51,000-crore project.

Patnaik said the state government would study theconditions put by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Senior BJD leader and the state''s Agriculture MinisterDamodar Rout, who hailed from Jagatsinghpur district, claimedPosco project was a boon to the poor villagers who wereeking out their living by working in betel vines.

State BJP President Jual Oram, who had been criticalof the project since its inception, however, said "it isshocking that the Centre accorded conditional clearance toPosco."

"It seems Jairam Ramesh is suffering from amnesia ashe has given clearance on the condition that an�assurance fromNaveen Patnaik�government�that Forest Rights Act has not beenviolated in the land acquisition processes," Oram said.

Alleging that Ramesh had turned�a blind eye and deafear to the fact-finding teams, expert committee reports andthe strictures of courts, CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayaksaid his party would support people agitating against thePosco plant.

He, however, said CPI had no opposition to the steelplant if it was set up on an alternative place and not infertile and multi-crop land near Paradip.

Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik also backedother opposition parties seeking shifting of the project siteas the present site would affect farmers and fishermen.

Congress leaders were also opposed to SEZ status forthe Posco project and water for the proposed mega steel plantfrom Mahanadi river near Cuttack city.

CPI-M state leader Janardan Pati said "Ramesh took thedecision on Posco to please Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."

CPI(M), Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, RJD and otherfringe parties demanded shifting of the project site as itwould affect thousands of people in Jagatsinghpur district.

These parties along with Posco Pratirodh SangramSamiti (PPSS), would observe a protest day tomorrow and hold arally at Balitutha in the proposed project site.

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