stoposco

save life save dignity

SIGN PETITION NOW: IT IS TIME TO CONSIGN THE POSCO PROJECT TO THE SCRAP HEAP

To

Dr. Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill

New Delhi

India-110 101

Dear Sir,

We write to ask that the integrated iron ore mining and steel project proposed by POSCO in Orissa be cancelled. We outline the reasons for our request below.

The 12 billion dollar POSCO project, with a mega steel plant and a captive port and iron ore mines, represents the single largest infusion of foreign direct investment in India. Per the government of Orissa, the project will “bring prosperity and wellbeing to its people” and is celebrated by your administration as a success story of India’s economic liberalization. Yet the project faces strong resistance from villagers who will lose their lands and livelihoods and 5 years after the project was launched, POSCO has yet to build a single facility or produce a gram of steel.

1. The POSCO Project Makes No Sense From an Economic Standpoint

The government and POSCO have made grossly exaggerated claims of project benefits – inflated the number of jobs that will be generated by the project, given misleading projections for tax revenues, and created a false impression of the project’s desirability by providing a dishonest cost-benefit analysis.

The employment potential of the project has been vastly overblown by the government –the much-touted “870,000 man years of employment for 30 years,” a figure that is 50 to a 100 times more than the real figure of less than 10,000 direct jobs and less than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in the next 5-10 years. The real numbers represent a less than 2 percent reduction in current unemployment levels as against the exaggerated claims by POSCO that the project will almost entirely wipe out unemployment in Orissa! Further, due to issues of skill mobility and mechanization, most of these jobs will not go to the project-affected population.

Orissa government claims that the project will eventually contribute more than 10 percent of the state’s domestic product. But given that the POSCO steel plant and captive port would be in a Special Economic Zones (“SEZ”) and would benefit from many tax concessions, the tax revenues projected by the government are vastly inflated and patently in error. For instance, the numbers seem to imply that the corporate tax that POSCO would owe the state would be higher if it has SEZ status, than if it doesn’t!

The supposedly independent cost-benefit analysis being touted to make the project appear desirable is unfortunately entirely discredited now after the revelation that it was paid for by POSCO. This analysis also exaggerates claims of benefits by overstating revenues and underplaying costs.In addition, the analysis inflates the project’s potential for generating employment while almost completely ignoring the loss of employment from the destruction of the current agricultural economy.

2. POSCO must be clearly told that it is not welcome because it has shown great disrespect for Indian laws

As has been pointed out by multiple individuals and organizations, including inquiry panels appointed by your own administration, the POSCO project is mired in illegalities. POSCO has not shown the least inclination to meet the spirit or even the letter of the law. It appears that there have been gross violations of procedures leading to significant miscarriage of Indian law, such as the Forest Rights Act, the Coastal Zone Notification Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment. There is no doubt that all three of the above have been jettisoned by the Orissa government.

Reports by non-governmental groups also reveal significant problems on multiple fronts, including submittal of fraudulent information by POSCO to get environmental clearances.

3. Local Residents Do Not Need or Want The Project

The local resistance to the POSCO project has lasted for more than 5 years even in the face of brutal repression from the state’s security apparatus. Tribal villagers and other traditional forest dwellers are resisting this so-called ‘development’ project not because they do not understand the potential benefits of the project, but because they do. They understand that the project will bring them no benefits while destroying the thriving local economy and forcing them into poverty and destitution.

There is a thriving agricultural economy in the three gram panchayats at the plant/port site, centered on but not limited to betel vine cultivation. Betel vine cultivation is feasible on very small plots of land and provides a steady, reasonable income both to the owner-cultivators and to wage labourers. This economy will be completely destroyed by the project, displacing an estimated 22,000 people.

The rehabilitation package on offer from POSCO is not even close to reasonable compensation for the losses that will be suffered by the people. For instance, the average loss of income for a cultivator is more than 100 times the compensation on offer.

In addition, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people from neighboring communities would suffer loss of their livelihood as fishermen because of the proposed captive port to be built by POSCO. These people are not even referred to in any relief and rehabilitation plan.

The above are some of the core reasons that we firmly ask that the POSCO project be cancelled. As pointed out by various commentators, even if the various clearances for the POSCO project are somehow granted, the POSCO project would still not provide any net financial or employment benefit to Orissa or to India.

TO SIGN THE PETITION VISIT http://aidindia.org/main/index.php?option=com_facileforms&Itemid=464

Written by janjagriti

November 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

Posted in Articles

Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared Read more: Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared

leave a comment »

Nitin Sethi, TNN, Oct 19, 2010, 04.34am IST

NEW DELHI: Three of four members on the Meena Gupta committee have written to environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh that differences between them and the chairperson may have arisen as Gupta was a retired IAS officer from Orissa cadre who had also been environment secretary at the Centre.

In a letter jointly despatched by retired forest officer Devendra Pandey, researcher Urmila Pingle and civil rights lawyer V Suresh, the three have virtually suggested a conflict of interest in Gupta’s role. They put their reservations on Gupta’s dissenting views on record a day before submitting their report on Posco separately.

Gupta had served as secretary, environment and forests, when environmental clearance was given to Posco under the Environment Protection Act. Gupta in her report noted the committee was not mandated to review the legality of clearances but only whether government and the South Korean company had followed conditions laid down in the permissions.

The three members differed, saying they were indeed authorised to investigate if the project had been pursued in compliance of green laws, including the manner in which green clearances were granted.

The three noted in the letter to the minister that they were unanimous in their view and the differences between them and the chair were fundamental in nature and could not be resolved despite their best efforts.

In the majority report, they have called the entire process of granting environmental clearances as farcical and illegal and recommended that it be revoked, which would imply scrapping the project as it stands today. Gupta, on the other hand, has recommended the project be allowed to continue and additional conditions be imposed in light of lacunae found by her.

Gupta’s report has tried to, just as Ramesh did on Monday, play down differences with the other three. She has stated, “On some of the issues, there was agreement on what the conclusion should be, but not on the reasons leading to the conclusion.”

While releasing the two reports, Ramesh too said the difference was merely of interpretation of the facts and that the two reports were otherwise aligned. The three members later met the minister to argue that differences did not seem amenable to resolution.

The release of the report by the minister was also marred by an unpleasant moment with one of the three members openly opposing the `gag order’ by the minister on the committee after submission of the report.

Sources said the committee members had earlier raised concerns about the possible conflict of interest in having Gupta as chair when she had been the senior most bureaucrat in the environment ministry at the time Posco was granted a clearance.

Read more: Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Conflict-of-interest-Gupta-was-environment-secy-when-Posco-was-cleared/articleshow/6770917.cms#ixzz12mGayb1u

Written by janjagriti

October 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

Posted in News

PPSS Statement on MoEF Committee Report

POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI

Gadkujang, Nuagaon, Dhinkia Gram Panchayats, Erasama Block, Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa

MAJORITY OF POSCO ENQUIRY COMMITTEE CONFIRMS THAT POSCO PROJECT IS ILLEGAL

Today, three of the four members of the committee set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests confirmed that the POSCO project is illegal and that all of its clearances were obtained by breaking the law. The Committee has also found that the project has potentially very dangerous impacts on issues like water, air pollution, and the coastline, and none of this was ever properly evaluated. After a detailed discussion of the huge number of criminal actions by the company and the Orissa government, the Committee says (in the conclusion of the report):

“The POSCO project is an example of how a mirage of “development” can be used in an attempt to bypass the law. Such attempts, if allowed to succeed, will result in neither development nor environmental protection, but merely in profiteering. This will cause immeasurable harm to the nation and to the rule of law and justice in our society.”

We particularly draw attention to the fact that the majority found that:

• The Orissa government and the Central government have violated the Forest Rights Act and tried to grab forest land that belongs to the people. This is the second official committee that has reached this conclusion.

• The project could cause environmental devastation particularly in regard to water, air pollution, coastal damage, danger of industrial disasters in case of cyclones, etc., all of which was ignored by the government.

• POSCO suppressed facts and tried to get around the requirements of law.

• The environmental, forest and coastal regulation clearances obtained by the project were all illegal and should all be revoked.

• The forest clearance can only be given subject to the recognition of rights and the consent of the gram sabha under the Forest Rights Act.

Those who keep talking of the POSCO project as one of “national importance” should answer these questions: would any other country in the world tolerate such violations of their law? Would South Korea tolerate an Indian company grabbing their land, breaking their laws and threatening to cause an environmental disaster? Is this what development means – robbing thousands of their lands and threatening lakhs with water shortage and other catastrophes?

As for the dissenting report of Ms. Meena Gupta, her position reflects her own interests. She was the Secretary that granted the environment clearance, and asking her to review it is like asking a thief to don a police uniform. Naturally she has said that all the clearances should continue. Her report is full of distortions, such as claiming that there are only 700 families in the area (when over 4,000 will lose their lands and/or homes). She tries to cover up crimes by saying that it does not

matter if the law was broken; all that is required is to impose some additional “conditions.”

We call upon the Central government to heed the voice of the people and the findings of the majority report, withdraw all clearances and cancel this unjust, illegal and brutal project.

Abhay Sahoo, Chairperson, PPSS

Written by janjagriti

October 19, 2010 at 4:52 am

Posted in News

Submission to the MoEF Committee on POSCO

leave a comment »

9th September 2010

ENVIRONMENT AND FOREST CLEARANCE RELATED ISSUES OF THE POSCO PROJECT IN JAGATSINGHPUR

SUBMISSION TO COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED BY MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS ON POSCO INDIA PVT LTD. Vide ORDERS DATED 28TH JULY 2010 AND 27th AUGUST 2010

Dear Members of the Committee,

As you are aware, the State government of Orissa in June 2005 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Korean company Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) for the establishment of a 12 million tonnes per annum Integrated Steel Plant at Ersamma Block of Jagatsinghpur district of the state. The POSCO deal waspart of the wave of investments in the steel sector that hit the state in the last few years during which almost 43 MoUs in the iron and steel sector, worth 1,60,132 crores have been signed by the Biju Janata Dal led Naveen Pattnaik Government. The Integrated Steel Project of the third largest Steel Company in the world is the biggest foreign direct investment in the country at 12 million dollars and has the following key components:
A Mining Project or captive mines to meet the iron ore requirement
A transportation component – a captive port along with road, rail infrastructure including the dedicated railway line from the mine-belt to Paradeep
An integrated township; and
A water supply infrastructure Water Project
Integrated Steel Plant of 12 MTPA to be constructed in three phases

Considering that the sheer magnitude of the project with all its components, the project will have far reaching diverse socio-economic as well as environmental impacts. As a result there has been growing opposition to the project since the very outset when the plans were known.  POSCO had earlier requested for an SEZ status for the implementation of all components of the project. With the delay in the grant of SEZ status, POSCO had begun pursuing clearances of the mining, steel plant and port components of the project separately. Separate Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) were carried out for the steel plant and the port a The environment clearance applications were reviewed separately by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The critical need for cumulative impact of all three components was completely missing.

In the sections presented below and the annexures along with this submission, we have attempted to highlight some of the social and environmental impacts of various components of POSCO’s proposed activities in Orissa, through the lens of the violations of the regulatory procedures related to environment and forest clearances. It also raised issues of relevance through other related processes which also point lapses that have a bearing on the social and ecological scenario in the region.

POSCO’s proposed activities are likely to have irreparable damage on local livelihoods of the areas and the fragile ecological systems where the project is to be implemented. Some critical impacts are:
While the official figure of families being affected is quoted as “upto 400″, according to the local leaders of the movement against the POSCO project the entire population of 22000 will be affected by the project in Jagatsinghpur (this does not include the huge degree of damage that will occur in the mining area in Khandadhar), due to displacement of livelihoods based on a thriving agricultural economy. Apart from the paddy cultivation, the most critical livelihood support is provided by the cultivation of paan or betel leaf. There are a total of 5000 vines in three panchayats and the daily sale figure by 10,000 betel wine owners is estimated to be 30 lakh leaves generating 7.5 lakh Rs. worth of income
The port proposed to come up at the mouth of the Jatadhari creek will ravage the sand dunes almost 20 ft high, spawning and breeding grounds of several fish species, a fragile estuarine stretch and much more. The construction at the mouth will cause water logging along the length of the creek and eventually kill it.
Another prime issue has been the threat to the nesting habitat of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles as a result of this project. Several conservationists have pointed out that if the port is allowed to come up, it will irreversibly affect the breeding and nesting ground of this globally significant population, specifically at the beaches of the Devi river mouth.  Scientists in the country and abroad have raised concerns regarding the impacts of oil spills, illumination, the cumulative impacts of various ports proposed in close proximity to the three known mass nesting sites in the state. The present project site is at a distance under 10 kilometers from one of Orissa’s three known mass nesting beaches. At present, mass nesting of the Olive Ridley sea turtles [a protected species under Schedule – I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1991] takes place at Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, the Devi River mouth and at Rushikulya River mouth. Each of these sites has been accorded legal protection. The Jatadhar River mouth forms the northern portion of the Restricted Fishing Zone which the Orissa State Government has declared under the Orissa Marine Fisheries Regulation Act. The Central Empowered Committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India has also reiterated the need for protection of this site. At these nesting beaches, the Olive Ridley sea turtles nest in large numbers averaging about 200,000 turtles per year.
The port site is located in close proximity to the Devi River mouth mass nesting site for the Olive Ridley turtles. The presence or absence of illumination at a particular site is an important criteria for the selection of a particular beach as a nesting site by adult turtles. Over the years, the intensity of illumination from the Paradip port has intensified although located at distance of approximately 50 kilometres from the Gahirmatha nesting site.  Biologists are of the opinion that the illumination and the glow of light from the POSCO port area will inhibit nesting from taking place at the Devi River mouth area (See Annexure A).
The Khandadhar hills where POSCO has proposed its mining operations are covered with forests, inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife and as well as flora. The tribal communities  including the aboriginal tribes i.e., Paudi Bhuinyan,  form 74% of the population in the surrounding area, are completely dependent on these forests for fuel, fodder, fruits and medicinal plants. The water springs in the area provide water for drinking as well as irrigation. The mining would also affect the famous Khandadhar waterfall – which is also a famous tourist destination of the state.

Most of these points have a bearing on the irregularities mentioned below and have substantiations through the Annexures attached with this note.

II.  PROBLEMS WITH EIA AND PUBLIC HEARING PROCESS

a)  Lacunae in the EIA Reports and no ground level data collection:

The EIA reports for both the steel plant and captive port suffer from several inadequacies and lacunae. We are attaching with our submission two critiques by Mark Chernaik of E-Law and Centre for Science and Environment as Annexures 1 and 2.

We would like to bring to your attention Clause 8 (iv) of the EIA notification clearly states, “deliberate concealment and/or submission of false or misleading information or data which is material to screening or scoping or appraisal or decision on the application shall make  the application liable for rejection, and cancellation of prior environmental clearance granted on  that basis.”

b) Problems with the Public Hearing Process:

Joint Public Hearing for two projects: The public hearings for both the captive port and the steel plant were held jointly, despite there being two projects.  In keeping with the spirit of the EIA notification there should have been two separate public hearings for each of the projects. This goes completely against the spirit of the EIA notification. In this regard we would also like to bring to the attention of the committee, the 19th April 2010 office memorandum of the MoEF which has clarified that, “the public hearings pertaining to the same projects shall not be held at the same venue and at the same date and time.” A copy of this office memorandum is attached as Annexure B. The office memorandum is based on various instances wherein such multiple hearings have taken place and a related order of the High Court of Delhi (WRIT PETITION (Civil) No. 9340/2009 &. CM APPL Nos. 7127/09, 12496/2009, Utkarsh Mandal and Others).
Public Hearing Venue: The public hearing venue was at a High school, located at Kujanga which is 15 Km away from the project affected area which was a hindrance in the participation in the public hearing process.
Presence of Police Platoons: The entire public hearing process was held under police presence which is a retrograde practice only to curb open and fair communication at the time of the public hearing.
Objections not recorded:  Please also see http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEQ20070415103516 and  http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php   and Annexure 3 which mention that there was severe objection at the time of the public hearing. Persons who attended the public hearing had raised objections that the points raised by them were not recorded adequately in the public hearing. [Also see point ( c ) below]

We attach with this letter as Annexures 4, 5 and 6 as some submissions before and after the public hearing which substantiate our points above. There are other letters in Oriya language as submitted by the locally affected people which we would be willing to share with you.

The above points are totally in violation of the procedure of the public hearing laid out in the EIA Notification according to which the public consultation process is to be carried out “in a systematic, time bound and transparent manner ensuring widest public participation at the project site(s) or in its close proximity”.  The conduct of the public hearing was completely against the text and spirit of the procedure laid out in the EIA notification, 2006.

c) Inadequate appraisal process:

It is also important to note that within three days of the public hearing, its report reached the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in New Delhi. From 19.4.2007 onwards, the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee on infrastructure projects sat to review the captive port project. In this meeting they dispensed their earlier decision for the need for a site inspection, took view of POSCO’s explanations and recommended the clearance of the port project. Quite interestingly one of the special conditions mentioned in the environment clearance letter of POSCO’s port project states that all the issues addressed at the time of the public hearing must be addressed comprehensively, and an Action Taken Report must be submitted within six months. In effect, this meant nothing less than sidelining all that was said at the time of the public hearing, to be looked at post facto, even though the concerns were related to the irreparable damage to be caused by the project. Further, there is no record of the action taken report in the public domain through any kind of suo moto disclosure to the affected people and others who had raised concerns. [See Annexure 7 for minutes of the EAC]

III. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN SEEKING ENVIRONMENT AND FOREST  CLEARANCES

a) Non disclosure of all components of project: Break Up of Clearances

As mentioned above the POSCO project as indicated in the MoU with the state government has several components, but the project authorities chose to pursue each of them separately. As a result of which there was no cumulative disclosure or assessment of the impacts of the mining project. This lack of disclosure also has a bearing on the manner in which the impacts of the loss of forests are assessed, as that is also done only for individual components of the project and not the entire array of activities. This was brought to the attention of the MoEF as well as the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) by social and environmental organisations. Attached are the copies of these submissions as well as the report of the CEC which indicates the same, to substantiate our point here as Annexures 8, 9 and 10.

b) Clearance letters still not available on MoEF website: Concerned citizens have been pointing to the lack of availability of POSCO’s environment and forest clearances letters on the MoEF website since 2007. The situation still remains the same at the time of writing this letter. Annexure 11 are the letters sent to MoEF back in 2007.

We once again refer to Clause 8 (iv) of the EIA notification, 2006 which has been mentioned in the point I (a) above.

IV. FOREST CLEARANCE

The forest clearance process of the various proposed POSCO projects has also been an area of concern essentially for the impacts on the area as well as the procedural irregularities. For the reasons cited below we believe that the forest clearance granted to the POSCO steel plant is illegal.

a) Forest clearance despite lack of transparency and irreparable forest loss:

The setting up of the steel plant and port requires a diversion of 1,253.255 ha of forest land for non-forest use. This is a mandatory procedure to be followed as per the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The grant of clearance would mean felling of about 280,000 trees. As per procedure, the proposal was considered by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) under the MoEF on 9 August 2007. This committee recommended the grant of forest clearance. However the project also came under the scrutiny of the 27 April 2007 order of the Supreme Court according to which all fresh decisions of the FAC would be subject to review by the Supreme Court bench in the T N Godavarman v/s Thirumulpad case. Before taking a final view, the apex court now seeks comments of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) set up as a monitoring body by the same bench.

