Jan 4 2012 – Update from PPSS, Resolution of the People’s Convention at Lohia Academy
On the 2nd of January 2012, around 2000 villagers gathered at Balitikiri, Govindpur village boarder in protest against the illegal arrest of our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, Mr. Narayan Reddy and Mr. Jayant Biswal. We demanded that all the false cases against our leaders should be immediately withdrawn. This protest was organized in view of the Prime minister’s recent visit to Odisha on 3rd January 2012.
In gathering on 2nd January, the peaceful democratic protestors gathered to reiterate that our area is not meant for industry. This is fertile agricultural land with a self reliant economy that feeds urban India which cannot be put to any other use. Let the Prime Minister and Chief Minister come and see it for themselves.
The police have now virtually cordoned our area and are now hunting innocent people for the ‘crime’ of democratic peaceful protest. Our people cannot even access the nearest market for the medical treatment. Our people are in dire need of doctors and medicines and we need your help as the health conditions in our area continue to deteriorate.
We earnestly request that all of our supporters consider arranging to send medical teams to the area through donations or direct assistance of medical personnel, equipment, supplies and medicine.
We repeat, we will continue to fight against the forceful usurpation of our land and livelihood.
Attached herewith is the resolution of the all party meeting held on 30th Of December 2011 at Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
We shall inform you the ongoing development here. Looking forward to your kind support.
Kindly circulate this mail widely.
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no – 09437571547
E -Mail- [email protected]
Resolution of the People’s Convention at Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar, Odisha on 30th December 2011
On behalf of the POSCO Pratirodh Co-Ordination Committee, a people’s convention was organised at Lohia Academy in Bhubaneswar, The leaders and representatives of different political parties and civil societies made following resolutions in the convention.
For the last six years the state government under the aegis of Navin Pattnaik, has been carrying out repression and atrocities on the people of the region. Government repression has been compounded by the anti-people policies. This convention condemns these illegitimate practices of the government. In the supposed name of national interest the POSCO project will cause destruction of the regions flora, fauna and will eliminate community resources shared by the inhabitants of this area for millennia.
It is a shame to sabotage the peaceful democratic resistance of the people to protect their livihood. In this process the government machinery is working hand in glove with corporate actors and using violent means to thwart the democratic process.
The most recent condemnable violent incident on 14/12/2011- a peaceful demonstration against the construction of the coastal road, was marred by violence perpetuated by government sponsored private militia. The anti-posco protesters were attacked with arms and bombs. As a result of this incident, one person was killed. The irony of this murder is that instead of charging the goons and lumpen and militia, government officials have framed charges against the innocent villagers and their leaders. In the same incident, Narayan Reddy and Jayanta Biswal have been arrested and charged with false cases of instigating violence. This convention strongly resents this move of the government and demands for the immediate release of the detainees.
This convention also demands that the government will take immediate action against the real culprits who staged the violence on 14th of December 2011 and the withdrawal of all false charges framed on the villagers of the region.
In the six years of the peoples struggle to save their own homeland and culture, the region has seen every violation of human rights by the state and the corporate actors. Thus the convention has made a call to everyone who stands in solidarity with the people of the region to work collectively.
The committee has also taken a strong resolve to organise ‘peoples conventions’ across the state of Odisha, to build the peoples collective consciousness on the issues and bring out a collective voice.
The convention also demands for the immediate release of Abhay Sahoo the PPSS leader who has been put in detention with false charges.
The convention also demands a detailed enquiry into all past and present cases under the supervision of the Director General (DG) of Police. All political crimes surrounding the POSCO project under the superintendent of police (SP) of the Jagatsinghpur district should be transferred to the supervision of the Director General (DG) of Police.
The committee has also decided to meet the Home secretary and the DG of Police at the earliest.
Dec 26: Message from PPSS
On 23rd December 2011, the government arrested CPI leader and former legislator, Mr. Narayan Reddy, who is supporting our movement, at Japa Square in Erasama area of Jagatsinghpur district. Mr. Reddy was taken to Kujang police station and then produced before a local court which remanded him to judicial custody for two weeks.
After the 14th incident, the government has adopted all dirty means to sabotage our democratic movement. The government has slapped false charges of murder against our 11 activists along with 150 unnamed villagers.
On 23rd December, the Panchayati raj department issued a gazette notification on three-tire panchayat elections to be held in the state. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Raghunath Mohanty declared in the State Assembly, on behalf of Panchayatiraj Minister Maheswar Mohanty that “Elections will not be held in the Dhinkia as the situation is not favourable”. Mohanty said that in a special statement in the house that the five-year term of Gram Panchayat members and sarpanches, panchayat samiti members and chairmen and Zilla Parishad members is going to completed by March 2012.
We strongly condemn the dirty tricks played by the state establishment. Firstly, they have illegally suspended the elected Sarapanch of Dhinkia village, Secondly, they declared the Palli Sabha (Village Council) is illegal but didn’t convene the fresh Palli sabha to listen the people’s voice and thirdly, they are not holding any election in our villages. Here lies the dishonesty. This exposes the real intention of the government to curtail the genuine people’s voices at panchayat level. Because the government knows clearly that once our people have their elected Sarapanch, they will claim rights over forest land by holding Palli Sabha. This will again create hindrance for the government to hand over our land to the proposed POSCO steel plant. This is the clear case of throttling the genuine people’s voices. Their effort is to undermine the legitimacy of people for the land and resources under forest rights. In other words, people’s effort for self determination and self governance are completely disregarded.
The latest news is Mr. Bapi Sharkel , the local contractor and the mafia who is the architect of 14th December incident of attacking our people with his goons, was arrested due to constant pressure from opposition parties . He was kept in a hotel initially and later shifted to the Kujang jail. We learnt that deliberately the police has not filed section 302 of the Indian Penal Code i.e. charges of murder in his name. In the legislative assembly, opposition members were demanding the chief minister of Odisha to provide the details of the cases against the Bapi Sharkel. Instead of giving details, the legislative assembly was abruptly suspended before six days from its schedule. The government is using all unfair means to save the criminal even to the extent of adjourning the Assembly sine die in order to get away from the public scrutiny and accountability.
We learnt that the police are giving royal treatment to the Bapi Sharkel inside the jail. A television set has been provided to him in the jail by the police. All types of perks and facilities are being regularly provided to him. The police DIG (Central range) Mr. D.S. Kuttey, has a past record of having conducted the ruthless repression in Kalinga Nagar area of Jajpur district was given charge to crush our struggle. We are requesting our media friends to investigate in details.
We request your voice of protest against this undemocratic and unethical behavior of the state government of Odisha.
We are attaching herewith the statement from Statement from representatives of various organizations on the violent attack on anti-POSCO protestors on 14th December 2011 and its aftermath. We shall inform you the ongoing development here.
Kindly circulate this mail widely.
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no – 09437571547
E -Mail- [email protected]
Dec 24: Statement from representatives of various organizations on the violent attack on anti-POSCO protestors on 14th December 2011 and its aftermath
We, the undersigned, visited Gobindpur, Dhinkia and Patna villages of Jagatsinhpur district of Orissa, on 22nd December, where the villagers are peacefully resisting the proposed POSCO steel plant for the last six years in order to protect their lands and livelihoods from complete destruction.
Our visit was in the aftermath of the incidents of 14th December 2011, during which the peaceful protest against the construction of the coastal road connecting Paradip port to the proposed site of the POSCO steel plant, was viciously and unexpectedly attacked with country-made bombs by hired goons of the local contractor Bapi Circle, who is a known criminal with many pending cases in Odisha. In the process, many protesting villagers, including elderly women, were badly injured. One of the men hired by Bapi Circle was also killed by being accidentally hit with a bomb thrown by his own associates.
After this heinous incident, the state government has slapped false charges of murder (Sec 302 of the Indian Penal Code) against 11 key activists of the Posco Protirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), including some who were not even present at the time of the attack. Charges have also been brought against “150 other” unnamed villagers. Since our visit, Narayan Reddy from CPI who has been supporting the struggle has been arrested on 23rd December under false charges.This is in continuation with the atrocious practice of slapping false cases against PPSS activists and supporters that has been going on for the last six years, and which now number in the thousands. Fearing arrests, people are unable to leave the villages and access much required medical care and engage in regular economic activities which has taken a terrible toll on their lives and livelihoods.
It should be mentioned in this context that the building of the coastal road was initiated in a completely illegal manner, with no MoU currently existing between POSCO and the Odisha government; irregularities in awarding the benami contract to Paradip Paribahan, which is allegedly controlled by Bapi Circle, is widely known. It is shocking that the contractor could go ahead with building the coastal road and engineer the attack by hired goons, allegedly with active government support, when these illegalities are well known. This is again in line with the entire trajectory of the POSCO project, which has been mired in all sorts of illegal actions over the past six years. Three separate government-appointed committees that investigated various aspects of the POSCO project found that the state and central governments are robbing people’s land in violation of the Forest Rights Act; an official enquiry found that the environmental clearance process was ‘farcical’; and independent economists have established that there is no benefit from this project to the State or the Indian economy.
We, on our visit, witnessed the direct effects of the state’s high-handedness and its complicity in the physical and economic violence being perpetrated against the legitimate struggle of the people against the POSCO project. We demand:
-An immediate judicial enquiry into the attacks on 14th December 2011.
-Withdrawal of the all newly-filed and previous false cases against villagers and PPSS activists.
Madhumita Dutta, Asit Das, POSCO Protirodh Solidarity
Partho Sarothi Ray, Sudipto Muhuri, Siddhartha Mitra, Sanhati
Sirisha Naidu, Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group
Lakshmi Premkumar, Delhi Forum
Pramodini Pradhan, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties-Odisha
Dec 20: Update from Sisir Mohapatra, Secretary, PPSS
As you are already aware, though our protesting villagers are yet come out of the shocking incidents of 14th December 2011 when our peaceful protesters were physically assaulted by the private militia under the leadership of a don called Bapi Sarkel who has been given a contract to do some work for IDCO/POSCO, the woes and worries of the struggle is not coming to an end. The critically injured persons are still struggling for survival in the absence of any government or non-government medical help as there is a strong fear that they will be arrested the moment they are seen in public. The reason being- in the process of assaulting us with bombs and other weapons, they killed one of their own men. This was how they created a ground to arrest all the leaders and active supporters of PPSS in this pretext by implicating them in the “murder” case. If you may kindly recall this was how they also arrested our leader Mr. Abhay Sahu.
