In this season of popular action, the POSCO site in Gobindpur in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district is emerging as the latest flash-point between the masses and the government.
According to the latest reports, nearly 2000 villagers protesting the acquisition of betel farm lands have formed a human chain to prevent the district administration from acquiring their land.
“We will die before surrendering our land,” said a child, one of the hundreds of children lying on the hot sand in a desperate move to prevent the 200 policiemen from advancing towards their village. The stand-off is now three days old.
“This is undemocratic,” said the Jagatsinghpur collector, at the spot to lead the land acquisition.
Five political parties, including CPI and CPI(M) have already lent their support to the mass movement, started soon after 2005. The Police have said that they are trying to access the plant site through alternate routes, but few believe that the government will be able to acquire the land without bloodshed.
The argument of the Posco Virudh Sangharsh Samiti (anti-Posco agitation council) is that public hearings were not held in the region to seek people’s nod prior to the acquisition of land in several panchatayats.
The Samiti later came up with documents and evidence to claim that there were many people whose ancestors have been living in the area for 75 years or more, cultivating betel vine in the coastal zone. After seeming to agree with the protestors, Environment minister Jairam Ramesh made an about turn recently, angering the people on the ground.
Orissa is governed by the BJP-BJD combine.