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JSW steel plant: Protests intensify as Odisha govt marks new village at project site

JSW Utkal Steel Limited, led by industrialist Sajjan Jindal, has proposed to set up a 13.2 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) capacity steel plant at Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneswar |
Updated: December 21, 2021 9:51:50 pm
They see the government's move to demarcate new villages in the area as an attempt to weaken the opposition to the JSW plant. (Representational)

Protests continued in Dhinkia village for the second day Tuesday over demarcation of Mahala, a newly created revenue village, amidst concerns the government was trying to facilitate a steel plant opposed by local residents.

JSW Utkal Steel Limited, led by industrialist Sajjan Jindal, has proposed to set up a 13.2 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) capacity steel plant at Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district.

Locals have opposed the plan, saying the project will not benefit them at all and the company was “after our land and resources”. They see the government’s move to demarcate new villages in the area as an attempt to weaken the opposition to the JSW plant.

“The decision has been made to scatter the villagers. This way they can easily push forward such projects which do not benefit the villagers,” said sarpanch Murlidhar Sahoo. “They want our lands and resources,” Sahoo added, while also accusing the government of framing villagers to “derail the movement”.

The government has already demarcated a new village, Patana, in the district.

On Monday, as the demarcation exercise was being carried out for Mahala, protesters shouted slogans and pelted the police with stones. The police later arrested the father and sister of Debendra Swain, a leader of the Jindal Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (JPSS ), which has been spearheading the protests. Jagatsinghpur SP Akhileshwar Singh said those arrested had been charged with assaulting the police.

JSW’s project is planned to come up at the same site where, a decade ago, South Korean steel company POSCO had decided to built a similar facility. The Korean giant, which had signed a pact with Odisha government, had to withdraw after protests by villagers and, eventually, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) scrapping its environmental clearance.

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