The Naveen Pattnaik government continues to be inhuman, undemocratic, unethical and cruel in his approach to promote rapid industrialization in the state. Now the private militia has taken place of the police and attempting to intimidate and crush us. Needless to say that the private militia has all the backing of the police and district administration who apparently have got clear instructions from the Chief Minister to go ahead. Following the incidence, our honourable MLAs, cutting across party line, strongly protested the involvement of private army who unleashed violence on the unarmed villagers in the floor of the Odisha Assembly. The media also covered the matter in great detail and there was public outrage. Due to the pressure from public, MLAs and the media, the government has transferred the mastermind Priyabrata Patnaik from Managing Director of IDCO to a position of insignificance. But it is said the person replacing him is more cleaver and more efficient in advancing the corporate agenda. In response to the uproar in the state Assembly, Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik made a statement on the floor of the assembly that the police and the civil administration were not informed about the road construction. If this is true, then he should accept his inefficiency (as he is holding the Home Ministry with him) and resign. In reality, however, the Police and administration at the district and state level were fully supportive of the nasty design of the Contractor Bapi Sarkel and his goons.
Bapi Sarkel has kept people from Thailand as his bodyguards. They carry arms with them. Who has allowed these foreigners to carry arms in Indian soil? And ironically, the contractor has been provided with a Special Protection Officer by then district police ! Demands of the MLAs to arrest Bapi Sarkel has fall in deaf year of the government. On the other day, the police raided his residence and office and told the media that they did not get him or any incriminating documents. This is amazing that police does not get a person who was openly speaking in front of private TV channels and blaming the MLAs. We demand the immediate arrest of such a person who is using his goons to attack us.
We believe that the raid on Bapi Sarkel’s house was drama enacted to lauch a series of arrests of the our leaders and supporters who have been falsely implicated in the killing of the goon who had come to attack our people but died as a result of their own bombing on December 14. Instead of taking action against the contractor and the police officials supporting him, the administration has clamped false case of murder against former legislator and CPI leader Narayan Reddy, who is now helping the movement on the request of PPSS and our arrested leader Abhay Sahuji. We have come to know that, as part of the larger design to crush our movement, the government is planning to arrest our people like Mr. Prashant Paikary, Spokesperson of PPSS, our leader like Mr. Ram Krushan Panda, National council Member, Communist Party of India (CPI), Mr. Bapi ( son of Abhaya Sahoo) and others.
On 19th December 2011, the leaders of five parties, Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (Marxist), Forward Bloc, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party submitted a memorandum to the Honourable Governor registering protest against the project related work in the proposed POSCO plant area in the absence of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Amidst this chaos, POSCO officials have quietly opened a project site office at Dadhibamanpada in Nuagaon Panchayat.
Our villagers including children and women are continuing our protest at Balitikira, bordering Govindpur village, to protest against the forceful land acquisition for POSCO. We are guarding at different gates round-the-clock to prevent the arrest of our people and other leaders. Our villagers are in strong determination to fight till the POSCO withdraws its project.
Our friends will constantly update you with any further developments.
Please continue to demand the withdrawal of the project and all cases registered against our people. Kindly circulate the mail widely with a request to express the solidarity with us. Awaiting the same quick and positive response from you.
Secretary, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS).
Dec 19: Statement of organisations on violent attack of paid POSCO goons on villagers
We the undersigned strongly condemn the deplorable violence and murder that was caused by the lumpen elements and paid goons of POSCO at Bokalish Point near the port town of Paradip, in Jagatsingpur district of Odisha. Thousands of villagers in the district have been struggling for the past six years against the proposed steel plant by POSCO in the area. Around 2 p.m. on 14 December 2011 when more than 3000 men, women, and children were protesting peacefully against an approach road being forcibly constructed and funded by POSCO, a group of more than 500 paid POSCO goons who are the musclemen of Bapi Circle, a contractor who has got a large contract to build roads and other works, attacked the peaceful protesters with sharp weapons and bombs. That in the course of the attack, when bombs were hurled against the protesters, Dwijabar Swain from among the attackers was apparently hit by one of their own bombs and died. As the protesters were not using bombs it is clear that that they were not responsible. Also, in the violent attack by the goons, many protesting men, women, and children were severely injured. All this happened with the full knowledge and protection of the Odisha Police that wants to use this incident as a cover to forcibly enter the villages and suppress the anti-POSCO movement. Such tactics have been applied by the administration and the police earlier too. We strongly condemn such dastardly design by the state in which people who are fighting to keep alive democratic values are repressed brutally, and that too for safeguarding the profit-interest of a private company and by deploying paid goons. This exposes the incestuous nexus between national/multinational corporations and the Indian State, their coercive apparatus at play, and the agents of ruling-class political parties.
· Immediate arrest and trial of the paid goons who attacked the villagers
· Immediate withdrawal of the police force from the area
· Immediate and unconditional release of Abhay Sahu, leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)
· Scrapping of the POSCO project
· Adequate arrangement for the treatment of the injured villagers without intimidation
In solidarity with the anti-POSCO struggle,
1. Prafulla Samantra NAPM
2. Student for Resistance Delhi University JNU
3. Wilfred Decosta INSAF
4. Kalpana Meheta Socialist Activist
5. Kiran Shaheen Media Action Group Delhi
6. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
7. Subrat Kumar Sahoo POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
8. Asit Das POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
9. Mamta Dash POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
10. Bhanumati POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
11. Vijay Pratap Socialist Front
12. Kanch Kohli Kalpa Vriksh
13. Ajay Mahajan Beej Bachao Andolan
14. Neha Saigal Green Peace
15. Subhasini Shriya Kranti Kari Naujawan Sabha
16. Amit Chakrabarty Kranti Kari Naujawan Sabha
17. Nayan Jyoti Kranti Kari Naujawan Sabha
18. Arya Thomas Kranti Kari Naujawan Sabha
19. Shankar Gopal Krishnan Campaign for Survival and Dignity
20. P.K. Sundram Editor dianuke.org
21. Prakash Kumar Roy Editor Bargad.org
22. Naveen Chander New Socialist Initiative
23. Mayur Chetia Research Scholar JNU
24. Shehnaz Malek Arman Mahila Sanghthan, Ahmedabad
25. Rajni Kant Mudgal Socialist Front
26. Rajvir Power Kisan Panchayat
27. Dr. Ritu Priya Professor JNU
28. Rita Kumari Pravasi Nagarik Manch, Delhi
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti on December 14, 2011
We are in terrible shock and disbelief having faced more than 500 armed goons engaged by one Mafia don Bapi Circle under the banner of Paradip Industrial development Council and patronized by the police and administration who forcefully entered the site of our peaceful and non-violent protest around 1.30 pm today and started attacking us by using bombs and weapons. As a result, at least eight villagers of PPSS were injured and one of them has got serious injury.
From the morning onwards, more than 2000 villagers were making a peaceful demonstration against the construction of a coastal sea road for POSCO. The private goons who had created a scene of terror yesterday did a repeat show today. Their own bombs apart from injuring our villagers did also result in killing a member of their own team. We strongly condemn the conspiracy hatched by the Nabin Patnaik government to engage private militia in order to create a situation of crisis which would demand police intervention. We consider the act as cowardice and no democracy worth its name should tolerate such an act of violence perpetrated by hired goons.
Though the situation is grim and our people are shocked, we are waiting with the same determination to protest peacefully even if the police after creating such a scene tries to enter the village to bulldoze our peaceful and democratic movement.
We request you to please stand up and expose the unethical, unjust and undemocratic means that the state has been using to crush the movement and to make the movement discredited in the eyes of public who don’t have a chance to know the real truth behind any act of conspiracy the police and the mafia are hatching everyday. Please join hands with us, stand by us and support our cause. Please circulate the message as widely as possible. We shall inform you the ongoing development here. Hoping for more solidarity from you.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (December 3, 2011)
At the outset, we would like to covey our heartfelt thanks to you all for your immediate response against the illegal arrest of our leader Mr. Abhya Sahoo.
Today i.e. 3rd Dec 2011, the police with the help of private militia camping and intimidating the villagers of Govindpur and preparing to continue laying roads in the area. The police are using all sorts of repressive measures including that of implicating men and women in false cases. We are now clear that the state government has made a pre-planned strategy to weaken the democratic movement by continuing its attack on the peaceful protesters from all sides. Our villagers have blocked the main road in different places in the area to prevent entry of police and private militia in to the villages of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang.
On 28th November, the Communist party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan, Central Committee addresses the protesting villagers in Dhinkia GP along with Politburo Member D. Raja and senior leader Narayan Reddy and demanded the immediate release of Mr. Abhaya Sahu the leader of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti who has been by a design implicated in a murder case. The leaders also opposed the State government’s move to construct an approach road along the coastline to connect the port town of Paradip with the site selected for the proposed steel mill. This is happening at a time when the MOU with POSCO has not been renewed for the last 2 years and all illegal work of the state has been thoroughly exposed.
In Bhubaneswar, state capital of Odisha,a protest demonstration was also organised by a large group of leaders of left parties, social activists and representatives of various mass organisations demanding the unconditional release of Mr. Sahu. The leaders condemned the state government authorities for arresting the democratic leader Mr. Abhay Sahoo.
On 25th of November, Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, was illegally arrested and sent to jail after his bail application was rejected by a court in Kujanga. He was produced before Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Kujanga, Alpana Swain who rejected his bail application and remanded him in to 14 days judicial custody. Police said that altogether 10 cases were slapped against Sahu during last three months which included clash with police during construction of a coastal road and involvement in a dowry related death incident.
We are requesting all of you to redouble your effort to put pressure on the government and release our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo. Different democratic protests are in the process and will also be held in other parts of the country on different dates. There is also a systematic effort by the state forces now led by the notorious Priyabrata Pattnaik to penetrate in to the villages in some pretext with the help of private militia and terrorize the protesters and then to divide them. Please expose the dual mindset of the CM Nabin Patnaik who says that no force will be used but in reality allows all kind of repression to continue.
Statement Condemning Repression Against Anti POSCO Protesters
November 30, 2011
The undersigned condemn the growing brutality of the state repression being unleashed against the peaceful, democratic protesters of the POSCO project area, who are only fighting for their legal and fundamental rights. This repression has reached a peak with the arrest yesterday (Friday) of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahoo. The government’s constant announcements of its intention to start construction in the area lead us to apprehend that there will be more violence and brutality against the movement.
This comes after the people of Dhinkia and Gobindpur heroically resisted police attacks for more than two months in the heat of summer, drawing the attention of the entire country to the threat to their thriving economy and fragile ecosystem. It also comes in the wake of a grossly illegal clearance to the project from the Environment Ministry, in direct violation of the Forest Rights Act and the EIA notification, despite two of the Ministry’s own enquiry committees finding that grant of clearance would be a crime. Moreover, the Centre itself now claims that projects of this kind will be subject, under its proposed new law, to the consent of 80% of the local community – which has been ignored in this case. Meanwhile, dozens of false cases have been filed against the protesters, and it is worth noting that Abhay Sahoo has received bail from the courts in more than 40 cases so far; but every time he is released, new cases are foisted on him. Finally, court cases are pending against the illegal clearance to the project in the High Court and in the National Green Tribunal. Despite all this, the Orissa government is continuing its criminal offensive, and the Centre as usual is doing nothing to stop it or to uphold the law.