The CEC in its 14.11.2007 report (see Annexure 10) amongst other things recommended two critical points which also took on board the mining component of POSCO’s projected activities. We reiterate these points:

“The CEC is of the view that instead of piecemeal diversion of forest land for the project, it would be appropriate that the total forest land required for the project including for mining is assessed and a decision for diversion of forest land is taken for the entire forest land after considering the ecological importance of the area, number of trees required to be felled, adequacy and effectiveness of the R&R plan for the project affected persons and benefits accruing to the State. The diversion of forest land for the plant, without taking a decision for the linked uses particularly the mining project may not be in order.
“Since the number of trees involved is about 2.8 lakhs, it would be in order that an independent expert committee including representatives of the NGOs should undertake a site visit in order to assess the impact of the cutting of such a large number of trees and suggest mitigative measures for the area, specially since there is a large dependence of local population on these forests. Subject to the compliance of the above observations the proposed diversion of foresee land may be permitted.”

The Supreme Court through its 8.8.2008 order sent the proposal back to the MoEF to consider for grant of forest clearance, indicating that they did not have an objection in this regard. The court order does not say anything about the CEC’s recommendation that the impacts of the project need to be considered in its entirety. It does however recognize that 2.8 lakh trees in the coastal area are to be felled for which mitigation measures should be put in place. For this they have appointed one of the CEC members, S.K.Patnaik along with representatives of MoEF and Orissa government to suggest mitigation measures.

The project was granted final forest clearance on 29th December 2009 despite the above mentioned lacunae as well as critical violations mentioned below.

b) Violation of Forest clearance with no FRA process (illegal)

The provisions under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest-Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006 (referred to further as FRA) and its relation to the forest clearance process are very important to consider. The Act provides for settlement of rights by recognising the right of forest-dwellers to occupy, cultivate, use and protect areas within which they were residing before December 13, 2005. The rules for the Act were notified in January 2008. So, the forest clearance for the project could not have been granted till this process of filing claims and conferring rights was initiated and completed. This is especially so because back in March 2008, the Palli sabha in Dhinkia village had already passed a resolution citing sections of the legislation declaring that they did not consent to any proposed diversion. This is attached as Annexure 12.

Since 30th July 2009, there has also been a circular of the MoEF in operation which also seeks the above, not just for POSCO but for all projects coming up before the MoEF for forest clearance. The circular clearly states, “The State/UT Governments, where process of settlement of Rights under the  FRA is yet to begin, are required to enclose evidences supporting that settlement of  rights under FRA 2006 will be initiated and completed before the final approval for  proposals.”. Within five months of the issuance of this circular, the forest clearance for POSCO is granted without the FRA process in the area being complete. The MoEF has justified this clearance by laying down a condition in the clearance letter that the processes under the FRA  need to be completed for the clearance to come into effect. This is in complete violation of the FRA as well as MoEF’s own circular. However, the MoEF despite submissions has upheld the illegal forest clearance.

It is disconcerting that the MoEF has viewed projects with similar considerations differently. The FRA is the one significant and most critical ground based on which the final forest clearance for the mining in Niyamgiri (Orissa) was not granted in August 2010. However, in complete disregard to its own circular and also the FRA process as being implemented in the country, the forest clearance for the POSCO steel plant remains valid.

We request you to also see: http://www.indiatogether.org/2010/jul/env-posco.htm; http://infochangeindia.org/200812097525/Environment/Analysis/When-people-are-encumbrances-and-projects-are-a-national-necessity.html.

Letter from the Chairman of the FRA committee set up by the MoEF is attached as Annexure 13 and MoEF letter halting land acquisition by POSCO as Annexure 14.

b) Lack of ground verification before forest clearance

Since the local communities had barricaded the entry of outsiders into the area; the forest clearance had been approved based on an aerial survey. According to Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Orissa who had got information in response to a Right to Information application, states that, “The Chief Conservator of Forests, Eastern India Regional Office of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Bhubaneswar could not carry out a site verification of the proposed site and the forests sought to be diverted for proposed Posco’s steel plant at Paradip.” He is referring to the Site Inspection Report dated 21.7.2007 submitted by the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), MoEF Eastern India Regional Office, Bhubaneshwar which was received through the RTI. As per para 2 of the site inspection report dated 21.7.2007, the CCF has mentioned that he has undertaken an aerial view of the area from a low flying helicopter which is a clear violation of the procedures for diversion of forest land under the Forest (Conservation) Act,1980 and guidelines issued there under.

V. PROBLEMS WITH THE MOU AND EXPIRY OF THE MOU

POSCO’s MoU has been ridden with anti people and anti environment clauses which pre-empt the state government support to the project; even before environment and social impact assessments are complete. This completely undermines a free prior informed decision making process on the project. The clauses of the MoU state:

“The Government of Orissa will recommend such areas as are free from litigation as well as encumbrances. In the event of litigation at any stage, Government of Orissa will diligently defend their recommendations made in favour of the Company in the appropriate judicial, quasi judicial fora.”
“All iron ore Mining Leases and Prospecting Licenses shall be clean and free of any encumbrances.”
“The Government of Orissa will assist the Company in obtaining all clearances, including forest and environment clearance and approval of the State Pollution Control Board, and the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India under Forest      (Conservation) Act, 1980 and Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 for opening up the iron ore mines, laying roads, constructing township etc.”
“The Government of Orissa agrees to facilitate and use its best efforts to enable the Company to obtain a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) through the State Pollution Control Board in the minimum possible time for the development and operation of the Project.”

Attached is a critique of the MoU of POSCO with the State Government of Orissa as Annexure 15.

The MoU stands expired on 22nd June 2010, and perhaps the new modalities are already underway or perhaps even finalised at the state level. But the MoU has a startling clause which states that “ no such extension shall be considered unless the Company has made substantial progress on  implementation of the project in terms of construction, erection of plant and machinery  and investment at site to the satisfaction of the State Government in these five years in  implementing the first phase as envisaged in this MoU.” According to the same document the first phase should have meant that 6 MT production of steel should have been commissioned, which has not happened.

We believe that this is an opportune time for the POSCO project with all is violations and irregularities to be reviewed and reassessed. All the existing clearances appraised without application of mind and bias need to be withdrawn with immediate effect.

VI. IMPACTS ON THE PARADIP PORT and  OBJECTION OF MINISTRY OF SHIPPING

While POSCO intends to utilize part of this iron ore in its steel plant, the company plans to ship out another part through export. The company had earlier been offered the facilities of the existing government owned Paradip port near the project area for doing so. But at the insistence of POSCO, the mouth of pristine Jatadhar estuary has been “cleared” for the establishment of a captive port. This is despite the fact that in 2006, the Minister of Shipping, T.R.Baalu had written a letter to the Orissa government highlighting concerns on the impacts the setting up of a special facility will have on the commercial viability of existing Paradip port, which is yet another public sector establishment. Yet sanctions are through for setting up of the captive port within a distance of 12 km from the Paradip Port. Established in 1965-66, this mini- ratna company which has consistently logged in growing profits, this should have been the first choice to meet the requirements of POSCO. The Paradip Port Shramik Sangh  states that the traffic of 13 MT of iron ore for POSCO can be easily arranged within the 14 cargo berths with an annual capacity of 51.4 million tonnes. In the year 2006-2007 the port handled 38.52 million tonnes cargo from 1452 cargo ships. Exclusive berths have been made available to Paradeep Phospate Ltd (PPL) and Indian Farmers’ Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO), projects in the vicinity of the Paradip Port. The decision to allow POSCO’s captive port seems to have been made on considerations that don’t include maximising existing infrastructure.

News Reports related to the Ministry of Shipping’s Objection are attached as Annexure 16 and an article on impact of POSCO’s activities on various PSUs is attached as Annexure 17.
In the light of all the facts related to violations and impacts above, we request the MoEF committee on POSCO to recommend the withdrawal of all existing environment and forest clearances related to POSCO India Limited. We also request the committee to recommend stringent action against the company and individuals (both government and non government) involved abetting these violations.

We look forward to your action in this regard.

Sincerely

S/d
1.Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
2.Manshi Asher, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
3.Vandana Shiva, RFSTE, New Delhi
4.Sudhir Pattnaik, Writer and Activist, Bhubaneshwar
5.Vijayan M.J. Delhi Forum, New Delhi
6.Mamata Dash, Activist and Researcher, New Delhi
7.Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent film maker and Journalist
8.S. Parasuraman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
9.Sharadchandra Lele, ATREE, Bangalore
10.Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, New Delhi
11.Aruna Rodrigues, Sunray Harvesters, Mhow
12.Ashok Agrawaal, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, New Delhi
13.Aarthi Sridhar, Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore
14.Joanna Van Gruisen, Baavan Trust
15.P V Satheesh, Deccan Development Society [DDS], Pastapur Village, Andhra Pradesh
16.C N Suresh Kumar, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in South Asia [AFSSA], Hyderabad
17.Vatturi Srinivas, Millet Network of India [MINI], Hyderabad
18.A Giridhar Babu, South Against Genetic Engineering [SAGE], Hyderabad
19.Alliance for Democratising Agricultural Research in South Asia [ADARSA]
20.Jayasri Cherukuri, AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity [APCIDD], Andhra Pradesh
21.Madhumita Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai
22.Mangaraj Panda,Coordinator, Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium, Orissa
23.Subash Patnaik, Project Coordinator, United Artists Association, Ganjam, Orissa
24.M. Parvati, Secretary, Samudram Fishworker Womens’ Federation, Orissa
25.Simhachal Nahak, Rushikulya Rayat Mahasabha, Ganjam District, Orissa
26.Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist, Chennai
27.Aruna Roy/Nikhil Dey/Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan
28.Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani (M.P.) & Pune

Written by janjagriti

September 11, 2010 at 6:12 am

Complaint to NHRC and NCW on Police atrocities on villagers in Balitutha, Jagatsinhpur

To,

The Chairperson

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg,

New Delhi 110 001

25-8-2010

Sub: Police atrocities on villagers in Balitutha, Jagatsinhpur District, Orissa

Dear Sir,

This is to bring to your attention the unprovoked atrocities and arson carried out by the Orissa state police on a peaceful demonstration of farmers and fisherfolk in Balitutha town of Ersama block in Jagatsinhpur district, Orissa on 15th May, 2010. As you may be well aware, around 4000 acres of agricultural and forest land in the area is proposed to be acquired for setting up of a steel plant by the South Korean multinational Pohang Steel Company (POSCO). Since 2005, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, specifically of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon, have been opposing the land acquisition and establishment of the factory on grounds of loss of livelihood, environmental degradation and violation of their rights to forest land under the Forest Rights Act. In this context, hundreds of villagers had been sitting on a peaceful dharna organized by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) at Balitutha from 26th January, 2010.

On 15th May 2010, while hundreds of villagers, a majority of them being women, were assembled peacefully at the dharna site at Balitutha, 40 divisions of Orissa state police led by the Superintendent of Police of Jagatsinhpur district, ordered and then proceeded to forcibly disperse the assembled villagers. What followed was an unleashing of unspeakable atrocities on the villagers present at the site, in which the police used lathis, teargas, rubber bullets and shotgun pellets to attack the villagers, regardless of age and sex. The villagers’ wounds and their description of what happened that day in Balitutha is a grim testimony of what the state can inflict on peaceful protesters. Around two hundred people from the three villages of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon were injured in the brutal attack by the police. Wounds were from rubber bullets, lathis and something that is unprecedented, from pellets fired from shotguns. These are small spherical pellets, like bicycle ball-bearings, which have been fired in thousands. Many people had five or six of these metal pellets painfully embedded under their skins. This is a most inhuman weapon, which have been used in the past in Israel and South Africa to break up demonstrations without causing life-threatening injuries. The Orissa police seem to have adopted this as a new means of sowing terror among peaceful demonstrators. Without availability of doctors and unable to reach hospitals, as the police had blockaded the villages, many people were being forced to extract the pellets at home using knifes and blades even three days after the incident.

Women seem to have been especially targeted for assault and humiliation. We met the following injured personally and witnessed their injuries and heard their description of the police atrocities (photographs attached):

Mounabati Das, in her fifties, who after being hit by a rubber bullet on her leg and falling on the ground, described how she was dragged around by her hair by the police who threatened her in filthy language that this would be the consequence of resisting the government. She had a large subcutaneous blood clot from the rubber bullet which hit her thigh which seriously impeded her walking.

Tikki Bardhan, whose foot seems to have been fractured after being hit by a rubber bullet, could not walk at all. There had been no doctor to see her and plaster the fractured foot. Her husband, Bharat Bardhan, had been hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on his face. He had barely missed losing his right eye, but the bullet broke a tooth and a blood vessel in his nose because of which he had been profusely bleeding from his nose. The shot gun pellet was still embedded in his left cheek.

Shantilata Mahapatra was hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on her leg. She could barely walk.

Gujuri Mahanti, a 72 year old grandmother, had been hit by three rubber bullets on the back of her head, on the small of her back and behind her waist. It was difficult for her to sit or even lie down, except on her side. She described how the assembled women were attacked by the police on that day. The women had been sitting in dharna in front of the bridge. The police, who were on the bridge, ordered them to move away and clear the path. After about two hours, when they got up and turned to move away, the police suddenly attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets and pellet guns. Many of the elderly women, including herself, choking on the tear gas, somehow moved away from the spot and reached what they thought to be a safe distance, where they tried to gather together. But the police turned their fire on this group and kept firing on their backs as they tried to run away. This is clearly shown by the fact that she was hit by rubber bullets on her back. The police, who had the advantage of being situated on higher ground on the bridge, fired at will on the people assembled on lower ground at one end of the bridge. When the women were running away, the police descended from the bridge and assaulted them with lathis and dragged them around by their hair. Five of them, including a 60 year old grandmother, were dragged into police vans and taken away, without being formally arrested or without any charges.

In an unprecedented manner, the police also indulged in widespread arson at the site of the incident. Balitutha, where the incident took place had been converted into a scene of destruction. The police, exhibiting a disturbing sign of wreaking vengeance, not only burnt down the shamiana under which the dharna had been held for the last five months, but also set fire to all the roadside shops, eateries and thatched houses on one side of the Balitutha bridge. About fifteen motor cycles, many bicycles, a truck and a tractor was burnt down in this process. A shop, owned by an individual named Ranjan Sahu, was burned down resulting in the loss of goods worth Rs Five lakhs. All of this has been vividly shown on the Oriya television channels. It is absolutely unexpected that the police, considered as “keepers of the law”, would indulge in such widespread arson in the course of a police action in the presence of high officials. We apprehend that these were done under the orders of the Orissa government to sow terror amongst the villagers who have been resisting the acquisition of their land. More disturbingly, after the incident all the exit points from the villages of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon, through Balitutha and Trilochanpur, had been sealed by the police, and with the threat of arrest looming large on anyone who stepped out of the villages, nearly no one had received medical treatment for their wounds. With festering wounds and fractured limbs, many people, including the elderly, had to suffer their ordeal silently in the confines of their homes for several weeks after the incidence. Even till date, some of the injured people remain without medical attention.

Similar brutality on the people by the State was repeated on 2nd June 2010, when the villagers protested the forcible socio-economic survey being conducted by the district administration in Nuagoan. Armed Orissa state police attacked the people with lathis, and kicked them with boots. Over 15 people were injured in the police lathi charge. Two of the injured villagers from Nuagaon- Natha Samal and Ajay Swain were also arrested and imprisoned (were released on bail on 2nd July, 2010). Natha Samal had metal pellets embedded on his head from the 15th May attack by the police and had been unable to get treatment due to fear of arrest. Even while he was in the prison, no treatment was given to him for his injuries. Ajay Swain was severely beaten in the Kujang police station after his arrest on 2nd June.

Sir, we would like to bring to your notice that these atrocities by the Orissa police on villagers assembled peacefully gravely violates their fundamental right to freedom to assemble peacefully without arms and to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. It is also of grave concern that the police of the Indian state can inflict such brutal atrocities on peaceful protesters, especially women and the elderly. We note with growing concern the increasingly frequent cases of injuries and deaths of protesting farmers by police firing, as happened recently on 14th August, 2010 in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh which follows the same pattern as the incident in Balitutha, Orissa. We request you to urgently investigate the matter concerning the police atrocities on villagers in Balitutha, Orissa on 15th May and in Nuagaon on 2nd June and take measures that the victims get justice and due compensation and such incidents, which are blots on our democracy, are not repeated.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Partho Sarothi Ray

96/2 Rajdanga School Road, Kolkata 700107, West Bengal.

Madhumita Dutta

H 31/39, Ashtalakshmi Gardens, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090, Tamil Nadu. Phone: 09444390240

Satya Sivaraman

482, Mandakini Enclave, Alaknanda, New Delhi 110019.

Encl: News clips and photos of police attack on 15th May and 2nd June 2010.

To,

The Chairperson

National Commission for Women

4, Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Marg, New Delhi110 002

25-8-2010

Sub: Police atrocities on villagers in Balitutha, Jagatsinhpur District, Orissa

Dear Madam,

This is to bring to your attention the unprovoked atrocities and arson carried out by the Orissa state police on a peaceful demonstration of farmers and fisherfolk in Balitutha town of Ersama block in Jagatsinhpur district, Orissa on 15th May, 2010. As you may be well aware, around 4000 acres of agricultural and forest land in the area is proposed to be acquired for setting up of a steel plant by the South Korean multinational Pohang Steel Company (POSCO). Since 2005, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, specifically of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon, have been opposing the land acquisition and establishment of the factory on grounds of loss of livelihood, environmental degradation and violation of their rights to forest land under the Forest Rights Act. In this context, hundreds of villagers had been sitting on a peaceful dharna organized by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) at Balitutha from 26th January, 2010.

On 15th May 2010, while hundreds of villagers, a majority of them being women, were assembled peacefully at the dharna site at Balitutha, 40 divisions of Orissa state police led by the Superintendent of Police of Jagatsinhpur district, ordered and then proceeded to forcibly disperse the assembled villagers. What followed was an unleashing of unspeakable atrocities on the villagers present at the site, in which the police used lathis, teargas, rubber bullets and shotgun pellets to attack the villagers, regardless of age and sex. The villagers’ wounds and their description of what happened that day in Balitutha is a grim testimony of what the state can inflict on peaceful protesters. Around two hundred people from the three villages of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon were injured in the brutal attack by the police. Wounds were from rubber bullets, lathis and something that is unprecedented, from pellets fired from shotguns. These are small spherical pellets, like bicycle ball-bearings, which have been fired in thousands. Many people had five or six of these metal pellets painfully embedded under their skins. This is a most inhuman weapon, which have been used in the past in Israel and South Africa to break up demonstrations without causing life-threatening injuries. The Orissa police seem to have adopted this as a new means of sowing terror among peaceful demonstrators. Without availability of doctors and unable to reach hospitals, as the police had blockaded the villages, many people were being forced to extract the pellets at home using knifes and blades even three days after the incident.

Women seem to have been especially targeted for assault and humiliation. We met the following injured personally and witnessed their injuries and heard their description of the police atrocities (photographs attached):

Mounabati Das, in her fifties, who after being hit by a rubber bullet on her leg and falling on the ground, described how she was dragged around by her hair by the police who threatened her in filthy language that this would be the consequence of resisting the government. She had a large subcutaneous blood clot from the rubber bullet which hit her thigh which seriously impeded her walking.

Tikki Bardhan, whose foot seems to have been fractured after being hit by a rubber bullet, could not walk at all. There had been no doctor to see her and plaster the fractured foot. Her husband, Bharat Bardhan, had been hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on his face. He had barely missed losing his right eye, but the bullet broke a tooth and a blood vessel in his nose because of which he had been profusely bleeding from his nose. The shot gun pellet was still embedded in his left cheek.

Shantilata Mahapatra was hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on her leg. She could barely walk.

