#India – Locked land of Posco #odisha


POSCO

 

 

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Gobindpur, Odisha, June 23, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an eight-year-long uneven battle between betel vines and a steel plant. And steel hasn’t won yet.

For, eight villages in coastal Odisha’s Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga gram panchayats in Jagatsingpur district, about 150 km east of state capital Bhubaneswar, have put up a stiff resistance against South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed Rs.52,000-crore project.

The reason: It will take away their traditional source of income — betel vines.

Posco signed a deal with the state government for acquiring 4,004 acres (one acre=43,560 square feet) for the project. But the site of the project — backed by the single-largest foreign investment in India — virtually has nothing except some prefabricated site offices in a hurriedly fenced-off piece of vacant land.

The telltale signs of the battle are strewn everywhere in the area earmarked for the project — felled trees, destroyed betel vines and hostile villagers, who have been fighting with the state to protect their vines.

Popular resistance and environmental clearance have made it difficult for the state to push through the 12-million-tonnes a year green-field project, which should have gone on stream by 2011.

Of the 4,004 acres, about 3,000 acres is forestland. And more than 5,000 betel vines dot the sandy landscape in this forestland, each generating an average assured income of R20,000 a month.

Two years ago, the administration had to suspend land acquisition after hundreds of women and children blocked the entry point to the vines near the Gobindpur-Nuagaon border in scorching summer.

In February this year, the administration took a step forward by resuming the process in Gobindpur. Though the state considers dismantling about 300 betel vines in three months to be some success, the drive seems to have lost steam by the end of May.

“They are coming like thieves in the wee hours and trying to dismantle vines before we wake up and protest. We have re-erected several vines dismantled by them,” said villager Tuna Baral.

But the administration is being careful. “Land acquisition continues peacefully. We are trying to convince people to part with their vines and accept compensation,” SK Mallick, collector of Jagatsinghpur, told HT.

The project has split the village community, with a group called the United Action Committee (UAC) — having some influence in Nuagaon — supporting Posco. But that has not helped matters. Today, Nuagaon is a picture of despair, with villagers having exhausted their compensation and are left with no means to sustain themselves.

Kabindra Rout, a betel farmer, said, “The administration dismantled my betel vine in 2011 and I got a compensation of R2.28 lakh. But now I am jobless.”

Many who earlier used to own betel vines and could employ others have now been reduced to daily wage-earners in the vines in Dhinkia, the stronghold of the anti-Posco movement, which the police have not been able to enter during the past eight years.

On June 7, after meeting chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Posco India chairman and managing director Young-Won Yoon said, “We are hopeful the land will be handed over to us soon.”

But ‘soon’ may prove to be far off — or even a delusion — as the 20,000-odd residents of the eight villages are showing no signs of retreating from their betel vines.

 

 

 

Odisha -Group clashes in Gobindapur over Posco


By Express News Service – PARADIP

31st May 2013 12:13 PM

Despite deployment of one platoon of police force, law and order situation worsened in Gobindapur village due to group clash on Thursday. Betel vine demolition drive for proposed Posco steel plant project was affected as tension gripped the village after clashes between two groups of Harijanshai and two youth groups.

According to sources, last week one Samir Das of the village had handed over his betel vine to the administration despite the opposition of villagers in lieu of Rs 1.13 lakh as compensation. Earlier, Das had borrowed Rs 40,000 from another villager Trinath Bhoi to erect betel vine. After Das violated the villagers’ decision, annoyed Bhoi demanded his money back. When Das refused to return the money, Bhoi forcibly tried to extract money from Das leading to clash between two groups.

Nearly 150 Dalit families of the village have been opposing boundary demarcation and trench cutting work for the project. They alleged that the administration had demolished betel vines of nearly 22 Dalit families on the promise of giving new betel vines but nothing has been given as compensation.

“The administration has forcibly acquired our land without paying any compensation. So, we have sought the intervention of the Orissa High Court and Human Rights Commission,’said the villagers.

 

‘Will fight POSCO till last breath’



Author(s): 

Ashis Senapati
Issue Date:
2013-5-17

Kin of anti-POSCO leader killed in bomb explosion in Gobindapur village resolves to fight on

Jharana, dressed in yellow, daughter of  
slain leader Narahari Sahoo, has no means of looking after and supporting her  
familyJharana, dressed in yellow, daughter of slain leader Narahari Sahoo, has no means of looking after and supporting her familyTwenty-three-year-old Jharana Sahoo is filled with feelings of revenge. She cannot forget the sight of the mangled body of her father who died in a bomb blast on March 2 [1]. Narahari Sahoo was a leader of the anti-POSCO[2] movement at Gobindapur village in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. He was killed along with three people in a blast when those promoting South Korean steel company POSCO’s steel project, hurled a crude bomb into the backyard of the house of a resident in Dhinkia gram panchayat. Dhinkia is the centre of the anti-POSCO movement.

