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Posco: Orissa villagers observe ‘Black Day’
Bhubaneswar, Jun 22 (IANS):
Published on 23 Jun. 2011 12:43 AM IST
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Thousands of villagers, including women and children, Wednesday observed ‘Black Day’ in Orissa to protest South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed $12 billion project in the state.
Waving black flags and wearing black ribbons round their wrists and foreheads, the villagers under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) staged a demonstration near Govindpur village in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur.
The group has been observing June 22 as ‘Black Day’ every year since the state signed a pact with Posco for the 12 million tonne per annum capacity steel plant June 22, 2005.
PPSS president Abhaya Sahu told IANS that the protest will continue till the government and the company withdraw from the area. PPSS activists have also formed a human chain near the site since past over a week to prevent the entry of officials to their villages for land acquisition. Posco’s proposed plant - the largest foreign investment in India - is to come up near the port town of Paradip, about 120 km from here.
At least 2,900 acres of land required for the project is forested. The authorities said villagers have encroached forest land.
Protesters said they have been holding the land for generations. They claimed that once the land was acquired, they would lose their agro-based livelihood. The state government halted the land acquisition for the project in the troubled area Tuesday after the protest by the villagers intensified.
The government said efforts were on to renew by the end of this month its pact with Posco that expired last year.
State Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty said that the government had acquired nearly half of the required land and was focusing on works at the site. He said a boundary wall was being constructed at the site.

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