Tension mounts in Posco project area as villagers oppose work


 

BHUBANESWAR, May 10, 2013, The Hindu

 

 Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists stage a demonstration

Tension prevailed in the Posco project area in Jagatsinghpur district on Thursday as hundreds of agitated villagers came out to oppose digging of a trench for construction of a boundary wall along the land acquired for the proposed steel plant.

The digging of the trench and demarcation work was carried out by the administration at Mangalapada, Gobindpur and Patana Haat despite the people’s opposition.

Two betel vineyards were demolished and more than 150 trees were felled by the administration even as the villagers staged a demonstration under the banner of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti demanding that the work be stopped immediately. The betel vine owners were paid compensation amount on the spot.

But the trench that the administration had dug up along the land acquired for the project was filled with mud by the villagers after the administration returned from the spot, according to Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of the Sangram Samiti.

Mr. Paikray questioned the administration’s work of digging the trench and felling of trees saying that it was illegal since the environment clearance granted for the project by the Centre in the past had been suspended by the National Green Tribunal last year. He said the administration’s move would be opposed tooth and nail again on Friday.

Administration plan

According to sources, the administration planned to complete acquisition of 2700 acres of land for Posco within a few weeks.

The company brought down its land requirement from 4004 acres to 2700 acres as the administration found it difficult to acquire land in Dhinkia village due to stiff opposition from the locals. As per its changed strategy, the company plans to establish a steel plant with an annual production capacity of eight million tons over a land of 2700 acres instead of establishing a 12 million ton per annum capacity steel mill over 4004 acres of land.

 

Land acquisition for Posco starts again #WTFnews


Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon
File PhotoFile Photo

Paradip (Odisha), Apr 22 (PTI): After remaining suspended for about two and a half months, land acquisition today resumed for Posco Steel’s Rs 52,000 crore mega project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.

Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon.

Meanwhile, anti-Posco members belonging to Dhinkia, Patna and Gobindpur villages took out a procession to Phulkhai temple in Dhinkia where they held a meeting leading to simmering tension.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samittee leader Abhay Sahoo, who is spearheading the agitation against the mega project, was away at Bolangir taking part in a protest against setting up of the Lower Suktel project there.

“We have re-started land acquisition involving dismantling of betel vines this morning. The villagers are cooperating in the work undertaken by the administration,” Jagatsinghpur Collector S K Mallick said.

Two teams were dismantling betel vine plantations of consenting farmers in Gobindpur village, Additional District Magistrate (Paradip), Surjeet Das said.

The work, with the use of machines, was being carried out smoothly in groups separately led by tehsildars of Kujanga and Ersama, Das said.

Another team was making a survey of trees and horticultural plants in the area, he added.

Earlier about 250 acre land had been acquired before work was suspended on February 11 ahead of the Budget Session of the Assembly.

The land acquisition had witnessed a nude protest by women at Dhinkia, while a bomb blast led to the death of three persons.

 

Odisha -Protests Against Posco Steel Plant Mount In India


by Freny Manecksha, CorpWatch Blog
April 14th, 2013

Odisha villagers conduct sit-in to protest POSCO. Photo: PPSS

For over a month, villagers in the eastern Indian state of Odisha have been conducting a sit-in to demand the withdrawal of armed police officers at the site of a proposed $12 billion steel complex at Jagatsinghpur, the latest protest in nine years of confrontations to halt the project.

The villagers are opposed to the plans of Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) of South Korea – one of the world’s top five steel producers – to build a plant with a 12 million ton annual capacity at Jagatsinghpur as well as an iron ore mine and a port. The project will be India’s largest foreign direct investment to date.

The land that POSCO wants is currently used by the villagers to grow leaves for paan, a mild stimulant that is chewed by billions of people in India. This together with fish farming and other mixed crop farming provides the basis of the sustainable local economy.

The protestors have hit the national headlines twice in the last few weeks. First when a bomb blast claimed the lives of three villagers in the area on March 2 and five days later on the eve of international women’s day, when some of the women staged an unusual protest. They began to take off their clothes in front of policemen.

