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The stage is the district of Jagatsinghpur in the eastern state of Odisha (previously known as Orissa), which lies in between the state capital of Bhubaneshawar and the Bay of Bengal. On one side of the struggle are some 3,000 families who grow betel vines on small farms that dot a 4,000-acre parcel of mostly forested lands. Each plot generates $250 to $450 a month in income. One the other side is the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) one of the world’s top five steel producers. It operates two of the world's biggest steelworks at Pohang and Gwangyang in South Korea. They produce some 31.2 million tons of crude steel a year and generate $21.5 billion in revenue. In June 2005, POSCO signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Odisha to build a steel plant in Jagatsinghpur. The five-year agreement has expired, and a new agreement is currently being negotiated.
"The local people do not have the expertise to work for us," a senior POSCO official told CorpWatch on condition of anonymity. "At best, we can offer jobs as gardeners or as daily wage [day laborers] during construction. But with a big project in their area, they will have ample scope to run small shops or become drivers."