Vedanta mining: amid Tribal ministry’s protest Odisha fixes Gram Sabha dates


Bhubaneswar, July 5, 2013

 The tribal busy at a paddy field at the foothills of Niyamgiri Hills in Kalhandi district of Odisha. In the background Vedanta Aluminium factory can be seen. A file photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury.

PTI

The Hindu The tribal busy at a paddy field at the foothills of Niyamgiri Hills in Kalhandi district of Odisha. In the background Vedanta Aluminium factory can be seen. A file photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury.

Ignoring objections by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Odisha government on Friday announced dates for conducting Gram Sabhas in 12 villages of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to decide fate of the proposed bauxite mining for Vedanta atop Niyamgiri Hills.

“We have decided to hold Gram Sabha in 12 hill slope villages as per the April 18 Supreme Court order. While Gram Sabha will be held between July 18 and August 19 in seven villages of Rayagada district, similar exercise will be done between July 23 and 30 in five villages of Kalahandi district,” Odisha’s ST and SC development minister L B Himirika told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

To a question, Mr. Himirika said the state government had earlier decided to hold Gram Sabha in 12 limited villages and it would implement it. “We are going by the Apex Court’s order,” Mr. Himirika said sidestepping a question on the MoTA’s objection.

On April 18, the Supreme Court order asked the state government to hold gram sabhas to decide the fate of Vedanta’s plan to mine at Niyamgiri.

“We need at least 50 per cent attendance to conduct a gram sabha. One-third of them should be women. If quorum is not achieved, the gram sabha will be cancelled and conducted later,” Rayagada district collector Sashi Bhusan Padhi said.

Meanwhile, Odisha’s Advocate General (AG) in a report supported the state government’s decision in 12 hill slope villages of Niyamgiri. The state government had sought Law department and AG’s views on objections raised by MoTA.

Earlier, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs V Kishore Chandra Deo had said that limiting Gram Sabha proceedings to only 12 villages was not in accordance with the Supreme Court order dated April 18 and directions issued by the ministry under Section 12 of Forest Right Act (FRA).

Mr. Deo had also written a letter to Governor S C Jamir seeking his intervention in the matter, saying the areas where gram sabhas are proposed to be held fall under Schedule V categoty.

“The list of villages where rights of forest dwellers are guaranteed under the FRA or where cultural and religious rights are likely to be affected cannot be arbitrarily decided by the state government. It is to be decided by the people (Palli Sabha) where claims would be filed through a transparent manner so that no genuine Gram Sabha which has a legitimate claim is left out of the process. This is in line with Para 59 of the apex court judgement,” Vibha Puri Das, secretary, MoTA, had written to the state chief secretary recently.

The Ministry clarified that it had received several claims under FRA for various rights, including religious and cultural rights claimed over Niyamgiri forests and sacred areas from villages over and above the 12 villages selected by the state government.

It shows that Niyamgiri forests are shared by not just 12 villages, but many other villages in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts too share religious and cultural rights over Niyamgiri, the ministry observed.

Referring to Para 53 and 54 of the Supreme Court (SC) judgement, the MoTA letter said, “Such observations cannot be interpreted to assess the number of villages that need to be considered for recognition and vesting of claims under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Right) Act-2006.”

The Supreme Court in its order had directed the state government to complete Gram Sabhas within three months to get the mandate of the local people regarding the mining project.

The judgement had also called for considering all claims on community, individual, cultural and religious rights of the local inhabitants.

 

#India – Locked land of Posco #odisha


POSCO

 

 

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Gobindpur, Odisha, June 23, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an eight-year-long uneven battle between betel vines and a steel plant. And steel hasn’t won yet.

For, eight villages in coastal Odisha’s Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga gram panchayats in Jagatsingpur district, about 150 km east of state capital Bhubaneswar, have put up a stiff resistance against South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed Rs.52,000-crore project.

The reason: It will take away their traditional source of income — betel vines.

Posco signed a deal with the state government for acquiring 4,004 acres (one acre=43,560 square feet) for the project. But the site of the project — backed by the single-largest foreign investment in India — virtually has nothing except some prefabricated site offices in a hurriedly fenced-off piece of vacant land.

The telltale signs of the battle are strewn everywhere in the area earmarked for the project — felled trees, destroyed betel vines and hostile villagers, who have been fighting with the state to protect their vines.