Why have you come here? What do you want to see?” the women shouted at the police officers as they started to take off their upper garments. The police promptly slapped charges of obscenity against three women.

“When everything else failed, the women preferred to bare their bodies so that the government and the public wakes up from their slumber and understand what is happening,” says Abhay Sahoo, the head of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS which translates as Committee Opposed to POSCO Set-up.)

The villagers are incensed because the Indian government seized their betelnut vineyards and razed their crops shortly after the bomb blast claimed the lives of three villagers in Patana in early March.

Almost immediately the police announced to the local and national media that the men were attempting to make a crude bomb. But, according to the villagers and Laxman Parmanik who was injured in the blast, the bomb was hurled at them by someone else.

fact-finding team of human right activists who visited the site after the incident condemned the manner in which the Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police made an announcement to the media even before police had visited the village to conduct investigations. They pointed out that the police took 15 hours to come to the village after the deaths had occurred.

The team quoted family members of the victims who allege that the police came to their houses at midnight and asked them to sign a written statement to the effect that the victims died in the process of making the bomb which they refused to do.

After last rites were performed for the bomb victims in Patana village, thousands gathered for a major rally and a meeting conducted by various opposition political parties on March 6.  The speakers condemned the district and state administration for attempting to stifle the democratic protests of the villagers by using force and private militias.

High among the grievances of the villagers is the fact that the local police filed 230 cases against 2,000 villagers between 2006 and 2012 on charges ranging from arson to rape. “Captive Democracy,” a report on these charges by D Raja and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, notes that most of the complaints do not name specific individuals allowing the police to implicate any person in any case. In some cases entire villages comprising of thousands of people have been implicated. As a result many villagers are now afraid of venturing out of the village for fear of being arrested.

These concerns have caused a number of groups including the Congress party (which is part of the ruling coalition government in India) to write a letter to the governor of Odisha voicing concern over the “continued police atrocities and prolonged repression on the villagers in Jagatsinghpur district.

In the meantime the Odisha government has been slowly acquiring land for the project. They obtained rights to 2,000 acres in 2011 but POSCO wants another 700 acres near Gobindpur village where the villagers are protesting.

Villagers say these lands are protected under the Forest Rights Act which empowers them as forest dwellers to deny outside acquisition of the land. This law together with the required environmental clearances have been the focus of a number of government inquiry committees which have issued contradictory opinions.

First the N C Saxena committee, appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestsupheld the villagers’ complaint that there were gross violations under the Forest Rights Act in July 2010. Then another committee chaired by Meena Gupta, appointed by the same ministry, gave the green light for land acquisition to resume in October 2010 (although several members of the committee dissented). Then land acquisition was halted in March 2012 by the National Green Tribunal, another (permanent) body established by the Ministry of Environments and Forests).

Last week, yet another central government agency – the Comptroller Auditor General which is in charge of auditing government authorities – charged the Odisha government with giving “undue benefit” to POSCO by violating zoning laws and under pricing land that was given to the company.

“The lack of transparency, accountability and due process in acquiring land for POSCO and moving ahead with the project is alarming,” says Miloon Kothari, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network. “It is clear that the recent action in Gobindpur village is a result of the government’s insistence on promoting foreign direct investment even though it violates the constitution of India, international law and the human rights of the villagers.”

 

PRESS RELEASE- Peaceful protesters demand withdrawal of police forces in Odisha


PPSS Update : 24th March 2013

PRESS RELEASE

From 22nd March 2013 onwards, more than 200 women of Govindpur village are continuing daily peaceful protest and shouted slogans opposing undemocratic moves of the government and POSCO in the village of Gobindpur in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We are apprehending a police crackdown after the end of the budget session in the Odisha assembly on 6th of April 2013. Mean while, our villagers re-erected bamboo and wooden barricades at Gobindpur, Patana, Dhinkia and Trilochanpur villages under Jagatsinghpur‘s Dhinkia gram panchayat to prevent officials and police from entering the proposed Posco plant site. Addressing the villagers, our women leader Ms Manorama Khatua said that now we can go to any extent to ensure stopping of the project on our fertile land. She said that the women would henceforth guard the entry gate to Dhinkia area with their male counterparts to ensure no more demolition of betel vines takes place. She also said that our people are hell bent on opposing any move of the authorities to enter Gobindpur.