Gujuri Mahanti, a 72 year old grandmother, had been hit by three rubber bullets on the back of her head, on the small of her back and behind her waist. It was difficult for her to sit or even lie down, except on her side. She described how the assembled women were attacked by the police on that day. The women had been sitting in dharna in front of the bridge. The police, who were on the bridge, ordered them to move away and clear the path. After about two hours, when they got up and turned to move away, the police suddenly attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets and pellet guns. Many of the elderly women, including herself, choking on the tear gas, somehow moved away from the spot and reached what they thought to be a safe distance, where they tried to gather together. But the police turned their fire on this group and kept firing on their backs as they tried to run away. This is clearly shown by the fact that she was hit by rubber bullets on her back. The police, who had the advantage of being situated on higher ground on the bridge, fired at will on the people assembled on lower ground at one end of the bridge. When the women were running away, the police descended from the bridge and assaulted them with lathis and dragged them around by their hair. Five of them, including a 60 year old grandmother, were dragged into police vans and taken away, without being formally arrested or without any charges.

In an unprecedented manner, the police also indulged in widespread arson at the site of the incident. Balitutha, where the incident took place had been converted into a scene of destruction. The police, exhibiting a disturbing sign of wreaking vengeance, not only burnt down the shamiana under which the dharna had been held for the last five months, but also set fire to all the roadside shops, eateries and thatched houses on one side of the Balitutha bridge. About fifteen motor cycles, many bicycles, a truck and a tractor was burnt down in this process. A shop, owned by an individual named Ranjan Sahu, was burned down resulting in the loss of goods worth Rs Five lakhs. All of this has been vividly shown on the Oriya television channels. It is absolutely unexpected that the police, considered as “keepers of the law”, would indulge in such widespread arson in the course of a police action in the presence of high officials. We apprehend that these were done under the orders of the Orissa government to sow terror amongst the villagers who have been resisting the acquisition of their land. More disturbingly, after the incident all the exit points from the villages of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagaon, through Balitutha and Trilochanpur, had been sealed by the police, and with the threat of arrest looming large on anyone who stepped out of the villages, nearly no one had received medical treatment for their wounds. With festering wounds and fractured limbs, many people, including the elderly, had to suffer their ordeal silently in the confines of their homes for several weeks after the incidence. Even till date, some of the injured people remain without medical attention.

Similar brutality on the people by the State was repeated on 2nd June 2010, when the villagers protested the forcible socio-economic survey being conducted by the district administration in Nuagoan. Armed Orissa state police attacked the people with lathis, and kicked them with boots. Over 15 people were injured in the police lathi charge. Two of the injured villagers from Nuagaon- Natha Samal and Ajay Swain were also arrested and imprisoned (were released on bail on 2nd July, 2010). Natha Samal had metal pellets embedded on his head from the 15th May attack by the police and had been unable to get treatment due to fear of arrest. Even while he was in the prison, no treatment was given to him for his injuries. Ajay Swain was severely beaten in the Kujang police station after his arrest on 2nd June.

Sir, we would like to bring to your notice that these atrocities by the Orissa police on villagers assembled peacefully gravely violates their fundamental right to freedom to assemble peacefully without arms and to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. It is also of grave concern that the police of the Indian state can inflict such brutal atrocities on peaceful protesters, especially women and the elderly. We note with growing concern the increasingly frequent cases of injuries and deaths of protesting farmers by police firing, as happened recently on 14th August, 2010 in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh which follows the same pattern as the incident in Balitutha, Orissa. We request you to urgently investigate the matter concerning the police atrocities on villagers in Balitutha, Orissa on 15th May and in Nuagaon on 2nd June and take measures that the victims get justice and due compensation and such incidents, which are blots on our democracy, are not repeated.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely

Partho Sarothi Ray

96/2 Rajdanga School Road, Kolkata 700107, West Bengal

Madhumita Dutta

H 31/39, Ashtalakshmi Gardens, Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090, Tamil Nadu. Phone: 09444390240

Satya Sivaraman

482, Mandakini Enclave, Alaknanda, New Delhi 110019.


Written by janjagriti

August 27, 2010 at 4:10 am

Complaint letter from PPSS: Officials responsible for illegal actions in connection with POSCO project in Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa

POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI
Villages of Dhinkia, Gadkujang, Nuagaon; Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa
23.08.2010
To:
Shri Jairam Ramesh
Minister for Environment and Forests
New Delhi
Shri Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister of Orissa
Bhubaneshwar
Sub:­   Officials   responsible   for   illegal   actions   in   connection   with   POSCO   project   in
Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa
Dear Sirs,
We are writing in connection with the crimes committed by the officials of the Ministry of the  Environment and Forests and the Government of Orissa in connection with the POSCO project.
We hope you will take this matter seriously considering that these officials have violated the  laws of the land and sought to criminally seize the lands and forests of the poor in order to  benefit a multinational company.  The Orissa government and the Ministry have admitted to  these actions on record.  Such anti national, anti social and criminal actions by officials do not
portend well for the rule of law and the sovereignty of the country, and those guilty of it should be subjected to exemplary punishment.
These officials violated the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act  and the Forest (Conservation) Act.   They should therefore be prosecuted and  punished under section 7 of the former and section 3A and 3B of the latter.  In the case of officials  of the Orissa government who have withheld information and falsified records, prosecution should be initiated against them under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (named below). The said officials should also be investigated under the  Prevention of Corruption Act  given the  undue favour they have shown to the company, indicating that they may have secured personal advantage from their actions.
These facts should be referred to the Central Vigilance Commission and made the subject of a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry.  This complaint is being copied to the Central Vigilance Commission as well. We give below an illustrative list of those who, even from the face of the record, are clearly guilty of gross illegalities and violations of law.   Any fair and impartial inquiry however will also no doubt find many others who are guilty.
Background
We reiterate that we are other traditional forest dwellers who have resided in this area for centuries.  Our   livelihood   is   dependent   on   betel   vine   cultivation   on   forest   land,   and/or   on   forest   produce collection and associated activities.   We are therefore eligible as per section 2(o) of the Forest Rights   Act   and   have   individual   and   community   rights   over   the   forest   land   in   this   area.     This eligibility can moreover only be decided by the process under the Act.  Yet the Orissa government and the Central government have conspired and colluded with POSCO to steal lands and resources that do not belong to them and to hand them over to this company for its profits.
We bring to your notice that the palli sabha of the village of Dhinkia has, on March 23 rd, 2008 and February 5th, 2010, asserted our rights over this land and its powers under the Act to protect the forests and forest lands of the area.  The same has been done by the palli sabhas of Nuagaon and Govindpur in on February 3rd, 2010 and February 6th, 2010 respectively.
Officials In the Ministry of Environment and Forests
Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests (in September 2008) Violations of law:
1. Grant   of   in   principle   clearance   to   POSCO­India   for   use   of   land   in   Jagatsinghpur   on September 19, 2008, despite non­implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the area, non compliance with the requirements of law and the specific decision of the Dhinkia palli sabha under section 5 of the Act to protect and preserve the area.  This is a violation of sections 3(1), 4(1), 4(5) and 5 of the Forest Rights Act, as the forest rights of the people were not recognised.
Actions Required:
1. Prosecution for criminal offence under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act.
2. Disciplinary proceedings for showing arbitrary and undue favour to POSCO­India.
Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests (in December 2009)
1. Grant of final clearance to POSCO­India in violation of the above sections of the Forest Rights Act and the August 3rd, 2009 circular of Ministry of Environment and Forests.  None of the documents required by the latter were with the Ministry at the time of the decision to grant final clearance.
Actions Required:
1. Prosecution for criminal offence under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act
2. Disciplinary proceedings for violation of order of August 3 rd, 2009 and for showing undue
and arbitrary favour to POSCO­India.
Officials in the Government of Orissa
Gyanaranjan Dash, former Collector, Jagatsinghpur District (in February 2010)
Violations of law:
1. Falsely claimed to have completed implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the proposed
diversion area.
2. Usurped power of the gram sabha to initiate process for determination of rights, despite passage of resolutions by Dhinkia, Govindpur and Nuagaon palli sabhas in March 2008 and February 2010.  This was a violation of sections 4(1) and 6 of the Forest Rights Act.
3. Knowingly framing records in a manner known to be incorrect, in order to cause the people of this village, the other villages of Dhinkia gram panchayat, and the villages of the gram panchayats of Nuagaon and Gadkujang to suffer grievous loss and injury, in the form of the loss of their lands and forest resources over which they enjoy rights as per law.  In doing so, the Collector has also maliciously pronounced a false report in contravention of law in the course of quasi­judicial proceedings under the Forest Rights Act.  This includes his failure to submit   the   actual   palli   sabha   resolutions   of   Dhinkia   palli   sabha   (March   23, 2008   and February 5, 2010), Nuagaon palli sabha (February 3 rd, 2010) and Govindpur (February 6th, 2010).
Actions required:
1. Prosecution under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act for intentional violation of the rights of forest dwellers and for exceeding authority under the said Act.
2. Prosecution under sections 218 and 219 of the Indian Penal Code for knowingly framing false records with the intent to cause injury and for maliciously pronouncing a report in a quasi­judicial proceeding with the knowledge that the said report is contrary to law.
3. Disciplinary proceedings for falsification of records and showing undue favour to POSCO­
India.
Narayan Chandra Jena, Collector, Jagatsinghpur District
Violations of law:
1. Failure to recognise rights under the Forest Rights Act or ensure implementation of the said Act, in violation of sections 3(1) and 4(1) of the said Act.
2. Illegally taking over  forest lands between for the POSCO project in violation of section 4(5) of the Forest Rights Act, of conditionalities imposed by the Environment Ministry in the final forest clearance of December 29, 2009 and subsequent correspondence, and therefore in violation of section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act.
Actions required:
1. Prosecution under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act for intentional violation of the rights of forest dwellers.
2. Prosecution under section 3A of the Forest (Conservation) Act for illegally taking over forest land for handover to POSCO­India.
3. Disciplinary proceedings for violation of law and for showing undue favour to POSCOIndia.
U.N. Behera, Principal Secretary, Forests, Government of Orissa
Violations of law:
1. Falsely stating the circumstances of the situation to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and violating the conditionalities in the letters of the Ministry in order to hand over land to POSCO­India.
2. Falsely claiming in a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Forests that the palli sabhas  of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Govindpur never passed resolutions in February 2010 asserting  rights   and   denying   consent   to   the   diversion   of   forest   land,   when   such   resolutions   were passed, are verifiable from the panchayat register, and indeed were passed on the basis of the letter of the Collector of Jagatsinghpur himself.
3. Thereby knowingly framing records in a manner known to be incorrect, in order to cause the people of this village, the other villages of Dhinkia gram panchayat, and the villages of the gram panchayats of Nuagaon and Gadkujang to suffer grievous loss and injury, in the form of the loss of their lands and forest resources over which they enjoy rights as per law.
Actions required:
1. Prosecution under section 218 of the Indian Penal Code for knowingly framing false records with the intent to cause injury.
2. Prosecution under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act for intentional violation of the rights of forest dwellers.
3. Prosecution under sections 3A and 3B of the Forest (Conservation) Act for illegally taking over forest land for handover to POSCO­India.
4. Disciplinary proceedings for showing arbitrary and undue favour to POSCO­India.
Priyabrata Patnaik, Chairperson  and  Managing Director, Orissa Industrial Infrastructure
Development Corporation
Nursingh Charana Swain, Land Acquisition Officer, Jagatsinghpur District
Muralidhara Mullick, Sub­Collector, Jagatsinghpur District
Upendra Nath Mullick, Additional District Magistrate, Jagatsinghpur District
Jeevan Chandra Mullick, Tehsildar, Erasama
Basudev Pradhan, Tehsildar, Kujang
Saroj Kant Chowdhury, Additional District Magistrate, Paradeep
Muralidhara Swain, Block Development Officer, Erasama
Violations of law:
1. Illegally taking over  forest lands between for the POSCO project in July 2010 in violation of section   4(5)   of   the   Forest   Rights   Act,   of   conditionalities   imposed   by   the   Environment Ministry in the final forest clearance of December 29, 2009 and subsequent correspondence, and therefore in violation of section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act.
2. Destruction of betel vines and other crops and property of forest dwellers in violation of sections 3(1), 4(1) and 4(5) of the Forest Rights Act.
Actions required:
1. Prosecution under section 7 of the Forest Rights Act for intentional violation of the rights of forest dwellers.
2. Prosecution under sections 3A and 3B of the Forest (Conservation) Act for illegally taking over forest land for handover to POSCO­India.
3. Disciplinary proceedings for showing arbitrary and undue favour to POSCO­India.
Sincerely,
(Sisir Mohapatra)
Sarpanch, Dhinkia Panchayat and General Secretary, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Cc: Central Vigilance Commission, Satarkata Bhavan, A­Block, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi ­
110 023
Directorate of Vigilance, Government of Orissa, Cuttack – 753001
Contact: Prashant Paikray, Spokesperson, 09437571547

Written by janjagriti

August 27, 2010 at 4:02 am

MoEF/MoTA Committee Report of visit to Jagatsinghpur

leave a comment »

Report of visit to Jagatsinghpur (site of proposed POSCO project), Orissa,23-24 July 2010

4 August 2010

Introduction

Three members of the MoEF/MoTA Committee (Arupjyoti Saikia, Ravi Rebbapragada and Ashish Kothari) went to Jagatsinghpur as part of the MoEF/MoTA FRA Committee’s study tour of Orissa. Apart from Jagatsinghpur, the study tour also included a full day public consultation in Bhubaneshwar, discussions with senior officials of the Orissa government, visits to Mayurbhanj district (including Simlipal Tiger Reserve and some community forest protection areas), and discussions with district officials (a separate report on these is being prepared).

At Jagatsinghpur, the team carried out the following:

  1. Discussions with the District Collector and senior officials of various departments.
  2. Perusal of land and forest records, to the extent made available at the district HQ and locally during the site visit.
  3. Perusal of documents available with communities as evidence of their claims to the forest land.
  4. Discussions with villagers at 6 places (at all of which local officials were also present): Dhinkia/Patna and Govindpur of Dhinkia panchayat (including Sarpanch Sisir Kr. Mahapatra), Nuagaon panchayat (two separate congregations of people, hereafter called Nuagaon-I and Nuagaon-II) (including Sarpanch Bhaskar Swain), Nolia Sahi and Gadkujang of Gadkujang panchayat (including Sarpanch Nakulananda Sahu).
  5. Visit to the forest lands proposed for diversion for the proposed POSCO project.

The Committee also obtained a number of documents subsequent to the field visit, as evidence of the long-standing uses and dependence of the local villages on the forest land proposed for diversion. Some of this has not been in the public domain till date, but would surely have been available to official agencies if they had sought it.

At all the places visited and people spoken to, the discussion was largely limited to the status of implementation of the FRA process. As far as possible, the team avoided discussion on the pros and cons of the proposed POSCO project, as also on the extent of local opposition or support to it. These issues were not in its mandate, even though both villagers and officials brought them up off and on.

Main findings

1. The District Collector and other officials told us that implementation of the FRA has been diligently carried out in the district, with extensive awareness programmes carried out in 2008, and FRCs formed in 1291 villages. Only 47 ST families, have made IFR claims, of which 45 have been granted. No CFR claims have been made. The District Collector categorically said that there are no OTFDs in the district, and no claims received from people identifying themselves as OTFDs. Since, according to the officials, there are no claimants in the area to be affected by the POSCO project (where also, FRCs were formed, as per palli sabha documents given to the team), the requirement of gram sabha consent for forest land diversion does not apply.

2. The proposed POSCO project requires 1253.225 hectares of forest land. According to officials, what is now forest land was earlier revenue land, and does not have traditional dependence of local people, whose use of this land for paan cultivation and other purposes is recent (last 20-30 years). Officials however accept that the villages themselves are several generations old, with some hamlets being more recent. Villagers claim, however, what whatever the status of the land, much of it (other than that used for paan cultivation) had actual natural vegetation including forest, till it was degraded, and finally replaced by plantations after the cyclones. Old records (mentioned below) appear to corraborate their claims.

3. The team was shown settlement records of the 1950s, but when it repeatedly requested the district officials for records of the 1930s, these could not be supplied, as they were reportedly in Cuttack (Jagatsinghpur district was only recently carved out of Cuttack district). Additional documents pertaining to the then Bardhaman State (within which this area fell), were also not available at the district HQ. They were however subsequently obtained by the team, with the help of NGOs and researchers. It is important to note that if the official agencies had been pro-active, they too would have had access to these documents.

4. At the villages, the team was told that FRCs were formed and claims made, but it is not clear what happened to these claims. Residents of Nuagaon-I said they filed claims (approximately 250, respectively) and sent them to the tehsildar, who returned them saying there were no eligible OTFDs. No further process was carried out. Residents of Nolia Sahi said they filled in about 280 claims and sent them to the panchayat secretary Sachin Raut, but no further process was carried out; the Sarpanch of Gadkuchang, within which Nolia Sahi falls, expressed ignorance of this. Residents of Dhinkia/Patna have not filed the claims, as they were at the epicenter of the anti-POSCO agitation (there are reportedly cases against some named individuals and “800 others” of Dhinkia, so there is fear that anyone can be arrested). In Govindpur, Nuagaon-II, and Gadkuchang, there appeared to be very little knowledge of the FRA; no-one seemed to have realized (or been told) that they could qualify as OTFDs and make their claims for rights to the forest land.

5. The district administration has made no pro-active moves to identify potential claimants and provide them documents that could help determine their eligibility. This is despite the knowledge that a lot of people lost their belongings and whatever documents they may have had, in the supercyclone that hit this part of the Orissa coast in 1999. It is only on the basis of not having received claims (according to the officials; it is unclear what happened to the claim forms sent to the tehsildar in the case of Nuagaon-I), that the administration has concluded that there are no OTFDs.

5. Though specific claims may not have been filed or may have gone missing, Dhinkia and Nuagaon palli sabhas have passed resolutions stating their long-standing residence in the area, their traditional dependence on the forest land, their eligibility of rights under the FRA, and their refusal to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO. Copies of these are available with the team. Interestingly, these palli sabhas were called after a notice was issued by the district administration, and are mentioned in the District Collector’s letter No. 139 dt. 23.2.2010 (sent to MoEF by the state government as evidence of the absence of eligible claimants under FRA), but the resolutions rejecting the proposed diversion of forest land are not mentioned in this letter. Nor have the palli sabha resolutions been sent to MoEF.

6. The team went into the question of whether OTFDs exist in the area or not, in great detail. Records available on site or subsequently from Bhubaneshwar (including reports of the Uchhab Naik, ex-zamindary settlement reports, forest settlement reports, rent receipts of families, and nistar records), from the early decades of the 20th century, were perused, with local translation help. Several documents were clearly from these sites, and referred to the lands now proposed for diversion. Observations were made of physical evidence of occupation of these villages, and it was clear that they are quite old (Dhinka, for instance, has a cooperative since 1925). At several sites, elderly people were asked about their childhood memories of their families’ livelihoods, and all of them said that their fathers did paan cultivation, and there was extraction of firewood, other NTFP, and graizing on the common lands including the forest lands slated for diversion. The team has names of the specific elders who testified to this (not named here, as there are possible repercussions in the atmosphere of tension that the area is under). The team also observed that if there were villages in the area before 1930, there must have been dependence on the surrounding commons (much of which is forest land), since that is a universal feature of traditional settlements in India.

7. OTFDs are defined in the FRA in the following way: “any member or community who has for at least three generations prior to the 13th day of December, 2005 primarily resided in and who depend on the forest or forests land for bona fide livelihood needs.” The team notes the difference in grammar between the requirement of residence (which implies that residence must be 3 generations old), and that of dependence (which implies that there must be current dependence). According to this, taking the usage in its strict sense, and using the clarification of the term “reside in” and “depend on” by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in its circular no. 17014/02/2007-PC&V (Vol.III), dated 9 June 2008), it is clear that the residents of these villages are OTFDs. However, even if one takes the requirement to be 75 years for both residence and dependence, available documents and oral evidence suggests that these residents are OTFDs.