Popular resistance and environmental clearance have made it difficult for the state to push through the 12-million-tonnes a year green-field project, which should have gone on stream by 2011.

Of the 4,004 acres, about 3,000 acres is forestland. And more than 5,000 betel vines dot the sandy landscape in this forestland, each generating an average assured income of R20,000 a month.

Two years ago, the administration had to suspend land acquisition after hundreds of women and children blocked the entry point to the vines near the Gobindpur-Nuagaon border in scorching summer.

In February this year, the administration took a step forward by resuming the process in Gobindpur. Though the state considers dismantling about 300 betel vines in three months to be some success, the drive seems to have lost steam by the end of May.

“They are coming like thieves in the wee hours and trying to dismantle vines before we wake up and protest. We have re-erected several vines dismantled by them,” said villager Tuna Baral.

But the administration is being careful. “Land acquisition continues peacefully. We are trying to convince people to part with their vines and accept compensation,” SK Mallick, collector of Jagatsinghpur, told HT.

The project has split the village community, with a group called the United Action Committee (UAC) — having some influence in Nuagaon — supporting Posco. But that has not helped matters. Today, Nuagaon is a picture of despair, with villagers having exhausted their compensation and are left with no means to sustain themselves.

Kabindra Rout, a betel farmer, said, “The administration dismantled my betel vine in 2011 and I got a compensation of R2.28 lakh. But now I am jobless.”

Many who earlier used to own betel vines and could employ others have now been reduced to daily wage-earners in the vines in Dhinkia, the stronghold of the anti-Posco movement, which the police have not been able to enter during the past eight years.

On June 7, after meeting chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Posco India chairman and managing director Young-Won Yoon said, “We are hopeful the land will be handed over to us soon.”

But ‘soon’ may prove to be far off — or even a delusion — as the 20,000-odd residents of the eight villages are showing no signs of retreating from their betel vines.

 

 

 

#India – Vedanta to revive lanjigarh by import from Indonesia, Tanzania, and Australia


Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar  June 19, 2013 ,BS

vedanta

 

Imports to revive Vedanta‘s Lanjigarh refinery

 After exhausting its options to source bauxite from the domestic market, Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) is mulling importing the raw material to resume operations at its Lanjigarh refinery.
The one-million alumina refinery has remained shut since December 5, 2012, on bauxite crunch and VAL has been making frantic efforts to restart the plant. The company recently announced it would resume operations of the refinery by the end of this month.

“We are looking at the possibility of importing bauxite as it will enable us to restart operations of the refinery quickly. VAL is exploring the possibility of imports from countries like Indonesia, Tanzania, and Australia. We hope to work out a deal in the next four-five days,” said a senior company official.

Although imported bauxite will be costlier for VAL, the firm is considering the option for the time being amid a hostile regulatory environment that has led to the suspension of many bauxite mines and also a lack of firm commitment from private miners on supplies.

Odisha Government diluting apex court order: petitioner #Niyamgiri #Vedanta


BHUBANESWAR, June 11, 2013

Staff Reporter, The Hindu

 St

ate government continues to face widespread criticism over selection 12 villages for conducting of gram sabhas that would decide fate of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hill.

Prafulla Samantra, an original petitioner of the case on which Supreme Court directed to hold gram sabhas for settlement rights under Forest Rights Act, on Monday wrote to Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik alleging dilution of Apex Court order.

“The Apex Court verdict has been clearly ignored by the ST and SC Department of the State government as there has been an arbitrary decision while selecting 12 villages for conducting Gram Sabhas for which no convincing reason has been mentioned,” Mr. Samantra said.

He also charged that the State was trying to spread reign of terror in Niyamgiri Hill range before conduct of gram sabhas.

“Since a fake combing operation is going on in the area by security forces with the help and support of Vedanta, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation is prevailing over there which may badly affect the conduct of Gram Sabhas.

A couple of days back security forces allegedly fired at a group of young tribal children who were playing in the hills and one was reportedly killed. If such a situation continues no Gram Sabhas could be conducted in a fair way,” Mr. Samantra further alleged.

He urged the Chief Secretary to take urgent steps so that Gram Sabhas would be conducted in all affected places, and just not the ones prescribed by the administration.