We condemn this repression, and call for the immediate release of Abhay Sahoo, the dropping of the false cases registered against him and other members of the movement, and the immediate withdrawal of this illegal, unjust and economically destructive project.
1. Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh
2. Alistar Bodra, JJBA & NFFPFW, Jharkhand
3. Amit Bhaduri, Academic, Delhi
4. Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
5. Anirban Kar, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University
6. Anu Mandavilli, Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group.
7. Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Madhya Pradesh
8. Arun Kumar, JNU, Delhi
9. Ashok Agarwal, Advocate, Delhi
10. Asit Das, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi
11. Balaji Narasimhan
11. Justice (Retd) B.G. Kolse Patil
12. Biswajit Mohanty, Academic, Delhi
13. Dipak Roy Choudhury, Kolkata
14. Dr. B D Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan, Delhi
15. Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, Delhi
16. Elavarthi Manohar, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Bangalore
17. Faisal Khan, NAPM
18. Felix Padel, Anthropologist, Gujarat
19. Humane, Koraput, Odisha
20. Ish Mishra, Delhi University, Delhi
21. Jagadish Chandra, Bangalore
22. Jutta Kill, FERN, UK
23. K P Sasi, Visual Search, Bangalore
24. Kamal Kabra
25. Kamayani Mahabal, Mumbai
26. Kanchi Kohli, Kalpavriksh, Delhi
27. Kaveri Rajaram, Bangalore
28. Kavita Krishnan, CPI (ML) Liberation, Delhi
29. Kiran Shaheen, Delhi
30. Lalit Batra, University of Minnesota, USA
31. Lalsingh Bhujel, Uttar Banga Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, West Bengal
32. Madhumita Dutta, Campaign for Justice and Peace, Tamil Nadu
33. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
34. Malarmannan, English-Tamil Bilingual Columnist and Author
35. Madhusudhan, Andhra Pradesh
36. Mamata Dash, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity & NFFPFW, Delhi
37. Manohar Kothekar, NFFPFW, Maharashtra
38. Manshi Asher, Him Dhara, Environment Reserch & Action Collective, Himachal Pradesh
39. Maya Valecha, Gujarat
40. Meher Engineer
41. Mohan Bhagat, Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
42. Nandita Narain, St.Stephen’s College, Delhi
43. National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
44. Partho Sarothi Ray, Sanhati, West Bengal
45. Parvathy Prem, Association for India’s Development (AID), USA
46. Praful Bidwai, Columnist, Delhi
47. Prafulla Samantara, Convenor, NAPM
48. Prasad Chacko, Gujarat
49. Preeti Sampat
50. Pushkar Raj, PUCL, Delhi
51. Pushpa Toppo, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand
52. Ra Ravishankar, Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group
53. Rahul Saxena, Himachal Pradesh
54. Rakesh Agarwal, Dehradun
55. Rakesh Ranjan, Delhi University
56. Ramakant Banjare, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
57. Ranjana Padhi, Delhi
58. Ravi Chellam, Bangalore
59. Richard Mahapatra, Down to Earth, Delhi
60. Rinchin, WSS, Madhya Pradesh
61. Rishu Garg
62. Rukmini Rao, Andhra Pradesh
63. Sagari Ramdas, Andhra Pradesh
64. Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand
65. Sayantoni Datta, Independent Researcher, West Bengal
66. Shalini Gera, CMM – Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti, Chattisgarh
67. Shamim, Academic, Mumbai
68. Shankar Gopalkrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, Delhi
69. Sharanya Nayak, Orissa
70. Shiba Desor, Kalpavriksh, Delhi
71. Shivani Chaudhry, Housing and Land Rights Network, Delhi
72. Soma K P, Delhi
73. Soumitra Ghosh, NESPON, West Bengal
74. Souparna Lahiri, NFFPFW, Delhi
75. Subhashini. Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
76. Subrat Kumat Sahu, Independent Journalist and Film Maker, Delhi
77. Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL, Chattisgarh
78. Sukla Sen. EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
79. Suman S
80. Uma V Chandru, WSS & PUCL, Bangalore
81. Tapas Saha, CPI(ML) LIberation
82. Vijay Singh, Delhi
83. Vijayendra, Hyderabad
84. Vinay Bhat
85. Viren Lobo, Delhi
86. Vivek Sundara, HRA, Mumbai
87. VS Roy David, Convenor, National Adivasi Alliance
88. Walter Fernandes, Assam
89. William Nicholas Gomes, Journalist & Human Rights Activist, Dhaka
90. Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
91. Xavier Dias, Editor. Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
PUDR Statement on the arrest of Abhay Sahu
Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights strongly condemns the Arrest of Anti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu. He was arrested in Tirtol area near in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, the police said Sahu, President of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), was held by a police team at Nuapokhari village near Ersama in the district, on 25 November night when he was returning from Bhubaneswar to his village.
Police said the PPSS president was arrested in connection with several cases pending against him. The cases slapped by police against Sahu relate to alleged assault and imposition of fine on people who did not support him, police said adding that the anti-Posco leader faced about a dozen cases of varied nature(Like tampering evidence in a dowry death case and atrocity against Scheduled Caste persons). Sahu, however, refuted the charges and claimed that he was arrested in false cases. The PPSS chief has been leading an agitation for the last six years against land acquisition for the proposed POSCO steel project. This is part and partial state government agenda to suppress the anti-POSCO movement by hook or by crook. Earlier, Sahu had been arrested by police in October, 2008 and kept in jail for 14 months. He was released after obtaining bail from the court in August, 2009. PUDR condemning the arrest and described it as a conspiracy to suppress the POSCO movement.
Harish Dhawan, Paramjeet Singh. (Secretaries, PUDR)
PPSS leader Abhaya Sahoo arrested
Statement by Prashant Paikary (Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti)
November 25, 2011
The POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Saminit (PPSS) leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo has been arrested by police at 7.45 pm today (25th November 2011) at a place called ‘Nua Pokhari’ when he was returning from Paradip though Manijangha and Ersama. We got the information that he has been now kept in Jagatpur Police station.
This is part of the game plan of the coward state government to suppress the anti-POSCO movement by hook or by crook. The state government is reportedly finalised the draft of the MoU to be renewed with POSCO. Earlier it has facilitated a private company’s goons to attack our people while we were peacefully protesting against the extension of IOCL road. All these show the nervousness and cowardice of the state government and the haste in which it wants to push through the project.
Earlier also Abhaya Sahoo was arrested in 2008 and was kept in jail for 14 months.
PPSS strongly condemns the arrest of Abhaya Sahoo. We simultaneously make it clear that the impression of government, that our protest will be weakened by this, will be proved incorrect. Our peaceful protest will be stronger and mightier than ever before till POSCO project is scrapped.
We call for all the Jan Andolans, People’s organisations, Political parties, activists, intellectuals and people at large to condemn in strongest possible terms the dastardly act of the administration. We call for all our friends to demonstrate and demand immediate release of Abahya Sahoo. Also lodge your protest near the following authorities.
We will keep you intimated the developments and our next move.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (November 1, 2011)
We earnestly appeal to all of you to send your immediate protest letter to the government of Odisha regarding its recent decision to start the construction of coastal road from Paradeep to our village for POSCO. We fear that over 400–500 henchmen of POSCO followed by police forces might forcibly enter into our area. From media reports, it may construe that they can attack on or before 3rd of November 2011. On 30th October 2011, our villagers have decided to intensify the protest if the Government goes ahead with land acquisition and construction of the coastal road.
On 27th of October 2011, the Chief Secretary of Odisha Mr. B.K Patnaik said in the media that he had asked POSCO authorities to begin work on the acquired land. Of the 4,000 and odd acres of land required by the company, the state government claims to have acquired 2,000 acres and hence POSCO could start work over this land.
In this regard, Mr. Priyabrat Patnaik, Chief Managing Director of Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) held a meeting with the Jagatsinghpur district officials on 28th of October, 2011.
As you all know that the government’s move to allow POSCO to start work in the area is completely illegal as the MOU has lapsed more than a year back. Opposition parties including Congress and BJP opposed Orissa government’s move to invite POSCO-India to begin work on the acquired land even before a fresh MoU was signed.
At this critical juncture, we appeal to all concerned citizens activists, intellectuals and media friends to extend their support and put consistent pressure on the government to stop the forcible eviction of the people. Our villagers in a meeting in Dhinkia also have resolved to oppose any move by the state. We know Priyabrata Pattnaik as an officer with criminal credential and can do anything to harm us and help the project. Any intervention from your side will be of help to us.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (October 17, 2011)
Our villagers are continuing daily protest at Govindpur village boarder. We are alert to prohibit any forceful entry of POSCO henchmen into our villages in the name of construction of coastal road.
We are attaching herewith the video of 26th September incident where the goons were threatening and beating our villagers. The video is prepared by Saravanan Karunanidhi and Nandakumar from Chennai.
1. Goons with arms against the democratic dharna in the proposed site of POSCO steel plant on 26 Sep 2011 in Dinkia village, Odisha. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLc20AcLgnw
2. Goons attacking villagers in proposed POSCO site – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POMkIexDSTY
3. Abhay Sahoo’s Interview:
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=656BKbRh3G0&feature=youtu.be
Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxMKo_ePfiU
We are also attaching herewith the response of POSCO to the “Business and Human Rights” website for your information. POSCO-India describes our people are illegal occupants, encroachers in our land. We are staying in our land for generations now and a foreign company can speak this language to us-that we are foreign in our land. This is how the companies are pampered by the state and central governments in this country. This is an example how the corporate bodies behaves the citizens of this country. We are preparing a counter response to POSCO. We are also requesting to send large counter response to POSCO. Let the international community knows what the truth behind it is.
POSCO’s response to concerns about its proposed steel project in Jagatsingpur district, Odisha, India
September 1, 2011
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited POSCO to respond to two items raising concerns about its proposed steel project in Jagatsingpur district, Odisha, India. The items are available here:
– Indian farmers protest massive steel plant, Faiza Ahmed Khan, Al Jazeera, 19 Jul 2011
– Tearing Through the Water Landscape – Evaluating the environmental and social consequences of POSCO project in Odisha, India, Leo F. Saldanha, Bhargavi S. Rao for Environment Support Group, 27 May 2011
POSCO sent the Resource Centre the following response:
1. LAND, PEOPLE AND DISPLACEMENT
According to the socio-economic survey report conducted by Xavier Institute of Labour Management (XIMB), Bhubaneswar, which is an institute enjoying international reputation, a total of 466 families are likely to be displaced. Considering the investment and project size, this is not a big number. Those over 20 years are considered as separate units for the purpose of rehabilitation and resettlement and the total number comes to 718 families comprising of 2201 members.