8. There is clearly continued usage of the forest land, including for cultivation of paan, collection of minor forest produce (including pandanus flowers for making essence) and fuel, grazing, cashew trees, and other uses.

9. Interestingly, for a patch of forest land close to the land proposed to be diverted for POSCO, palli sabha consent was reportedly sought and obtained by the administration for a IOCL complex. Yet in the case of POSCO the administration is saying that such permission is not needed.

10. The team advised villagers in each of the 6 sites where it met residents, that they may proceed with extending the time frame of their FRCs and carry through the process of filing claims. District officials who were with the team, including the Sub-collector M.D. Mallik, promised to help them with locating relevant documentary evidence. It has subsequently been reported to us that claims have begun to be filed.

Conclusion

Given the above, the team has arrived at the following:

1. There are Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) in the area, contrary to what the district administration is saying. Both documentary and oral evidence exists to this effect. A sample of the documentary evidence has been attached with the letter sent by the Committee to the Minister for Environment and Forests, on 3 August 2010.

2. The FRA process has not been completed, in fact it has not proceeded beyond the initial stages, for various reasons. It is therefore incorrect and misleading for the district administration to conclude that there are no OTFDs “in cultivating possession of the land since 3 generations” in the area. Firstly, this cannot be concluded without having gone through the process of claims; secondly, the FRA provides for dependence on forest land also as a criteria for eligibility, not only “cultivation possession of land”.

3. Some palli sabhas have given resolutions refusing to consent to diversion of forest land on which they are dependent. These palli sabhas were convened by the district administration itself, after receiving instructions relating to the MoEF circular of July 2009, which indicates that the administration was aware of the possible presence of forest rights claimants in the area. (It is interesting that this was done after the District Collector had given the opinion that there are no STs and OTFDs in the project area). To the best of our knowledge these palli sabha resolutions have not been sent by the state government to the MoEF, which is tantamount to deliberate withholding of relevant information/documents. Only the palli sabha resolutions setting up FRCs in March 2008, have been sent to MoEF (which MoEF has asked the state government to translate, in April 2010).

The team’s findings were reported to the district administration on 24 July, and the state Chief Secretary (along with secretaries of all relevant departments) on 27 July 2010. It appears from news reports, however, that the district administration is proceeding with land acquisition and demolition of the paan cultivation of people on forest land. Reportedly this is of families who have consented to such acquisition; however this does not alter the fact that such work is illegal.

The team concludes that:

1. Any work related to the project in this area, such as what has been reportedly started on 27 July 2010, is a violation of the FRA, and of the conditionality laid down by the MoEF in its forest clearance 29 December 2009.

2. The MoEF “final approval” of 29 December 2009 is itself a violation of its circular No. F. No. 11-9/1998-FC (pt), of 30 July 2009 (and therefore of the FRA), requiring FRA completion and gram sabha consent for forest diversion. The fact that this was conditional to completion of the FRA procedures in the area, or that a subsequent (8 January 2010) clarification was issued reiterating this condition, does not change the improper nature of this as a “final approval”.

MoEF is therefore urged to take the following steps:

1. Ask the Orissa government to stop all such work till the required processes under the FRA are completed, and till and if palli sabha consent is obtained.

2. Withdraw the forest clearance provided in December 2009.

Not doing the above would tantamount to not only ignoring the key objective of the FRA of redressing historical injustice, but also heaping new injustice on the residents of these villages.

Report written by:

Ashish Kothari, Ravi Rebbapragada, and Arupjyoti Saikia

Written by janjagriti

August 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

Letter from NC Saxena Committee to the Minister of Environment

leave a comment »

3 August 2010

Sub: Forest Rights Act violation at POSCO site, Orissa

Dear Shri Jairam Ramesh,

As you are aware, three members of the MoEF/MoTA Committee (Arupjyoti Saikia, Ravi Rebbapragada and Ashish Kothari) went to Jagatsinghpur as part of the MoEF/MoTA FRA Committee’s work. While there, they enquired about the FRA process in the district, including the villages to be affected by the proposed POSCO project. In brief, their findings are as follows:

1. There are Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) in the area, contrary to what the district administration is saying. Both documentary and oral evidence exists to this effect, including records of the old Bardhaman estate, rent receipts of the families from early 20th century, and forest settlement records. Some of this evidence is attached for your reference.

2. The FRA process has not been completed, in fact it has not proceeded beyond the initial stages, for various reasons. It is therefore incorrect for the district administration to conclude that there are no OTFDs in the area, without having gone through the process of claims.

3. The palli sabhas have given resolutions refusing to consent to diversion of forest land on which they are dependent. It is pertinent to point out here that these palli sabhas were convened by the district administration itself, after receiving instructions relating to the MoEF circular of July 2009, which indicates that the administration was aware of the presence of forest rights claimants in the area.

Interestingly, for a patch of forest land close to the land proposed to be diverted for POSCO, palli sabha consent was reportedly sought and obtained by the administration for a IOCL complex. Yet in the case of POSCO the administration is saying it is not needed.

In view of the above, the team’s conclusion is that any work related to the project in this area would be a violation of the FRA. This was informed by our team to the district administration on 24 July, and the state Chief Secretary on 27 July 2010. However, we have been informed that the district administration is proceeding with land acquisition and demolition of the paan cultivation of people on forest land.

Our clear view is that such work is in violation of the Forest Rights Act. We therefore request you to urge the Orissa government to ensure proper implementation of FRA as laid down in the MoEF’s July 2009 circular F.No. 11-9/1998-FC(pt) of 30 July 2009.

regards,

NC

(N.C. Saxena)

Attached: Pages from relevant records establishing occupation and/or dependence on the forest land

List of documents showing traditional use of or dependence on forested or forest land being sought for diversion for the proposed POSCO project

Serial number (on file name) Document name (and number) Document description Year Village / area /forest area Notes
1. Govindpur nistar document (14472) Nistar for firewood collection from forest issued by Bardhman Raja 1922 Govindpur
2. Govindpur nistar document (12847) Nistar for firewood collection from forest issued by Bardhman Raja 1925 Govindpur
3. Govindpur nistar document (13179) Nistar for firewood collection 1912 Govindpur
4. Uchhab Naik documents (4029 etc) Nistar for forest produce 1932 Govindpur
5 & 6. Ex-zamindary records (1&2) Rights and concessions 1952 Killa Kuchang (Gadkuchang) The document as a whole points to such rights and concessions having existed for many years prior
7, 8 & 9. Kujang forest settlement (pp. 14,15, Cultivation / encroachment of forest land 1952 Bhunyapal The document as a whole points to such practices having existed for many years prior

Written by janjagriti

August 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

Setback to Posco land acquisition

leave a comment »

Sangram Samiti to mobilise intellectuals to build up movement

People involved in mass movements decry government’s inaction

Instrument of Global Positioning System damaged


BHUBANESWAR: A day after the State government began land acquisition for Posco project in Jagatsinghpur district, activists here threatened to take law into their hands saying it would be tit for tat as the administration did not care to respect rule of the land.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Lokshakti Abhiyan President Prafulla Samantara said the district administration went ahead with acquisitions despite a committee under Ministry of Environment and Forest observed taking over lands of people would violate norms. He said people involved in mass movements condemned the government’s action. “The central team in clear terms said there cannot be any other use of forestland until villagers’ claims are settled under Forest Rights Act. But the administration hardly bothered to give the advice a hearing,” said Mr. Samantra.

Spokesperson of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti Prasant Paikray said land acquisition began at a time when people were waiting for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who had earlier announced to visit the area and there had been no settlement of rights.

Moreover, MoU with Posco-India had not been renewed and permissions from palli sabhas had not been secured, he said.

They said breaking of laws by the government was not confined to Posco area in Jagatsinghpur, people’s voice had been crushed in the proposed mining lease area in Khandadhar mountain range in Sundargarh district.

Settlement

Although people had long been demanding settlement of their land rights under FRA in Khandadhar area, administration was not paying any heed to them, Mr. Paikray said.

“We will mobilise intellectuals across the State and country to build up a movement against government which itself is not adhering to the law,” said Mr. Samantra.

Meanwhile, land acquisition drive by Jagatsinghpur district administration received a setback when supporters of proposed 12 million tonne per annum decided the block land acquisition on Wednesday.

They damaged instrument of Global Positioning System alleging that there had to be proper assessment of the properties in possession of villagers.

A member of United Action Committee, a pro-project outfit, said if the administration would not do the measurement of land correctly, they would not be allowed.

Written by janjagriti

July 31, 2010 at 4:34 am

Posted in Articles

*POSCO, Polavaram Projects Illegally Take Over Forest Land: Ministry on the Rampage*

leave a comment »

The Campaign for Survival and Dignity condemns the brazenly illegal behaviour of the Environment Ministry and the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh governments. These authorities’ recent actions with respect to the POSCO and Polavaram projects are in total violation of the law and of democracy. They show yet again that the forest bureaucracy is among the key drivers of land
grabbing across the country (see here<http://www.forestrightsact.com/statements-and-news/89-land-grabbing-on-the-quiet>for
more information on land grabbing by the Ministry).

*The POSCO* *Project*

In Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa, the State government has begun taking over forest lands that it has no legal right over. Two families’ lands were taken earlier this week and another 13 lost their lands today. In fact these lands and forests belong to the local villages under the Forest Rights Act. The Environment Ministry had illegally granted forest clearance for use of
this land on December 29, 2009, in violation of its own orders, and then sought to cover up the illegality by “clarifying” that the clearance was subject to the requirements of the Forest Rights Act. Subsequently, in the first week of February, the villages of the area rejected the diversion; as their consent is a requirement under law, the clearance was obviously illegal.

But it was not withdrawn. The Orissa government is now going ahead, and belatedly the Ministry has constituted a “committee to look into the Forest Rights Act” – chaired by Meena Gupta, who was none other than Secretary at the Ministry when POSCO received environmental clearance. The conflict of interest is obvious. Meanwhile, the forest clearance has *still *not been withdrawn. What exactly is this Committee going to do? Explain why the Ministry granted the forest clearance in violation of law and of its own orders? “Verify” the Orissa government’s claims when they have already been exposed to be lies by CPI leader D Raja and the local struggle organisations? Or simply seek to confuse the matter while the Orissa government conti ues to deploy its forces against the people?

For more information on POSCO, including a timeline, details of the illegality and documents that prove the illegality, see:

http://www.forestrightsact.com/corporate-projects/item/12-the-posco-project

Written by janjagriti

July 31, 2010 at 4:31 am

Posted in Articles

Settle claims before land acquisition: MoEF to Posco

leave a comment »

Nistula Hebbar
Posted: Thursday, Jul 29, 2010 at 0004 hrs IST
Updated: Thursday, Jul 29, 2010 at 0004 hrs IST

New Delhi: The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has categorically stated settlement of claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 has to take place before any process of land acquisition can be initiated in Jagastsinghpura district of Orissa—the site of the $12 billion steel plant by Posco. What makes the ministry’s stance rather untenable is that it granted environmental clearance to the company on January 1, 2010, without there being any such settlement in place.

The ministry has tried to cover its tracks by saying that the environmental clearance would require that FRA settlements were done first, but that did not clarify completely the status of the environmental clearance already granted.

The confusion over the status of the clearance is compounded by the fact that there is fierce resistance among those living in those areas to the project. Environmental activist and member of the FRA committee Ashish Kothari says that the process of settling claims under FRA had just begun in the area. “And of course, people whose claims are recognised on the land, may well decide that they do not want the project,” he said.

The dilemma for the government and more for the company then would be about whether or not the earlier environmental clearance can be insisted upon. Out of the total 4004 acres of land required for the project 2900 acres is forest land and the process of settling claims has just begun. The environment ministry is silent on the matter. Minister of forest & environment Jairam Ramesh in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha said the clearance was subject to enviromental law. The state government had in March said there were no tribal people residing in the designated forest land.

Shankar Gopalkrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) said under such circumstances, the legality of the process of land acquisition was moot. “We are now awaiting the process of settlement of claims and just how fair that is going to be,” he said.

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/settle-claims-before-land-acquisition-moef-to-posco/653109/

Written by janjagriti

July 31, 2010 at 4:27 am

Posted in Articles

Stalled resurvey work resumes at Posco site

leave a comment »

BS Reporter | 2010-07-31 02:00:00

The land acquisition process for the Posco steel project, which was halted for last three days due to resentment of local villagers over the measurement of betel vines and the compensation package, has resumed today amid threats of intensification of stir by both pro and anti-Posco outfits.

The United Action Committee, a pro Posco outfit, is unhappy with the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) for measurement of betel vines. It alleged that use of this method instead of the traditional measuring tapes would reduce the area of betel vines by 30 to 40 per cent and bring down the compensation amount of the beneficiaries substantially.

The UAC supporters had launched an agitation on Wednesday, bringing to halt the land acquisition and disbursement of compensation in the Posco site soon after the process was launched two days back.

Following hectic parleys among the villagers, district administration officials and local Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, the process resumed today at Noliasahi amid tight security and seven beneficiaries demolished their betel vines after receiving their compensation on Friday. Together they have received Rs 7.5 lakh compensation. Nearly 80 families of this village applied for compensation

Narayan Jena, the Jagatsinghpur district collector said, “No directive has been received from the state government to measure the betel vines as per the demand of UAC and so the administration has disbursed the compensation to the beneficiaries who have expressed their willingness to demolish the betel vines. No untoward incident has occurred during the land acquisition and disbursement of compensation.”

Earlier, the activists of UAC even blocked the road at Gadkujang for barring the entry of survey teams as a result of which the resurvey was stalled for three days.

The state agriculture Minister Damodar Rout and local legislator Prasant Muduli intervened to ensure that the resurvey work continues at the Posco site.

Meanwhile, UAC conducted its meeting at Nuagaon on Thursday and discussed about the measurement method of betel vines in the resurvey. UAC decided to intensify its stir unless its demand of measurement of betel vine from ‘stay to stay’ instead of ‘fence to fence’ is fulfilled.

UAC secretary, Nirvaya Samntray strongly criticized the administration and minister for adopting ‘divide and rule’ policy to continue land acquisition process by developing a nexus with a few villagers.

http://sify.com/finance/stalled-resurvey-work-resumes-at-posco-site-news-news-kh5caDhiadd.html

Written by janjagriti

July 31, 2010 at 4:25 am

Posted in Articles

Panel to review Posco’s land acquisition plans

leave a comment »

The union ministry for environment and forests has set up a four-member committee headed by retired environment secretary Meena Gupta to investigate if the Orissa government has complied with the Forest Rights Act of 2006 at the Posco site in Jagatsinghpura district of the state.

The ministry’s decision comes a day after the state government began acquiring land falling in the proposed site despite the union government asking it to clarify the status on compliance with FRA which is a mandatory requirement for forest clearance. However, some observers say the ministry is trying to cover its tracks after it granted environmental clearance to the company on 1 January 2010 without any such proviso.

The government’s current stand that environmental clearance for the $12 million steel project would require that FRA settlements are done first does not clarify completely the status of the environmental clearance already granted.

The other three members of the committee are Urmila Pingle, an anthropologist on the National Tiger Conservation Authority board, Devendra Pandey of the Forest Survey of India, and B Suresh, a lawyer in the Madras High Court who has worked on tribal issues before.

On 8 January, the ministry had asked the state government to confirm if it had settled the rights of the people in the 1,253.223 hectares of forest lands, as required under the FRA, before acquiring the land.

The state government replied in March claiming all the requirements of the FRA had been met. But the claims were disputed by many, including MPs,, with accusations of falsification of documents and faking village council approvals.

In March itself, the union government wrote back to the state asking for clarifications and translation of the documents from Oriya. While the state government did not respond to the queries raised by the ministry, it on Tuesday began the acquisition process at the site.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh said, “We have not got a response from the state government till date.

The forest area cannot be handed over to the project proponents without satisfying the provisions of the Forest Rights Act. The committee under Meena Gupta will report in two months after investigating if the rights of the people under the FRA have been settled.”

Environmental activist and member of the FRA committee Ashish Kothari says that the process of settling claims under FRA had just begun in the area. ”And of course, people whose claims are recognised on the land, may well decide that they do not want the project,” he said.

Out of the total 4,004 acres of land required for the project, 2,900 acres is forest land and the process of settling claims hasjust begun.

The environment ministry is silent on the matter. Ramesh in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha said the clearance was subject to environmental law. The stategovernment had in March said there were no tribal people residing in the designated forest land.

Shankar Gopalkrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD) said under such circumstances, the legality of the process of land acquisition was moot. ”We are now awaiting the process of settlement of claims and just how fair that is going to be,” he said.

http://indiabusiness.asia/panel-to-review-poscos-land-acquisition-plans/

Written by janjagriti

July 31, 2010 at 4:24 am

Posted in Articles

Pro and anti-Posco groups to boycott RPDAC meeting

BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar July 08, 2010, 0:38 IST

The meeting of the Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC), convened by Jagatsinghpur district administration to discuss about compensation package of the Posco project affected persons has suffered a set back with both anti and pro-Posco outfits deciding to stay away from it.

Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti, the outfit agitating against the Posco project has decided to boycott the RPDAC meeting citing the indifference of chief minister towards owes of local villagers as the reason for its decision to stay away from the meeting. Besides, it said, as non-bailable warrants were pending against some of its leaders, their presence in the meeting would not be desirable

Similarly, United Action Committee, a purportedly pro-Posco outfit, has decided to boycott the meeting to express its displeasure over the “half-hazard” socio-economic survey of the project site area in which neither the local people were consulted nor the real loss of property including the betel vines, prawn gheris and other immovable assets were reflected.The RPDAC meeting has been convened by the Jagatsinghpur district administration to discuss about the compensation package for the affected persons of the project and was expected to be attended by all stake holders including the local MP, MLAs and other elected peoples’ representatives, who either belonged to the PPSS or UAC camp.

PPSS conducted a meeting at Dhinkia today where Abhya Sahoo, president of the outfit, discussed with the villagers about the participation of local peoples’ representatives and village leaders in the RPDAC meeting. The villagers, however, suggested boycott of the meeting stating that chief minister Naveen Patnaik has not kept his commitment to visit the Posco project site area and see the plight of the villagers before finalization of the compensation package.

Meanwhile, the district administration has extended invitation to sarpanch, panchayat samiti members of three panchayats, Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadkujang and social activists Magu Nayak and Sailbala Barik of Dhinkia village to participate in the meeting.

PPSS leader, Sahoo said, when PPSS is demanding shifting of the Posco project out of the area, how our representatives can attend this meeting to finalize the compensation packages”.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/proanti-posco-groups-to-boycott-rpdac-meeting/400698/

Written by janjagriti

July 8, 2010 at 5:03 am

Posted in News

ORISSA JANA ADHIKAR MORCHA (OJAM)” CONDEMNS THE ILLEGAL ACTION OF THE ORISSA GOVT. TO RENEW THE MOU WITH POSCO

leave a comment »

ORISSA JANA ADHIKAR MORCHA (OJAM) a leading mass organization opposed to the renewal of the POSCO project describing it as anti people and against the provision of the Forest Rights Act. POSCO is in  need of  4004 acres of land for its project near Paradip out of which 2,900 acres is forest land, but failed to acquire even a single acre after five years of signing the MoU mainly due to protests by the local people under the leadership of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS). Villagers have been protesting against the project as it will displace them from their homeland and ruin their betel leaf farms.

Not only the above POSCO will lift water from the Mahanadi barrage and it would adversely affect the farmers and the peoples of Cuttack city. OJAM will also oppose handing over of Kandadhar mines to POSCO as it will affect the bio-diversity and displace the peoples.

