March 3, 2013 / 10:56 AM / 5 years ago

Indian state resumes land takeover for POSCO steel mill

BHUBANESWAR, India, March 3 (Reuters) - Indian authorities said on Sunday they had resumed acquiring land for South Korean steelmaker POSCO’s planned $12 billion steel mill in Odisha state under tight security, a day after three protesters were killed by crude bombs.

POSCO announced plans for the mill on a fertile strip of India’s east coast seven years ago but there has been little progress, largely because of opposition from farmers and battles over environmental clearance.

About a month ago, the project took a step forward as land was taken over from farmers for the first time since 2011.

On Saturday, three people protesting against the project were killed by crude bombs.

Police said the three were probably making the bombs themselves when they went of accidentally but a protest group said they were victims of an attack by supporters of the project.

Satyabrata Bhoi, superintendent of police in the district where the government is acquiring land, told Reuters Work had resumed. “It will continue,” he said.

He said compensation was paid to three people in Gobindpur village after they tore down their betel vines and handed over land.

POSCO, the world’s fifth-biggest steelmaker by output, signed a pact with the state government in 2005 for a 12 million tonne-a-year plant on 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of land. Odisha has already acquired half the land and has been acquiring more despite protests. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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