It is also pertinent to mention that while eight villages in all are affected but only some parts of the villages will form part of project area and not the whole village. The following data states the factual position.
Most of the noise being raised on the issue is not consistent with situation on ground.
Project would need some portion of land from from 8 revenue villages. Of the total land requirement of 4004 Ac, 3566 Ac (89%) is Government land and remaining 438 Ac (11%) private land. Govt has initiated the process of taking possession of the Govt land from illegal occupants . However, taking a a sympathetic view, Govt has decided to give a compensation of Rs 11.5 lakh per Acre of encroachment in the form of Betel vine and monthly allowance of Rs 2,250/- per labour for a year for sustaining their livelihood till their alternate engagement. This is sincerest demonstration of our committment to support livelihood of even those who have no rightful claim.
Intially, POSCO had offered to create betel vine orchards for affected people with a view to facilitating them with their existing livelihood programmes but people were not interested and they wanted monetary compensation.
It is wrong to say that the people are opposing the project. In fact, out of the eight villages ,the Govt has already taken possession of the land in 6 villages. More than 80% of population supports the project. Some groups with vested interest are protesting and unfortunately media have also accorded them prominence creating a wrong perception. Most of the opponents are using force and are also reported to be supported by extremist groups and those who do not want development in the area.
So much so that the project opponents have forcibly externed 53 families from Patana village for supporting the project and POSCO is taking care of them in Transit Camp in terms of food, health care education etc. They are yet to return to their homes.
The Govt has already taken possession of the half of the land after releasing compensation to the encroachers as well. People have vacated land voluntarily. It would be very pertinent to investigate as to who are opposing the project. They are mostly outsiders, immigrants and those affiliated to such groups who do not want development so that their political clout continues. One of such group opposed Narmada Dam in Madhya Pradesh when Gujarat State was without water & barren and today whole of Gujarat is green. So much for their pure intentions and concerns for community.While the elected representatives including the former Minister from the area fully support the project, the leader of the PPSS which is opposing belongs to other place and is a non-local
2. NCAER REPORT
The National Institute of Applied Economy and Research is one of the premier organisations of the country. It is known for its modern methodology, economic and industrial research and integrity. Most of the reports on economy and growth published by Govt of India are based on its findings. The Govt also uses these reports to frame various policies.
It is not uncommon for various companies to commission studies of their project to obtain expert and third party opinion. POSCO also did it. But it does not mean that NCAER would compromise its professional integrity and reputation because the study was conducted at POSCO’s instance and doctor or manipulate data putting its reputation at stake. Such inferences by vested interest groups are indicative of bias and lack credibility.
Such insuniations from Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Forum have appeared in many Indian newspapers not less than 30 times. If the concerns were so genuine, this group could have directly approached NCAER and asked clarifications from them.
It would also be of importance to know that some persons from this group approached POSCO officials to get contract for resolving all issues at project site and obtain clearances for a huge amount. This shows the true colour of such activists.
3. DELAY IN PROJECT PROGRESSION
POSCO has been very steadfast and law abiding following all due process of law without compromising its ethics and value system. We never tried to get short circuit or bypass any process. This has been the primary reason for delay of the project. But we remain committed to the project in all sincerity.
4. MOU WITH STATE GOVT
Orissa is rich in mineral resources and the State Govt was very keen to get POSCO’s Finex technolgy for local value addition. The entire process chain would generate huge employment opportunities, infrastructure development, boost to local economy besides revenue generation which seen in contrast to situation where 50% of iron ore production are getting exported. It is also an irony that states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh etc which are very rich in mineral resources have lowest per capita income in India. Local value addition held key to growth.
So this was considered as a move in right direction and win win situation for both sides.
5. POLICE DEPLOYMENT
As per Indian Constitution, law and order is a State subject. It is the prerogative of administration to use police based on threat perception. Private companies like POSCO would have no role in this.
But as far as we know, there has been no use of force by Govt anywhere during land acquisition process. On the contrary, PPSS has been using violent means to terrorise people into submission and some of those daring to oppose have been externed.
Any inference on intimidation is without any basis.
6. FOREST CONSERVATION ACT, ENVIRONMENTAL AND FOREST CLEARANCE
POSCO has followed all due process to obtain these clearances and any insinuations that facts were hidden are malicious. Our proposal clearly said that while infrastructure requirement would be for 12 MTPA but POSCO would put up 4 MTPA Steel Plant in the first phase.
Eminent and best Consultants with necessary accreditation from Govt of India were engaged to prepare EIA Reoprts. These reports were considered by EACs for Environment Clearance and by Hon’ble Supreme Court for Forest Diversion Clearance. All these reports were also reviewed for a second time and Environment Clearance for Steel Plan, Environment and CRZ Clearance for minor sea port and Forest Diversion Clearance have been confirmed for the second time.
POSCO would also be undertaking prescribed process of Compulsory Afforestation to create alternate forest to offset negative impact of land use change and nurture the plants till they acquire maturuty and become self sustaining.
OCMZA, OPCB, State Govt, EAC ( Steel Plant ), EAC ( port & CRZ ), FACs and MoE&F examined these proposals very critically before granting regulatory clearances and prescribing mitigative measures to offset negative impacts arising from industrial operations.
7. PMO, MoE&F, STATE GOVT
Comments that PMO and Ministries including incumbent Minister connived to subvert laws to help POSCO is very unfortunate. These agencies should seek comments from Govt. India is a democracy and this is representative Govt having mandate of citizen to run the country.
8. TRIBALS AFFAIRS ACT, FOREST RIGHTS AND OTHER TRADIONAL FOREST DWELLERS ACT
All federal laws are implemented by Govt and private companies have no direct role. Nonetheless, we understand that this law was enacted to preserve tribals who are dependent on produce from Forest for their survival and stay away from mainstream life. Tribals normally stay in deep jungles and not on sea coast.
Our project site in Jagatsinghpur is near sea coast and entire land stretch is sandy barring about 30 % land where single crop paddy cultivation is done.The betel leaves grown on encroached Govt land can not be called Forests.The life cycle of betel is 7 years. The growers of betel who employ labours obviously could not be classified as forest dwellers.
The State Govt took a view that FRA was not applicable in the area and even the Palli Sabha for so called consent and signatures of attendees were forged for which the Sarpanch has been suspended. It is learnt that legal proceedings are also being contemplated. Incidently, this ex-Sarpanch is General Secretary of PPSS.
9. FLOODING AND FRAGILITY OF COASTLINE – SUITABILITY FOR PORT
The proposed port is planned on river bank of Jatadhari Mohan which meets sea at some distance. It is not going to come on sea shore. The satellite imagery of Indian coastline initially showed this area as fragile. However, it later emerged that mouth of the river was shifting every 10 years and the sorrounding area would need reinforcement to provide stability. This was confirmed by presentation made to MoE&F by Indian Oceanography Institute, Chennai.
Measures have also been prescribed for conservation of marine life, flora and fauna.
As also coastal embankment road and continuous beach nourishment programme including mangrove protection measures will ensure required stability. All these aspects have been considered by eminent experts. Persons expressing concerns on these scores would be best advised to approach MoE&F and expert members for clarifications, if any.
10. OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE
The conjecture in report about threat to endangered olive Ridley Turtle and their nesting are devoid of facts. Firstly, their nesting site is Garihmatha which is 45 kilo meters away from our site. The requisite study has been done by NIO and other marine life experts.
Secondly, their navigation path is through high seas which is again very far from operation area or likely path of vessels.
11. SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
The SEZ Act in India is going through continuous modifications and has lost some of its sheen due to land acquisition issues and internation financial situation. Any call either way at this stage when project has not been realised would be premature.
We hope that this explains our position clearly.
Another incident of police terror in Jagatsinghpur
A report by Partho Sarothi Ray
September 28, 2011
As reported before, on Monday Septemper 26, one of the local goons had got around 200 people and attacked the villagers with country-made bombs, swords etc. One of the main organizers of the PPSS, Ranjan Swain, was injured in the attack. Yesterday, his 65 year old mother, Satyabati Swain, and another woman from the village had gone to the Kujang police station to lodge an FIR. Instead of taking the FIR, the police have arrested her! The police has said that there is a case against her for “unlawful assembly” from 2008. This is from the time of the protests against POSCO. Today she has been produced in court, but was denied bail, and has been put under one day of jail custody. Tomorrow she should be produced again for her bail hearing. It is unimaginable that an elderly woman who goes of her own accord to the police to lodge a complaint is instead arrested by the police on some trumped up charges. If possible, call the SP of police, Jagatsinhpur, Debdutta Singh at the number 9437094678 to lodge a strong protest against this.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, September 26
AN APPEAL TO CONDEMN THE CORPORATE VIOLENCE OF POSCO
Today, about 400 armed goons of POSCO attacked our villagers at Govindpur village with rod, sticks and hand-bombs at 8.30 AM. In this sudden attack, more than 30 villagers have been injured including 6 women; two people are critically injured. These injured are not able to go for treatment to the nearest hospital in fear of arrest as police has already booked false cases against them in the earlier incidents.
This is a new trick made by the government and POSCO to enter into our area. The government made a plan to build a coastal road along the beach from the Indian Oil Refinery complex to the port near to our village for POSCO. As you know that we have prevented the entry of the police from the side of the land mass by peacefully sitting in Dharana, the government is considering this as an alternative road to make entry from sea side. The construction has been contracted to Paradeep Paribahan, a private company led by Bapi Circle. On 19th of August 2011, the government has laid the foundation for road construction. On 20th of August, around 400 people including the contractor and workers were proceeding to the site during the day; our people protested the move and chased them away.
Today, Bapi Circle who is also known as mafia leader from the ruling party Biju Janata Dal ( BJD), brought armed goons from outside the area and lead the attack . Our villagers are chased with sticks and bombs are also being thrown on our unarmed villagers. The leader of the Contractors’ association has admitted to have attacked the people in front of electronic media. Police did not arrive in the place. Now, our people are in high alert to face any imminent attack by private militia. Our villagers are strongly determined not to allow the construction of the road.
We request all of you to strongly condemned this heinous attack and expose this unholy nexus between POSCO and the state government in a strong word. This is a very planned and calculated move to crush our peaceful democratic movement against the forceful displacement. The malicious plan of the government to project all this situation as a law and order problem in the media and accordingly police will enter in to our area. This is nothing but a very shameful act of POSCO to terrorize the villagers. We all are determined to continue our struggle democratically.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, September 19
Over twenty seven lakh people in Orissa are continuing to reel under the impact of devastating floods. According to the government sources, the death toll in the deluge mounted to 38, 16 people have gone missing in floods and many are homeless. Though water level is continuing to recede still villages of Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Cuttack, Kendrapara continue to remain marooned. Even the villages of Kujang block here are facing a tough time. Villagers are asking for immediate relief, provision of government work and payment of wages in a transparent manner.