The Orissa government has openly violated the provisions of the Forest Rights Act. Section 4(5) of the FRA mandates that “no member of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dweller shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition (of rights) and verification procedure is complete”, and section 5 of the Act empowers Gram Sabhas to protect the forests and to “regulate access to community forest resources.” Though initially the MoEF issued a circular in August 2009 to the effect that diversion of forest land for the POSCO project would have to wait until after the rights of the forest dwellers had been recognized and would still require approval by the relevant Gram Sabhas and the Palli Savas of several GPs like Nuagaon, Dhinkia and Govindpur also passed resolutions claiming their rights under the FRA and rejecting the diversion of forest land – their primary source of livelihood – for the POSCO project, still the Orissa Govt. with disregards to the law is again trying to renew the MOU with POSCO thereby showing undue favour to a multinational company and the reason is best known to the govt. Hence OJAM condemns the illegal action of the state govt. and unless the govt. is restraining itself from this type of illegal activity OJAM will launch state wide agitation against the state govt.

Written by janjagriti

July 1, 2010 at 5:56 am

Posted in Articles

Do Not Renew POSCO MoU

leave a comment »

To:  Mr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India; Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa; Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests; Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the National Advisory Council
We write to express our concern at several violations of legal process in the approval of the POSCO project in Orissa, some of which we address below:

1. The Orissa government has violated the Forest Rights Act and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has chosen to ignore this illegal behavior.

The FRA, which came into force in January 2008, acknowledges the rights of all “forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes” (Section 2(c)) as well as “other traditional forest dwellers” who have for at least seventy-five years prior to December 13, 2005 “primarily resided in” and “depend on the forests or forest land for bona fide livelihood needs” (Section 2(o)). Application of the FRA is mandatory for the POSCO project because approximately three-fourths of the 4,000 acres sanctioned for the POSCO steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district is officially classified as forest land. Cultivation on this land has been the primary source of livelihood of local forest dwellers, most of whom have lived here for generations.

Section 4(5) of the FRA mandates that “no member of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dweller shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition (of rights) and verification procedure is complete”, and section 5 of the Act empowers Gram Sabhas to protect the forests and to “regulate access to community forest resources.” Within three months after the notification of the FRA, the Gram Sabha of Dhinkia (one of the villages affected by the project), acting under the provisions of Section 6(1) of the FRA, passed a resolution inviting claims for individual and community property rights. Section 6(3) of the FRA requires the state government to constitute a sub-divisional level committee to examine the Gram Sabha resolution and enable a final decision, but the law was violated at this stage by the refusal of the sub-divisional officer to accept the claims filed by the Dhinkia Gram Sabha.

The MoEF initially followed the law and issued a circular in August 2009 to the effect that diversion of forest land for the POSCO project would have to wait until after the rights of the forest dwellers had been recognized and would still require approval by the relevant Gram Sabhas. However, in December 2009, the MoEF granted a conditional final clearance even though it was clear that the requirements of the law were not being met! Given that the Orissa government has routinely used violent force and coercion against its own citizens to clear the way for its “development” projects, the farcical MoEF clearance was essentially an invitation to the state government to use all the repressive means at its disposal to push people out of the way of the corporate giant wishing to exploit the state’s resources.

2. The environmental clearance of the POSCO project is deeply flawed.

The POSCO project consists of three main parts — a steel plant, a captive port at Paradeep and mining operations. However, POSCO applied for environmental clearance of the steel plant and the port separately, perhaps seeking to downplay the ecological impact of the entire project. The MoEF went along with the POSCO ruse and granted a conditional final clearance for the steel plant while also approving the captive port at Paradeep. The approval of the port was based on a highly flawed environmental impact assessment study (EIA) commissioned by the MoEF. The EIA fails to reliably estimate the port’s impact on air and surface water quality, nor does it address the cumulative impact of the steel plant and the port on people and the local ecosystem. Also missed in the EIA is the impact on livelihoods of the local people engaged in farming and fishing who lose their lands and access to the Jatadhari river mouth. The closure of the river mouth would make the region very vulnerable to flooding, another aspect that has been ignored in the EIA.

3. The Orissa government has unleashed large-scale violence to push through the POSCO project.

The POSCO project has faced serious resistance from the affected people ever since its Indian subsidiary signed an MoU with the Orissa government. Despite the grave livelihood threat that the project posed, opposition to the project has stayed well within the parameters of the law. However, the state has hardly functioned as a representative of the people and a custodian of its rights, and has worked more or less as a POSCO agent. In the process, it has torn the FRA to shreds and ridden roughshod over fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution such as the right to life and freedom from torture. The numerous instances of rights violations reported against the police include beatings, arrests, shootings and torture of (suspected) anti-POSCO protestors as well as filing of false cases against them to limit their movement.

Earlier this year, Nuagaon, Dhinkia and Govindpur Gram Sabhas passed resolutions reasserting their rights under the FRA and rejecting the diversion of forest land – their primary source of livelihood – for the POSCO project. However, the environment ministry is yet to withdraw its conditional clearance, which, if not outrightly illegal certainly contravenes the spirit of the FRA. We strongly urge you to ensure proper implementation of the FRA and put into action your oft-stated goal of participatory and inclusive development. Toward this end, we also urge you to not renew the POSCO MoU when it expires on June 22, 2010.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned


URL TO SIGN PETITION:  http://www.petitiononline.com/p210610/petition.html

Written by janjagriti

June 22, 2010 at 3:58 am

Police lathi-charge anti-Posco protestors

leave a comment »

Paradip (Orissa), June 2 (PTI) Police today lathi-charged anti-Posco agitators trying to prevent the socio-economic and forest survey, which resumed after four days at the project site for the Rs 52,000 crore mega steel plant.

Batons were used to disperse the agitators at Mathasahi village in Nuagaon panchayat area after they attempted to stop the survey work, officials said.

Nuagaon Sarpanch Bhaskar Swain claimed that he along with five other persons was injured in the police action.

The police, however, said none was injured in the police action.

After the dispersal of the protestors, teams from the Jagatsinghpur district carried out the survey at Mathasahi to assess socio-economic parameters of the villagers and count betel-vine plantations and fruit-bearing trees that would be affected by the project, Additional District Magistrate Saroj Kanta Choudhury said.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/685639_Police-lathi-charge-anti-Posco-protestors

Written by janjagriti

June 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

Posted in News

Posco survey work begins today

leave a comment »

BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar May 25, 2010, 0:41 IST

With the talks between the leaders of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organization spearheading the anti-Posco agitation in the state, and the Revenue Divisional Commissioner yet to take off, the Paradip MP Bibhuprasad Tarai has sought the intervention of chief minister Naveen Pattnaik to stop the socio-economic survey for the Posco project which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The district administration, meanwhile, has geared up to start the survey work at the proposed Posco site and the process is expected to continue for about two weeks.

The district collector Narayan Jena, however, clarified that the survey work will not be taken up in Dhinkia, the stronghold of PPSS. The survey will be conducted in the rest areas for which the United Action Committee, a purportedly local based pro-Posco organization, has agreed to extend its cooperation, he added.

The local MP, Tarai said, “There was proposal that 5 representatives of PPSS would hold talks with the RDC but this has not yet started. I have requested the PPSS leaders to list the names of representatives to meet RDC on this issue”, said Tarai.

“I want smooth discussions between the PPSS leaders and the district administration to find out the solution. The decision of the administration to start survey from Tuesday without the consent of the villagers would aggravate the situation. The discussions between PPSS leaders and the administration would be meaningless, if survey would start before the talks”, he added.

Earlier, the chief minister had convened a meeting with the local MP and MLAs to resolve the Posco issue and had requested Tarai to negotiate with anti-Posco activists. It was decided that RDC and the district administration will meet the representatives of PPSS in the presence of Tarai to sort out all out all issuesregarding the Posco project.

When contacted Special Land Acquisition Officer of Paradip, Nrusingh Swain said, “The administration has taken all arrangements to start survey work at Nuagaon and Gadkujang panchayats from Tuesday. No information has come from the chief minister’s office to stop Posco survey work till now”.

The administration has formed six teams to expedite the survey work. Each team has 5 members under the supervision of either a tahsildar or additional tahsildar.

They will verify the last survey conducted by the district administration in 2008 and assess the valuation of betel vines and other crops.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/posco-survey-work-begins-today/395959/

Written by janjagriti

May 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Posted in News

Orissa – Brief Report from Anti-POSCO villages – story of the injured people

leave a comment »

by Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati

May 19, 2010

bharat-bardhan-who-was-hit-by-a-rubber-bullet-and-a-shotgun-pellet-on-his-face.JPG gujuri-mohanti-72-who-was-hit-by-three-rubber-bullets-on-her-back-and-behind-her-head.JPG gujuri-mohanti-describing-the-brutalities-on-the-elderly-women.JPG mounabati-das-describing-her-harrowing-ordeal.JPGshantilata-mahapatra-who-was-hit-by-a-shotgun-pellet-and-a-rubber-bullet-on-her-leg.JPG

mounabati-das-with-a-large-subcutaneos-blood-clot-from-a-rubber-bullet.JPGthe-fractured-foot-of-tikki-bardhan-could-not-be-plastered-as-no-medical-treatment-is-available.JPGthe-wound-from-the-pellet-after-it-was-extracted-and-dressed.JPG tikki-bardhan-whose-foot-is-fractured-after-being-hit-by-a-rubber-bullet.JPG

The situation in the three villages of Dhinkia, Gobindapur and Nuagaon is grim. Three days after the 15th May assault by police forces on the peaceful assembly of villagers in Balitutha, nearly every household in these three villages have people who are injured and traumatized. And because since 15th May, all the exit points from the villages, through Balitutha and Trilochanpur have been sealed by the police, and with the threat of arrest looming large on anyone from the villages who step out, nearly no one has received medical treatment for their wounds. With festering wounds and fractured limbs, many people, including the elderly, are suffering their ordeal silently in the confines of their homes.

Balitutha, where the police assault took place on the 15th, is a scene of destruction. The police, exhibiting a disturbing sign of wreaking vengeance, not only burnt down the shamiana under which the dharna was being held for the past five months, but also set fire to all the roadside shops, eateries and thatched houses on one side of the Balitutha bridge. This has been vividly shown on the Oriya television channels. If setting fire to houses and shops becomes an accepted operational practice of the Orissa police, it speaks volumes about the “keepers of law and order” and their political masters in the Orissa government. Now the entire area is teeming with police forces and their special operations vehicles, and they are preventing anyone from the besieged villages from stepping out.

The villagers’ wounds and their description of what happened on 15th April in Balitutha is also a grim testimony of what the state can inflict on peaceful protesters. There are around two hundred injured people in the three villages. Wounds are from rubber bullets, lathis and, something that I had seen for the first time, from pellets fired from shotguns. These are small spherical pellets, like bicycle ball-bearings, which have been fired in thousands. Many people have five or six of these painfully embedded under their skins. This is a most inhuman weapon, which have been used in the past in Israel and South Africa to break up demonstrations without causing life-threatening injuries. The Orissa police seem to have adopted this as a new means of sowing terror among peaceful demonstrators. Without availability of doctors and unable to reach hospitals, many people are being forced to extract the pellets at home using knifes and blades.

Women seem to have been especially targeted for assault and humiliation. Most of the wounded we saw were women. Mounabati Das, in her fifties, who after being hit by a rubber bullet on her leg and falling on the ground, described how she was dragged around by her hair by the police who threatened her in filthy language that this would be the consequence of resisting the government. She has a large subcutaneous blood clot from the rubber bullet which hit her thigh and walks around with great difficulty. Tikki Bardhan, whose foot seems to have been fractured after being hit by a rubber bullet, cannot even walk. There has been no doctor to see her and plaster the fractured foot. Her husband, Bharat Bardhan, was hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on his face. He barely missed losing his right eye, but the bullet broke a tooth and a blood vessel in his nose because of which he was profusely bleeding from his nose. The shot gun pellet is still embedded in his left cheek. Shantilata Mahapatra was hit by a rubber bullet and a shotgun pellet on her leg. She could barely walk. I extracted the pellet with difficulty from her leg and dressed up the wound and gave her a course of antibiotics which I had taken with me. Gujuri Mahanti, a 72 year old grandmother, has been hit by three rubber bullets on the back of her head, on the small of her back and behind her waist. She finds it difficult to sit or even lie down, except on her side. She described how the assembled women were attacked by the police on that day. The women had been sitting in dharna in front of the bridge. The police, who were on the bridge, ordered them to move away and clear the path. After around two hours, when they had got up and turned to move away, the police attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets and pellet guns. Many of the elderly women, including herself, choking on the tear gas, somehow moved away from the spot and reached what they thought to be a safe distance, where they tried to gather together. But the police turned their fire on this group and kept firing on their backs as they tried to run away. This is clearly shown by the fact that she was hit by rubber bullets on her back. The police, who had the advantage of being situated on higher round on the bridge, fired at will on the people assembled on lower ground at one end of the bridge. When the women were running away, the police descended from the bridge and assaulted them with lathis and dragged them around by their hair. Five of them, including a 60 year old grandmother, were dragged into police vans and taken away. Their relatives do not know till now what has been their fate.

These stories were repeated in every home. The people are now awaiting an imminent attack on the villages itself which the administration has already threatened. However, they say that these wounds have only strengthened their resolve to resist, and there will be a blood bath if the police enter their villages. But 72 year old Gujuri Mahanti had a question addressed to Naveen Patnaik, “Would he treat his mother in the same way that the police had treated her?” As Naveen Patnaik, with his masters at Tata POSCO, tries to bring “development” to Orissa with rubber bullets and shotgun pellets, this is the question that confronts him from poor village women who are resolved to resist this aggression on their lives and livelihoods.

http://sanhati.com/articles/2372/

Written by janjagriti

May 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Reports

Orissa withdraws police cover from Posco site

leave a comment »

Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 0035 hrs IST
Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 0035 hrs ISTBhubaneswar: In a significant development, the Jagatsinghpur district administration on Wednesday lifted prohibitory orders from the proposed Posco site and withdrew the police force from the area. The district administration had clamped section 144 of the Cr PC in an area of 3 km radius around the Balitutha gate on May 15 and cleared the road blockage set up by anti-Posco groups.

The district administration’s step is a fallout of the top level discussion held at the state secretariat on Tuesday. The chief minister’s principal secretary, Bijya Patnaik, reviewed the situation at the Posco site since the May 15 police action.

After the prohibitory order was lifted and the police forces were withdrawn, a political rally was held at Balitutha by six political parties including the CPI, CPM and Rastriya Janata Dal to protest against the police excess on anti-Posco activists.

The rally was attended by over 1,000 villagers from the three gram panchayats – Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Nuagoa—which forms the core area of Posco’s 12 million tonne steel project.

CPI national general secretary AB Bardhan addressed the rally along with leaders of other political parties. The leaders condemned the police action against the villagers facing displacement due to the Posco project.

The six-party protest rally has emboldened the Posco Pratirodha Sangram Smiti (PPSS), the outfit that is spearheading the resistance movement against Posco’s Rs 52,000 crore steel project.

“We will soon re-capture Balitutha,” said PPSS chief Abhaya Sahoo. PPSS activists, who had put up a road blockade at Balitutha denying entry to the Posco sites, were driven out by the police four days ago.

Meanwhile, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has convened a meeting of MPs and MLAs of Jagatsinghpur on Thursday to discuss the Posco project.

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Orissa-withdraws-police-cover-from-Posco-site/621174/

Written by janjagriti

May 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Posted in News

Pictures of the Police Offensive at Balitutha – 16th May 2010

leave a comment »

Written by janjagriti

May 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Articles

CPI pumps up anti-Posco stir

leave a comment »

Sowmya Aji New Delhi, May 18, 2010

Political and public opinion against the South Korean steel giant Posco’s plant in Orissa is gaining momentum.

Left leaders and intellectuals have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemning the May 15 police firing on protesters. The BJP has sent a fact-finding team to the spot.

CPI general secretary A. B. Bardhan, whose party is leading the agitation, said the stir will continue despite the firing.

“I will address a meeting at the very spot where the firing took place on May 19, irrespective of whether Section 144 is in place or not,” he told MAIL TODAY. The Left will also participate in a bandh across the state on May 21 to draw attention to the plight of the people in the project-affected area.

Other than the Congress, the ruling Biju Janata Dal and the BJP, all other political parties will participate in the bandh.

Bardhan said his party had written several letters to their on-and-off ally, Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik, protesting against the crushing of tribal rights in several cases in Orissa including Posco and the Tata port at Dhamra.

Bardhan said Posco’s demand for a captive port and steel mines was unacceptable, as there would be no account of transactions if everything was private.

CPI national secretary D. Raja in a letter to the PM said the attack on the protesters was “brutal” and “this kind of atrocity can never be justified”. Calling the Orissa government’s action “doubly criminal”, Raja demanded the environment ministry’s conditional clearance to the project should be withdrawn immediately.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/97769/India/CPI+pumps+up+anti-Posco+stir.html

Written by janjagriti

May 18, 2010 at 4:12 am

Posted in Articles

SECOND LETTER TO THE HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA

leave a comment »

ON THE ONGOING POLICE ATTACKS ON PEACEFUL DISSENTERS IN ORISSA

17 May 2010

New Delhi

To

Dr Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India

Sub: Appeal to immediately intervene in Jajpur and Jagatsingpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces are crushing India’s democratic values in broad daylight

Sir,

We, a group of concerned citizens, are shocked and anguished at the current situation in Jajpur and Jagatsingpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces have been sent by the state government to crush people’s democratic dissent in the most undemocratic and unbecoming way.

In blatant disregard towards Constitutional values, the state government of Orissa on 15 May 2010 sent at least 40 platoons of police force to Balitutha in Jagatsingpur district – the entry place for the proposed POSCO project area – where hundreds of villagers of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) were sitting in a peaceful demonstration since 26 January 2010 to express their dissent against the proposed plant, which is a fundamental right of the people going to be affected by the plant.

They are also defending their rights under the Forest Rights Act 2006, which the UPA government terms as a historic Act to ‘correct a historical injustice’, which the Orissa government has blatantly violated.

Instead of coming to dialogue with the people – as they should in any democracy – the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police rather led the forces with a well-planned attack on peaceful demonstrators, in which the temporary shelter at the demonstration site was set on fire and peaceful protesters were mercilessly beaten and fired with rubber and plastic bullets by the police.

More than 100 villagers, including women, are reported to have been injured in this unprovoked attack by the state. The police have also used shotguns – contrary to what they claim – besides firing rubber and plastic bullets. This is evident in the fact that dozens among the injured are writhing in pain with splinter wounds in Balitutha village at the moment, and no medical help is at sight due to the forced blockade by the police. The forces – who behaved more like hired goons led by officers in responsible positions attacking peaceful villagers – also dragged women by the hair and beat them up badly, resulting in severe injuries.

The presence of massive police force in the area shows the state’s desperation to facilitate corporate businesses in exchange of the country’s valuable natural resources, peoples’ secured lives and livelihoods. This is absolutely undemocratic and unnecessary. We are grieved to note that such moves by the state smack of trading basic democratic values and people’s fundamental rights for corporate interests, and are not at all in the national interest in any way.

In another act of excess and terror, the Kalinganagar area where a TATA steel plant is proposed by the state government is under siege by the forces since 30 March 2010. Villages have been destroyed, people have been forced to move out and take refuge in the forest, and no one – journalists, medical teams, or activists – is allowed to go in there.

It is extremely shocking to learn that one tribal man, named Lakshman Jamuda (55), was killed and many severely injured in police firing in Kalinganagar on 12 May 2010. To hush up the incriminating act of the state government, the police took away Jamuda’s body to Puri and got it cremated by one of his distant relatives, Lalmohan, instead of handing over his body to the immediate family members. Later, Lalmohan confessed to the media that he was made to sign on a blank paper by the police at gun point.

