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Odisha: Villagers and police clash at steel plant site in Jagatsinghpur

Around two dozen villagers, including women and teenagers, were injured after police used lathi charges to disperse them during a protest against JSW Steel’s proposed steel plant in Dhinkia village, Jagatsinghpur district.

Debendra Swain, a former member of the panchayat samiti who spearheaded the anti-project protest, was arrested along with two others, according to police, as he led a group of armed miscreants to attack police and government officials.

SP Jagatsinghpur According to Akhileswar Singh, the police had no choice but to intervene after villagers began throwing urine at them and some even attacked them with razors. “To disperse the villagers, we had to use a light lathi charge.” “At least 7 police officers were injured in the altercation,” Singh said.

In light of the current situation, 15 platoons of police (450 personnel) have been deployed in the Dhinkia area, according to news agency PTI, citing a local official.

Prashant Paikray, a spokesperson for the Jindal Pratirodh Bheetamati Suraksha Samiti, a group protesting the steel plant in the area, claimed police officers assaulted people who tried to prevent cops from entering the village to demolish betel vine plantations.

According to Erasama Tehsildar PN Das, the villagers consented to the administration acquiring their betel vines, after which the administration demolished them. According to PTI, he claimed that there is no illegality.

“When the villagers attempted to prevent the police from entering Dhinkia, the officers attacked them with batons, sparing no one, including women and children.” “Many villagers have been seriously injured,” Paikray said.

The villagers claimed the demolitions were carried out arbitrarily in order to speed up land acquisition for the JSW project. “I joined the protest against the betel vine’s destruction. “However, the cops beat us up mercilessly,” an elderly woman claimed.

JSW Utkal Steel Limited, led by industrialist Sajjan Jindal, proposed in 2017 to build a 13.2 million tonnes per annum integrated steel plant on the same site that had been assigned to Korean steel giant Posco more than a decade before. In 2017, the Korean firm that had signed an agreement with the Odisha government pulled out.

A 312 km-long slurry pipeline will connect JSW’s new steel plant in Jagatsighpur to the company’s proposed 30 MTPA iron-ore grinding plant in Keonjhar district.

A captive jetty with a capacity of 52 MTPA near the mouth of the Jatadhar river will also serve the company’s import and export needs. However, since signing up to build the steel plant, the company has faced similar protests in Dhinkia from residents who say they do not want the project.

Tensions in the village had been high since a violent confrontation between villagers and police on December 20 of last year. The villagers were against the administration’s decision to demarcate the village’s boundary, which is part of JSW’s project site. Since the people of Dhinkia installed bamboo gates at the village’s entrance on January 1, there has been an uneasy calm in the area.

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