The erstwhile Posco project area (shelved due to stiff resistance by villagers for over eight years) is once again in the spotlight with villagers scuttling a survey work by representatives of JSW Steel Limited.

Sensing trouble, the JSW team submitted a written statement to the villagers that henceforth they will not enter the proposed steel plant area for any survey work without the consent of the villagers.

It may be noted here that after POSCO shelved its proposed project which got bogged down for over nine years, the state government reportedly offered the same site to JSW. A team started environment survey, soil testing and other work in Gobindpur, Dhinkia and Gadakujang areas last week and irate villagers forcibly stopped the work and seized the equipment.

Yesterday evening, the villagers under the banner of Nabeghar forest Committee and Balishai Forest Committee led by Ajit Prasad Rout held a meeting in Nuagaon village in the presence of JSW representatives.

The Posco affected villagers highlighted the plight of betel vine farmers, workers, fishermen communities who are in distress ever since the Posco project related demolition of vines, trees etc had taken place. Manager (HR) Subash Chandra Pani, deputy manager (project) Bibhuprad Nanda and other JSW employees reportedly regretted that they had started survey without the consent of the villagers.

The villagers agreed to return the equipment to JSW officials and the company signed on a written agreement not to start work till normal situation returns in Nuagaon and Gadakujang panchyats.

Villagers Narayan Jena, Bipin Bihari Pradhan, Alok Bhuiyan, Ranjan Barik Prasan Barik and others have vowed to protest the proposed JSW steel plant unless their demands are fulfilled. JSW officials have agreed to discuss, claimed the villagers.

It needs mention that the state government had decided to hand over 2700 acres of land meant for the Posco project to JSW Steel Limited of Jindal Group for its proposed steel plant last year.

In fact, of the 4,000 acres originally sought by Posco in three panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang (near the port town of Paradip); only 438 acres were private land

Following stiff resistance to the land acquisition process by the local people, Posco had altered its project plan and decided to set up an eight-million-tonne capacity in the first phase, if it was provided 2,700 acres of a contiguous land patch. Out of 4004 acres of land, the district administration had acquired 2,700 acres of land in Nuagaon, Gadakujang panchyat and Gobindpur village under Dhinkia panchyat and provided 1700 acres of land to Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation and it had decided to transfer the remaining land to the company in due course.