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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
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Written by janjagriti

August 27, 2010 at 4:02 am

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