INDIA/SOUTH KOREA: Condemn the decision of the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the clearance granted to the POSCO
We wish to share with you the following statement from the POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS).
Asian Human Rights Commission
We strongly condemn the decision of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Govt of India on 31st January 2010 for the clearance granted to the proposed POSCO Project to set up a 12 Metric ton per annum steel plant , a 400 megawatt power plant and a captive port in Jagatsingur district.
This conditional clearance has overlooked the observations and recommendations of two committees i.e. the N C Saxena committee and the majority members of the POSCO review committee (headed by Ms. Meena Gupta), both constituted by the MoEF itself. The Saxena Committee has termed illegal the land acquisition for this project as it violated the Forest
Rights Act, 2006. The report of the majority members of the POSCO Review Committee clearly states that there is gross violation of environmental laws, fabrication of evidence, suppression of information, and perpetuation of forest rights violations. They have pointed out that POSCO deliberately suppressed facts relating to the Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ).
They have also reported human rights violations by the state administration and the company in the proposed project area. The statutory body like the Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF made a unanimous decision to recommend withdrawal of the forest clearance. The majority members of Meena Gupta Panel recommended even prosecution of the authorities who violated the provisions of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and other environmental laws. Instead of taking action against all these violations, the ministry has given a clean
chit to these authorities and the company.
Earlier, the forest clearance granted to the project on December 29, 2009 had overlooked serious violations of the FRA, while the 2007 environmental clearance was in direct breach of environmental law. We strongly demand that these violations must be addressed under the rule of law and the violators punished.
The ministry has cleared the project with 60 conditions. But merely imposing “conditions” will achieve nothing when the entire forest and environmental clearance process is illegal and the entire project itself will have serious impacts on environment and livelihood of local people.
In fact we are not very much surprised at the decision given the pressure South Korea has been mounting on the PMO for early clearance of the project. This hints at the existing nexus between the POSCO Company and the government.
We strongly condemn the conditional clearance granted by the MoEF and demand this project be scrapped altogether. ‘We the People’ are supreme in the country. Notwithstanding the government’s honeymoon with POSCO, our democratic struggle will continue till POSCO itself withdraws from the area.
POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) organized a protest rally at Dhinkia against the recent MOEF decision on granting conditional clearances to steel-cum captive power plant and a captive minor port by POSCO Company. More than three thousand villagers both men and women in this rally decided that irrespective of the environment ministry’s decision, the six year long struggle against the proposed steel plant would not only continue but would
intensify. The slogans like “Shame on Jairam Ramesh”, “Shame on Naveen Patnaik” and "POSCO go back," were the echoed from the area. Our PPSS president Abhaya Sahoo said that as the MoEF has now betrayed the people we have no option but to resume agitation.
We have decided to resume road blockade from 2nd of February 2011 in order to prevent entry of administration, police and POSCO employees to our villages. The leaders of different political parties, including the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Forward Bloc, the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party, social activists Prafulla Samantra and Senior Journalist Rabi Das participated in the rally and expressed their solidarity with us.
At this juncture, our struggle against the project will be intensified and taken to the state, national and international level. Therefore, we urge all our friends and well wishers to extend their critical support to build mass opinion against this illegal clearance given by MoEF. This can be in form of organizing protest rallies, making statements, or any other appropriate
medium to convey our protest against the POSCO project.
For more information, please contact:
Spokesperson, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)
Contact phone number: +91 9437 571 547