Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Nandigram

The Orissa Govt. has been trying to grab land of poor fishermen and peasants at Paradip in Orissa and give it to steel giant POSCO to set up their Steel plant. The heroic people of the region have been carrying out mass movement to protest this inhuman land grab. But the reactionary govt. of Orissa led by Naveen Pattanaik, the trusted henchman of the Imperialists has not given any importance to the cry of the people and has been proceeding in his evil path.
Now his govt. has sent several platoons of police in the area to crush the resistance built up by the residents of the area.
Is it another Kalinganagar or Nandigram in the making?
Following is a news report on the recent events in Orissa:-

TENSION levels have shot up in and around the Posco project site with heavy police bandobast, even as the Orissa government is under immense pressure to pave the way for the ground-breaking ceremony of the 12 million tonne steel plant project at Paradip. It has deployed 16 platoons of armed police forces in and around Paradip with the public hearing on environmental issues scheduled to be held at Kujang, barely 15 km from the project site.

More police forces are being rushed to Kujang, police sources said, adding that the district authority is determined to hold panchayat polls in villages where the polling could not take place in February.

This is the first major step the state government has taken ever since villagers under various banners have been blocking the entry of government and Posco officials into the villages identified for the project site for the past two years.

The public hearing will be conducted on Sunday by the district collector in the presence of Orissa Pollution Control Board, union ministry for environment and forest representatives, villagers and company officials.

Protesters see the build up of police force for the panchayat polls as an alibi to enter villages that will be displaced. In fact, in a memorandum to the district collector, protesting organisations have demanded that the public hearing be conducted in the villages.

With the Kalinganagar episode still fresh in people's mind, the police have been asked to avoid direct confrontation. "We are sending armed police forces to Kujanga to clear roadblocks illegally created by some local people. As the first step, we will hold discussions and persuade them to remove all road blockades. If anybody tries to create trouble or indulges in illegal activities , we would certainly take action against them as per law," said Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police Yashwant Kumar Jethwa.

The standoff between reluctant villagers and the state government has of late worsened further after the violence at Nandigram and Kalinganagar.

Violent clashes between supporters and opponents of the Posco project were reported last week. Last month, some 50 people were injured in the clashes. Angry farmers have erected several blockades at the entrance to some villages under the Posco project area near Paradip to keep both government officials and Posco executives away. Government officials have not been able to enter the area ever since the country's biggest FDI project was announced.

Of late, the state government has decided to use force to clear the blockades, apparently to hold the panchayat election not held in villages that are protesting against the project. Later, it could plan to acquire the land from villagers in a subtle manner.

Anti-Posco activists led Abhaya Sahoo of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti have already declared that they would not allow the government to acquire an inch of cultivable or homestead land in Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Nuagaoan panchayats, where the plant is supposed to come up.

Meanwhile, Tamil Pradhan, working president of Posco Jana Sampark Parishad, a pro-Posco organisation said his organisation would render all sorts of peaceful cooperation to the district administration for peaceful settlement of the land acquisition problem. He, however, criticised the state government for its "inept" handling of land acquisition.

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