INDIA/SOUTH KOREA: Call for reconsideration of the POSCO project in Orissa 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following open letter from the Korean Civil Society Alliance to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

An Open Letter from the Korean Civil Society Alliance forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Minister Shri. Jairam Ramesh,
Ministry of Environment and Forests

Greetings and Peace from the Republic of Korea,

Most of all, Korean civil society has had an interest constantly on the Pohang Steel Company (POSCO)’s project launched in Orissa. We, Non-governmental Organizations(NGOs) of the Republic of Korea, had visited the State of Orissa, India, and completed to conduct the field research in the year of 2008 and 2010, and also had sent the open letter to the Meena Gupta Committee in September 2010. We are fully understanding of the POSCO’s project that was given the procedure of decision making on interruption of land purchase by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, on 5 August 2010, and waiting with a close attention on the Minister’s final decision that are known as scheduled in the end of this January.

We, NGOs of the Republic of Korea, would like to express our special respect on your sincere efforts to protect environment and human rights of natives in the project region to the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Forest Rights Act had been suggested as the right direction to the global community suffering from making a decision between development and villagers’ right to livelihood, and the decision on Vedanta was very courageous. All the companies that are trying to invest in India including Korean corporations should respect and follow the message suggested by the Ministry of Environment, India. It is the trustworthy way that makes the sustainable development possible for all the human beings.

We, NGOs of the Republic of Korea, confirmed that the POSCO project is clearly violated by the Forest Rights Act through the two field research as the Saxena Committee Report and the Meena Gupta Committee Majority Report has been pointed out. The development project proceeding without the legally appropriate procedure must be paid huge cost as an inevitable consequence. Regardless of violation on the Forest Right Act, POSCO and the Orissa government has been persuading the villagers who are strongly against the POSCO project for the last five years until now, however it has been failed. The villagers keep objecting to accept the compensation that POSCO has suggested to them and denying to move their residences.
If you, Minister Jairam Ramesh, approve the POSCO project even though the existing reports pointed the argumentative points of this POSCO project, your decision would not be supported. Most of all, it must make the villagers who has been suffered from the POSCO project for the last five years very disappointed. Korean civil societies also never want for you to proceed the project without any support. Executing of the project which is lack of legitimacy will face the stronger resistance to the POSCO project, and it will bear the serious human rights abuse related to the project, finally it will seriously hurt both POSCO and Korean civil society.

During such a long time, the experts of the Ministry of Environment and Forests have conducted the research over the POSCO project at the same time gone through the careful analysis procedure. As being well aware of the existing problems of the POSCO project, the Forest Advisory Committee and the Infrastructure and Coastal Zone Sub-committee of the Expert Appraisal Committee also have pointed out those problems.

Korean civil society sincerely hope to end the conflict on the POSCO project and to consider the problems on development, environment, and the human rights abuse of the villagers and to find the alternatives to both the Korean and Indian society which will be definitely affected by the decision of the Ministry of Environment, India. Also, POSCO will have the opportunity to be mature in terms of operating the legitimate project through “the right decision” of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, India. Here, “the right decision” means that everyone agrees and respects at the same time, it is the decision based on the truth.

We, NGOs of the Republic of Korea, believe that you, Minister Jairam Ramesh, will make the right and rational decision based on the truth and common sense.

January 28, 2011

Signed by the Korean Civil Society Alliance, below:

Amnesty International Korea
Catholic Human Rights Committee
Citizen’s Movement for Environmental Justice
Corporate for All
Dasan human rights centre
Korean House for International Solidarity
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
Network for Glocal Activism
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Public Interest Lawyers Group ‘Gonggam’
Sarangbang Group for Human Rights

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Document Type : Forwarded Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-FOL-003-2011
Countries : India, South Korea,
Issues : Environmental protection,