The petitioner also requested the government to involve him in all the processes leading to conduct of gram sabhas as per Apex Court order.

Recently, Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had told the State government that selection of 12 villagers for conducting gram sabhas was not in accordance of Supreme Court order.

MoTA Secretary Vibha Puri Das in a letter said the ministry was in receipt of copies of several claims under Forest Rights Act for various rights including religious and cultural rights claimed over Niyamgiri forests and sacred areas from villages over and above the 12 villages selected by the State Government.

 

#India- Report demands full compensation for victims of Kandhamal riots


Special Correspondent, The Hindu

 The report was released by Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
A report titled 'Unjust Compensation' prepared by Housing and Land Rights Network highlighting property losses of private individuals during the Kandhamal riots, in Bhubaneswar on Friday.—Photos: Lingaraj Panda
A report titled ‘Unjust Compensation’ prepared by Housing and Land Rights Network highlighting property losses of private individuals during the Kandhamal riots, in Bhubaneswar on Friday.—Photos: Lingaraj Panda

Centre for Sustainable Use of Social and Natural Resources (CSNR), Bhubaneswar, and Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), Delhi, on Friday released a report on the compensation paid to the families that had suffered damage and loss of property during the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in 2007 and 2008.

The report noted that though the State government provided immediate relief, compensation for ‘damaged houses’ and death, it did not enumerate and provide compensation for the loss of property (other than housing) such as household articles, vital documents (like educational certificates, land records), agricultural equipment, utensils, clothes, agricultural and forest produce, livestock, poultry, and livelihood-related losses.

The government was not having a policy to assess and compensate such losses.

The report was released here by Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.

The panel also consisted of Dhirendra Panda, Secretary, CSNR, Shivani Chaudhry, Associate Director, HLRN, and Prafulla Samantara and Nicholas Barla, human rights activists.

The findings of the impact assessment study revealed that the real costs and losses suffered by individuals and families who experienced destruction of their homes and property were immense. While extensive damage to property, both movable and immovable, had been reported, the State has only compensated families for loss of homes.

On the basis of the findings of this study, the report recommended to the State government to take immediate measures to adequately rehabilitate and resettle the victim-survivors of the Kandhamal violence.

The report further urged the government to ensure full reparation to those persons whose livelihoods were affected due to violence and strife.

The government should provide adequate financial assistance to those children whose education was affected because of destruction of books and educational material, unavailability of study material, loss of academic certificates, and inability to attend school during and after the violence, the report suggested.

It further said that the government should provide financial assistance to victim-survivors whose documents of land and property were destroyed and facilitate the process to obtain alternative documents.

The government should develop a new policy for victim-survivors of violence due to conflict, such as in the case of Kandhamal, and implement it immediately, the report said, while urging the government to prepare a long-term strategy to protect and promote secularism and non-casteism in Odisha.

#India – Villagers speak- The Maoists Support Us, But We Haven’t Joined Them’


In Odisha’s Koraput district, hardly a week passes without the police announcing the “surrender” of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) members. But what crimes did the Adivasis commit for which they had to surrender? That’s a question even the Koraput Superintendent of Police Avinash Kumar finds hard to answer. CMAS chief Nachika Linga, an Adivasi who is currently underground, has been named in every case filed against the CMAS or the CPI(Maoist) in Narayanpatna, Bandhugaon and Laxmipur blocks of the district. Linga spoke to G Vishnu from an undisclosed location

G Vishnu

G VISHNU , Tehelka

June 7, 2013

Nachika Linga

 | 44
Chief, Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha.
Photo: 

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

How many of your activists were arrested? How many are still in jail?
Till now, over 500 innocent Adivasis have been jailed. Most of them were members or sympathisers of the CMAS. There has not been a single conviction. When the cases reach the court, they have always ended in acquittal. More than 100 activists are still in prison.

Why are so many CMAS activists surrendering to the police?
Since 2009, there has been an aggressive campaign to loot Adivasi lands at gun point. Farmers are being told by the police either to surrender or face the bullet. Ordinary Adivasi villagers are being forced into police jeeps and later paraded in front of the media. Those who have asserted themselves and fought for their rights are being shown as ‘surrendered’ CMAS members.