As you know that the presence of policemen was a cause of tension for women and girls at Gobindpur village. The state government has resorted to unethical tactics of jailing and lathicharging the protesters regularly. As women and children are at the forefront of the movement, regular lathicharge on women and children by paramilitary has become a norm. Over last 2 months though the administration declared that land acquisition would not happen ‘by coercion’, this region has just become a site littered with paramilitary camps with more than 12 paramilitary platoons. The constant presence of paramilitary in the area right inside the villages is worrisome and unacceptable in a democratic polity. A large number of people suffering from ailments are unable to visit doctors and nearest markets. Particularly the suffering of women with gynecological problems is deeply disturbing.

Hence we are demanding immediate withdrawal of policemen from Govindpur Village. To restore faith of its citizenry in Dhinkia & Govindpur villages and beyond, the state government must admit its excesses in the area.

We have also decided to launch hunger-strike from April 3, 2013 if it was not done. We call upon all political parties, social activists, intellectuals, and public concerned citizens, leaders to participate in the proposed hunger-strike.

Hoping for Solidarity.

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

Crude Questions about Crude Bombs


:Biju Mathew, kafila.org

MARCH 13, 2013

This is a guest post by BIJU MATHEW

Tarun Mandal, Narahari Sahu and Manas Jena are dead, blown up by what the media has described as a “crude” bomb. All bombs are crude. They kill. They are meant to destroy flesh and bone. They are aimed at sucking out life. Lakshman Mandal battles for his life in a Cuttack hospital. He knows how crude a bomb is. Hopefully he will live to tell the tale of its crudeness.

This is a partisan piece. But it aims to produce balance. Almost all media reports so far have had a strong spin that the three – Narahari, Tarun and Manas – were killed while making a crude bomb. So says Mr. Satyabrata Bhoi, Jagatsinghpur SP. Nobody has bothered to ask him any further questions. It’s quite understandable. Asking any more questions might make the entire spin untenable. For instance, they could have asked: why is it that something illegal, such as crude bomb making, was being done out in the open and not within the confines of a house? Especially given that for the last month, the police have been constantly in and out of the village? Especially because there are at least a few dozen pro-POSCO folks in the village? Why would three leaders of an oppositional movement sit outside on the porch of a house that is fully identified with POSCO Pratirodh Sangran Samiti (PPSS) and make bombs – openly, for all to see – at 6.30 PM when there is enough light for anybody to see them? Isn’t crude bomb making normally confined to the indoors? How many incidents do we know of where crude bomb making was happening outside in broad daylight? Isn’t the RSS, the most famous outfit that makes crude bombs and occasionally manages to blow up its own, always known to make its bombs indoors?

Do these seem like too basic a set of question? If so,  its simplicity is only paralleled by the holes it can open up in Mr. Bhoi’s story.

Maybe we should ask a few more complicated questions. Who are the dead? Why not ask this question and see if its answer fits the profile of somebody you think could sit in the open and make a bomb? Three of the four – Narahari, Tarun and Lakshman – were/are senior leaders of the PPSS. With their main leader, Abhay Sahu, in-and-out of jail and facing risk of further arrest under trumped up charges, these were the men who were holding everything together for PPSS. The fourth, Manas, was an upcoming leader and is the brother of yet another PPSS senior leader, Prakash Jena. If the media had bothered to talk to the residents of Gobindpur they would have known that Narahari was getting ready to walk through the village to announce a meeting. ‘Narahari sir’ as he was popularly known (because he also taught at the local school on occasion) was a man of impeccable reputation – courageous and incorruptible. Who stands to gain by wiping out the second rung of the PPSS leadership in Gobindpur? Why has no one bothered to ask who these men were, or what their position was in the ongoing struggle? What were their roles in the village? Who stood to gain the most from their death?  Lakshman is a landless laborer. He does not own a single decimal of the land he is defending. How come this has yet to be reported on? Why would a landless msn be in such a struggle, let alone make bombs?