At this high time, instead of providing relief materials to the villagers, the district administration has resumed the felling rich forest category trees for the establishment of POSCO. They include thick casuarina trees, which are natural shield against the cyclones. In 1999, when the super cyclone struck there was not a single casualty from the villages here with the trees protecting the people from the killer winds.
With the tree felling the vulnerability of people to killer cyclones has increased. People are now scared as to who will save them incase of cyclone whch is quite reccuent in our area. More than 60,000 trees have already been cut down and nearly six lakh more trees are to go. Against this mindless tree cutting exercise, people came to protect trees but the police thrashed them away. People are protesting against carrying out the project work which is going on ‘without people’s consent’. On 9th of September, the police has arrested seven villagers for erecting of bamboo gates at Nuagaon and Gadakujang to prevent entry of POSCO and IDCO officials.
The irony is that, the Revenue and Disaster management minister Surya Naryan Patra is making a statement in the media that “This is no complaint from my disaster management department about any threat of disaster due to cutting off of the trees,” The Paradip additional district magistrate Surjeet Das is making a propaganda that “Work at the proposed Posco site was continuing smoothly. There is no tension in the area and no police force had been deployed,”.
You may well understand the hurry with which the administration is going ahead with the massive tree cutting exercise for POSCO projects when villagers are facing a tough time due to the flood. This is also when two PILs are being heard in the High Court on private and forest land acquisition for POSCO project. It may be reminded that the MoU between the company and the government has already expired before more a year.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of forcible removal from our land, our villagers are continuing the dharana at Govindpur village and maintaining strict vigil in the area. We are requesting all of you to protest this callous and insensitive attitude of state administration of using force to crush the democratic movements and cutting the massive trees by inviting impending environment disaster.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, September 4
Our villagers are continuing the protest against forceful land acquisition process for settling up POSCO steel plant at the Govindpur Village boarder. In the adjacent village Nuagaon also, around 100 villagers are sitting on daily basis in protest against the forceful land acquisition process. Meanwhile the government is carrying out tree cutting activities at Nuagoan village. The government is targeting to cut over 6,00,000 trees which include about three lakh casuarina and many horticultural plants.
On 22st August 2011, Mr. Abhina Rout, PPSS leader of Nuagoan village and Mr. Sadashiva Das, state committee member of SUCI (Communist) was arrested. They were put under some false charges and sent to Kujang jail. We request you to kindly condemn this unwarranted arrest of our leaders.
On 26th of August 2011, we organized a convention at our dhrana place on the draft National Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation And Resettlement Bill. As you know the Union ministry of Rural Development has sought public opinion on this. The anti-displacement struggle groups and civil society members across Odisha like social activist Prafulla Samantara, Lingaraj of Samajwadi Janaparishad, Pradeep Purohit of Gandhamardan Surakshya Samiti and former legislator Bijay Nayak participated in the discussion and express their solidarity with our movement.
They have emphasized the need for a joint struggle by all the struggle groups opposing land acquisition for industries in different parts of the State to oppose acquisition of agricultural land and forest land that were being used by the locals as source of livelihoods. It was also decided that Padyatras would be taken out from different places in this month to culminate in a massive rally in our villages to oppose land acquisition for the project.
In the convention it was demanded that
1. The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 that was in force till date has become obsolete. Hence it should be immediately scrapped.
2. The proposed land acquisition law should have provisions to prohibit acquisition of agricultural land as well as forest land that was the source of livelihood for the local communities.
3. Agricultural land that had been acquired for different industries in the past but had not utilised for the purpose so far should be restored to the original owners.
4. Land acquired for different projects by use of force should be restored to the original owners.
5. No industrial infrastructure should come up on fertile agriculture land or any land providing a mode of livelihood to people.
6. People should consent and should be taken into confidence before they are displaced to accommodate either government or private projects. Through Palli sabha (village body), their consent has to be ratified. People depend on single crop for livelihood. Such sing crop pattern land should be kept away from the gamut of industrial land acquisition.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, August 21
Our roadblock against the setting up the POSCO steel plant is continuing at Gobindpur village boarder. Another protest by Bhitamati Suraksha Samiti in Nuagaon village is also continued. The people at Gadakujang village erected a bamboo gate to prevent entry of officials and have stalled the construction and tree-felling operation who were earlier staunch supporters of the steel project.
Recently, the government is making new tricks to enter into our area. The government is planning to laid a coastal road from Paradip (nearest town) to our villages. On 19th of August the government has laid the foundation for road construction. On 20th of August, around 400 people including the contractor and workers were proceeding to the site during the day; our people protested the move and chased them away. We held a public meeting to oppose the laying of the road. Our people are determined not to allow the construction of the road.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, August 10
from Prashant Paikaray (Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti)
Our Villagers are continuing the human chains in Gobindapur and Nuagaon to prevent the entry of officials into the area. Our people are hell bent not to give an inch of our land to establish a steel plant by POSCO.
On 7th of August 2011, Ms. Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, and Bhramachari Behera of Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sanghtan (MKSS) visited our area to show solidarity with us. Ms. Aruna Roy said that “The government has no right to forcefully acquire fertile lands in these areas. The way the ministry of environment and forest dithered on Posco, ignoring the Saxena and Meena Gupta reports submitted by its own expert groups, clearly shows that the decision was taken under pressure from the Prime Minister’s office,” Roy said. “In all fairness, I believe that the Prime Minister should order an independent inquiry. The state government to stop construction and tree felling works for the proposed steel plant of POSCO. On 8th of August, Mr. Charan Ramdash aged about 78 , a retired army officer joined with our movement.
The district administration of Jagatsinghpur is engaged in chopping the rich forest and horticultural type trees despite of people’s protests at Nuagoan village. More then 50,000 have already been cut down by the government. The government is targeting to cut more than eight lakh trees. As you know there is no proper MoU and the POSCO project is uncertain, this massive tree cutting exercise in this cyclone prone area will only bring an environment disaster.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, August 01
from Prashant Paikaray (Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti)
Everyday, more than 400 villagers of Dhinkia and Govindpur villages are sitting rotationally and continuing their protest against the forceful acquisition of their land for establishing POSCO at Govindpur village boarder in Jagatsinghpur distirct of Odisha.
On 27th July 2011, around 500 villagers of Dhinkia and Govindpur burnt an effigy of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak at Gobindpur village border. The protest was meant against the shameless request of the South Korean President’s to the President of India Pratibha Patil for expediting the POSCO project.
As you know, we have been opposing the establishment of the steel plant for past six years, it is completely wrong and unethical on the part of South Korea president Lee Myung-Bak to seek Indian government’s cooperation for establishing POSCO in Odisha. It is none of the South Korean government’s business whether the people of India will allow POSCO project on their land or not. It has clearly exhibited the insecurity of the POSCO; therefore it is using the South Korean government for establishing the plant. This shows that the President of South Korea is dancing to the tune of POSCO and act like corporate mafia for a private company despite being the head of a democratic country like South Korea.
A three-member of team of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights led by its member Dr Yogeswar Dubey on July 4, 2011 had
visited the proposed POSCO steel plant site and made an on-the-spot investigation. Their report states that “the children think that they are protecting the interest of their families which is contrary to the allegations that children are being coerced to participate in the agitation. The anxiety / apprehension on account of the prospect of displacement and loss of the source of livelihood for their families, has been apparently affecting the minds of the children. It appears to be a factor behind such conduct by the children,”
The report has slammed the Orissa government over its failure to provide mid-day meals to school children and poor administration of ICDS programmes in the proposed POSCO project areas while justifying the protest of children. The report also criticised the forcible occupation of a part of the Balitutha primary school building by the police, saying the school gave an appearance of being a fortress. “The primary school and the Anganwadi-centre located inside its premises have not been properly functioning due to continued presence of the police force due to the limited space within the school compound. We found some policemen in the school in underwears. The district level officers of the W&CD and School & Mass Education Departments never took any remedial steps to ensure proper functioning of the school and the Anganwadi centre,” the Commission said, adding that provisions in the Right to Free & Compulsory Education Rules have been violated in allowing using the school building as accommodation for police force.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 27th of July 2011 issued notice to the Chief Secretary and Director General Police of Odisha on the use of school premises as police camps to ensure safe land acquisition for the POSCO. Taking suo moto cognizance of the media reports on the issue the NHRC expressed concern over the issue and asked the Government, Chief Secretary and DGP to a give separate reports within four weeks.
From 23rd of July 2011 onwards, in presence of 15 platoons of police force, the government has started indiscriminate tree cutting exercise in Polang and Gadakujang village of Nuagaon. Till today, 10,000 – 12,000 numbers of rich forest category trees were cut down. More than eight lakh tree like casuarinas, Jackfruit, Cashew nut and Mango groves, which have been a protective cover during the natural disasters through out the ages will cut down. According to a report of the forest department, more than 2,90,000 Casuarina trees are found in this area comprising three panchayats. Besides, around five lakh trees are including cashew nut, jackfruit and Mango dotting the area. Despite this particular area being vulnerable to the cyclones; the government is mindlessly cutting the trees where there in valid MoU. It’s very uncertain If actually POSCO will materialse, still then cutting trees in these magnitude is tantamount to digging our own grave.
We are earnestly requesting you to strongly condemn and mount heavy pressure on the government to desist from tree cutting.
Report of visit by PUCL-Bangalore to POSCO Affected Areas
A five member team of PUCL Bangalore visited the POSCO project villages of Govindpur, Dhinkia and Patana between July 22-24, 2011on a solidarity visit with people’s struggle against the POSCO project and to probe large-scale forced acquisition of lands by the State for the proposed POSCO steel pant in the region. The team found a truly strong and democratic people’s movement convinced of their legitimate rights and firmly resolved not to give up their lands or livelihoods for the benefit of either a foreign company or an arguably larger common good for the people of the State. The movement is continuing to gain momentum as villagers from different hamlets take turns to safeguard their lands from attempts to destroy their betel plantations. Most people we spoke to were determined not to give up their lands, even at the cost of their lives. Participation of people’s organizations from all over the country is adding strength to the local resolve even as the movement is facing increasing threats from the state which is moving into the area by a massive clearance of surrounding forest lands. The large majority of these villages are not ready to leave the forest lands on which they have been cultivating betel vines and cashew for centuries because it will destroy their livelihoods and consequently their very existence.