What are the goals of your organisation?
I was a bonded labourer for a moneylender. Ever since I was a child, I have seen how alcohol is used as a weapon against Adivasis. Ours is a democratic struggle for our rights. Adivasis managed to acquire land only after facing great odds, but the liquor mafia and non-tribal landlords enslaved us on our own land. “Jameen MuktiMadhaMuktiGoti Mukti (Struggle for land, emancipation from alcoholism and bonded labour)”: that’s the motto of the CMAS. The CMAS aims to create awareness among Adivasis about their rights.

Though your movement was non-violent initially, the police say you are Maoists.
We are fighting for our rights, and anybody can support us. The Maoists, and even intellectuals in Bhubaneswar and New Delhi, support Adivasi movements. But it is wrong to claim we have joined the Maoists. The police victimise Adivasis by branding them as Maoists. This must stop.

When innocent Adivasis are killed, some people see it as ‘collateral damage’. Do you also think some sacrifices are necessary?
The ordinary Adivasi fights with the elements to grow crops. Where do your people get rice from? Adivasis and farmers provide that rice, but today they are the ones getting killed. On top of that, the establishment claims it can ensure the welfare of Adivasis. Adivasi blood is being shed everywhere, so it doesn’t matter whether or not I think sacrifices are necessary.

vishnu@tehelka.com

 

ATTN DELHI- Protest Against Continued State Repression onAnti-POSCO People’s Movement @May 24


Protest Against Continued State Repression

onAnti-POSCO People’s Movement

Odisha Bhawan, 1 Niti Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
 

11 am24th May (Friday), 2013

 

In the continuum of brutal attacks on the struggle against forcible land acquisition for a POSCO steel plant in Odisha, the most recent case of repression has been the unlawful arrest of POSCO Pratirodh Samgram Samiti (PPSS) leader Abhay Sahoo from Bhubaneshwar airport by Odisha Police. This arbitrary arrest is clearly a part of the ploy to destabilize the People’s Movement that has been fighting against the forcible land grab by Odisha/Central Government for the POSCO project.

After the unlawful arrest of Abhay Sahoo on 11th May, from 16th May 2013 onwards, a Odisha wide platform POSCO Pratirodh Jan Sangharsh Manch (PPJSM) have started a demonstration for indefinite period at Lower PMG, Bhubaneswar demanding immediate scrapping of the project and release of PPSS leaders Abhay Sahoo, Laxman Paramanik ( victim of the bomb attack in early March), Promod Das and two others from jail.

On behest of CAPITAL, the Odisha Government and the Indian (Union) Government lends its unabated support for the project leading to utmost repressive measures on peaceful protesters.

We strongly condemn the complete disregard for any kind of democratic processes, and the blatant use of brute force through police as well as goons to brutally crush the movement that is going on in the region. We call on all democratic and progressive organizations and individuals to condemn the arrest of anti-POSCO activists and protest against the Odisha Government’s naked support towards POSCO, where it is ready to murder its own citizens so that POSCO may set up its steel plant.

 

People’s Struggle Against ‘Corporate – State Nexus’ Long Live!

 

Sd/-

New Socialist Initiative (NSI), Sanhati – Delhi, JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi, All India Students’ Association (AISA), Democratic Students Federation (DSF), Left Collective, KNS (Krantikari Naujawan Sabha), CPI-ML (Red Flag), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), New Materialist – JNU, Students for Resistance (SRF), Women Against Sexual Violence & State Repression (WSS)

 

Facebook Event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/462067460546772/

 

 

Odisha to seek six more weeks to conduct Niyamgiri Gram Sabhas


BS Reporter  |  Bhubaneswar  May 17, 2013

In its April 18 order, SC had directed the Odisha govt to conduct Gram Sabhas at Niyamgiri within three months to seek the mandate of the locals

 
 
 
 
 

The Odisha government today said it would seek six more weeks from the Supreme Court (SC) to conduct Gram Sabhas to decide the fate of bauxite mining at the ecologically sensitive Niyamgiri hills.

“We are going to request the apex court to grant us six more weeks for the conduct of gram sabhas, as it is not feasible to conduct these within the SC-stipulated timeline. The Sabhas will be held in 12 villages on the Niyamgiri hills,” said state law minister Maheshwar Mohanty.

