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Archive for July 2010

Setback to Posco land acquisition

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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.

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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*

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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

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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

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Stalled resurvey work resumes at Posco site

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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

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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

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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