How can such acts of atrocities and excess be justified in a democracy? This is certainly not how a democracy should behave; and we strongly condemn such acts of excess and terror!

Therefore, we the undersigned, request you to intervene at the earliest to uphold people’s faith in democracy and their rights to democratic resistance, and withdraw the police forces from these areas immediately. After establishing peace in these areas, the state should come to dialogue with the people of Jagatsingpur and Jajpur who are peacefully resisting to protect their lands, resources and identity – i.e., fundamental rights of citizens in any democracy.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, New Delhi
  2. Medha Patkar, NAPM
  3. Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist, New Delhi
  4. Sandeep Pandey, NAPM
  5. B Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM, Andhra Pradesh
  6. Praful Samantara, NAPM and Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa
  7. Meher Engineer, Academic, Kolkata
  8. Ashok Chaudhury, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  9. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  10. Sanjay Bosu Mallick, NFFPFW
  11. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiverr Collective, Chennai
  12. Nityanand Jayaraman, Journalist, Chennai
  13. Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai
  14. Dr Karen Coelho, Academic, Chennai
  15. Shazia Nigar, Delhi University and NAPM, New Delhi
  16. Soumitra Ghosh, NFFPFW – North Bengal Regional Committee, Siliguri, West Bengal
  17. Mamata Dash, Researcher and Activist, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  18. Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi
  19. Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi
  20. Ravi Hemadri, the Other Media, New Delhi
  21. Manshi Asher, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  22. Shalini Gera, Friends of South Asia, Delhi
  23. Shibayan Raha, New Delhi
  24. Madhu Sarin, Researcher and Activist, Chandigarh
  25. Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University
  26. Saswati Swetlana, New Delhi
  27. Ashish Fernandes, Bangalore
  28. Amar Kanwar, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  29. B Karthik Navayan, Advocate, Hyderabad
  30. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
  31. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
  32. Maj Gen (Retd) S G Vombatkere, NAPM
  33. Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  34. Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  35. Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
  36. Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  37. Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  38. Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide
  39. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
  40. Latha Jishnu, Journalist, New Delhi
  41. Chanda Asani, Academic, Jaipur
  42. K P Sasi, Independent Filmmaker, Bangalore
  43. Anivar Aravind, Moving Republic, Bangalore
  44. Ravi Chellam, Bangalore
  45. Sunil, National Vice-President, Samajvadi Jana Parishad
  46. Sanjay Joshi, Gorakhpur Film Festival
  47. Sebastian Rodrigues, Goa
  48. Shankar Gopalkrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, New Delhi
  49. Sirisha Naidu, Assistant Professor of Economics, Wright State University, OH, USA
  50. Ranjana Padhee, Researcher and Activist, New Delhi
  51. K Babu Rao, Hyderabad
  52. Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Human Rights Activist and Writer, Delhi
  53. Manoranjan Mohanty, Academic, New Delhi
  54. Md Qanit B Takmeel, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela
  55. Anand Patwardan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  56. Nivedita Dash, Journalist, New Delhi
  57. V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  58. Vimalbhai, Matu People’s Organization, Uttarakhand
  59. Amit Kumar Dhiman, Mohali, Punjab
  60. Pradeep Kumar, Pathankot, Punjab
  61. Mohan Bhagat, Maryland, USA
  62. Shankar Chellam, Houston, Texas, USA
  63. Anand Mazgoankar, NAPM
  64. Karavali Karnataka Janaabhivriddhi Vedike, Karnataka
  65. Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti, Karnataka
  66. Souparna Lahiri, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  67. Sayantoni Dutta, Researcher, New Delhi
  68. Piyush Sethia, Farmer and Activist, Salem, Tamil Nadu
  69. Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, PUCL
  70. Lakshmi Premkumar, Researcher, Chennai
  71. Priya Jain, New Delhi
  72. Hartman de Souza, Journalist, Goa
  73. S Jeevan Kumar, President, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
  74. V S Krishna, Secretary, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
  75. Gurpreet Sidhu, People Tree, New Delhi
  76. Nandini Oza, Writer and Activist, Pune
  77. Sridhar Iyer, Mumbai
  78. Shaweta Anand, Journalist and Researcher, New Delhi
  79. Harsh Dobhal, Human Rights Activist, New Delhi
  80. Praful Bidwai, Columnist and Writer, New Delhi
  81. Preeti Sampat,Scholar and Activist

and many more concerned citizens

Written by janjagriti

May 18, 2010 at 4:10 am

CPI urges PM to review Posco steel project

leave a comment »

New Delhi, May 16:The Communist Party of India (CPI) Sunday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review the clearance given to South Korean steel major Posco for a project in Orissa that has triggered violence in the state’s Jagatsinghpur district. CPI leader D. Raja in a letter to Manmohan Singh alleged that the Orissa government was attacking peaceful protesters against the Posco project, which is “in direct violation of the law”. “I am writing in the context of the brutal attack of the Orissa police on the peaceful protesters,” Raja said in the letter. At least nine people were injured Saturday after police used force to disperse villagers protesting a steel plant project by Posco. The Communist leader said that 3,000 of the 4,000 acres of land to be given for Posco’s steel plant is a forest area. “Under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, many of the people of the area are eligible for rights over this land, especially the lands they are cultivating, as they have been living in the area for more than 75 years,” he said. Posco, one of the world’s biggest steel makers, signed the deal with the Orissa government in June 2005 to set up the project near the port town of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur, by 2016. The project has, however, been delayed for over three years due to various reasons, including protests of local residents. Raja said the project was “nothing less than an attempt to strip this country’s mineral resources for a foreign multinational, with no benefit to either the people of the area or the economy of this country.” “I urge upon you to immediately intervene, instruct the environment ministry to withdraw the illegal clearance, review the Posco project in light of the fact that it is a notorious blacklisted multinational, and halt the police atrocities against the struggling people of the area,” Raja said in the letter to the prime minister. IANS

http://www.siasat.com/english/news/cpi-urges-pm-review-posco-steel-porject

Written by janjagriti

May 17, 2010 at 8:42 am

Posted in Articles

STOP POLICE ATTACKS ON PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN ORISSA

leave a comment »

15 May 2010

New Delhi

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the unprovoked firing and arson carried out by the Orissa state police against a dharna of farmers and fisher folk opposed to the proposed POSCO steel project in Jagatsingpur district.

As per latest reports, today over 100 people have been injured and many shops and houses in Balitutha village, the site of the dharna, have been set on fire by the policemen.  Around 40 divisions of policemen were involved in the operation, which continues even now as we write this. Hundreds of villagers belonging to the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) have been sitting in a peaceful dharna since 26 January 2010 to express their dissent against the proposed plant.

It is also outrageous to note that the atrocities and arson by the police at Balitutha at the moment is being led by the SP of the district while chief minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar is issuing statements like “We are for peaceful industrialization” to the media. Naveen Patnaik is known for his ruthless manner in which he has dealt with democratic resistances in the past 10 years in the state, in which many innocent people have lost their lives to police firing and other forms of violence perpetrated by the state.

Prior to today’s police action, there was already an economic blockage imposed by the state administration of the villages earmarked for land acquisition and where resistance is the strongest. There is a strong fear that any police raid on the villagers to oust them from their land will result in the loss of innocent lives in an area where thousands were already killed when the Orissa Super Cyclone hit the area just a decade ago. Nevertheless, the area is endowed with rich natural resources and has a prosperous economy of its own, and the local communities – as they have expressed it over and over again – do not want to trade their resources, economy, and cultural identities for mere corporate greed.

We believe that, to crush peaceful dissent in such a brutal manner can only serve to undermine Indian democracy and push large sections of the Indian population to the point of desperation. At no point, in their struggle for over five years, have the anti-POSCO protestors indulged in any violent activities and have instead set an example to the rest of the country on how to carry out a democratic struggle based solely on the mass support of ordinary men and women.

We appeal to all Indian political parties and concerned citizens to oppose the Orissa government’s ill-considered and draconian action against the anti-POSCO protestors and demand the immediate withdrawal of police forces from the area. It is only through peaceful negotiations that a resolution can be found and the common people’s crumbling faith in Indian democracy restored.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, New Delhi
  2. Medha Patkar, NAPM
  3. Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist, New Delhi
  4. Sandeep Pandey, NAPM
  5. B Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM
  6. Praful Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa
  7. Meher Engineer, Academic, Kolkata
  8. Ashok Chaudhury, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  9. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  10. Sanjay Bosu Mallick, NFFPFW
  11. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiverr Collective, Chennai
  12. Nityanand Jayaraman, Journalist, Chennai
  13. Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai
  14. Dr Karen Coelho, Academic, Chennai
  15. Shazia Nigar, Delhi University and NAPM, New Delhi
  16. Soumitra Ghosh, NFFPFW – North Bengal Regional Committee, Siliguri, West Bengal
  17. Mamata Dash, Researcher and Activist, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  18. Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi
  19. Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi
  20. Ravi Hemadri, the Other Media, New Delhi
  21. Manshi Asher, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  22. Shalini Gera, Friends of South Asia, Delhi
  23. Shibayan Raha, New Delhi
  24. Madhu Sarin, Researcher and Activist, Chandigarh
  25. Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University
  26. Saswati Swetlana
  27. Ashish Fernandes, Bangalore
  28. Amar Kanwar, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  29. B Karthik Navayan, Advocate, Hyderabad
  30. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
  31. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
  32. Maj Gen (Retd) S G Vombatkere
  33. Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  34. Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  35. Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
  36. Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  37. Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  38. Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide
  39. K P Sasi, Independent Filmmaker, Bangalore
  40. Anivar Aravnd, Movingrepublic, Bangalore
  41. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
  42. Latha Jishnu, Journalist, New Delhi
  43. Chanda Asani, Academic, Jaipur

…and many more concerned citizens

Written by janjagriti

May 16, 2010 at 5:50 am

Posted in Event Notices, News

Police Attack on Anti-POSCO People’s Movement – Chronology of Incidents

leave a comment »

http://orissaconcerns.net/2010/05/chronology-of-incidents/

‘More than 100 villagers injured, the condition of 5 persons is serious and 18 persons including 5 women got arrested by the Police under the direct supervision of Orissa Chief Minister’- POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)

8.30 PM: PPSS President – Abhay Sahu appealed everybody extend immediate support for the treatment of the injured people. Also,  he requested the all concerned and well-meaning people extend their solidarity for the causes of people in struggles.

8.20 PM: Information received from PPSS activists from Dhinkia that about two Activists named Natha Swain (32 male from Nuagan) & Ramesh Das (35 male from Dhinkia) are critically injured with metal bullets. Immediate Medical Care is needed for them as they lost a lot of blood so far. All roads to anti POSCO Villages are blocked & sealed by Police. There is no way to get medical support /go out of the Village because of the police blockade. Among the 100 persons injured persons more than 60 percent are women or children.

6.10 PM: Manorama Khatua, woman leader, PPSS informed that women were mercilessly beaten up by male police.The situation is under tense. 5 persons are seriously injured. Injured people are not able to access for medical treatments.

5.00 PM: An alliance of some people’s organizations and activists organized a protest Dharna in front of the Governors’ House against police atrocity at Kalinga Nagar (TATA)and Balitutha(POSCO).

4.00 PM: Information reached that Police have blocked all the roads to the proposed site and the people are forced to remain inside their villages. Outsiders are not allowed to enter into the area.

3.15 PM: More than 100 persons got injured by teargas shell and police firing. 18 persons including 5 women got arrested. The houses, shops, sheds, tents belonging to local people in and around dharna location were burnt down by the Police.

3.10 PM: News came in local TV channels that CPI has called for a 12 hours Kujang Bandh (shut down) in protest of police atrocities and arrest of its leader and activists, which was confirmed from CPI state office.

2.30PM: Police version: people threw country bombs at the police therefore the forces retaliated! PPSS version: it’s a blatant lie. Company deployed anti-socials and some pro-POSCO leaders joined with the Police, threw bombs to mislead the democratic and peaceful movement.

2.25 PM: After tear gas, rubber bullets, the police started firing with real ones.

2.10 PM: Police action started against the people by throwing tear gas & rubber bullets from 100 meter distance.

1.43 PM: The district collector and superintendent of police made announcements over microphone asking people to disperse immediately or else face the action.

12.00: Around 50 activists of All India Youth Federation, All India Students’ Federation & Communist Party of India demonstrated before the Police Commissioner office at Bhubaneshwar. They were arrested and later released.

11.38M: Standing at 20 meters’ distance from Dharna place was taking positions and waiting for orders to fire.

10.45 PM: Congress ex-MLA Umesh Swain on his way to Balithuta was detained at Kujang police station.

10.40 AM: About 600 pro-POSCO people joined the anti-POSCO camp and participated in the resistance.

10.38 AM: At Balithuta, numbers of villagers have swelled up from 600 to 3700. Villagers were in no mood to retreat, more people joined from Nuagaon, which was earlier considered as pro-POSCO area.

10.36 AM: Section 144 of IPC was introduced in the areas covering 3 kilometer radius of Balitutha. Police warned people to leave the place within 10 minutes.

10.15 AM: There is spontaneous protest of the people in front of Paradeep Police station and Kujang against the illegal detention of the MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai.

At Balithuta, numbers have swelled up. There are about 3700 villagers facing 1500 or so armed police. Villagers are in no mood to retreat, more people are joining from Nuagaon panchayat .

10.07 AM: D. Raja, Politburo Member, CPI informed that he has spoken to Orissa Chief Minister. The CM told him that he would enquire to the matter  and assured that no force would be used.

9.45 AM: Condemning the aggression by the Naveen Patnaik Government, Prasant Paikray, the spokesperson – PPSS told, ‘the chief minister is directly implementing the police operation through his Principal Secretary, who is issuing instructions to SP and District Collector.

9.25 AM: Appeal made to concerned citizens to call SP (-Debadatta Singh)’s mobile no-09437094678 urging him not to use force. Responding calls of human rights activists, political leaders, environmentalists, journalists, advocates, film-makers from across the country, he informed – ‘POLICE HAS COME PREPARED TO USE FORCE AGAINST THE PEOPLE’.

8.57 AM: District Collector and Police Superintendent spearheaded police in 15 Vehicles towards dharana place.  

7.00 AM: Around 600 villagers sat in dharna place at Balithutha . Police vans arrived at the dharna place

4.00 AM: Bibhu Prasad Tarai, Member of Parliament (MP) of Jagatsinghpur from CPI was detained and put at Circuit house at Kujang at 2AM (mid-night of May 15) on his way to Dhinkia.

May 14, 2010 – Police made flag-march from Kujang to Balitutha.

May 11, 2010 – 25 platoon of Police forces, 5 ambulances and 3 magistrates enter into the area and forcefully occupied the nearby school campuses.

May 3, 2010: Bijay Kumar Patnaik, IAS, Principal Secretary to CM returned back from South Korea after 15-days’ visit. PPSS leader Abhay Sahu alleges that on behalf of Chief Minister, he has represented to settle the ‘deal’ with POSCO Company and the entire cost of his visit was borne by the POSCO

For more information, please contact: Prasant Paikray, Spokesperson, PPSS, and Cell: 09437571547

Prepared on May 15, 2010 (9.25 PM)

Anivar Aravind
+91 9448063780

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Centre, Orissa govt backing Posco, say Left parties

leave a comment »

STAFF WRITER 18:42 HRS IST

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) Left parties today charged the Centre and the Orissa government with backing the South Korean firm Posco and “ignoring” all concerns of the people against the Posco project.

Demanding a stop to the use of force against the agitators, the four parties termed as “total falsehood and canard” that some of the protesters threw bombs which forced police to use rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the protesters, who have been on dharna at the project site for several months.

After a meeting here, top leaders of the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc said Posco’s move to build a captive port would have an adverse impact on the existing Paradip port.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/654467_-Centre–Orissa-govt-backing-Posco–say-Left-parties

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Posted in News

PRESS RELEASE URGENT! STOP POLICE ATTACKS ON PEACEFUL PROTESTORS IN ORISSA

leave a comment »

15 May 2010

New Delhi

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the unprovoked firing and arson carried out by the Orissa state police against a dharna of farmers and fisher folk opposed to the proposed POSCO steel project in Jagatsingpur district.

As per latest reports, today over 100 people have been injured and many shops and houses in Balitutha village, the site of the dharna, have been set on fire by the policemen.  Around 40 divisions of policemen were involved in the operation, which continues even now as we write this. Hundreds of villagers belonging to the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) have been sitting in a peaceful dharna since 26 January 2010 to express their dissent against the proposed plant.

It is also outrageous to note that the atrocities and arson by the police at Balitutha at the moment is being led by the SP of the district while chief minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar is issuing statements like “We are for peaceful industrialization” to the media. Naveen Patnaik is known for his ruthless manner in which he has dealt with democratic resistances in the past 10 years in the state, in which many innocent people have lost their lives to police firing and other forms of violence perpetrated by the state.

Prior to today’s police action, there was already an economic blockage imposed by the state administration of the villages earmarked for land acquisition and where resistance is the strongest. There is a strong fear that any police raid on the villagers to oust them from their land will result in the loss of innocent lives in an area where thousands were already killed when the Orissa Super Cyclone hit the area just a decade ago. Nevertheless, the area is endowed with rich natural resources and has a prosperous economy of its own, and the local communities – as they have expressed it over and over again – do not want to trade their resources, economy, and cultural identities for mere corporate greed.

We believe that, to crush peaceful dissent in such a brutal manner can only serve to undermine Indian democracy and push large sections of the Indian population to the point of desperation. At no point, in their struggle for over five years, have the anti-POSCO protestors indulged in any violent activities and have instead set an example to the rest of the country on how to carry out a democratic struggle based solely on the mass support of ordinary men and women.

We appeal to all Indian political parties and concerned citizens to oppose the Orissa government’s ill-considered and draconian action against the anti-POSCO protestors and demand the immediate withdrawal of police forces from the area. It is only through peaceful negotiations that a resolution can be found and the common people’s crumbling faith in Indian democracy restored.

Yours sincerely,

  1. Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, New Delhi
  2. Medha Patkar, NAPM
  3. Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist, New Delhi
  4. Sandeep Pandey, NAPM
  5. B Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM
  6. Praful Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa
  7. Meher Engineer, Academic, Kolkata
  8. Ashok Chaudhury, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  9. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  10. Sanjay Bosu Mallick, NFFPFW
  11. Madhumita Dutta, Vettiverr Collective, Chennai
  12. Nityanand Jayaraman, Journalist, Chennai
  13. Shweta Narayan, Community Environmental Monitoring, Chennai
  14. Dr Karen Coelho, Academic, Chennai
  15. Shazia Nigar, Delhi University and NAPM, New Delhi
  16. Soumitra Ghosh, NFFPFW – North Bengal Regional Committee, Siliguri, West Bengal
  17. Mamata Dash, Researcher and Activist, NFFPFW, New Delhi
  18. Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi
  19. Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi
  20. Ravi Hemadri, the Other Media, New Delhi
  21. Manshi Asher, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  22. Shalini Gera, Friends of South Asia, Delhi
  23. Shibayan Raha, New Delhi
  24. Madhu Sarin, Researcher and Activist, Chandigarh
  25. Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University
  26. Saswati Swetlana
  27. Ashish Fernandes, Bangalore
  28. Amar Kanwar, Independent Filmmaker, New Delhi
  29. B Karthik Navayan, Advocate, Hyderabad
  30. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
  31. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
  32. Maj Gen (Retd) S G Vombatkere
  33. Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  34. Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
  35. Syed M Irfan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
  36. Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  37. Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
  38. Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide
  39. K P Sasi, Independent Filmmaker, Bangalore
  40. Anivar Aravnd, ICT Professional, Moving Republic, Bangalore
  41. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, New Delhi
  42. Latha Jishnu, Journalist, New Delhi
  43. Chanda Asani, Academic, Jaipur

…and many more concerned citizens

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Police crack down on anti-Posco agitators, 20 injured

leave a comment »

debabrata mohanty

Posted: May 15, 2010 at 1016 hrs IST

Paradip (Orissa) More than 20 people in Orissa’s coastal Jagatsinghpur district were injured after thousands of armed police fired rubber bullets and lobbed tearges shells to disperse about 1000 villagers who had blocked a road protesting the setting up of 12 million tonne greenfield steel mill by South Korean steelmaker Posco in the area.

