Anti-Posco : Villagers resist the government’s push to acquire lands

July 1, 2013

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PPSS Update :: July 1

From 28th June 2013 onwards, the government of Odisha again started the forceful destruction of our beetle vineyards in Govindpur village of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha. At least 20 persons including Mr. Tuna Baral, Mr. Tofan Mohanty, Ms. Shantilata Swain were injured in a police lathi-charge who are opposing the forceful land acquisition for POSCO. The police has taken one of PPSS leader Mr. Kalpataru Mantri of Govindpur village.

The Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police P. Satyabrata Bhoi and his 10 platoons (300 personnel) of police force beaten up elder persons, women and children who opposed betel vine demolition. They acquired land without consent of the farmers. Some of the protesters attempted suicide by consuming poison at the land acquisition spot, police took them into custody for some hours. As you know the state government earlier took our president Mr. Abhya Sahoo into the custody in order to use force for acquiring our land.

This is how the chief minister of Odisha defines the peaceful land acquisition process.

Today, the police operation may resume any time. The representatives of political parties and social movements have already reached at the Govindpur village to support the people.

At this juncture, we urge you to start writing and calling the following authorities to stop this forceful land acquisition.

Meanwhile attaching herewith the press release and link of a report produced by the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of the New York University School of Law and International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net). The report appeal to Government of India and POSCO to suspend the project and end to abuses “before they become even more catastrophic in scale. We are conveying our gratitude to these institutions for highlighting the truth and demanding the suspension of the project.

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Appeal to observe anti-Posco Black Day at Patnahat village on June 22

We remember people who sacrificed their self interests for the benefit our freedom in the 66th year of Indian Independence. Sadly, during the one and a half decades of the post-globalisation era in India, our leaders are sacrificing the very purpose of the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom. India’s land, rivers, hills, seas and forests are being sold to global corporates, displacing millions of farmers, dalits, adivasis and fisher folk today, devastating this country’s environment.

The project planned by the multinational giant POSCO represents the largest Foreign Direct Investment of this country (FDI) during the post-globalised India. The project will destroy the lives of thousands of farmers, dalits, women, children, fisher people and indigenous people.

The people’s movement against POSCO started soon after the signing of the MOU between POSCO and Odisha Government. Since then over hundred bombs have been thrown at the resisting villagers by the pro-POSCO goons and around 100 villagers have been shot by the Odisha police. Our leaders like MR. Abhay Sahoo and four others are in the jail. More than 1500 villagers and activists are facing over 250 fabricated false charges. Many villagers can not come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. The struggle against POSCO led by POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti is still resisting this invasion by a global capitalist giant in partnership with the Central and State Governments.

We believe that if the anti-POSCO movement is suppressed due to the interests of the corporations, it will affect many similar struggles in Odisha as well as rest of India. Since this SEZ project is the largest FDI investment in this country, it has to be treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization and India’s freedom.

Therefore, we appeal to all freedom lovers in India and all over the world to mark your resistance by responding on the day of the completion of the 8th year of signing of the MOU between POSCO and the Government, on June 22, 2013. We appeal to all activists, organizations, people’s movements and concerned individuals against globalization to express their strong protest against this corporate invasion of our lands. We appeal to groups and people’s movements working on fisher people, dalits, women, children and indigenous people to organize solidarity actions on June 22nd, since it is the lives of these very forces which are at stake. On this historical event, PPSS calls for the following actions all over India and abroad to initiate the following actions:

1. Protests in your region demanding the ouster of POSCO and removal of all fabricated false cases against activists and villagers.
2. Public meetings in your region condemning the threat of displacement and environmental destruction by POSCO.
3. Expressions through, songs, posters, paintings, theatre, print media and internet actions against POSCO.
4. Mobilise concerned sections to be part of the event in Odisha.
5. Write letters to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Odisha.
6. Document the events in Odisha and elsewhere through written media as well as video for future campaigns, or
7. Any other symbolic or imaginative actions you may chose.