In its April 18 order, SC had directed the Odisha government to conduct gram sabhas at Niyamgiri within three months to seek the mandate of the locals on the proposed bauxite mining project of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Vedanta Aluminium (VAL), and also decide on fresh claims, if any, regarding community, individual, cultural and religious rights of the Dongria Kondh tribe residing these hills. The court had said the claims for these, to be taken up by gram sabhas, should be filed in six weeks.

According to the apex court order, the Gram Sabha decisions were to be communicated by the state government to the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, which would decide on allowing mining at Niyamgiri within two months of securing the report.

In a letter dated May 2, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs had asked the state Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe development department to issue advertis\ements in local newspapers, informing tribals and forest dwellers in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to file claims of religious and cultural rights, along with the individual and community rights, under the Forest Rights Act. It had urged the state government to display the notification related to holding gram sabhas, along with the details of the Supreme Court order, in all villages in the two districts, irrespective of their proximity from the mining site.

To ensure transparency was maintained in the identification of claims, copies of these notification should be sent to all civil society groups and non-governmental organisations active in these districts, it had said.

However, as it was unable to find clarity on the conduct of gram sabha proceedings in the Supreme Court order, the state Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe department had consulted the law department.

Opening the Niyamgiri bauxite mines, spread over Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, is crucial for the functioning of Vedanta Aluminium’s one-million-tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh. The refinery, which depends entirely on bauxite sourced from outside, has been shut since December 5, 2012, due to unavailability of the commodity.

 

Anti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu arrested


By PTI | 11 May, 2013, abhaysahoo
READ MORE ON » tamil nadu | PPSS | POSCO | Patana village | explosion | Abhay Sahu
BHUBANESHWARAnti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu was arrested today in connection with several cases including a bomb blast in the proposed steel project site in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, the police said.

“Sahu, who was to leave for Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu to attend a meeting there, was arrested from Bhubaneswar by a police team from Jagatsinghpur shortly before departure of his flight,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Paradip), Bhabani Shankar Mishra said.

Acting on an information, the police team reached the state capital and arrested the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) leader before taking him to Kujanga near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, the DSP said.

There are a total of 54 cases of different nature against Sahu, he said, adding the PPSSleader was on bail in 50 cases and the arrest was made in connection with four fresh cases involving a bomb explosion, obstruction in government work and other offences.

Claiming that he was implicated in false cases, Sahu said he was to leave for Coimbatore yesterday to attend a conference but deferred his visit as his son-in-law fell ill and was hospitalised.

Maintaining that he would continue to oppose the mega project proposed by the South Korean steel major, the PPSS leader said he was to take a flight to Chennai to attend the conference but police arrested him before his departure.

Sahu, who has been leading an agitation under the banner of PPSS against the mega steel project since 2005, had been arrested more than two years ago in connection with various offences.

He was released after obtaining bail in December 2011, police said, adding that four new cases were subsequently slapped against the anti-Posco leader.

One of the cases was related to an explosion allegedly during bomb making at Patana village in which three persons were killed on March 2, this year, police said.

Sahu would be produced before a court at Kujanga shortly, the DSP said.

 

PRESS RELEASE – Fact Finding Report- Scrap Posco Project


We are surprised to see the Supreme Court judgment on mining lease allotment to controversial POSCO Company which has made our lives miserable. At least after the welcome judgment on Niyamgiri where the Gram Sabhas have been given the authority to decide what constitutes their rights, the natives of Khadadhar area should have asked also to decide in Gram Sabha whether such a mining was needed or not. Now asking the central government to take crucial decisions will inevitably harm the interests of Tribals protected under FRA 2006 as the central government is more than favourably disposed towards POSCO. We too strongly feel that our Gram Sabhas views so clearly and so categorically resolved on October 18, 2012 must also be considered while deciding the fate of mining involving POSCO.

The peaceful demonstration is continuing at Govindpur Village against the trench cutting work for boundary wall construction for POSCO. Today more than eight hundred villagers have assembled at the site to peacefully oppose the construction work.

On 9th May 2013, with the help of eight platoons of police forces, the Jagatsinghpur administration along with IDCO and POSCO officials started the trench cutting work for boundary wall construction for POSCO. The district administration indiscriminately axed fruit bearing trees. This shows how the police and the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha, are colluding with each other to supress our opinion and to serve the interest of POSCO Company with utter disregard for the verdict of National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Our villagers held demonstrations and raised slogans against the illegal constriction of boundary wall. This is a violation of the direction passed by National green Tribunal on 31sr 2013. As a result, the police went back.

