Monday, November 29, 1999

Fierce clashes at Posco plant site

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A pitched battle was fought between anti-POSCO activists and the Orissa police on Saturday as the district administration tried to take control over Posco's proposed site at Kujanga in Jagatsingpur district.The three-day long face-off between the police and the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) activists turned violent this morning when police tried to enter the villages. The police dispersed the agitationists by firing rubber bullets and setting fire to their tents before taking control over of the makeshift dharna site of anti-Posco activists at Balitutha, the strategically important entry point to the site. The police also resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas to drive away the activists. The anti-Posco activists reportedly hurled over 100 crude bombs at the police.The district administration clamped Section 144 of the CrPC on the entire 4004 acres land that comprises the site for Posco's 12 million tonne steel project.Police have arrested the CPI MP from Jagatsinghpur Bibhu Prasad Tarai and former Congress MLA Umesh Chandra Swain while they were trying to enter the site.The chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, however, said that the district administration is negotiating with the people facing displacement due to the Posco project for a peaceful settlement of the issue. " We believe in industrialization in peaceful manner," he said.About 25 platoons of police have been deployed in the area."We hope everything passes off peacefully," said a Posco official.

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