Orissa, India: 1000’s protest govt approval of POSCO steel plant and displacement of villagers

 

Agitation against Posco in Orissa, last May

May 18, 2010–Shooting at locals to help a foreign multinational set up its plant, that spells disaster.  1500 villagers who have fought the POSCO project for years,  felt the force of the Orissa police  as they staged a protest against the Posco project. It seems like a repeat of Singur.

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The anti-displacement struggle against POSCO gathers new intensity this week.  See the following articles about the protests and resistance.

12 February, 2011-Villagers attend a protest at Balitutha, about 120km from Bhubaneswar yesterday against India’s approval of Posco’s plans to build a steel plant in Orissa

Reuters / Bhubaneshwar February 2, 2011
Posco steel project in Orissa
Nearly 3,000 people held noisy protests on Tuesday against India’s approval of South Korean Posco’s plans to build a steel plant in Orissa, underlying the problems that have delayed the mill for years.

Police said men, women and children marched to the site of the proposed $12 billion plant waving placards saying Posco’s plans would disrupt their betel leaf plantations and forest-based livelihoods.While the protests are not likely to force a reversal of the government approval given on Monday, they could make it difficult for authorities to begin acquiring land for the plant that has been a test case for India’s investment climate.

“Posco go back,” protesters shouted, according to witnesses.

“Shame on Jairam Ramesh, shame on Naveen Patnaik,” they shouted, referring to the environment minister and the state’s chief minister respectively.

India, one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, needs foreign capital to boost infrastructure and bolster annual economic growth of nearly 9 percent. But projects have brought protests from poor farmers in the densely populated country.

The ruling Congress party is keen to win over farmers in the run-up to important state elections this year and in the polls in 2014.

“Why should we give up our lands when we are able to manage our families by farming? If the government wants to acquire land, it will have to kill us,” said 65-year-old farmer Duryodhan Pradhan.

Posco signed the agreement for the Orissa mill in 2005 and it was scheduled to begin production by the end of 2011, but protests, environmental worries and litigation over a related mining concession have delayed the project.
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Anti-Posco outfit to seal routes to Posco site
BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar February 02, 2011

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organization spearheading agitation against the 12 million tonne steel plant of Posco in Orissa, today decided to re-erect the barricades blocking the entry of government and company officials and police personnel into the project site.

“PPSS has decided to seal all routes to the proposed Posco site comprising Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadkujang panchayats and has drawn up elaborate plans to intensify its stir protesting the green signal given by Union Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh to the project”, said Abhay Sahoo, president of PPSS. PPSS had lifted the barricades in July last year to facilitate the visit of teams of Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) after laying siege to the area for nearly five years since the signing of MoU with the South Korean steel major in June, 2005.

Meanwhile, the anti-Posco leaders today congregated at Patana under Dhinkia panchayat where they spewed fire on Union minister Ramesh at a rally for giving clearance to the Posco project. Addressing the project opponents gathered there, they termed the development as a ‘sabotage’ against the villagers of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadkujang panchayats.

Reacting to Ramesh’s decision to give clearance to the Posco project on Monday, the leaders of CPI, CPM, RJD and other social activists hurled charges at him ranging from “conspiracy” to disregard of the suggestions of two Central teams sent by MoEF on violation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) at the proposed Posco site.

They threatened to give ‘red’ signal to Posco and accused Ramesh of bowing down to the pressures of the corporate sector and ignoring the interests of the common people.

“The environment minister had stated that the violation of FRA is illegal and now he has legitimatized it by giving clearance to the Posco project”, said CPI leader Narayan Reddy, warning to file a writ petition against the minister for what he termed as ‘grant of illegal clearance to the Posco project.’

The anti-Posco leaders also questioned the decision to give green signal for Posco’s proposed captive port and said that it will affect the environment, deprive thousands of people of their livelihoods and might lead to the extinction of the Olive Ridley Turtles.

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