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Action Alert: PPSS fears repression; appeal for solidarity

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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.

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Written by janjagriti

February 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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