“My father had paan (betel vine) farms. Last month, police destroyed them because he was a part of the movement,” she says. “He dreamt of making me an officer and spent Rs 2 lakh on my education at the Institute of Professional Studies and Research in Cuttack. Now, I have to shoulder the responsibility of my younger brother who is still in Class XII. My mother has taken ill after my father died. How will I arrange money for all these?”

“I will either kill the enemies or myself,” she says. Jharana has joined the Posco Pratirodhaka Sangram Samiti (PPSS) to drive the company out of the state. She blames the anti-people policies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for her family’s plight. “He is dancing to the tune of big industrialists and is least concerned about the common people. In the coming elections, we will teach him a lesson,” she says.

“My father sacrificed his life to protect our land from the avaricious eyes of POSCO and the government. I will not allow either POSCO or the government to acquire our land,” she says. “My heart still burns with anger and anguish. I will fight them till my last breath.”

Marty's tower commemorates Tapan  
Mandal's sacrifice. He died in a similar blast in 2008Marty’s tower commemorates Tapan Mandal’s sacrifice. He died in a similar blast in 2008

The death of three anti-Posco leaders has not weakened the movement. In fact, they have strengthened PPSS because more and more people are joining it now, she says.

Families of other victims bemoan fate

Tarun Madal and Manas Jena, the two other leaders who died in the bomb attack on March 2 have also left behind families who have no one to look after them. Madal is survived by his 26-year-old wife and a two-year-old daughter. His father,  septuagenarian Narayan Mandal, lost his eldest son Tapan alias Dula Mandal in a bomb attack by pro-Posco people five years ago. On March 2, his younger son, Tarun, was also killed. “I have been spending sleepless nights for the past five years. Now fate has snatched my other son as well. Their untimely deaths haunt me all the time,” he says.

Naran Mandal who lost both his sons, Tapan and Tarun, in bomb blasts  
allegedly carried out by pro-POSCO people, is a haunted manNaran Mandal who lost both his sons, Tapan and Tarun, in bomb blasts allegedly carried out by pro-POSCO people, is a haunted man

Mandal’s sons were paan farmers. “On June 20, 2008, some pro-industry people of the village hurled bombs at the protesters. Many were injured and Tapan lost his life. To commemorate his sacrifice, people have built a martyr’s memorial in Gobindapur,” says Manorama Khatua, a PPSS leader. The martyr’s memorial is of little consolation to Tapan’s wife. “How will the industry help me and my family? If we have to leave the area where will we go with our children?” asks Sabita, Tapan’s widow.

Khema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her lossKhema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her loss

Khema Jena, 28, had married Manas Jena, also a paan farmer in Gobindapur, five years ago. Khema cries for her husband who will never return.

 

Tension mounts in Posco project area as villagers oppose work


 

BHUBANESWAR, May 10, 2013, The Hindu

 

 Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists stage a demonstration

Tension prevailed in the Posco project area in Jagatsinghpur district on Thursday as hundreds of agitated villagers came out to oppose digging of a trench for construction of a boundary wall along the land acquired for the proposed steel plant.

The digging of the trench and demarcation work was carried out by the administration at Mangalapada, Gobindpur and Patana Haat despite the people’s opposition.

Two betel vineyards were demolished and more than 150 trees were felled by the administration even as the villagers staged a demonstration under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti demanding that the work be stopped immediately. The betel vine owners were paid compensation amount on the spot.

But the trench that the administration had dug up along the land acquired for the project was filled with mud by the villagers after the administration returned from the spot, according to Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of the Sangram Samiti.

Mr. Paikray questioned the administration’s work of digging the trench and felling of trees saying that it was illegal since the environment clearance granted for the project by the Centre in the past had been suspended by the National Green Tribunal last year. He said the administration’s move would be opposed tooth and nail again on Friday.

Administration plan

According to sources, the administration planned to complete acquisition of 2700 acres of land for Posco within a few weeks.

The company brought down its land requirement from 4004 acres to 2700 acres as the administration found it difficult to acquire land in Dhinkia village due to stiff opposition from the locals. As per its changed strategy, the company plans to establish a steel plant with an annual production capacity of eight million tons over a land of 2700 acres instead of establishing a 12 million ton per annum capacity steel mill over 4004 acres of land.

 

Land acquisition for Posco starts again #WTFnews


Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon
File PhotoFile Photo

Paradip (Odisha), Apr 22 (PTI): After remaining suspended for about two and a half months, land acquisition today resumed for Posco Steel’s Rs 52,000 crore mega project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.

Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon.