On July 24th we found five vans and four jeeps filled with armed police stationed in Gadakujang near Mahaveer Chowk purportedly for maintaining the law and order situation in the area. The DySP, Jagatsinghpur and Tahsildar Kailash Chandra of Tirutwar refused to divulge any further information. We observed large scale tree clearance under strong and armed paramilitary supervision. In later conversations with the DC and the SP, we gathered that the police presence was to facilitate the clearance of forest land by IDCO. We were also informed by the DC that it was not necessary for the district administration to either consult or obtain authorization from the village panchayats since they were acting under the mandate given to the police by the constitution. The SP also maintained that the police would continue assisting the tree clearance operation till all the POSCO lands were cleared. In other words, this clearing operation was being conducted in complete disregard of the wishes of the local communities.
The team also visited the transit camp set up by POSCO where the so-called pro-POSCO families from Dhinkia and Patana are housed. They all seemed to suggest that POSCO will bring complete ruin to these villages in spite of their being labeled as ‘Pro-POSCO’. We spoke to Praful Mohanti, the spokesperson for the community in the transit camp. We found the displaced people are living under inhuman conditions. They have suffered for the last four years in overcrowded, unhygienic living conditions with only Rs20 per person per day for sustaining life. They said that their children are unable to attend school and no medical facilities are available to them. Most people there were unemployed and showed a keen interest in returning to their homes and previous lifestyles. We feel that people in this transit camp are victims of the same State-Corporate nexus that is breaking up of communities in this area, and leading to loss of homes, lands, and livelihoods.
PUCL strongly condemns the State of Odisha for its policies that serve the financial interests of corporations. Such policies deliberately harm people’s interests and their fundamental right to pursue lives of liberty and dignity. PUCL condemns the use of armed police for promoting corporate interests in complete disregard of the democratically voiced wishes and interests and legitimate rights of the people of the area. We demand an immediate withdrawal of all armed personnel and a halt to all human rights violations in the area. We call for an immediate halt to the cutting down of thousands of trees which are vital to the local ecology and the economic independence of the people of this region. PUCL also demands that the Odisha government to listen to the democratic voices of the villagers and hence uphold the democratic values of this nation.
JOINT STATEMENT CONDEMNING ATTACK ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS OF NUAGAON (Anti-POSCO Struggle Area Odisha)
[The following statement is also endorsed by the Sanhati Collective. – Ed]
July 16, 2011
Today eight platoons of police attacked and lathi charged peaceful protesters in the village of Nuagaon, Jagatsinghpur District, Odisha. The protesters, despite being mainly women, were attacked by an entirely male police force, resulting in injuries to several and serious injuries to one woman, who has now been hospitalised. The protesters were seeking to protect their forests and trees from being cleared by the police as part of the government’s land grab for the POSCO project. After the lathi charge the entire village joined the protest, eventually driving the police back and forcing them to retreat.
We strongly condemn this brutal attack on a peaceful protest by people seeking to protect their legal and democratic rights. This attack disproves the Odisha government’s brazenly false claims that “no force is being used” to take land for POSCO. Nuagaon, one must remember, is also one of the villages where the government claimed that “land takeover is proceeding peacefully” – a result not of consent by the people but of the overwhelming threat of force from the government. Today, when people have actually shown their will, the government has shown its true intent.
One must remember that the people of Nuagaon, like all those affected by the POSCO project, have legal rights to their forest and also enjoy the legal power to protect these forests when they wish. This was upheld by three different committees of the Environment Ministry, which went on to, in an act of brazen illegality, clear the takeover of land anyway. Both the Odisha government and the Centre are engaged in a gross violation of law, a resource grab of land and forests that belong to the people for a private multinational company. This attack further comes at a time when the Odisha High Court is hearing, on a daily basis, the petition filed by the villagers against this illegal land grab.
· An immediate halt to all police operations in the proposed project area and the withdrawal of the police from the area;
· The cancellation of the illegal forest and environmental clearances granted to the POSCO project;
· The implementation of the Forest Rights Act and all other pro people laws in the area;
· Prosecution and punishment of the officials and police responsible for the atrocities and violations of law in the area;
· A cancellation of the POSCO project and an end to the six year long attack on the people of the area for the purposes of this project.
2. Socialist front
3. Mazdoor Kranti Parishad
5. Green Peace
6. Kavita Krishnan (C.C Member CPIML Liberation)
7. Prof. Arun Kumar (Prof. Jawaharlal University, New Delhi)
8. Dr. Sunilam (Kisan Sangharsh Samity M.P)
9. Justice Rajinder Sachar (retd. Chief Justice, Delhi High Court)
10. Anivar Aravind (Moving Republic Bangalore)
11. Arun Bidani (Delhi Platform, Delhi)
12. Anuradha Mittal (OAK Land Institute, California USA)
13. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Delhi)
14. Kiran Shaheen (Senior Journalist Delhi)
15. Rajendra K Sail (Human Rights Activist, Chhatisgarh)
16. V.T. Padmanabhan (Eminent anti nuclear Activist)
17. Shukla Sen (Ekta Mumbai)
18. Dr. Abhay Shukla (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Pune)
19. Dr. Anant Phadke (Shramik Mukti Dal, Pune)
20. Seema Kulkarni (Samuhik Khoj, Pune)
21. Ishwar Singh Dost (Lecturer, Goa University, Goa)
22. Naveen chander (New Socialist Initiative, Delhi)
23. Shripad Dharmadhikary (Manthan, Badwani, M.P)
24. Manisha Gupta (Pune)
25. Rajveer Pawar (General Secreatary Kisah Maha Punchayat, Delhi)
26. T. Vihayendra (Cerene Foundation, Hyderabad)
27. Dr. Arvind (Prof. Physics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Chandigarh)
28. Ashley Telis (Social Activist Delhi)
29. Nayan Jyoti (Social Activist Delhi)
30. Rukmini Rao (social Activist, Secunderabad, A.P)
31. Pradeep Esteres (Contex India, Bangalore)
32. Sudha Reddy (Social Activist Bangalore)
33. Harsh Kapoor (South Asia Citizens Web)
34. Jyoti Punwani (Semior Journalist Munbai)
35. Prof. B.R. Bapuji (Prof. University of Hyderabad)
36. Vivek Sundara (Mumbai)
37. Sadanand Patwardhan (Indian First, Mumbai)
38. Dunu Roy (Hazards Centre, Delhi)
39. Ranjana Padhi (Women Against Sexual Violence and state Repression, Pune)
40. S. R. Hiremath (National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources, Dharwad, Karnataka)
41. Rohini Hensman (Social Activist, Mumbai)
42. Sayontoni (Independent Researcher Delhi)
43. Asha Kachru (Andhra Pradesh)
44. Vasundhara Jairath (Research Scholar Delhi University)
45. Preeti Sampat (Social Activist Delhi)
46. Benny Kurvila (Focus on Global South Delhi)
47. Sanat Mohanty (Editor, The South Asian Org)
48. Shankar Gopal Krishnan (Champaign For Survival and dignity Delhi)
49. Pushpa Achanta (Freelance Writer, Bangalore)
50. Prakash Kumar Ray (Research Scholar, Cinema Studies J.N.U)
51. Amit Chakrovarty (Research Scholar, Economics JNU)
52. Subhasini Shryia (Student, Centre for Political Studies JNU)
53. Seela Mahapatra (Social Activist, Delhi)
54. Asit Das (POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi)
55. Nayan Jyoti (Social Activist Delhi)
56. Manta Dash (POSCO Pratirodh Soclidarity Delhi)
57. Rajnikant Mudgal (Harit Swaraj Abhiyan Delhi)
58. Bhuwan Pahtka (Himalaya Swaraj Abhiyan Uttarakhand)
59. Amartya (Law Faculty Delhi University)
60. P.K. Sundaram (Research Scholar JNU)
UPDATE from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, 18th July 2011.
by Prashant Paikray (Spokesperson, PPSS)
Around 2000 villagers of Dhinkia and Govindpur village are continuing their road block against the forceful land acquisition for the POSCO project at the Govindpur village boarder. Members of political parties CPI( ML) New democracy , members of different people’s organization like Niyamagiri Surashkhya Parishad, Azadi Bachao Andolan and other conscious citizens across the nations are visiting to the protest site and showing their solidarity with us.
On 16th of July 2011, more than 200 people, particularly womenfolk, who are the members of Sanghaipai Mathsahi village forest committee and land losers at Polang village were sitting on dharna site at Nuagaon demanding compensation and rehabilitation and keeping a watch on the forest near Mathasahi to save it from being cleaned by the officials.
Instead of hearing their demands, the police resorted to lathicharge on these peaceful protesters. As a result, eight persons including six women were injured in the incident. One woman was seriously injured in the police action and was undergoing treatment at the government hospital at Kujanga.
The members of these committees and aggrieved land losers held meetings and reaffirmed their resolve to oppose the Posco project and stop forcible cutting down of trees till all their demands are fulfilled. We are requesting you to condemn this police atrocities against the villagers.
On 14th- 15th of July 2011, twenty five leading people’s movement forum and civil society organizations of the country organized a satyagrah at Bhubaneswar to show their solidarity for the affected villagers of the proposed project. On 15th of July 2011, hundreds of anti-Posco activists arrested when they were marching towards the chief minister’s residence, demanding scarping of the proposed mega steel project immediately by the Orissa Govt and later on released.
UPDATE from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, 27th June 2011.
by Prashant Paikray (Spokesperson, PPSS)
Around 3 PM today, the police again gone back from the protest site. However our people are in high alert. The police may again come back tomorrow. In the morning, the administration re-deployed hundreds of policemen and staged a flag march near Govindpur village boarder.
Our thousands of villagers have formed a human barricade and made continuous slogan against these illegal and irresponsible behavior of the administration. Our people were determined to democratically prevent any forceful entry of officials into our areas. Our resistance to land acquisition gained further strength when Mr. Jual Oram, the state leader of BJP visited the protest site to lend his support.
Meanwhile a medical team of three doctors from Delhi Jan Hastakhep are camping in our villages Dhinkia, Govindpur which is deprived of State health care system.
On the other hand, the district administration went ahead with building the project’s boundary wall besides doing ground-levelling and tree-felling exercises in Polang, Noliasahi, Bayanalakanda and Nuagaon villages. Today, for the second consecutive day, hundreds of people of Pro-Posco United Action Committee (UAC), rushed to the site and prevented officials from continuing work. The UAC people say that the govt. is yet to fulfill the promises it made to them but starting the work without taking them into confidence.
