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Jun-12-2011 23:02printcomments

AID Condemns Police Intimidation and Unlawful Land Acquisition in Jagatsinghpur Odisha

AID urges the government to heed the voices of the villagers and to uphold the rule of law.

(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) - Association for India’s Development (AID) strongly condemns the armed intimidation and destruction of crops by the Odisha police in an effort to acquire land for South Korean Steel company POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district.

Thousands of residents of Dhinkia and Gobindpur, including hundreds of children, have been peacefully lying on the ground in the searing heat to protect their homes, lands and livelihoods as the police continue to enter their lands by force.

Why the land acquisition must stop

Serious questions remain concerning the clearance granted to acquire the land of the villagers. Indeed, commissions instituted by the government itself to investigate the legality of the clearances found them to be in violation of the law and called for them to be revoked.

Statutory requirements for environmental clearance have not been met. Even the Forest Assessment was done from a low-flying helicopter rather than on the ground. With two writ petitions by the villagers pending in the Odisha High Court, and a criminal complaint against the District Collector for lying, and fabricating the evidence that formed the basis of the clearance to acquire the land, the present exercise of land acquisition is simply illegal.

Democratic norms have been violated at various levels. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh rejected the Palli Sabha (village council) resolution passed against the POSCO project in Dhinkia. Members of the government-appointed Meena Gupta Committee and the Ashish Kothari Committee have have found the land grab to be illegal and in violation of the Forest Rights Act. (An exception is Meena Gupta herself, who was secretary in the MoEF when clearance was granted to POSCO.)

The Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group has found that the project has no benefits for the local or national economy, while providing a minimum profit of Rs. 1,95,000 crores to POSCO, upturning all official claims of socio-economic benefits. The only “cost-benefit analysis” which is being used to support the project is a study that was paid for by POSCO itself.

AID urges the government to heed the voices of the villagers and to uphold the rule of law.   Immediately we demand that:

  1. The Government must halt the land grab and withdraw police force from the site immediately and ensure safety of the villagers.

  2. All residents whose betel vines have been destroyed must be adequately compensated.

  3. Clearances obtained in violation of law must be withdrawn.  Assessments must be based on legal, participatory and transparent process.

  4. An immediate independent investigation must be launched into the falsification of documents by the District Collector

  5. CBI must expand the scope of its ongoing investigations against A Raja by reviewing his role in the POSCO clearances.  CBI must investigate all officials who have promoted POSCO project, possibly including then Finance Minister and present Home Minister, P. Chidambaram.

  6. The Chief Minster must visit the area and establish a dialogue with the people.


Committee Reports

Iron and Steal: The Posco-India Story

Meena Gupta Committee Report

Ashish Kothari Committee Report

News Reports

IBN Live, 10 June 2011.  “POSCO:  Orissa government sends forces to acquire land

Business Standard, 3 June 2011.  Anti-Posco Brigade forms Human Barricade to Stall Posco Land Acquisition

The Hindu, 21 October 2010.  “POSCO paid for study on POSCO

Video Reports

Newsxlive Video 11 June 2011.  “POSCO Agitation intensifies, 2000 villagers blockade police”

NDTV Video  11 June 2011. “Posco Agitation Intensifies, Women and Kids at Forefront.”

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