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Shift Posco Site, Demands CPI Leader Bardhan

 Bhubaneswar:  Rejecting Orissa government's formula of excluding 300 acres of private land from the proposed Posco site area near Paradip, CPI on Friday demanded that the entire site be shifted elsewhere and an official statement
PTI May 21, 2010 15:09 IST
PTI
 Bhubaneswar:  Rejecting Orissa government's formula of excluding 300 acres of private land from the proposed Posco site area near Paradip, CPI on Friday demanded that the entire site be shifted elsewhere and an official statement made about its overall impact on the state.

"Giving up only 300 acres of private land is a ridiculous idea. This cannot be a solution. We want the whole project to be shifted from the area identified near Paradip," CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan told reporters here.  

Terming as "very disappointing" outcome of the meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held yesterday with four MLAs and lone CPI MP from Jagatsinghpur district, he said since some 4000 acre land is needed for the plant, leaving out only 300 acre private land in Dhinkia village is meaningless.  

Asking the government to shift the project site, Bardhan said it may be relocated elsewhere in Jagatsinghpur district itself or in areas bordering Puri district where displacement of people would be less.

The government should realise that it is not just a piece of land but involves livelihood of the people depending on fertile land and betel vines for generations, Bardhan said adding forest dwellers in the area cannot be uprooted in an illegal manner without holding proper gram sabhas.  

Demanding a 'white paper' on the Rs 52,000 crore steel project, he said though it is billed as India's biggest FDI capable of creating jobs, government must publish details about its cost in terms of loss of land, minerals, water and its adverse impact on poor people.

 Describing Chief minister's proposal for talks between protesters and Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) as opening of a small window, Bardhan said any attempt to acquire land or conduct survey for the proposed 12mtpa steel plant pending discussion would be opposed tooth and nail.

Asking Naveen Patnaik to step in for talks sparing some time if discussion with RDC fails, the CPI stalwart said leaders of organisations like Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) who are opposing the project have expressed willingness to join discussion if invited.

However, a decision pertaining to Posco project would have to be taken at the level of the chief minister and not by RDC, he said asking the government to disclose contents of a report on the project given earlier by RDC.

While mooting talks, the state government must create a proper atmosphere for this by withdrawing charges against about 800 anti-Posco agitators, Bardhan said adding force should also be withdrawn from the area as locals have been staging protest in peaceful manner.

Dismissing chief minister's claim that the decision in yesterday's meeting wa unanimous, the CPI leader said the lone CPI MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai did not agree to the formula mooted during discussion.

Objecting to Patnaik's statement that Posco authorities would be requested to leave private land in Dhinkia, Bardhan said Posco does not possess any land and it is for authorities and government in Orissa to decide when, where and how much land to give, however small it may be.

Hitting out at the BJD government in Orissa, Bardhan said unprovoked police action and use of lathis, teargas and rubber bullets on agitators staging a peaceful sit-in at Balitutha, entry point to Posco site, on May 15 was improper.

"It seems the police has become trigger happy. In lathis in their hand, they are eager to use them," he said adding it is not a good sign for democratic life in Orissa and the state government should keep the police under check.

Stating that police action and attempt to acquire land forcibly would only aggravate the situation and evoke stiff resistance from people, the CPI veteran said despite request by him as well as party leader D Raja, the police cracked down on peaceful agitators on May 15.

To a query, Bardhan said there should be independent probe into police operations in Posco area as well as Kalinga Nagar industrial complex in Jajpur district. PTI