On 26th June 2011, Mr. Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Award winner joined our protest. Addressing our villagers, he said “People have been building up their lives on this land for generations so they have the right to protest. The setting up of industry should not be at the cost of larger public interest. People here are leading decent life through multi-crop cultivation, betel vines growing and fisheries. The steel project would in no way compensate the loss of livelihood resources of the displaced villagers. Without the consent of the villagers, how can the government acquire land? It is gross human rights violation.” Informing that the MoEF has violated the law and its own orders, he said the forest land acquisition was a violation of the Forest Rights Act. He also questioned the decision to establish a new port apart from the existing Paradip port saying, “It will affect environment and take away the livelihood of thousands more, so Posco port should be stopped.” Our children enacted street plays wearing the masks of Manmohan Singh and Jairam Ramesh at the agitation site in Gobindpur village .
Today, the writ petitions were listed before the high court of Odisha. However the court matter did not reach for hearing today as well. The matter is now posted for tomorrow.
Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, June 19, 2011
On 18th morning around 9 a.m., the district administration made another aborted attempt to invade Govindapur to destroy the betel vines for POSCO steel project. Despite heavy downpour, around 2000 villagers including school children, women and elderly people started assembling at Gobindpur village border and resumed human barricade led by children and women. Rain did not dampen the spirit of our villagers and more particularly our children were shouting non-stop “POSCO HATAO, DHINKIA BACHAO”.
With the same spirit of determination, our people continuously repeated the same question which they have been raising all these years with no hope of getting an answer from the state, that, “why the governments in the centre and the state are mad after the so called biggest FDI, when we for generations to come will remain happy and prosperous because of our vibrant economy of Pan (betel) , Mina (fish)and Dhan (paddy) without any such project which promises only to destroy everything around us”? We are determined not to yield an inch of the land on which we grow betel vines and other cash crops. We will continue our protest and will not allow them to enter the site. Around 10 am, the Additional District Magistrate S.K. Chaudhuri who is working like a personal assistant to local MLA declared that, ‘We again canceled the land acquisition work due to rains. The government might resume forceful acquisition of land on Monday i.e. 20th June 2011”.
Activist Swami Agnivesh arrived in the morning to lend his support. His arrival boosted the morale of our villagers. . A rally was organized by SUCI at Bhubaneswar. In a press meet, CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (New Democracy) and SUCI together also threatened the state for widespread bandh and agitation if the state does not withdraw forces from the area. Today, at Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha, a protest meeting was jointly organized by Jan Andolan Samannwaya Manch, Odisha.
On 17th June 2011, a group of social activists including Retired Justice of Odisha High Court P.K. Mishra, Senior journalists Rabi Das and activists Prafulla Samantara joined with the people’s protest at Govindpur. Mr. Prafulla Samantara raised the issue that in the media, the government has announced that “they have received 200 applications from Govindpur village to destroy their betel vines and ready to get compensation” . It’s sheer false and misleading information. We are challenging the government to make public these names. Villagers are also expressing that there is misappropriation of money is occurring by using false names for the beetle vines’ owners. We demand an immediate inquiry to know the truth.
Despite massive deployment force, the chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Pattnaik repeatedly saying we will not do any forcible acquisition of land. However, every morning, the government is deploying massive police force in our area. For the last eleven days we have been surrounded by police from all sides. We, who include our women and children, are finding it hard to live a normal life. Our people are not able to access the nearby market to sell or supply our products for fear of being caught by police. In the past, police has indiscriminately arrested our people. Now we don’t know whom police will implicate on what charge.
We also request you to arrange a medical team to visit our area as we are not able to have access thenearby hospital in fear of arrest.
The police are keeping a strict vigil on our activities. However, we are ready to face any kind of government oppression if it forcefully tries to acquire the land.
At this juncture, we are earnestly appealing all public spirited citizens to join our protest soon. We are expecting activist Medha Patkar and environmentalist Bandana Shiva to visit our site soon. The CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta and CPI (M)’s leader in the Lok Sabha Basudev Acharia will join us on 21st of June. Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik is scheduled to visit on June 22. A BJP team would visit on 20th June 2011.
Our Children Have Opened The Nation’s Eyes
by POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI
June 12, 2011
Splashed across the headlines and TV channels across India are the people of the proposed POSCO project area and their heroic fight to stop this illegal project from grabbing our lands. The bravery of the children and women of our villages – lying down in front of a thousand armed police poised to destroy their lives and homes – has captured the nation’s attention. Even after official committees found the project to be illegal, independent studies destroyed all claims of its supposed “benefits”, and criminal complaints were filed against their officials, both Central and State governments shamelessly supported this project. But the courage of our children stopped them in their tracks.
The State government has broken every law and lied at every step to benefit POSCO. It deployed a thousand armed police and declared that it did not want to use force. Why then were the police deployed? It laid siege to thousands of people for two days, in the burning sun, threatening them with bullets, tear gas and lathi charges. The police finally had to withdraw in disgrace, after shamefully sneaking behind our backs to demolish a few betel vines. Today we are re-erecting those sheds and those families will cultivate again.
The Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today issued an appeal to the Orissa government to respect “democracy and dialogue” and refrain from coercion in taking over land. But “democracy and dialogue” are provided for in the law, and specifically in the Forest Rights Act, which says that the forest land cannot be taken without the consent of the community and without recognition of their rights. And it was Jairam Ramesh’s Ministry who gave the land to POSCO without complying with any of this, in direct violation of the law – leave alone of “democracy and dialogue.” So what is the meaning of pious statements now? If Mr. Jairam Ramesh and the Central government believe in democracy and dialogue, let him withdraw his illegal clearance.
No doubt, various vile tactics, threats, rumours and sneak attacks will be staged to demoralise the people. But our spirit will not be broken. We know that we fight for justice. Our children know this too, unlike those who so callously accuse us of using them as “human shields.” This fight is for justice and democracy, but it is also for our children’s future. We do not want to see them reduced to starvation and destitution, living from hand to mouth on daily wages, deprived of their entire future and livelihood by a criminal state. They fight with us because the injustice of POSCO’s land grab can be seen even by a ten year old, and it is these ten year olds who have shown the nation what courage really means. We reiterate: neither we nor our children will give up our forests, our water or our lands.
When Has the Ministry Believed in Dialogue, Discussion or Democracy?
by Campaign for Survival and Dignity
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh wants to have his cake and eat it too. Today, calling upon the Orissa government to not use force against the anti-POSCO movement, he declared: “All parties should adhere to democratic norms and procedures… Dialogue and discussion, not coercion is as essential to ecological security as it is to democracy.” We agree. Why then does his Ministry consistently break every law that requires such “dialogue and discussion”, not least in the case of POSCO itself?
Take the question of diversion of forest land for projects approved by MoEF since 2008. All the three committees in the case of POSCO, and the National Advisory Council found that at the policy level, the current practice of giving away forest land without bothering to respect the rights of forest dwelling communities is a criminal offence under law. The law in fact requires dialogue and democracy, since the forest land cannot be taken without the consent of the local communities, and without a certificate from them stating that their rights have been respected.
Yet the Ministry has continued to violate the law. In the case of POSCO, the same Minister who today calls for democracy declared that he will be bound neither by law and democracy – and gave away the land without taking the consent of local communities or respecting their rights. No dialogue or discussion there, when the law required it. The standoff of the past two days between thousands of people and the police in the POSCO area is a direct result of the grossly criminal decision of this Ministry.
This is the case not only in POSCO, but in hundreds of projects across the country. As per public information, the Ministry’s vaunted July 30, 2009 order stating the requirements of the Forest Rights Act for diversion of forest land has not been implemented in any major project so far. As recently as June 5th, the Minister informed the Times of India that he plans to amend this order since, essentially, the Ministry finds it too hard to implement it. They can collect certificates from thousands of forest officers and Collectors across the country, but they will not ask those same officers to seek a resolution at a gram sabha meeting as required by law. This would be a violation of federalism, we are told; by which standard the forest clearance process itself is a violation of federalism. The real reason is painfully obvious. Requiring a resolution from a gram sabha meeting attended by the affected people may force the Ministry to engage in a “discussion and dialogue” with them, which, of course, it does not want to do. Much easier to grant illegal clearance for the land grab, and then issue pious statements dripping of crocodile tears.
Finally, illegal diversion of forest land is only the most glaring violation of democracy in forests today. Whether it is the Green India Mission, compensatory afforestation or illegal relocation in tiger reserves, the Ministry is pouring thousands of crores into schemes and projects designed precisely to negate democracy and preserve the autocratic control of the Forest Department. In this they are of course ably assisted by the other agencies of the Centre, including the Tribal Ministry.
If Jairam Ramesh is speaking today as a Minister of the Central government and not as a moralising philosopher, let the government live up to his words. The ten year old children fainting from the heat on the borders of Dhinkia gram panchayat, fighting Centre, state and POSCO to defend their lands, can teach the Minister and his bosses something about discussion, dialogue and democracy – and most of all about justice.
Update on June 11, 2011
by Prashant Paikray (Spokesperson, POSCO Protirodh Sangram Samiti)
More than 3000 villagers have formed a human barricade to prevent police and officials from entering their village. Using loudspeakers, the government administration is repeatedly threatening to forcibly enter the area. Yet, over 700 students, women and elderly people are lying prostrate in the scorching sun, refusing to budge from their own land.
Meanwhile, one and half kms away from the border of the Govindpur village, the main protest site, three platoons of police forces have made a backdoor entry and are forcibly dismantling betel vines, a clearly cowardly act. While the owners of these vines, numbering about 50 villagers and there families have have already reached the site, trying to prevent it. Members of five political parties (Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Forward Block, Samajbadi Party, and Rashtriya Janta Dal) have reached are in a dharna at the protest site in solidarity with the protestors. A delegation of civil society members too has reached the protest site in solidarity.
At around 3 pm, the police finally returned from the area.
At this critical juncture, we need your strong support to protest the inhuman behavior of the police & administration and to put your pressure on the Government to desist from such activities.
Update from June 10, 2011
In one of the most exemplary displays of peaceful resistance in recent years, women, children, elders, youth and men of the Dhinkia, Govindpur and other villages of Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha state (India) managed to stave off yet another serious effort by the Odisha police to beat down this resistance to a major . The communities are resisting the acquisition of their forests and fertile agricultural lands and coast for the scandalous POSCO steel-power-port-mining project – the single largest industrial investment of recent times that mainly benefits rich American corporations, including Warren Buffet.
Over the past several days, over 1000 police have been deployed in the area to create a climate of fear in the communities to give up their fundamental rights of access to forests and their lands. Forceful acquisition has also been engaged in by the Odisha government intensively for weeks now. Today’s effort was to displace communities of Dhinkia and Govindpur villages which has been the epicentre of this peaceful resistance for six years now.
Rain or shine, villagers did not relent:
From the early hours of the morning, several hundred heavily armed police personnel were gathered face to face with over 3,000 villagers who squattted and refused to give up their land and their rights. This through heavy rain in the morning which subsequently turned into an extremely hot day. None of the villagers moved even as several fainted from sheer exhaustion and had to be hospitalised.
