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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 18:33 GMT
Protest at steel mill shootings
Hundreds of Indian tribespeople have blocked a main road in Orissa state, a day after police opened fire during protests over a planned steel mill.

At least 12 tribals and a policeman died in clashes at Kalinganagar, 120km (80 miles) north of Bhubaneswar.

Police say they fired in self-defence after they were attacked with arrows.

The tribesmen have now handed over for post mortems the bodies of four of their dead which they had used to block the road, but are refusing to move.

The road block has brought traffic in the area to a complete halt and seriously affected the movement of iron ore from the mineral-rich Keonjhar district.

Talks demand

In a statement, the tribespeople said they would not "give up a square inch of land" they regard as theirs for the planned Tata Steel plant in Jajpur district.

They are demanding talks with Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and the immediate suspension of the district magistrate and the district police chief.

We will not leave this place till the government steps down and the guilty district officials punished
Protester Natia Angari

They are also demanding one million rupees (nearly $20,000) in compensation for each of those who were killed when police opened fire.

Large numbers of police are keeping their distance to try to avoid a fresh outbreak of violence, officials say.

Five tribesmen and a policeman were killed on Monday after police opened fire on crowds demonstrating against the erection of a boundary wall at the Kalinganagar site.

Another seven protesters, one a tribal woman, died later of bullet injuries.

At least 20 people, five of them policemen, are being treated in hospital.

Compensation

Private steel companies are setting up huge steel mills in mineral-rich states such as Orissa and Jharkhand as India's demand for steel rises.

The tribespeople say they have not been given compensation due to them or offered alternative livelihoods.

"We were paid only 37,000 rupees ($823) per acre of land whereas the government has sold the same land to the companies for over 300,000 rupees (nearly $6,670) per acre," one protestor, Nanika Jamuda, told the BBC.

She accused police of firing indiscriminately on protesters.

"The company and government want to displace us without bothering about our future. We will not live as beggars."

Officials told the BBC that fewer than a quarter of the displaced families had been given alternative employment, and admit that companies are reluctant to take on unskilled workers.

The additional district magistrate in charge of the Kalinganagar project told the BBC that compensation payouts had been held back by law suits in many cases.

"But we have worked out a good compensation packages. Only two villagers are opposed to it," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Six die in India steel plant demo
02 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Mittal signs $9bn deal with India
08 Oct 05 |  South Asia
India clinches $12bn steel deal
22 Jun 05 |  Business
India fires up steel production
22 Apr 05 |  Business


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