We welcome all those who wish to participate in the mass rally and demonstrations at Patnahat village of Jagatsighpur district in Odisha on 22nd June 2013 and express their support to this historic struggle.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

How to Reach
· Board the train Puri-Paradeep passenger at 7am from Bhubaneswar and 8.30 am from Cuttack.
· Get down at the station Bada Bandha (Before Paradeep Railway station) at 10 am (distance from Bada bandha to Patnahat is 7 km).
· Public meeting at Patanahat from noon to 3 PM
· Return by the train Paradeep – Puri Passanger from Bada Bandha at 5.30 pm.

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PPSS statement on the arrest of Abhay Sahoo :: May 11, 2013

We strongly condemn the arrest of our leader and president of PPSS Mr. Abhaya Sahoo this morning i.e. on 11th May 2013. As you are all aware 50 cases had been filed against him at different stages of the movement and all the cases are blatantly false and fabricated. The district administration and police were after him as the movement instead of withering away under severe repression has gathered more momentum. Abhayji has been taken to Kujang jail in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We understand that this is part of a larger game plan to destabilize the movement and force the project on our unwilling people. Earlier also Abhaya Sahoo was arrested in 2008 and was kept in jail for 14 months. Mr. Sahoo was again implicated in another false case leading to his incarceration from 25th November 2011 to 14th march 2012.

Every time when Abhayji was arrested the movement got further strengthened and our people threw up more leaders with solidarity from you all.

We have been informing you that our life has been severely disrupted since the state government signed the said project with POSCO. The police force has been using coercive measures to suppress our constitutional right to dissent. We have been peacefully resisting all types of criminal forces for more than eight years, but ironically hundreds of cases are being lodged by the police against us. Our protesters have been murdered by bomb attacks, assaulted by hired goons and beaten by police-all done by at the behest of administration. Local authorities ignored our demands for recognition of our right to the land. Instead, armed forced were engaged to silence our voices. Till now more than 200 false cases have been registered against our villagers by the government, 1500 warrants have issued out of which 340 are women.

Our people are unable to go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrests. None of the cases has any basis and all are fabricated by the police to keep our people inside jail for as many days as they think by doing this they could spoil our democratic movement. The government of Odisha has been clamping false cases against anyone trying to oppose POSCO, It is matter of regret that all the actions till date by the government of Odisha against us is totally unjustified as the entire projects stands on shaky ground.

We call for all the Jan Andolans, People’s organisations, Political parties, activists, intellectuals and people at large to condemn in strongest possible terms this cowardly and undemocratic act of the administration. We appeal you all to demonstrate and demand immediate release of Abahya Sahoo. Also please lodge your protest near the following authorities.

Let me assure that our people will put up a more determined resistance and what they all need is your continuous support and solidarity.

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Urgent Alert from PPSS :: May 6 2013

We are shocked to find that without giving any importance to the demands raised by various groups and forces on the situation prevailing in our area, the police have initiated today that is on 6th May 2013 work for constructing a trench in a clandestine way which would connect the proposed POSCO project to Govindapur village . This might help the striking forces to unleash a new phase of terror-our villagers apprehend.

The police have already felled more than 600 trees in Gobindpur village without respecting the verdict of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The Odisha government is as good as dead and the dictates of the company is ruling supreme in Jagatsinghpur district. The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police (S.P) are behaving in a manner as if they are accountable to the company and their contractors.

At this juncture, we urge you to call / send fax to the following authorities immediately. Any kind of support and co-operation to sustain our democratic movement is the call of the hour now.

1. Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister, Odisha
Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100, 011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163
Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099, 011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,
Fax No- (91)6742535100
E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2. Murali Chandrakanta Bhanadare, Governor of Odisha, Fax No- (91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.
Phone no – 0674 – 2536700, 0674 – 2534300, 0674 – 2322196
Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

4. S.K. Mallick , District Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Contact number 09437038401, Fax no – : (91)6724220299

5. Superintendent of Police, Satyabrata Bhoi, Mobile no-09437575759, 0624- 220115, dmjsp@ori.nic.in

6. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Tel no-+9111-23016857
e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

7. Sonia Gandhi: Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656, Fax- (91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

8. Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

9. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo
Minister of Tribal Affairs
Room No. 400 ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi- 110001
Email : vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

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PPSS Call to join struggle at Govindpur

We earnestly appeal to all the political parties, activists, intellectuals, students, friends and well wishers to join us the call on joint peaceful and democratic fight at Govindpur against forceful acquisition of land.

Our people are continuing the democratic struggle till POSCO Company withdraws from the area. Your presence will certainly help in scaling up our opposition.

We are apprehensive that from Monday ( 29th April, 20130 ) the Government of Odisha, is all set to forcefully enter and acquire our land on behalf of South Korea based Pohang Steel Company (POSCO).

At this juncture, we urge all our friends and well wishers to join us in the stuggle and build a mass opinion
against the POSCO project.

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PPSS Update : April 19 2013

PPSS welcomes the verdict of Supreme court came yesterday (i.e. 18th April 2013) on the issues of mining in Niyamagiri hills of Odisha. The verdict said that it’s upto the Gram Sabha (Village-level Assembly) to decide whether to allow mining in Niyamgiri Hills by the Vedanta Group.The Supreme Court has upheld the authority of Gram Sabha to control, manage and use the mineral resources in Niyamagiri hills. This comes as a very welcome judgment where community rights over mineral resources has been protected. This is a victory of long-drawn struggle of the adivasis in Niyamagiri hills and throughout the state.

It may be reminded that Gram Sabha of Dhinkia Panchayat of Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha held on 18th October 2012 had passed a resolution unanimously against the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes. With the spirit of the Supreme court judgement on Niyamagiri hill, the state government should respect the decision of our Gram sabhha and scrap the POSCO project outright.

I would also like to bring your attention to the latest Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report. The CAG in its latest report, tabled in the assembly has found the Odisha government guilty of extending large scale undue benefits to steel major POSCO in allotment of a piece of land in the state capital Bhubaneswar. The government disregarded all norms in allotting the land with shameless favoritism. While allotting the land, zonal regulation was ignored and the land was gifted away at an abysmally low premium. The CAG report is very scathing on it.

The CAG report said that the country arm of South Korean steel major Posco-India had applied for allotment of a plot measuring 12,000 square feet for its chairman-cum-managing director’s (CMD) residence-cum-guest house in 2006. However, later it enhanced the requirement twice to 25,000 sq.ft. in April 2007 and later 2 acres for the same purpose. Various committees, including committees appointed by Central Government, have unearthed serious illegalities in POSCO’s other operations earlier. Many more are still buried beneath as vested authorities try their best to hide those and get away with it. While proofs are piling up, our people are bewildered by a complete hijack of governance mechanism to patronize POSCO and connive with the POSCO and harming our basic life and livelihood sources as well as the interest of the larger society.

As the government is unwilling to play the ‘Rajdharm’ we are determined to put up a peaceful-democratic fight against this unholy alliance between the government and POSCO.

On April 12, 2013, The Left parties and various mass movements staged demonstrations at Bhubaneswar demanding withdrawal of police force from the proposed plant site area. Demonstrations were also held in various district headquarters in response to a call by CPI to observe ‘All India Solidarity Day’. The protestors held the placards saying “Posco Go Back” and “Stop Forcible Land Acquisition”.

As we have shared earlier a 12-member team consisting of human rights activists, journalists, academicians, democratic rights and civil liberty activists conducted a visit to our area on March 9, 2013 to take stock of the situation after the March 2 bomb blast in which three of our frontline activists died and one got seriously injured. The report of the fact finding team brings into the fore another evidence of the state’s cruelty. While releasing the report eminent legal luminary Justice Rajinder Sachar was awestruck by the fact that three people got killed in a bomb explosion and yet no inquiry was conducted into the incidence. ‘The incident was ghastly and the action of the government is horrible’, said Justice Sachar. That Committee in its report has demanded a high level judicial inquiry into the incident. You can read the whole report in this link.