Since last four months, people of 6 villages under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, an anti-Posco body opposing the project had blocked the road at Balitutha, the key entrance point to these villages. People in these 6 villages in 3 grampanchayats inside the proposed project area have dug their heels in since last 4 years refusing to negotiate with the State government or Posco.

As the Jagatsinghpur district administration aided by 25 platoons of armed police moved to clear the road this morning a clash ensued among the police and the villagers. According to the leaders of the Posco Pratiodh Sangram Samiti, police first fired teargas shells and set on fire the tent under which the protestors were sitting on dharna and then chased the people away from the dharna site at Balitutha. “More than 100 villagers were injured. Even the police resorted to blank firing . Ours is a democratic mass resistance. It would go on,” said Prasahant Paikray, spokesperson of PPSS.

However, police claimed the villagers first hurled about 100 crude bombs at them. “We then retaliated by lobbing teargas shells and firing rubber bullets. Five of our men have been injured,” Jagatsinghpur SP Devdutt Singh told The Indian Express. “We wanted to clear the road as it was inconveniencing other people in the area. In a democracy everyone have the right to protest. But obstructing the road is inhuman. We have been successful in clearing off the road,” he said.

Since morning, the district administration imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC as part of Orissa government’s efforts to begin forest survey and land acquisition at the plant site.

Early this morning, the police arrested CPI MP from Jagatsinghpur Bibhu Prasad Tarai was when he was trying to enter the proposed steel plant site of Posco ahead of a rally to protest the project. CPI has planned a rally to be addressed by senior party leader A B Bardhan on May 19.

Police said the MP was was arrested as a preventive measure to avoid any law and order problem. Similarly, Congress leaders Umesh Swain and Jayanta Biswal were also arrested. Tterming his arrest as “undemocratic”, Tarai said he was proceeding to learn about people’s problem area which falls under his constituency, Jagatsinghpur.

PPSS leaders said the activists had drawn a “laxman rekha (boundary)” at Balitutha to prevent police and government officials from entering into the area as the locals were against setting up of any industry which would displace them and snatch away their source of livelihood.

Ever since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the company and the state in June 2005, the project has seen intense opposition from villagers of three panchayats—Dinkia, Nuagaon, and Gadkujang—who stand to loose their livelihood, land and homesteads if the project goes through.

Meanwhile, CPI has called a bandh in the area protesting the arrest of its MP.

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Police-crack-down-on-antiPosco-agitators-20-injured/619248/

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Posted in News

Appeal for Endorsements

leave a comment »

Dear all,   The situation in Orissa in the wake of conerted police attacks on peaceful dissenters (both in Kalinganagar and Jagatsingpur districts) in what we call a democracy is extremely grim at the moment.    Please endorse this statement addressed to the Prime Minister of India if you agree, and also send fax/e-mails to the various offices listed below in large number, so as to put pressure on the government that the whole world is watching the mayhem and people are not silent in approval of such daylight murder of democracy.   The appeal is pasted below as well as attched in a doc file. Please send your endorsement by replying to this mail (subrat69@gmail.com), circulate widely, and send fax/e-mails to the following.   In solidarity, Subrat     Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 / 2301 9545; e-mail: manmohan@sansad.nic.in

Smt Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the UPA, Fax: +91 11 23018651; e-mail: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in Shri P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Fax: 91 11 23094221; e-mail: pchidambi@yahoo.co.in

Rahul Gandhi Fax. (011) 23012410; e-mail: office@rahulgandhi.in

Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court,Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE ONGOING MAYHEM IN ORISSA

15 May 2010

New Delhi

To

Dr Manmohan Singh

Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India

Sub: Appeal to immediately intervene in Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces are crushing India’s democratic values in broad daylight

Sir,

We, a group of concerned citizens of this country, are shocked and anguished at the current situation in Jajpur and Jagatsingpur districts of Orissa where police and paramilitary forces have been sent by the state government to crush people’s democratic dissent in the most undemocratic and unbecoming way.

The Kalinganagar area where a TATA steel plant is proposed by the state government is under siege by the forces since 30 March 2010. Villages have been destroyed, people have been forced to move out and take refuge in the forest, and no one – journalists, medical teams, or activists – is allowed to go in there.

It is extremely shocking to learn that one tribal man, named Lakshman Jamuda (55), was killed and many severely injured in police firing in Kalinganagar on 12 May 2010. To hush up the incriminating act by the state government, the police took away Jamuda’s body to Puri and got it cremated by one of his distant relatives, instead of handing over his body to the immediate family members.

To make matters worse, in blatant disregard of  Constitutional values, the state government has today sent at least 40 platoons of police force to Balitutha in Jagatsinghpur district – the entry place for the proposed POSCO project area – where hundreds of villagers of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) are sitting in a peaceful demonstration since 26 January 2010 to express their dissent against the proposed plant, which is a fundamental right of the people going to be affected by the plant. Instead of coming to dialogue with the people – as they should in any democracy – the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police are rather leading the forces with a well-planned attack on peaceful demonstrators.

The presence of massive police forces also suggests the state’s desperation to facilitate corporate businesses in exchange of country’s valuable natural resources, peoples’ secured lives and livelihoods. This is absolutely undemocratic and not necessary. We are grieved to note that such moves by the state smack of trading basic democratic values for corporate interests, and are not at all in the national interest in any way.

Thus, we the group of concerned citizens of this country, request you to intervene to uphold people’s faith in democracy and their right to democratic resistance, and withdraw the police forces from these areas immediately. After establishing peace in these areas, you must also ensure that the state come to dialogue with the people of Jagatsingpur and Jajpur who are peacefully resisting to protect their lands, resources and identity – i.e., fundamental rights of citizens in any democracy.

Yours sincerely,

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

UAC activists may intensify stir against Posco project

leave a comment »

BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar May 15, 2010, 0:01 IST

The activists of the United Action Committee, a purportedly pro-Posco outfit active in the Posco steel project site near Paradip, have threatened to oppose the project if the district administration deploys police force in the ‘peace zone’ of the project area.

Terming two panchayats-Nuagaon and Gadkujang and Noliasahi village in the project site as peaceful areas with overwhelming support for the project, the UAC activists have strongly criticized the decision of the Jagatsinghpur district administration to deploy police forces at these places.

Stating that the presence of police in these areas would scare the peace-loving villagers, the UAC members threatened to intensify stir against the project if the administration went ahead with the plan.

Vice President of UAC, Nirvaya Samantray and other members including Tamil Pradhan, Anadi Rout, Sarat Swain and Saumendra Nayak said, the socio economic survey, identification of land and boundaries, panchayat elections and other welfare activities have been done in the Posco areas with the help of strong support of the local villagers.

“There is no sign of violence and assault on Posco and other district officials. Rather, we are ready to extend cooperation to expedite work on the Posco project and this obviates the need to deploy police forces in the peace zone”, said sarpanch of Gadkujang, Nakula Sahoo.

Meanwhile, the UAC has sent a message to the district administration to start discussion with the villagers on issues pertaining to the compensation package and rehabilitation of Posco affected persons.

Special Land Acquisition Officer of Paradip, Nrusingh Swain said, the district administration has received the suggestion. He confirmed that rehabilitation, compensation and other issues will be finalized with the consent of villagers and police forces have been deployed for the safety of villagers and officials.

It may be noted that 25 platoons of police forces have been deployed at Kujang and nearby areas with an intention to drive away the anti-Posco agitators who have been squatting on the Balitutha bridge, the entry point of the project site, since January 26, 2010 blocking the entry of government and Posco officials into the project area.

Protesting the police action, Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), the organization spearheading the anti-Posco movement in the state, is observing Mass Resistance Week from May 13-20 at Balitutha.

The anti-land acquisition leaders who congregated at Balituthta alleged that the state government was acquiring land forcefully with the help of forces at Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadkujang panchyats.

They have vowed not to allow the state government to acquire even an inch of land for the project.

Meanwhile, PPSS has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia, Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik and chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission to withdraw the forces in the interest of the affected villagers.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/uac-activists-may-intensify-stir-against-posco-project/394970/

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 10:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tension mounts in Posco area: CPI MP arrested

leave a comment »

KalingaTimes Correspondent
Jagatsinghpur, May 15: Communist Party of India Lok Sabha Member from Jagatsinghpur Bibhu Tarai was taken into custody in the wee hours today for venturing into the villages where people were opposing the Posco steel project.

Tarai was stopped and arrested at around 2 am when he was on his way to Balitutha where those opposing Posco project are on dharna since January 26, according to Prasant Paikray, spokesperson of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Tarai’s arrest was a preventive measure, police said.

Meanwhile, tension mounted at Balitutha as hundreds of armed policemen had reached to clear the road blockade by the villagers opposing land acquisition for the proposed steel project.

Prohibitory orders had been clamped in the area and district administration officials had reached Balitutha and asked the protestors to end their dharna and vacate the place.

Several senior leaders of CPI had reached Balitutha to express their solidarity with the villagers.

Balitutha is the entry point to the land selected for the Posco project and the Sangram Samiti has announced not to allow the administration or company officials to the place.

Thousands of people in three gram panchayats are facing displacement for the steel project of the South Korean company.

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 8:09 am

Posted in News

Police Offensive on Anti-POSCO struggle

leave a comment »

Dear All,

As reported yesterday, 40 platoons of police were deployed near Balitutha in Jagatsinghpur in Orissa where people are resisting ,against POSCO project and are sitting on a protest demo since 26

January 2010. The police force is now marching towards the protest site and the DM of the area is leading the march now (15 May 2010 -10am IST). Some of us have called the SP Debadutta Singh who is at the site now and he says that they will charge the people. When asked why there is a force approaching people, his non-chalant answer was “these people are not allowing the government to enter the area. We will use force today to facilitate the entry of the government officials to the area. I am here and will use the force.”

There are around 700 local people sitting in the dharna at present and their lives alongwith others in the area are in danger. This brutal treatment by the state must be stopped and we all have to do whatever we can to get the force leave the area immediately. Please use all your contacts to help the anti-POSCO activists who have all along shown tremendous strength in fighitng against the steel giant POSCO and the state brutalities. This is an appeal to all human rights organisation across the globe to respond to this situation urgently.

Please call the following people:

1- Superintendent of Police (Debadutta Singh) at 09437094678

2- Naveen Pattnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa

Tel. No.(O) 0674- 2531100,2535100 (FAX)

Tel. No.(R) 0674- 2590299, 2591099,2590844,2591100,2590833

Email : cmo@ori.nic.in

3- Prime Minister of India – Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of

India, + 91 11 2301 6857

manmohan@sansad.nic.in

Your urgent action is needed. Let us not let another Kalinganagar,

Kashipur or Narayanpatna happen again.

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 7:04 am

Posted in Event Notices, Reports

Anti-Posco agitation: CPI MP held in Orissa district

leave a comment »

STAFF WRITER 10:37 HRS IST

Paradip (Orissa), May 15 (PTI) CPI leader and MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai was arrested today while trying to enter the proposed steel plant site of Posco-India ahead of a rally to protest the project, police said.

“Tarai was arrested as a preventive measure to avoid any law and order problem as a large number of anti-Posco activists have gathered in the area,” SP Jagatsinghpur Devdutta Singh said.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed around Balitutha, the entry point to the proposed plant site where anti-Posco activists have been staging a dharna, he said.

Police personnel have been deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident, Singh said.

About 1,500 police have been mobilised as part of Orissa government’s efforts to begin forest survey and land acquisition in the plant site, police said.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/653880_Anti-Posco-agitation–CPI-MP-held-in-Orissa-district

Written by janjagriti

May 15, 2010 at 7:01 am

Posted in News

Action Alert: PPSS fears repression; appeal for solidarity

leave a comment »

Dear friends:

We need your help urgently. As many of you are aware, the Korean Steel giant, POSCO (Pohang Steel) is touted to be moving forward with its plans building a steel mill in Jagatsingpura in north-east Orissa. The mill, also involves mining at Keonjhar and a new port just north of Paradip. In all, over 30 villages are targets for forced displacement and have been in continuous protest in one form or the other for the last two years or more under the leadership of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. Currently the govt of Orissa has issued a Feb 10th deadline on filing for compensation and there has been a rapid build of police forces over the last 48 hours. A PPSS dharana is in its second week now and the threat of an attack on the people and forced entry into the lands and occupation by govt forces looms large. Please call the Chief Minister Orissa – Naveen Panaik and the Chief Sect Environments and Forest Govt of Orissa, Mr U N Behara ASAP. Ask them to immediately stop all plans of forced occupation of land and instead seek the immediate implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Remind them that the project will effect both adivasis and non adivasis, a delicate eco system with a rumenurative betel leaf cultivation system and a unified movement against POSCO.

We would like to hear the responses and so write back to us with a brief note on the response. Attached below is a Press Release from PPSS and a brief article that appeared in the mainstream press three days ago. ONCE AGAIN, Please make ur calls ASAP. Best time to cal would be 10 30 Pm — 7 AM.

CALL:
Naveen Patnaik
Cm, Orissa
Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,
011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163
Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,
011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,

CALL:
U N Behara
Principal Sect Environment and Forests
Phone: 011 91 674 2595503 / 011 91 674 2536822

——————

PRESS RELEASE:
URGENT! Fear of attack on Anti-POSCO movement

Balitutha, Orissa: The threat of state and company sponsored violence looms large over hundreds of farmers sitting on an indefinite dharna at Balitutha in Jagatsinghpur district against the Orissa government’s pet POSCO steel project.

Since 26 January this year the farmers have been carrying out their peaceful protest against fresh attempts by the Naveen Patnaik regime to acquire their land on behalf of the South Korean steel corporation. “We are expecting police action any time soon including an attack on our leader Abhay Sahoo by goons hired by the company,” said a spokesperson of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi (PPSS), which has spearheaded the agitation against the project for the past five years.

Over 30,000 farmers are expected to lose their lands and livelihood if the US$12 billion project, billed as India’s largest Foreign Direct Investment, is implemented. POSCO signed an MoU with the Orissa government in mid-2005, for the setting up of an integrated steel and power plant, a private port and mining of over 600 million tonnes of Orissa’s high grade iron ore.

For the steel and power plants alone the project needs around 4004 acres, of which 3566 acres is government owned forest and revenue land but 438 acres belongs to local farmers who are refusing to part with it. The PPSS apprehends that over 25 platoons of police are being brought in to surround the farmers sitting on dharna at Balitutha, which is at the entrance to the land that belongs to them. As per a letter issued by the Collector of Jagatsinghpur District on January 19 this year Palli Sabhas in the project area have been asked to obtain approval of local bodies about the ‘diversion of their lands under forest category to POSCO’ by February 10th.

On February 3 however, at a meeting of Palli Sabha of Nuagaon village all the 700 participants unanimously disapproved of the move. In a resolution passed at the Palli Sabha they said that such lands were being used by people for cultivation and housing since last 300 years and in no case they can be handed over to POSCO. Other Palli Sabhas in the area are expected to pass similar resolutions. PPSS activists say, faced with the firm opposition to the POSCO project and land acquisition the Orissa adminstration is getting desperate and plans to remove the farmers by force. On February 1 the state government issued a notice in various newspapers that if the people fail to file their claims for compensation within fifteen days, they will get nothing at all.

The PPSS dharna has found support around the country with leaders of trade unions and people’s movements visiting the protestors sitting on dharna. Those participating in the dharna include leaders of leaders of the All India Trade Union Congress from different states and the Orissa Bidi Workers and Domestic Workers Associations.

For further information contact:

Prashant Paikray, spokesperson, PPSS at Ph: (0) 9437571547.

Written by janjagriti

February 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Orissa HC issues notices after fresh plea against Posco

leave a comment »

http://www.domain-b.com/companies/companies_p/posco/20110521_orissa_hc_issues_oneView.html

Posco’s troubled steel plant in Orissa may have hit yet another roadblock, as the Orissa high court on Friday issued notices to the state and central governments and Posco India on a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging illegal forest clearance after final permission was granted to Posco for its plant in Jagatsinghpur district.

A division bench of chief justice V Gopal Gowda and justice B N Mohapatra issued the notices after preliminary hearing on the PIL and adjourned the matter for further hearing on 25 May.

Meanwhile, renewed land acquisition for the project has got off to a shaky start.

Ending a nine-month hiatus, the Orissa government on Wednesday resumed the acquisition process, obtaining around 1.5 acres from the possession of 11 betel vine farmers.

However, by Friday, agitators had set up a roadblock, while many villagers whose land was to be acquired did not turn up for identification.

The PIL has been filed by Nishakar Khatua and five others of Gobindapur village under Dhinkia panchayat of Jagatsinghpur district, where the proposed 12 million tonnes per annum steel plant is proposed to be set up.

They have stated that the forest clearance granted to the company has been done contrary to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006.

Challenging several central and state government circulars and orders in favour of Posco, the petitioners have also questioned the actions of different departments of the Orissa government in the matter.

Submitting more than 25 annexures in the plea, the petitioners have listed the union ministries of environment and forests and tribal affairs, Posco, and six departments of the Orissa government as opposite parties. The high court has issued notices to all the opposite parties.

The petitioners claim that they are directly affected by the illegal order purporting to forest clearance and diversion of forest land to Posco as they belong to ‘other forest dwellers’ as per the Forest Rights Act.

The petition also claims that out of 1620.496 hectares of land earmarked for setting up the steel plant, about 1253.225 hectares is forest land, including 68.98 hectares of Jatadhar Reserve Forest, 1106.877 of Dhinkia-Nuagaon protected forest, 27.68 hectares of Noliasahi protected forest and 49.688 hectares of revenue forest.

”Around 74 per cent of the total land to be utilised for the proposed steel plant thus comes under the forests category and there are at least 3,578 families, including the petitioners are going to be affected in terms of livelihood for diversion of forest land and for displacement,” the petition said.

The petition has urged the court to direct the state government not to take any coercive action using police to remove the petitioners from forest land under their occupation. It has also sought a direction to the state government to stop all work on the Posco project until disposal of the petition.

The centre had stopped land acquisition for the project on 5 August, 2010 over alleged forest law violations, but on 2 May union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh granted final clearance to Orissa for diversion of 1,253 hectares of forest land for the Korean steelmaker’s facility, which promises to be the country’s biggest foreign direct investment at $12 billion.

Written by janjagriti

May 23, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Articles

Palli Sabha Resolutions

leave a comment »

Written by janjagriti

May 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Articles

Iron and Steal: The POSCO-India Story

leave a comment »

Iron-and-Steal- MZPSG report

This report presents a comprehensive analysis of the claims advanced by the State and Central governments and the POSCO company itself, of the various benefits that would accrue to “the people”, and the total addition to the state economy due to this project. Going beyond the standard narratives of revenues and cash flow, this report investigates the actual impacts of the POSCO project on the residents of Jagatsinghpur, Keonjhar and Sundergarh, where the steel plant, the port, and the mines will be set up—the same “people” in whose name the POSCO project has been so vigorously pushed by the government of Orissa.  The report also looks at the pivotal roles played by the various institutions of the government in justifying and implementing this project, many times in an undemocratic, illegal and coercive manner. Finally, this report offers a critical evaluation of the only cost-benefit analysis of the POSCO project done so far, conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in 2007, and highlights the fundamental flaws in its methodology and its conclusions.

