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Letter to Environment minister demanding immediate withdrawal of clearance granted

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6th January 2010

Shri Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex
New Delhi-110003

Dear Sir,

Sub: Grant of Final (Stage II) Forest Clearance to POSCO for proposed Steel Plant in Jagatsinghpur in Orissa – demand for immediate withdrawal of any clearance granted

As you are aware amongst the many projects in Orissa requiring ‘Forest Lands’ is POSCO’s 12 million TPA integrated steel plant project to be set up in Jagatsinghpur. News reports that the final clearance has been awarded to this project are indeed a matter of serious concern considering that the 2900 acres of land, the diversion of which has been given a clearance, is a contested domain, with community claims over the area. The following facts have been completely overlooked by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and MoEF, while granting the clearance:

1- Displacement of Livelihoods: The total land area sanctioned by the state government for the proposed project is 1,620 hectares, of which 1,426 hectares is government land and the rest private land. While the private land in question, pretty tiny in size, is mostly under paddy cultivation, the government land, 87% of which is under the jurisdiction of the forest department, has been under betel vine and cashew cultivation for decades, apart from having over 2 lakh casuarina, neem and mango trees and other coastal scrub. The diversion of this land would mean displacing the livelihoods of 471 families in the region apart from a complete destruction of the coastal ecosystem. The staunch opposition to the project as well as the diversion of forest land has been brought to the attention of the FAC before. (annexure: earlier petitions)

2- Violation of FRA 2006: The Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest-Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights Act, was enacted in 2006 and the rules for the Act were notified in January 2008. 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 Government of Orissa (GoO) is yet to initiate and complete the process of recognition of forest rights in the 2900 acres of land which has been diverted. This is a complete violation of the Forest Rights Act 2006. In March 2008 the palli sabha in Dhinkia had already passed a resolution citing sections 3(1)(i), 4(5) and 5 of the FRA and declaring that they did not consent to any proposed diversion.

3- Contravention of MoEF’s 30th July Circular: In keeping with the circular issued by the MoEF on 30th July 2009, the forest clearance to the project should not be given because the process of settlement of rights under the FRA 2006 is still not initiated therefore indicating non-compliance. The letter in no uncertain terms requires the consent of the Gram Sabhas prior to grant of any final clearances. No such consent has been obtained by POSCO, this violating the provisions of MoEF’s own advisory.

4- Mining Component related clearance reduced to a formality: The project proponent has also proposed for setting up of its mines (which is a component linked to this project) over 6000 hectares of forests in the Khandadhar region of Sundergarh. The same issues raised above are applicable there considering that about 12 panchayats would be affected. The indigenous Paudi Bhuiyan tribes reside here and have been depending on these forests for centuries for their survival. It seems that if a forest clearance is granted to the steel plant component, the same will eventually be done for the mines which are the integral component of the project. Hence the clearances for the mines have been reduced to a mere formality.

Based on the above we the undersigned reiterate that the diversion of Forest land towards the POSCO project is completely illegal and demand that the Forest Clearance granted to the project be immediately withdrawn/revoked.

Thank you.

Yours’ sincerely,

Endorsed by:

  1. Agrotosh Mookerjee, Norwich, UK
  2. AMAR KANWAR, Film Maker, New Delhi
  3. Anand Kapoor, Manchar, Pune
  4. Aniruddha Vaidya, Sunnyvale, California
  5. Arun Bidani, New Delhi
  6. Aseem Srivastav, New Delhi
  7. Ashok Agrwaal, Advocate, New Delhi
  8. Asit Das, Activist, New Delhi
  9. Balakrishna S. Pai, Advocate, Karwar
  10. Bhargavi S.Rao, Environment Support Group, Bangalore
  11. Bipin Kumar, The Other Media, New Delhi
  12. Budhaji Damse, Manchar, Pune
  13. Carbon Trade Watch, United Kingdom
  14. Dipak Ray Chaudhuri, Kolkata
  15. Dr. Manoranjan Mohanty, Academic, New Delhi
  16. Dunu Roy, New Delhi
  17. EQUATIONS, India
  18. Geetanjoy Sahu, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai
  19. Hartman de Souza, Goa.
  20. Heather Amos, United Kingdom
  21. Himanshu Thakkar, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People
  22. Johar, Jharkhand
  23. Jutta Kill, FERN, England
  24. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh
  25. Kavitha Kuruganti, Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab
  26. Kriti, New Delhi
  27. Kundan Kumar, Asst. Professor, University of Toronto
  28. Kusum Karnik, Manchar, Pune
  29. Living Farms, Orissa
  30. M Kikon, DICE Foundation, Nagaland
  31. Madhumita Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, Chennai
  32. Mamata Dash, Activist and Researcher, New Delhi
  33. Manju Menon, Kalpavriksh
  34. Manshi Asher, Activist, Himachal Pradesh
  35. Mohan Bhagat, Professor of Physics, Universtiy of Maryland, Md USA
  36. National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
  37. Nidhi Agarwal, Environment Research and Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
  38. Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist, Chennai
  39. Philip Kujur, BIRSA MMC, Jharkhand
  40. Ponni Arasu, New Delhi.
  41. R. Majumdar, Calcutta University
  42. Roger Moody, London
  43. Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  44. S.P. Verma, President, Science For Society, Bihar
  45. Sahana, Lawyer/Researcher, New Delhi
  46. Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik, Pune
  47. Sanjay Basu Mullick, JJBA, Jharkhand
  48. Sanjay Gawari, Manchar, Pune
  49. Satya Sivaraman, Film Maker and Activist, New Delhi
  50. Sayantoni Datta, New Delhi
  51. Shaweta Anand, New Delhi
  52. Shweta Narayan, Community Enviornmental Monitoring, Chennai
  53. Soumitra Ghosh, North Bengal NFFPFW, SIliguri, West Bengal
  54. Sreedhar, Environics Trust, New Delhi
  55. Subrat Kumar Sahu, Film Maker and Journalist
  56. Subrata Sinha, Former DDG, Geological Survey of India, Kolkata
  57. Sumit Chakraborty, Mainstream
  58. Tarini Manchanda, The Groundwater Up Project, Intercultural Resources, New Delhi
  59. Usha, Thanal, Trivandrum
  60. Wilfred D’Costa, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
  61. World Rainforest Movement
  62. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej aur ADHIKAR, Jharkhand

Written by janjagriti

January 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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