In a separate but bizarre development we have come to know, from media reports, about POSCO’s attempt to influence a section media in its favour by sponsoring a pleasure trip for some journalists to Pune and other such places. But we firmly believe on the impartial character of our media friends who will continue to expose the POSCO’s illegalitiesand the government’s undue favor.

Attaching herewith an e-petition for your endorsement prepared by an organization SOLIDARITÉ based in France for your information. And you can also find the article (in French, English and Spanish) .

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PPSS Statement – Ministery of Environment and Forest’s (MOEF) Roy Paul Committee Report Reveals More Illegalities, Exposes Project’s Destructive Potential

April 15, 2013

At a time when our people are facing bombs, lathis and violence in order to defend their basic rights to their homes, lands and livelihoods, yet another official committee has confirmed that the POSCO project is being pushed through without a thought for the welfare of the people of the area or of this country.

On October 22nd 2012, the second official review committee to be constituted on the POSCO project – constituted in May 2012 (this time, on the directions of the National Green Tribunal on March 31, 2012) submitted its report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). This report has not yet been made public but has been obtained by an Right to Information (RTI) request.

The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) wishes to bring the following key points from the report to the attention of the public in this regard:
* The Odisha government and POSCO are lying when they say they have decided to reduce the project size to 2700 acres and “leave out” most of the private and forest lands in the villages of Dhinkia and Govindpur. Till date their plant layout lists the plant’s substation, water supply facilities, main office for phase I, two gates, etc. in the land that they supposedly do not want. The committee has asked POSCO to submit a revised layout and also unambiguously state that this will not affect their expansion plans.
* The Committee notes that – eight years after signing an MoU to start the project – the government and POSCO have yet to carry out the following basic studies:
‣ Assessing how much water is actually available in the area and whether this area can support such a huge plant;
‣ Impacts on fisheries, which support more than 20,000 people in the area;
‣ A plan for management of oil spills;
‣ Impact of dredging of material for the private port;
‣ Impact on marine ecology and wildlife from the plant;
‣ Critical long term study for captive port
* The Committee also says that therefore the project needs to submit a fresh Environment Impact Assessment report for its revised layout. Hence, the entire process effectively has to start again.
* The Committee has also clearly said that expansion of any project in the area (not just POSCO) should be considered only after a carrying capacity study.

In short, as per the findings of the Roy Paul committee, this project has never been studied properly and could – in other words – pose a serious risk to the entire area. The committee hence confirms the finding of the NGT that “a project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving lingering and threatening environmental and ecological doubts un-answered.”

It is a different matter that the Roy Paul Committee has incorrectly limited its own mandate – looking only at “conditions” of the 2011 environment clearance rather than a full review as mandated in their Terms of Reference (ToR) as well as directions of the NGT. It also tries to claim that the revised EIA can be made and the process go ahead without a public hearing or a new environmental clearance – but this is simply illegal. None of this attempt to shield POSCO and their former colleagues changes the facts that the Committee reveals.

Three of our people have given up their lives to stop this illegal and unjust project. What the Committee report confirms is that no one – including the government that is unleashing brute force against us – has any idea how many more lives will be lost, and how much more damage caused, if this project indeed comes up. It is time that the State and Central government stopped acting on behalf of POSCO as its agent and instead take the serious social, human rights environmental and legal issues on board to reject the project in its entirety.

