UPDATE FROM POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI (PPSS) AS ON 12.4. 2016
Hopefully, you all have been made aware of the recent NGT order of 8th April 2016, in which the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stated that “their ( meaning POSCO) Environmental Clearance is valid only up to 19th July, 2017, they would not be able to do any work because the land has not been handed over to them and therefore the project cannot be proceed any further. At this stage they are unable to carry out the project and if they plan to take advantage of the Environmental Clearance and complete the project, they would inform the Applicant and the Tribunal”.
Many people might think that POSCO has withdrawn and it is time for celebration. We would like to clarify here that though the recent hearing in NGT has enlightened us about POSCO’s confusing mindset but we are disturbed to know about its unwillingness to publicly declare its intention about the project and its future. We fail to understand why, in spite of POSCO’s intention not to start work in our land within 2017; the matter could be listed for further hearing on May 9, 2016 ! The case should have been closed for ever putting an end to our anxiety and the process of harassment we have been going through.
The state police have turned the area in to a repressive colony. After inflicting severe physical injuries on old and young people, they have slapped numerous fictitious cases on our people and have put many in the jail. The local police do not receive FIRs of the people and rather misbehave with the women or men who come to the police station with complaints. Currently two villagers are languishing in the jail. Mr Khira Das of Govindpur village arrested on 10th December 2015 ( Human Rights Day) and Prafulla Jena of Dhinkia Village in the 2nd February 2016 . More than 420 false cases have lodged against the villagers and warrant order has been issued against more than 2000 people out of which 300 are women. Due to the police warrant, the villagers are not able to venture out of the villages.
In response to a call by the PPSS, our people have started reoccupying the betel vine lands forcibly occupied by the district administration for POSCO. As a result, POSCO has filed cases against our people. The cases includes criminal (section 447, 426) and encroachment civil cases. 30 criminal civil cases have filed against the villagers of Gadakujanga panchayat. In another instance, villagers of Govindpur re-occupied the so called government land. As a result, the local government filed criminal and civil cases against 40 people. Villagers of Nuagaon re-occupied the so called government land in 2015. The government has threatened to file cases against the people.
Meanwhile members of Khandadhar Suraksha Sangram Samiti (KSSS) along with various people movements organised three day protest near Khandadhar waterfall from 26-28th January 2016. They demanded that like Niyamagiri , no land, no mines must be used by the Government as well as by any company in the name of ‘so called’ development without prior approval of ‘Gram Sabha’ ( Village Council). Both the state and union government should respect and recognise the PESA 1996, Forest Right Act 2006 and ‘Gram Sabha’ which have been enacted in accordance with the 5th Schedule of the Constitution. They appealed to declare the region as National Natural Heritage and protect the natural habitat of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) Paudi Bhuyna.
We demand for the following
1. POSCO be forced to make formal announcement to completely withdraw from the project from Odisha immediately.
2. The government should hand over the all land occupied for POSCO to the villagers immediately and recognise their land as per the FRA 2006.
3. The government should stop all types of repression to our people and withdraw all false and fabricated criminal charges against our villagers immediately.
4. The government need to replant the trees in our sensitive coastal areas where more than two lakh trees were indiscriminately cut down by the Government for POSCO.
5. Proper and adequate Compensation should be paid by the government to the widows and children and the injured family members attacked by POSCO goons in the year 2008 and 2013
Kindly circulate this mail widely
Hoping for support and solidarity.
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org