Orissa protesters hold Posco officials hostage
May 11, 2007 - 9:16:22 PM
Bhubaneswar, May 11 - Hundreds of villagers protesting South Korean steel major Posco's plan to set up a plant in Orissa Friday held two officials of the company hostage and damaged their vehicle, police said.
At least four officials including a driver and a woman employee of the steel major had gone in a four-wheeler to Nuagaon village in Jagatsinghpur district to talk to villagers for land acquisition for the $12 billion steel plant, coming up under the largest foreign direct investment in India.
However, hundreds of villagers opposed to the project obstructed them in the afternoon, damaged their vehicle and took them hostage, a senior district police official told IANS.
They later released the driver and the woman while the other two were in still confinement, he said late in the evening.
The two officials under confinement at Patana village, some 100 km from here, were identified as Pranab Das and Debesh Swain. While Das works as a local public relation officer for the firm, Swain is a senior executive at the local level.
The villagers demanded a written consent from the company and the administration that no land for the project will be acquired from their village.
Posco, one of the world's biggest steel makers, signed a deal with the state government in June 2005 to set up the plant near the port town of Paradeep in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur by 2016.
There has been no significant progress on the project since then, due to local opposition.
More than 20,000 people from about 15 nearby villages including Dhinkia, Gada Kujanga and Nuagaon are opposing the project saying it will displace them and ruin their betel leaf farming.
Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but it would create thousands of jobs.
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