Not good enough? Surely, just this much should be enough for any critical minded journalist who takes his/her trade seriously. But then why not ask a few more questions? There are indeed more that could be asked.

This is not the first bomb to explode in Gobindpur. These were not the first lives lost to bombs. In the recent history of this village-in-struggle, this is the second bomb. The first went off on June 20, 2008 during an anti-POSCO demonstration, when a similar ‘crude’ bomb was hurled at the demonstrators. One person was killed. The only person to have died in what has largely been a non-violent struggle, but for the numerous times that the villages have been attacked by either the police or pro-POSCO goons. And the only person who had died so far was Tapan Mandal, Tarun’s brother. What do we have to say to a family that has given two children to the struggle?

Here is where the ruthlessness of this enterprise becomes most evident. The main accused in the complaint filed regarding the murder of Tapan Mandal is Prafulla Mohanty, a local BJD, pro-POSCO activist. And the main eye-witness cited in the complaint? Narahari Sahu.

Prafulla Mohanty has the honor of being accused in at least half a dozen more complaints about attacks on the anti-POSCO villages. The investigation of Tapan’s murder has been languishing for four years now. Mr. Bhoi and his posse have not moved an inch on the only killing that had happened so far. And Prafulla Mohanty? If anybody bothered to ask some of the locals, they would have been told that ever since the police attack of four weeks ago, Prafulla Mohanty has been walking around Gobindpur threatening anybody he can find. Its been reported that Mr. Sangram Mahapatra, the local Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa (IDCO) chief caught on video brutally beating a villager, has been calling PPSS leaders up on their mobile phones and doing the same. Who is a better candidate for arranging and detonating crude bombs: a landless agricultural worker or a BJD goon whose every effort has been opposed by the very same people who are now dead?

I first met all four – Narahari, Tarun, Manas and Lakshman – during my second visit to Orissa to research betelvines in June 2010. Narahari was amongst the first people in the village to lead me through a paan-kethi shed. He was meticulous in outlining the economics of betel leaf. He walked me up and down a shed and made me count the number of rows of the vine. I was introduced to Tarun and Manas. But today, I can’t remember anything they said, their contribution to the focus group, their gestures… I would feel better if I could. As if my feeling better matters. Lakshman came across as a quiet and withdrawn person initially. I asked him why he, who had no land, was part of the movement? For a brief moment, he looked away – fixed his eyes on the ground below him – and then looked up at me. “Why not?” he asked me.  CPI State Secretary Diwakar Nayak issued a statement on Thursday that Lakshman’s life was in danger – that he may still be killed. He urged the State to give Lakshman police protection. How ironic.

[Biju Mathew Is Associate Professor of Business at Rider University, NJ and a coordinator of the Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group (www.miningzone.org), a research and advocacy collective that has published the most comprehensive report on the POSCO project to date – Iron and Steal: The POSCO India Story. He is also a co-author of a recent EPW article that analyzes the faulty assumptions underlying the Social Cost Benefit Analysis used to justify the POSCO India project.]

 

POSCO land acquisition halted following naked protest threat #goodnews


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent3/7/13

 

Bhubaneswar – The district administration of Jagatsingpur in Odisha on Thursday temporarily halted the forcible land acquisition process for POSCO steel project after receiving a naked protest threat from the women of Gobindpur village in Jagatsingpur district.

“On receiving information about the naked protest by village women, the district administration has stopped the land acquisition process today,” Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), told Newzfirst.