Meanwhile a seven-member-team comprising representatives of two human rights organisations made a visit to our area and released a report. The group demanded scraping of the Posco project as it was being set up in violation of guidelines laid down in the industrial policy document of the Union government.
Report is below-
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS FORUM (DRF)

ORGANISATION FOR PROTECTION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (OPDR)

Posco Issue – A Preliminary Report by DRF & OPDR Team

A 7 member team of two human rights organisations – Orgainisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (Andhra Pradesh) and Democratic Rights Forum is in Odisha on 4,5,6 May 2013 to look into “POSCO problem”. The immediate context of the team’s visit is opening an armed Police Camp at Village Gobindapur and the subsequent reported repression.

The Team met representatives of PPSS, CPI(ML), CPI, SUCI(C) at Bhubaneswar on May 4. The team visited the villages Dhinkia, Gobindapur, Patana, Nuagaon and Gada Kujanga on 5th. The team intereacted with scores of people in those villages, especially in Dhinkia and Gobindapur. The Team had a long talk with Mr Abhoya Sahu, the President and Sisir Mahapatra, the General Secretary of “Posco Prathirodh Samgram Samithi” (PPSS) at Dhinkia village.

We have gone through various documents like i) MOUs between POSCO and Govt. of Odisha in the year 2005, ii) Forest Rights Act, 2005, iii) Judgement of Supreme Court of India CLIA 2134 OF 2007, IV) N.C.Saxena Committee Report, v) Meena Gupta Committee Report and vi) Ray Paul Committee report.

The team members observed the area is rich with Betel vine orchids, Casuarina Plantations, live paddy fields, big and small fish ponds and many water resources, domestic backyard vegetable plots, mango trees, coconut trees, etc. We rarely found poverty stricken people in the area. It is like Nandigram of West Bengal and Kakinara coast belt of A.P.

We are informed the daily wages of agriculture labour varies between Rs.200/- and 350/- per day depending upon the nature of work and the season. It is heartening to learn that the area provides work to thousands of migrant labour from far away districts like Mayurbhanj, Keojhar $ Ganjam of Odisha in paddy fields. So the economic position of the villages in which POSCO Project is proposed to be established is bountiful and all sections of people were leading a peaceful and happy life until the Salvo of POSCO is fired upon them jointly by the Government of India and Govt. of Odisha in 2005.

For the last eight years the people are restless and passing through many sleepless nights and faced severe repression and four persons paid with their dear lives. Our team visited the house of Manas Jena, a martyr of 2 March 2013 bomb blast. This family is the worst affected in 8 years long anti-posco movement Kalandi Jana, father of Manas loosing his right leg in a bomb attack by goons of POSCO, the wife of the later committing suicide and sister of martyr Manas Jana, Kuni going through severe mental depression. According to Prashant Paikray, the spokesperson of PPSS at Bhubaneswar, around 200 cases are filed against 2000 people of the anti POSCO movement.

Issues Involved :

i) The biggest issue involved, we consider, is the life and living of the pople which given top most priority in the two most crucial chapters of Constitution of India, Directive principles and Fundamental Rights.

The argument that the Directive Principles are not maintainable in a Court of Law may be anything but spacious and many a judgements of the highest Court of India testified it. But it is painful to know that none of the Committees appointed by Government of India to study POSCO related problems have not properly investigated and reported keeping in view the Directive Principles.

ii) To whom the land belongs? Much hair-split is being done by various wings of the State including higher courts. The issue is whether the land belongs to the people or Government (s). We heard from Abhay Sahu, Leader of PPSS, the Govt of Odisha did lot of hair-split and now arguing that because the land under dispute is not a forest land between 1962-65(sic) and is saying the Forest Rights Act, 2008 does not apply. We consider this is ridiculous. It is against the reports of various committees appointed by the Central Govt. also. Who existed first on earth? People or Governemnt (s)? Every sane person agree it is People.

iii) Norms of Industrialisation : The paper of Government of India on Industrialisation unambiguously states that the land under cultivation should not be diverted to industrialisation. Everyone including the entire machinery of the state knew that 99% of the land under the three Gram Panchayats is under intensive cultivation. So the law maker has become the law breaker and hence Govt. has no locus-standi to govern. People are totally justified of their revolt from ethical, judicial as well as from Bharatiya ethos stand point of view.

