Communities are agitating against the Rs 52,000-crore steel plant project that South Korean giant Pohang Steel Company Limited (POSCO) proposes to set up in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district near Paradeep, about 100 km from Bhubaneswar.
The police has arrested Abhaya Kumar Sahu, who was spearheading a movement against Posco in the evening of October 12, 2008. This is the first time that Sahu has been arrested after over three years of agitation against the Posco project that involves the largest foreign direct investment in India.
Sahu, president of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti — an anti-Posco front — and the person who single-handedly united villagers of three gram panchayats to rail against the project, was returning to his native village in Jagatsinghpur district after a diabetes check-up when he was whisked away to prison on charges of rioting, arson and abduction.
Attempts made by Posco and the Government to agree to the lucrative compensation package for the 12 million-tonne steel plant did not pacify the agitators. Like the Nano project, the firestorm of protests against Posco since 2005 had almost derailed the project, as the company could acquire only 193 acres out of required 4,004 acres.
Clashes at the site over the last couple of years had left hundreds of people injured. In May and October last year, some officials of the company were held hostage for hours by the protestors. With tension simmering around the project site, the area resembled a police cantonment.
At an international seminar on steel-making this year, Posco India managing director Soung Sik Cho said people needed to open their eyes to the possibilities the steel plant could offer them.
What are these "possibilities" which Chief Ministers are aware of but the beneficiaries are "insanely" protesting against?
The Goa government, under public pressure, was forced to take a policy decision to scrap the mammoth SEZ projects in the state. But the central government has refused to agree with the Goa government because the union commerce ministry has maintained that once the Board of Approvals, a nodal agency for SEZs, notified a project, the state has no powers to scrap it.
Who knows the "possibilities" better? Is it Goa governmemnt or the central government or is it the communities?
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