Meanwhile, anti-Posco members belonging to Dhinkia, Patna and Gobindpur villages took out a procession to Phulkhai temple in Dhinkia where they held a meeting leading to simmering tension.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samittee leader Abhay Sahoo, who is spearheading the agitation against the mega project, was away at Bolangir taking part in a protest against setting up of the Lower Suktel project there.

“We have re-started land acquisition involving dismantling of betel vines this morning. The villagers are cooperating in the work undertaken by the administration,” Jagatsinghpur Collector S K Mallick said.

Two teams were dismantling betel vine plantations of consenting farmers in Gobindpur village, Additional District Magistrate (Paradip), Surjeet Das said.

The work, with the use of machines, was being carried out smoothly in groups separately led by tehsildars of Kujanga and Ersama, Das said.

Another team was making a survey of trees and horticultural plants in the area, he added.

Earlier about 250 acre land had been acquired before work was suspended on February 11 ahead of the Budget Session of the Assembly.

The land acquisition had witnessed a nude protest by women at Dhinkia, while a bomb blast led to the death of three persons.

 

#India – Widows bear brunt of Posco violence #Vaw #tribalrights #indigenous


pc courtesy- odishaviews.com

By, TNN | Mar 14, 2013

GOBINDAPUR (JAGATSINGHPUR): Their lives have been shattered and they do not know what the future holds for them. The battle between pro and anti-Posco activists has robbed them of their husbands.

While three men died recently in a bomb blast at the proposed steel plant site at Patana village within Dhinkia gram panchayat in Jagatsinghpur district, another was killed in 2008 after some persons hurled bombs at him. The three were Tarun Mandal, Manas Jena, Narahari Sahoo while Tarun’s elder brother Tapan alias Dula Mandal died earlier.

Tarun’s widow Pravati Mandal (26) of Gobindapur is left alone to take care of their two-year-old daughter. Pravati is now relying on the food items supplied by some villagers and supporters of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS).

“My daughter is suffering from fever for last five days but I am not getting medicines for her. She needs medicine and proper food,” Pravati said as her voice choked. “My daughter wakes up and cries at night on not seeing her father. My husband used to play with her in the evening after toiling in betel vine farms,” added Pravati.

Jharana Jena (28) married Manas, a betel vine farmer of Gobindapur, five years back. Like other women widowed by the ongoing violence, Jharana faces not only grave financial difficulties but also a battle to save their betel vines and lands from being acquired for the steel mill.

“After I lost my husband I have decided to take on the responsibility of our three-year-old son Sujala,” Jharana told TOI as tears welled up in her eyes. “Large number of anti-Posco villagers consider my husband as a hero. But, the hero tag holds little significance for me as I am facing an uphill task after the death of my husband,” added Jharana.

Similarly Pramila’s health has deteriorated after death of her husband Narahari, who happened to be Jharana’s father. “I have decided to fight against Posco to take revenge of my father’s death,”said Jharana.

Poverty and absence of a male member have also made life hell for Sabita Mandal (35), widow of Tapan alias Dula of Gobindapur village. Her life became a struggle after her husband, an anti-land acquisition leader, was killed June 20, 2008, in a bomb attack.

 

#India-Betel vineyards destroyed for #Posco #Vaw


PRAFULLA DAS, The Hindu , Feb 4,2013

People of Dhinkia and Nuagaon blocking the road to Posco project site in Jagatsingpur district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj Panda
The HinduPeople of Dhinkia and Nuagaon blocking the road to Posco project site in Jagatsingpur district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti to intensify agitation if land acquisition continues

“There was heavy fog when we found the police reaching Batatikira. They beat me up and other men, women and children,” said Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti member Manorama Khatua, referring to a lathi charge on agitating villagers on Sunday, when land acquisition for the Posco steel project resumed here.

Since January 14, hundreds of villagers had been agitating peacefully, forming a human chain, at Batatikira against further acquisition of land. On Sunday, demolition of vineyards and felling of trees here were stopped after hundreds came out to oppose the administration’s move to acquire more land. However, a senior administration official claimed that 80 per cent of the residents of Gobindpur supported land acquisition. During the day, 12 betel vines belonging to those who had given their consent for land acquisition were destroyed and they were paid compensation by cheque, the official said. The Collector and Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police were present at the spot. Samiti leader Abhay Sahu countered the administration’s claim saying that actually 80 per cent of the people were against handing over their land.

Millions of betel leaves were crushed as the vineyards came crashing down under tractors. Many growers who oppose the land acquisition drive stood mute, even as a few villagers accepted the compensation. Administration officials, who came back from Gobindpur after the Sangram Samiti demanded immediate withdrawal of police from the area, told The Hindu that land acquisition will continue.

 

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