Naveen Patnaik to talk with anti-POSCO leaders

Bhubaneswar, June 11 (IANS) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday said he would hold dialogue with leaders opposed to a steel project by South Korean steel major POSCO in the state.

The meeting will take place Sunday at 5 p.m., Patnaik said after meeting a delegation of six political parties.

The delegation comprised members of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist, Forward Bloc, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

‘They (political parties) requested me to meet the members of the POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS). I have agreed to meet them,’ Patnaik told reporters.

The PPSS is the organisation spearheading the agitation against POSCO project.

POSCO, one of the world’s biggest steel makers, signed a deal with the Orissa government in June 2005 to set up the project by 2016 near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, some 100 km from here.

The steel maker requires about 4,004 acres for the project, of which 2,900 acres are forest land. The project has been delayed for over three years due to various reasons, including protests by locals.

Thousands of villagers have been protesting, saying the proposed plant will displace them from their homeland and ruin their betel-leaf farms.

POSCO and the government maintain the project will bring prosperity and employment to an impoverished region.

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