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Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti as on April 04 2013

On 3rd April 2013, around 1500 villagers, including women and children, joined the indefinite protest in the Gobindapur village where the armed police forces camping. They have decided that they will continue the protest day and night with the demand for unconditional withdrawal of the armed police camps from the village. Leaders from different political parties like All Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India( Marxist), CPI-ML, CPI-ML( Liberation), CPI-ML ( ND), SUCI ( C), Forward Block, Samajvadi Party, Rastriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal ( U ) Aam Admi Party, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Samajvadi Jan Parishad, Odisha Jan Morcha, Republican Party of India along with a few progressive organizations and individuals of eminence addressed the meeting on Wednesday, held near the police camp at Gobindapur.

We are apprehending that the state government would resume forceful acquisition of our land after the state assembly session ends on April 6, 2013.

As you know, in march first week, three of our villagers Tarun mandal, Manas Jena, Narahari Sahoo were killed when bombs were hurled at them by the project supporters and earlier Tarun’s elder brother Tapan alias Dula Mandal was killed in 2008. The lives of the wives and children of the deceased have been shattered. They are living an life of fear and uncertainty as and they do not know what the future holds for them. Pravati Mandal (26), wife of late Tarun Mandal of Gobindapur is left alone to take care of their two-year-old daughter. Pravati is now relying on the food supplied by our villagers. Jharana Jena (28), wife of late Manas Jena, a betel vine farmer of Gobindapur, faces not only grave financial difficulties but also the challenge on how to save their betel vines and lands from being acquired for the steel mill.

The police instead of taking action against the killers of the three persons are trying to arrest our people and have clamped false cases against us.

We will hold a joint demonstration of all political parties in Bhubaneswar on 12th April to oppose POSCO; we call upon our friends and sympathizers .

On March 26, in a major development, likeminded political forces cutting across party line came together and organized a massive demonstration program in the capital city of Bhubaneswar demanding full stop to ongoing police repression and violence in proposed project areas of POSCO Company in Dhinkia GP of Jagasingpur district. They also demanded full stop to forcible land acquisition and withdrawal of the project from the area. They met the new Odisha Governor Sri Senayangba Chubatoshi Jamir at Raj Bhawan with a list of demands. Attaching below the memorandum to Governor of Odisha for your information. ( Annex -1)

Recently, two human rights defenders as a part of Advocacy mission team visited to South Korea. Please find below the press release for your information ( Annex- 2).

Please find herewith a video statement of Debendra , one of the PPSS activist on the recent human rights violation by the State government. We are expressing our gratitude to the Video Voulnteer for preparing this video.
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Annex -1
To
His Excellency Senayangba Chubatoshi Jamir
Hon’ble Governer of Odisha,
Raj Bhawan, Bhubaneswar March 26, 2013

Sub: Memorandum submitted by POSCO Pratirodha Solidarity Samiti

Respected Rajyapalji,
We the representatives of Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India( Marxist), CPI-ML, CPI-ML( Liberation), CPI-ML ( ND), SUCI ( C), Forward Block, Samajvadi Party, Rastriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal ( U ) Aam Admi Party, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Samajvadi Jan Parishad,Odisha Jan Morcha, Republican Party of India along with the undersigned organizations and individuals crave your kind indulgence on the continued police atrocities and prolonged repression on the villagers in the Dhinkia and Baligotha of Jagatsinghpur District by the State Government machinery and private militia to protect the interest of POSCO India Private Ltd., an Indian subsidiary of Korean conglomerate POSCO. The constitution of India is facing the worst of its crisis in this region as the elected government of the state is subverting democracy and rights guaranteed by the constitution of India just to sub serve the interests of a private multinational company who has come here just for maximizing its profit. Ignoring established laws and procedures and with total disregards to the facts that the company’s environmental clearance has been stayed by National Green Tribunal, Mining case is still pending in the Apex Court and water availability along with port clearance are yet to be decided, the state government is using all its means to forcibly acquire the rich and fertile agricultural land despite strong resistance by the locals who have so far lost four lives.