The police then resorted to other violent tactics threatening through loud speakers that villagers must make way for the police and give up their leaders, else face the wrath of the police lathi charge (caning) and tear gassing. There was also an unstated threat of firing on the peaceful protestors, considering that the police were very heavily armed.
Despite all these dire threats none of the villagers moved. Unable to break this remarkable resistance, the police finally withdrew their forces late evening, thus signalling a significant victory for this peaceful struggle for justice.
The threat of illegal and forcible displacement is far from over, SO PLEASE ACT NOW TO PREVENT A CARNAGE:
The threat of displacement is far from over, however. The Odisha Government is keen on displacing these communities based on the scandalous decision of the Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to approve the project. In so deciding the Minister disregarded findings of several independent expert committees that he appointed and which recommended that clearances granted must be cancelled as they were obtained by fraud and in violation of various forest rights, forest protection and environmental laws and norms.
The police will return to enforce the politically expedient decision of the Naveen Patnaik Government of Odisha to secure land for the POSCO project by engaging force and terror. A carnage is expected if the wide public does not rally in support of the just cause of the villagers.
To help prevent this violence please sign a petition to the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Odisha urging them to back down their support for the controversial POSCO project and withdraw the police forces and the state of terror that has been unleased. Please access the petition here:
Widespread support for this just cause:
Tomorrow, a delegation of five political parties namely Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India ( Marxists), Forward Block, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajbadi Party (SP) are going to the villages of Govindpur and Dhinkia to exhibit their solidarity with the members of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) who are resisting the project. These five parties are planning to start indefinite dhrna against the forceful land acquisition for POSCO at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Another delegation of civil society members under the leadership of retired Justice Choudhuri Pratap K. Mishra of Odisha High Court and Senior Journalist Mr. Rabi Das are visiting the villages to express widespread solidarity.
Make a solidarity visit to affected villages:
PPSS requests all progressive groups to start a dharna at Bhubaneswar (Odisha capital) to pressurise the Odisha administration to completely withdraw police forces.
An earnest is made to all public spirited people, especially intellectuals, writers, social activists within and outside Odisha, to immediately rush and join the human barricade at Govindpur and Dhinkia villages.
Your support at this juncture will certainly boost the morale of the struggling villagers and put pressure on the government to restraint from its undemocratic and illegal support for the scandalous POSCO project.
Police forces attempt to enter villages
Received from Prasant Paikray (Spokesperson, PPSS)
After about a face to face of the struggling villagers with the police for little more than 4 hours, the police has now returned from the Govindpur village. About 2000 people formed barricade and stopped the police to enter the area. 20 platoon police force is deployed in the area. The children formed the outer ring of the human barricade kept lying down on the street followed by women , then old people and finally the young. The police made several announcements to divide the peiople and weaken them morally but with no result.People completely maintain peace and adhere to democratic norms during today’s protest despite provocation from the police. Finally it declared section 144 in the area. People however did not leave the area.
Due to scorching heat two women and about three children fainted and were taken back to village for immediate care. Two police men also fainted on the spot. One person was arrested by the police but later released. some one/two betel vines were broken by the police in the area little far away from where people had gathered.
At aroud 3 pm, the police finally returned from the area as people did not budge an inch.
We will keep updating on the developments. But we urge friends to stay alert as administration can go to any extent and play any trick to enter to our area. Their main target is to arrest Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, President of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti ( PPSS) and Mr. Shisir Mohapatra, Secretary PPSS in an attempt to demoralise people.
Report at noon :-
Police and protesting public are face to face now: Twenty platoon police forces with officers have already reached at the border of Govindpur village where more than 2000 villagers are protesting against the forceful land acquisition by government of Odisha for POSCO through 24X7 vigil.
Protesters are determined to resist any use of force by the government and police forces. Even women and children have come to the forefront as they form the first two shields of protection.
Senior police officers, with arms and weapons, are threatening people to dismantle through loud speakers.
OVERNIGHT OR DAWN POLICE ATTACK IMMINENT ON POSCO AFFECTED VILLAGES
June 9, 2011
The Odisha police have called in heavy reinforcements and are moving into positions all evening around the villages of Dhinkia and Gobindpur in Jagatsinghpur District of Odisha state. These villages form the epicentre of over 6 years of successful peaceful resistance to the scandalous POSCO steel-mining-power-port project \u2013 the world’s largest. This project is being pushed through by Odisha and Indian Governments in blatant violation of fundamental rights and a variety of environmental and economic laws of India.
According to confirmed sources within the Odisha establishment, the attack on this peaceful resistance is more than likely early morning tomorrow, if the police do not unleash terror overnight. The resilient people of these villages including women, children, elders, youth and men are holding overnight vigils along the borders of their villages now and will stay so till the police withdraw.
An alarming aspect of such abuse of police powers is that over 26 platoons of police have been mobilised around these villages over the past two weeks. Such heavy police presence betrays the Odisha Government’s claims that the acquisition of land for the project is peaceful.
The current Senior Police Officer in charge of the operation is the former Superintendent of Police of Kalinganagar, who had ordered firing on villagers protesting the Tata Steel plant, killing many tribals and injuring scores more. Under this officer’s ruthless leadership, the Odisha police has effectively declared an emergency on the resisting villages, completely halting normal life over the past several weeks. It is more than likely now that a needless carnage will result because of the such strong arm tactics of the police.
On behalf of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi (PPSS), this urgent release is being made requesting your earliest attention to this impending disaster. India could do well without another Kalinganagar, or Nandigram, and the role of the mass media is critical in preventing such an incident.
For more details about the ground situation, please contact:
Prashant Paikray, Spokesperson, PPSS: Cell: 09437571547 [email protected]
Ranjan Swain of PPSS: Cell: 09178643193
Statement by eminent persons condemning the attempts to forcibly evict villagers
Open Letter to the Prime Minister
June 6, 2011
We condemn the outrageous and illegal attempt by the Odisha government, with the connivance and support of the Centre, to attack and seize the land of the villagers affected by the proposed POSCO project. We understand that on June 3rd, 17 people – including five children – were arrested and beaten by the police because they refused to allow the destruction of their farms. We also understand that the administration has been announcing through loudspeakers that they will use force against anyone who does not submit to the takeover of their land within the next 24 hours. Thousands of people are peacefully protesting while 24 platoons of police have been deployed in the area, probably for use in a brute force attempt at taking the land of the villages of Dhinkia and Gobindpur TODAY – Monday, June 6th – or in the coming days. This is occurring even as court cases by the villagers are pending in the Orissa High Court and are due to be heard shortly.
This attack on the lives and livelihoods of thousands is doubly outrageous because it has been repeatedly shown, and accepted by three different official committees, that the takeover of this land is illegal and in violation of the Forest Rights Act. The Environment Ministry has violated the law and its own orders and stated as much when giving the clearance. We note that in February of this year the National Advisory Council had specifically asked you to ensure that the practice of handing over forest land to companies in gross violation of this “landmark law”, as you yourself described it, should be halted and action taken against the officials responsible.
Further, the project is proceeding despite the fact that an official committee said it had “potentially disastrous impacts” on the environment that could “cause loss of life”; and after an independent study showed that it would lead to a net loss of employment, destitution and impoverishment of around 50,000 people while producing no benefits for the local economy. Indeed, there is such a pattern of illegality around this project that five prominent anti-corruption activists have recently called for an investigation into “criminal collusion” between government officials and the company.
We call upon you to immediately ask the Odisha government to halt this illegal attack, to withdraw all clearances given in violation of law, and to take an impartial position in the court cases filed by the people. Failure to stop this attack will show that the UPA government’s much vaunted concern over issues of displacement, forest rights and “inclusive growth” is simply an eyewash.
Deep Joshi, PRADHAN and Member, National Advisory Council
Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and Member, National Advisory Council
Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties
Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari and Member, National Advisory Council
Dr. Madhav Gadgil, Ecological Scientist and Member, National Advisory Council
Arvind Kejriwal, Parivartan India and India Against Corruption
Dr. B.D. Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan and former Commissioner for SC/STs, Government of India
Dr. Amit Bhaduri, Council for Social Development
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
Justice Rajinder Sachar, People’s Union for Civil Liberties and former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
Swami Agnivesh, World Council of Arya Samaj
Dr. Binayak Sen
Adv. Prashant Bhushan, Campaign for Judicial Accountability
Maj Gen S.G. Vombatkare (Retd), NAPM – Karnataka
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya
Dr. Kamal Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dr. Ilina Sen
Dr. K S Subramanian, IPS
Dr. Anuradha Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dr. Manoranjan Mohanty, Council for Social Development
Dr. Walter Fernandes, North Eastern Social Research Centre
Dr. Mira Shiva
Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance for People’s Movements
Thomas Kocherry, National Fishworkers Forum
Dr. Xavier Dias, BIRSA, Jharkhand
Dr. Sumit Chakravarty, Mainstream
Imminent Attack by Government, People Ready to Resist
Statement by POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI
Women, Children Beaten; Thousands Assembled on Village Border to Resist; Betel Vine Farms Illegally Destroyed, District Administration Threatening People Over Loudspeakers
Today, following two weeks of illegal land grabbing on the fringes of the POSCO area, the administration has announced it will begin the attack on the main area tomorrow, namely the gram panchayat of Dhinkia, containing more than 2/3rds of the land for the project. Seventeen people – eight men, four women and five children – were arrested and beaten up today for opposing the illegal destruction of their betel vines in the village of Noliasahi, on the coast. The administration is now sending loudspeakers on vehicles around the area, threatening people with the use of force if they do not consent to the destruction of their farms within 24 hours. More than 2,000 people have assembled on the border of Dhinkia panchayat to defend their homes and lands and more are joining. The attack in the other villages is also expected tomorrow.
The sheer criminal, corrupt venality of this government is shown by the fact that these children, women and men were arrested even as the case filed by villagers was scheduled for hearing in the High Court today. The matter did not reach and is now posted by the 8th. It is clear that the government intends to try to use maximum force to complete the task before the 8th and present the court with a fait accompli.
The Congress at the Centre and the BJD in Odisha have shown their true colours. Shedding crocodile tears in Bhatta Parsaul, talking of anti-corruption while breaking every law to favour corporates, putting up “green Ministers” like Jairam Ramesh whose only job is to cover up crimes; all these lies stand torn to shreds in our lands today. Even after official committees, anti-corruption activists, and protesters from Dhinkia to South Korea to New York have exposed the evil of this project, our people are facing the guns of the police for doing nothing except upholding justice.
We will fight to the last. Our fight is not just for our lands but for the future of our country, to save it from the criminal cabal who extract the blood of our people, our lands and our forests to sell it to the highest bidder. We call on all citizens who care for India to join us in our fight for justice and real democracy in this country.