For more visit

http://miningzone.org/campaigns/posco/iron-and-steal

Written by janjagriti

May 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Articles

Letter to Prime Minister on corruption and POSCO

leave a comment »

18 May 2011
To: The Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

In the context of the recent national debates on corruption, we wish to draw your attention to another ongoing case in which both State and Central officials are blatantly favouring a private multinational company – Pohang Steel Corporation (POSCO) – in violation of law. There is enough information in the public domain for us to suspect criminal collusion between this company and government officials.

The proposed POSCO steel project in Orissa is incredibly lucrative – POSCO will make an estimated profit of Rs. 1,95,000 crores over the life of the project (Rs. 6,500 crore per year after all expenses) just on the basis of having captive iron ore mines. The fact that corporates are making super profits from our natural resources is today a national issue; the faith of the public in regulatory institutions is already deeply shaken. We cannot see any difference between the recent handover of 2G spectrum and the seeming collusion in the POSCO case, where it seems that equally valuable resources – iron ore, land, water, a natural harbour – are being sought to be given to a private company “on the cheap” without complying with the law. As such, the public has a right to know what has happened. It is vital that a transparent, public investigation is held into the actions of State and Central officials in this case. A few examples of such actions are as follows:

  • A criminal complaint has been filed by villagers in the proposed steel plant area against the District Collector for repeatedly lying on record. For instance, he claimed on 01.03.2011 that the land had no forest prior to 1930 – when six months earlier an Enquiry Committee had found that the government’s own maps show the villages as surrounded by forests in 1928. The Collector also claims there are no forest dwelling STs when the government’s own public notice showed compensation payments to two STs in July 2010 when a small area of land was illegally taken for the project. The criminal complaint was only filed after repeated representations to all State and Central authorities failed to elicit any action. The Environment Ministry, whose own committee had proved that these statements were false, simply carried on accepting them without a murmur.
  • The behaviour of the Environment Ministry itself is deeply suspect. It is notable that the first environmental clearance for this project was given in May 2007, when A. Raja was the Environment Minister. Since then, and especially after December 2009, the Ministry has adopted a “musical chairs” approach; every time a violation has been exposed, the Ministry has shifted the focus to some other issue, trying to appear “sensitive” while condoning the illegality. Committee after committee reached the same conclusion that the Forest Rights Act had been violated; their findings were simply buried and never referred to again. Every violation of environmental law that was raised was converted into a vague “condition” and left to the company to implement. Such actions show systematic bias and a deep contempt for the law.
  • According to a report in the Telegraph newspaper on April 20th, POSCO-India claims to have spent Rs. 3,000 crores on the project so far – while employing less than 80 people, and without beginning any construction. What has this money been spent on?
  • The majority report of the POSCO Enquiry Committee exposed that minutes of official meetings were being changed to favour the company and that there was pressure from the Finance Ministry during the environment clearance process. This finding too was ignored. After giving his final decision on this project the Environment Minister gave a speech on May 6th in which he declared that he is sometimes “forced to… condone environmental violations.” Meanwhile, the requirement for the consent of the gram sabhas (village assemblies) for diversion of forest land – intended to make the process open and democratic, and the only opportunity for real public control – has been entirely ignored. To ignore democratic processes required by law, while engaging in backdoor manipulation, is a particularly noxious form of corruption.

As citizens of this country we have a right to know how and why our natural resources are being handed over to this company and why these decisions were taken. We therefore call upon the State and Central governments to:

  • grant sanction for prosecution of the District Collector and ensure that the case is investigated by the CBI;
  • initiate a public judicial inquiry into the actions of Central and State agencies and into expenditure by the POSCO company;
  • prosecute those found guilty of criminal offences by the inquiry;
  • Halt all steps to implement this project pending the completion of these processes.

Sincerely

Prashant Bhushan, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform
Arvind Kejriwal, Parivartan India
Swami Agnivesh, President, World Council of Arya Samaj
Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan and member, National Advisory Council
Vandana Shiva, Navdanya

__._,_.___

Written by janjagriti

May 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Articles

Urgent Appeal from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) 6th of May 2011.

leave a comment »

We appeal to one and all to strongly condemn the decision of the Minister of State for Environment and Forest, Govt. of India. Mr. Jaiaram Ramesh for giving final forest and environmental clearance to POSCO Company for use of 1253 hectare of forest land in our area. This clearance is given on the basis of compliance report made by the Odisha government which is factually and legally incorrect and misleading.

Mr. Jairam Ramesh and the state government of Odisha disrespected the resolution of Palli sabha  (Village council ) that opposed any handover of land to the proposed project.  As per section 6 of the Forest Rights Act 2006 villagers of Dhinkia and Govindpur organised Palli Sabhas on 21st and 23rd of February 2011 respectively. We had sent the copies of the resolutions to the Odisha government authorities and the Environment Ministry for their information.  The government authorities deliberately suppressed facts and declared in the government’s submission to the MOEF that such resolutions were fake and said that ‘only 69 and 64 signatures respectively were put in the Dhinkia and Govindpur Palli Sabha resolutions’. However, in reality,  out of 2445 total number of voters in Dhinkia village, 1632 persons  and out of 1907 total number of voters in Govindpur village, 1265 persons signed on the Palli Sabha Resolutions. We are attaching herewith the Palli Sabha  notices, notices to Executive officer, and resolutions  of Dhinkia and Govindpur village for your information. More than 65 % of the villagers participated in both the Palli Sabhas and passed the resolutions rejecting the proposal for diversion of land.

It is a matter of great concern that the Ministry of Environment & Forest in collusion with the Government of Odisha has deliberately chosen to overlook the key issues raised by us on the illegalities committed in the forest and environment clearance process. The MOEF and the Government of Odisha has fraudulently raised the issue of Palli Sabhas to sidestep statutory requirements for forest and environmental clearance.  The central issue which the ministry and the Odisha government has avoided is the compliance to the requirements under the Forest Rights Act particularly Section 4 (5) and the MOEF guidelines issued in August 2009 which obligates the state government to ensure completion of the Forest Rights Act and to obtain the consent of Gram Sabha in the areas proposed for diversion of forest land. In fact this is the ground for the Ministry’s issuing stop work order on 5th August 2010. Subsequent visit and fact finding by the Saxena committee and the Meena Gupta committee has substantiated our claim and proved beyond doubt that there are other traditionally forest dwellers in the proposed areas depending traditionally on the forests for their livelihood, that sufficient documentary evidence is available which shows the existence of forest rights (which is also available with the ministry) and that the FRA is not implemented by the state government in the area. Based on the Meena Gupta committee’s report the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has recommended withdrawal of forest clearance. The state government has been repeatedly denying the existence of tribal in the proposed project area whereas the census 2001 confirms the presence of tribal people.  We have also submitted concrete evidences that there are tribals in our area who are cultivating the forest land.  In July 2010, the state administration by use of force illegally occupied the land of two tribals  Sh.Ramachandra Murmu and Sh. Rajendra Hembram of Polang village.  There are number of other instances where the government is suppressing the facts and figures.

On 29th of April 2011, Mr. Jairam Ramesh visited Odisha and raised the questions about  the raw material requirements and its sources and the new MOU with POSCO. On that particular day, we  demonstrated in huge numbers and  asking Mr. Ramesh to withdraw the provisional forest, environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances.  But to our shock and utter surprise, on 2nd of May 2011, he gave the final forest and environmental clearance. This is nothing other than double standards shown by Jairam Ramesh who has used the smoke screen tactics to ward off people’s anger while preparing for complete capitulation to interest of private profit.

The initial rejection by Ramesh of the compliance report sent by the state government (submitted on 13th April 2011) giving assurance about the non-existence of OTFDs in our area created the impression  that Ramesh and the central government are respectful of law and opinion of the citizen of the country. However, the final order only exposed the true character of the Minister and the central government.

It is learnt that POSCO was one of the mega projects which was cleared by the then Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forest, A Raja. This decision was taken in haste on 15th of May 2007, exactly a month after the controversial statutory Environmental Public Hearing on the project was held, which involved major human rights violations. The unseemly haste by which Raja cleared the POSCO project was a strong indicator of favourable decisions that were meant to follow. In view of the recent forest clearance granted by the MOEF it becomes amply clear that in addition to the violation of forest and environment clearance, the POSCO project clearance is also a part of the corruption trail of the present political set up. Hence the ongoing CBI enquiry on the corruption involved in the 2G spectrum allocation should also include the investigation into the corruptions involved in the POSCO project.

POSCO claimed to have spent R329.15 crore for the proposed Project. We want to know where and how POSCO has spent these money. We are strongly demanding a CBI enquiry to find out the details of expenses and how much money has been used to bribe the politicians and bureaucrats.

It’s not quite unknown that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has been keen to see the project gets necessary clearance. The manner in which the final clearance came shows that the PM and the Environment Minister could go to any extent in disregarding  the legislations passed by Parliament (FRA) and resolutions by sovereign Palli Sabha to accommodate the interest of South Korean Company-POSCO. It is now confirmed that for the sovereignty of India is at peril till Manmohan Singh, Jairam Ramesh and Naveen Patnaik (Chief Minister of Odisha) like people are holding top positions.

Jairam Ramesh’s statement about ‘faith and trust in federalism’ confirmed the collusion between the centre and the state against its own people. At this juncture, we appeal to all citizens to write condemnation letters to PMO, Environment Minister and Chief Minister of Odisha,  and protect the rights and sovereign will of the people of India. Otherwise the day that the country is divided piece by piece by corporate cartels’ to serve their greed won’t be very far away, and the governments by then would have completely lost their credibility and legitimacy.

We will soon decide the future course of our democratic struggle to thwart POSCO from entering our area to protect our land and livelihoods.

Kindly circulate the appeal widely.

In Solidarity,

Prashant Paikary

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

Mobile no – 09437571547

 

Please send your letter in the following adddresses

1.     Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. manmohan@sansad.nic.in

2.     Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forest, CGO Complex, Lodi Road, Paryavaran Bhavan, New Delhi-3  jairam@sansad.nic.in

3.     Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa, Address: Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road, P.O.-Bhubaneswar, Dist.-Khurda Pin -751001(Orissa), Tel. No.(O) 0674- 2531100,2535100 (FAX) Tel. No.(R) 0674- 2590299, 2591099,2590844,2591100,2590833, Email : cmo@ori.nic.in

4.     Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

5.     Mr. T. Theethan, IAS, The Joint Secretary, National Commission for SC, 5th Floor, ‘B’ Wing, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110103, India. Email: jointsecretary-ncsc@nic.in

Written by janjagriti

May 6, 2011 at 6:26 am

Posted in Articles

Revoke the illegal clearance to the POSCO project

leave a comment »

Press Release New Delhi, 4 May 2011

A mercenary ministry and a habitual-liar state cannot strangle democracy to death

The ‘final forest clearance’ by the MoEF to the controversial POSCO project in Orissa on 2 May 2011, is a shocking assault on Indian democracy. It makes it clear that all talk of ‘inclusive democracy’ and ‘inclusive development’ by the government is a sham, to be abandoned whenever politically expedient. The central government’s order is based itself on the blatant lies of the government of Odisha, giving short shrift to facts, provisions of law, and democratic processes. The UPA government that misses no opportunity to trumpet loud about a ‘working democracy’ under its leadership has shamelessly sold the laws of the land to the highest bidder—and practically for a loss. The facts are as follows. 1. The glaring fact is that the FRA requirements were not met in the first place. Even if the state government fraudulently rejected the resolutions passed by the Palli Sabhas, the state government never produced Palli Sabha certificates either, as required by the MoEF vide its various orders. That means that the Act was never implemented as per the state government’s own admission; and the MoEF itself too says no resolution was ever passed to initiate the process of recognition of rights (page 2, para 9). Therefore, to acquire the land is a “criminal offence”. Without the settlement of rights through legal process, the government simply does not own this land and certainly has no right to give it away. Doing so is daylight robbery, and the MoEF’s order dated 2 May 2011 makes it equally culpable in this crime! 2. Both the Odisha government and the MoEF have told barefaced lies. The Odisha government claims that the land was not forest in 1930 when their own maps say otherwise. Both say that there were no quorums in the meetings of the Palli Sabha where the resolutions were passed and that the resolutions were signed by only 60 odd people, where in reality more than 70% villagers attended the meetings, and the full set of signatures (more than 2000) was sent by registered AD post to the Odisha Government as evidence; the MoEF has copies of these evidences on its table. But, by showcasing a fake resolution sent by the state government with 34 signatures, the MoEF now decides to champion the unashamed lies of the Odisha government by resorting to the wholly specious argument that the principle of “cooperative federalism” compels it to accept the state government’s versions! …So much for democracy! Even less for the rule of law! 3. While indulging in this extremely dubious legerdemain, the MoEF has conveniently forgotten that this project is an “environmental disaster”. Not a single one of the objections raised by the Enquiry Committee, set up by the MoEF itself, in October last year was ever addressed. The Committee specifically said “Potentially very serious impacts…have not even been assessed, leave alone planned for … The cavalier and reckless attitude of the concerned authorities to such potentially disastrous impacts is horrendous and shocks the collective conscience of the Committee … There appears to be a predominant belief that conditionalities in the EIA/CRZ clearances are a substitute for comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the environmental impact by the authorities. Imposing vague conditionalities seems to be a way out for the various agencies from taking hard decisions on crucial issues.” – it is not us who said this – it is the Ministry’s own Committee! And yet, the Minister has chosen to do exactly the opposite. 4. Independent studies have shown that this project will result in a net loss of employment; that the company has wildly exaggerated employment and tax revenues; and that the project is a net loss to the Indian economy. Why then is the project being pushed in this manner? Is it the new-found wisdom of “cooperative federalism” or principles of the so-called “inclusive growth”? 5. The most intriguing part of the whole travesty is that, as on today, there is no MoU existing between the government and the company for the project; the MoU expired in June 2010. Yet, land acquisition has been allowed! How? Are we living in a democracy bound by laws? The Minister further states that he passed the order of August 2009 – making compliance to FRA mandatory before diverting any forest land – when he “was under no pressure or obligation to do so.” We beg to differ – the law required it. Apparently, the Minister thinks that he is never subject to any “obligation” to follow the law or respect people’s rights, as this order on POSCO reflects. If he wants to “repose trust” in a state government that has been habitually lying on record to his ministry, he is breaking his oath to the Constitution and should resign. The MoEF order on POSCO goes on to say that the “implementation of the FRA 2006 and August 2009 guideline is “a learning and evolving process…” We are not familiar with this novel concept. A law is either followed or not followed. To allow diversion of forest land by issuing an order without implementing the laws is a “criminal offence”. A crime cannot be “a learning and evolving process”. The fact, as proved by the host of scams and scandals that beset this government, is that it has now mastered the art of violating “clearance” procedures for devastating corporate projects—simply impose a string of “stringent conditions” (whatever they mean) that will never be enforced. By giving the POSCO project a go-ahead, the UPA government has once again shown how little the lives or rights of people mean to it. It has torn its own “landmark law” to shreds. It is pushing a project that its own enquiry committee had labelled “an environmental disaster in the making”. Now this government, through its Minister, seeks to hide its lies, and justify its wholly illegal actions by recourse to trite platitudes about not only “doing the right thing but doing the thing right”. How do you do a “wrong” thing right! In January 2011, the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) had warned, “It is not the meaningless orders of a mercenary government that will decide the fate of the POSCO project, but the tears and blood of our people.” We demand: 1. Immediate withdrawal of clearance to the POSCO project 2. A high-level enquiry be set up to investigate the series of fraudulence at the hands of the Orissa government as well as the MoEF that led to the issuing of this clearance order, and the culprits and collaborators be punished severely in order to re-establish people’s faith in democracy 3. The agitating people of the proposed project area be directly consulted, in the presence of independent observers, to ascertain their true wishes in a fair and transparent manner Issued by: POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity (PPS-Delhi) in association with NFFPFW, CSD, NAPM, INSAF, and others Contact: Mamata Dash (9868259836); Souparno Lahiri (9818147740); Anil Chaudhury (9811119347); Madhuresh (9818905316)

Written by janjagriti

May 5, 2011 at 10:14 am

Posted in Articles

PPSS CONDEMNS MoEF GRANTING OF FOREST CLEARANCE

leave a comment »

POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI
Villages Nuagaon, Gadkujang, Dhinkia; Erasama Block, Jagatsinghpur District, Odisha
02.05.2011

To:
Shri Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests

Sub: Further brazen falsehoods by the Odisha government

Dear Shri Ramesh,

In regard to the Odisha government’s letter of April 29th, while reserving our right to reply further, please consider:

• As per the Ministry’s order of July 30, 2009 and clarification on the POSCO final clearance (8.1.2010), certificates
from the palli sabha consenting to the diversion of forest land, and stating that the FRA has been implemented, are
required. The state government has not supplied these. Without certificates from the palli sabhas the project cannot go ahead and the Ministry cannot permit it to do so, except by violating the law and its own orders.

• The government has simply lied about the palli sabha resolutions. It claims there were only 69 and 64 signatures on
the resolutions, but the hard copies of the full resolution – with more than 70% quorum in both Dhinkia and
Gobindpur villages – were sent by registered post A/D to all Odisha government authorities and to the Ministry. We
believe that the Odisha government has deliberately used the scanned electronic copies sent to you, whose covering letter explicitly stated that only the first page of signatures was being included. The hard copies are already with you, and the veracity of their statements can easily be checked. We have already established that these are valid.

• Besides, while accusing the villagers of having not met quorum, the government cites a “resolution” signed by
34 people (in a village of 1907 people) as proof of implementing the Forest Rights Act. Does quorum only
apply to resolutions sent by us and not to ones sent by them? Can there be any better proof that they have not
implemented the Act, and therefore that diversion would be illegal, as correctly stated in the April 14th letter?

• Moreover, the government is in any case required to submit palli sabha certificates on the issue of forest diversion
for POSCO (not general “resolutions” as enclosed in this letter). It has never done so. The easiest way to settle this
dispute is to let the government call a palli sabha on this issue; we have no objection. Neutral State, Central and civil
society observers should be present to certify that it took place as per law.

• We reiterate that the Ministry now has written, indisputable proof of lies by the State government. In addition to the
above, the government still says the land was not forest in 1930 when their own revenue maps and the Survey of
India prove that it was. The current letter includes exactly the same set of false statements that were made to the
POSCO Enquiry Committee and proved false in chapter 3 of the majority report. Is the Ministry going to take no
action on these blatant lies, told to it so brazenly? Is the Ministry’s statutory authority a joke to be toyed
with? We and other pro-people forces intend to pursue all possible legal avenues against those responsible for these
gross falsehoods, and call upon the Ministry to also do so, if only to preserve the dignity of its authority.
We also reiterate that there are STs cultivating forest land, and two of them lost their lands to the takeover in July 2010, as proven by the government’s own records. There are fishworkers with recorded rights that would be eligible under the Forest Rights Act. Are the rights of all of these people going to be ignored? Further, the illegalities in the environment and CRZ clearance also appear to have been forgotten.

It is remarkable that the Ministry continues to take no action when the Odisha government and POSCO have broken clearance conditions, violated the Forest Rights Act and the EIA / CRZ notificaitons, challenged the Ministry’s authority and, finally, lied to the Ministry’s face. If this is not sufficient to require withdrawal of the clearances, we fail to understand what would be.

The individual claims process in this area was delayed by the failure of the government officials to respond to the notice of the Forest Rights Committee, and these claims are now expected to be approved by the palli sabhas of Dhinkia and Gobindpur later this week. The details will be communicated to the Ministry.

Sincerely,

(Abhay Sahoo)
Chairperson

Enclosed here with the Full story on sellout to POSCO

http://www.forestrightsact.com/corporate-projects/item/21


Written by janjagriti

May 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

Posted in Articles

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.