Present situation :

i) In the villages the team toured, we do not come across a single person who is a votary of POSCO. In Govindapur village, the people who were pro-posco and neutral joined anti posco movement very recently and the whole village unitedly demonstrated against posco and police camp on 3 March 2013. They say the experience of the people displaced by the neighbouring oil refinery shows that if POSCO become a reality, they either become beggars in various towns of the State or go away to unknown places as migrant labour in search of work. The people say neither of the two options is acceptable.

ii) State Government established an armed Police Camp of about 10 battalions in Gobindpur Village. The police regularly patrol all the villages and threatening the people not to even sit together. The people, rightfully content, the very presence of the camp is an intereference in their otherwise peaceful way of life. They rightfully demand the immediate withdrawal of Police Camp.

Perceptions of the people about the rulers :

The perception of the whole people of the area about the Governments at the State and Centre is mirrored in the words of Chandan Mohanty, one of the evictee from his land and living in the POSCO transit camp at Badagabapur village for the last six years – “POSCO is like East India Company. There is neither a State Government nor a Central Government. POSCO is the real ruler. The Indian and Odisha Governments are mere agents of POSCO.”

Appeal of the POSCO affected villages :

Now, the trio of Government of India, Govt. of Odisha and POSCO are held bent upon establishing the project at the declared place and hence once again unleashing terror against US. A very strong statewide solidarity movement is the need of the hour. Please save us and thus save the whole people of Odisha wherein the Governments are resorting to destructive industrialisation including wreck-less mining of various minerals and diverting of huge amount of water for those purposes.

DEMANDS OF THE FACT FINDING TEAM :

We demand the State Government :

i) Immediately withdraw the police camp from the village Gobindapur which is disturbing the very peaceful way of life of the people of the 8 villages.

ii) Unconditionally withdraw all the cases filed against the people and leaders who resisted the forceful act of State in favour of POSCO. Identify the agent provocateurs of the POSCO Company, arrest and prosecute. Identify the erring officials and prosecute.

iii) Pay proper compensation to the bereaved families of those people killed in bomb blasts.

iv) Constitute a comprehensive enquiry commission, consisting eminent persons from different walks of life like eminent personalities from socio-cultural field, human rights campaigners and Bar & Bench to investigate into all aspects of the issue.

v) Withdraw the suspension of the Post Master of Dhinkia Post Office, Mr Babaji Samantaray immediately and restore postal communication to Dhinkia, Govindapur, Patana etc which is an established legal and constitutional right.

vi) Repair the road to Dhinkia via Trilochanapur and via Balitutha immediately which has become unnavigable.

vii) Scrap POSCO project because it is the violation of guidelines laid down in the industrial policy document of Government of India on against established well meaning interest of the people.

An Another Human Tragedy Crying For Solution :-

52 families of village Patana under Dhinkia Panchayat were allegedly attacked by the people of other villages immediately after Panchayat elections, 2007. The victims had approached the District Administration for protection and resolution of the dispute. Instead, the administration shifted them to a place adjacent to the village Badagabapur. These people hoped that the administration would send them back safe to their natural habitat, after few days. To their utter shock and agony, the district as well as the State Administration, in spite of repeated appeals, turned a blind eye, they complained to the visiting team. In one hour non-stop narration to the team, these people detailed their distress and difficulties at the transit camp. They stated in a single voice that they oppose POSCO in to-to. They want to go back to their own houses in Patana to live with honour and dignity. They appeal to all the democratic forces of the State to help them in this regard.

The fact finding team fully appreciate their position and a just demand and appeal to all the pro people political forces of the State to intervene in the matter and to hammer out an amicable and honourable solution.

The members of the Team are :

1. C Bhaskar Rao, General Secretary, OPDR, AP, Mob: 08121743800

2. Ch Sudhakar Rao, President, OPDR, AP

3. Ravi Palur, DRF, WB, Mob: 09433031311

4. Sunil Pal, DRF, WB

5. Sankar Das, TUCI

6. Adv Bibek Ranjan, DRF, Odisha, Mob: 9437215625

7. Pramila, AIRWO