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Villages Nuagaon, Gadkujang, Dhinkia; Erasama Block, Jagatsinghpur District, Odisha

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.


(Abhay Sahoo)

Enclosed here with the Full story on sellout to POSCO

Written by janjagriti

May 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

Posted in Articles

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