Distressed over Odisha Government’s forcible land acquisition process, women from Gobindpur village had announced on Wednesday that they would stage a naked demonstration before the Police force, and demand complete stoppage to the forcible land acquisition.

“If Government continues with the land acquisition process, our village women will also continue with the naked protest,” Paikray added.

Villagers of Jagatsingpur district have been protesting against the land acquisition for POSCO’s $12 billion steel plant since many years. The proposed steel plant, which will produce 12 million tonnes per annum, is the largest foreign investment in India.

 

Anti-POSCO agitation: Village women to hold naked protest #Vaw #stateterror


Anti POSCO rally in Delhi

Anti POSCO rally in Delhi (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)

 

 

 

By Newzfirst Correspondent 3/6/13

Bhubaneswar – Distressed over Odisha Government’s act of forcible land acquisition, women from Gobindpur village Wednesday decided to stage a naked demonstration before the Police force, demanding complete stoppage to the forcible land acquisition.

“Left with no other option, women from the village have decided to get naked before the Policemen tomorrow,” Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), told Newzfirst.

The Government has no respect for democratic values; despite utmost opposition by the people it is continuing with land acquisition. People are left with no other option than to resist this way, he added.

He also said that villagers will approach the Court to get the FIR on bomb-attack registered. According to Paikray, the local police refused to register the complaint of bomb-attack on anti-POSCO activists despite repeated requests.

Four people died last Saturday in a bomb explosion at Patna village of Jagatsingpur. While villagers accused pro-POSCO leaders for the attack, Police claimed that the deceased were involved in bomb-making and that the bomb exploded while they were preparing it.

The land acquisition for POSCO steel plant continued for fourth day on Wednesday under the tight security of Police force.

Villagers of Jagatsingpur district have been protesting against the land acquisition for POSCO’s $12 billion steel plant since a long time. The proposed steel plant, which will produce 12 million tonnes per annum, is the largest foreign investment in India.

 

 

 

Horrific Images of Bombing Anti Posco Villagers #stateterror


State and corporate terrorism: horrific and depressing images of the recent killing of the anti POSCO villagers which the media won’t show

We Received Horrific Images of  Bombing anti posco villagers .
We are not publishing/attaching it considering the nature of those images.
But You can access them from this facebook album
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151376037908347.1073741825.292093318346&type=1

If anybody need images (print quality) , please contact  anivar.aravind@gmail.com

 

#India-Betel vineyards destroyed for #Posco #Vaw


PRAFULLA DAS, The Hindu , Feb 4,2013

People of Dhinkia and Nuagaon blocking the road to Posco project site in Jagatsingpur district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj Panda
The HinduPeople of Dhinkia and Nuagaon blocking the road to Posco project site in Jagatsingpur district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti to intensify agitation if land acquisition continues

“There was heavy fog when we found the police reaching Batatikira. They beat me up and other men, women and children,” said Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti member Manorama Khatua, referring to a lathi charge on agitating villagers on Sunday, when land acquisition for the Posco steel project resumed here.

Since January 14, hundreds of villagers had been agitating peacefully, forming a human chain, at Batatikira against further acquisition of land. On Sunday, demolition of vineyards and felling of trees here were stopped after hundreds came out to oppose the administration’s move to acquire more land. However, a senior administration official claimed that 80 per cent of the residents of Gobindpur supported land acquisition. During the day, 12 betel vines belonging to those who had given their consent for land acquisition were destroyed and they were paid compensation by cheque, the official said. The Collector and Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police were present at the spot. Samiti leader Abhay Sahu countered the administration’s claim saying that actually 80 per cent of the people were against handing over their land.

Millions of betel leaves were crushed as the vineyards came crashing down under tractors. Many growers who oppose the land acquisition drive stood mute, even as a few villagers accepted the compensation. Administration officials, who came back from Gobindpur after the Sangram Samiti demanded immediate withdrawal of police from the area, told The Hindu that land acquisition will continue.

 

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