This article appeared in the Financial Express on February 07, 2010
Anti-Posco Struggle: Ground Zero
From Bhubaneswar, it takes us five hours to reach Patna village, at the heart of Posco-India’s planned 12-million tonne steel plant. We find children playing with pebbles, but they aren’t at an innocuous game—they arrange tiny stones across the road when they see an approaching vehicle, imitating elders who routinely put up road blockades or gates to prevent entry of unknown vehicles. Patna falls within the core area of the proposed 4,004 acre plant site, and villagers, who are against the project, keep round-the-clock vigil on the movement of outsiders.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik may have assured South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak that the land acquisition process for the $12-billion plant in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district will be speeded up, but at Ground Zero, things don’t look so easy. Posco-India still doesn’t have an inch of land, though the final forest clearance camethrough in December, on the eve of Lee’s visit to India as chief guest for Republic Day. Of the 4,004 acres identified for the project, 2,958.79 acres is forestland.
He was keen to visit the Posco site, but was told the ground situation wasn’t conducive. There’s stiff resistance to the project from locals, but Posco-India and the Orissa government is hoping to win over the opposition with the promise of a better rehabilitation and resettlement policy. Read the rest of this entry »