Though the ways, means and methods of industrialization in the state has remained an issue of contention and contestations which we don’t want right now to apprise you with but we feel that there is no justification for setting up Steel Plant in the fertile agricultural land where rural economy has prospered with multi crop farming and other economic activities like fisheries and betel leaf plantation. The State Administration has not been able to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 for the villagers who are living in those areas for ages, and despite having documentary evidence in favour of existence of tribal’s and other traditional Forest Dwellers. The official Gram Sabha of Dhinkia in the presence of government officials has voted against transfer of forest land for the company on October 18, 2012 and prior to that twice.

But such a democratic move was not respected and rather was responded to with increased violence in partnership with private militia. And as a result of this violence and deaths happening since February 3, 2013 which reached a culmination point on March 2, 2013 when 3 people got killed in a bomb explosion. The armed police have made life miserable for the common villagers and lots of false cases have been files against people forcing them not to move out. The threat of State and company sponsored violence looms large over hundreds of farmer who are protecting their life and livelihood in the midst of hundreds of policemen. We seek your urgent benign intervention. In the light of the aforesaid facts and circumstances we demand the followings before you to instruct the state Government.

Our Appeal:

1. Please ask the state government to stop forcible land acquisition for POSCO project in the Govindapur area of Jagatsinghpur district.

2. Please ask for withdrawal of armed police deployed in Dhinkia Gram Panchayat area and to take positive and proactive measures to ensure peace and normalcy in that village and not to take the pretext of using police to defend the POSCO ‘supporters’ who are being nurtured by the company.

3. All rights violations must stop and your good office may order impartial investigation of all violations done so far which will enlighten you about the magnitude of the problem.

4. Land Pattas should be issued in favor of the people those who have been possessed the government land since generation’s which they are entitled to at least under FRA 2006 by recognizing Rights of the Forest Dwellers and Tribals as per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

5. If the government can’t honor, at least it should not dishonor and do things to harm a democratic peaceful resistance against displacing from life and livelihood resources.

With deep democratic regards

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Annex-2

Press Release:

POSCO Undermines Indian Democracy, Democratic Dissent, Rights of Citizens and Justice- All that Guaranteed by Indian Constitution & International Laws

‘Anywhere in the world if democracy exists, they must prevent POSCO-like corporation from going ahead with its assault on the democratic values, principles, laws and rights of another sovereign country even if the host country’s political, bureaucratic and media is seen to be patronizing the company and facilitating its entry in one or the other pretext.’(A senior Journalist in Odisha)

Despite the fact that Indian citizens of the state of Odisha in the lowest unit of their democracy-the Gram Sabha rejecting the proposal of POSCO to establish a steel plant at the cost of their prime agricultural land, rich betel vines and fishery resources which they did thrice by taking majority resolutions in a body sanctioned and respected by Indian Constitution, the company has shown only its ‘determination’ to go ahead with the project at a huge cost to the rights of Indian citizens and by causing untold miseries for the democratic protesters. The Gram Sabhas (a constitutionally recognized body of all citizens relating to the villages belonging to a Panchayat – Local Self-Governing Unit) have rejected three times (March, 2008; February, 2010 & October, 2012) the POSCO project in their villages. For the last seven years they have been peacefully resisting POSCO, in-spite of all kinds of intimidations and harassments by the Indian government and POSCO followers.

Why do Affected People reject POSCO?

Displacements: 4004 acres of land earmarked for the POSCO’s plant project is going to evict an estimated 22,000 people and indirectly disrupt the livelihoods of another 30,000 people, just in Jagatsingphur District. People will lose their houses, homestead and agricultural lands, common property resources and all sustainable sources of livelihoods.

Loss of Sustainable Livelihoods Systems – Degradation of the Standard of Living for Local People: 22,000 people depending on agriculture, fishing, and forestry since generations will directly loss their traditional and sustainable sources of livelihoods and jobs. Small-holding betel vine cultivation provides a steady, sustainable income for people living in the affected area, amounting in some cases to over three times the average Indian income while cultivating land plots less than a tenth the size of an acre.

An additional 30,000 small scale fisherman also stand to lose their source of livelihood. It is this way of life that people resisting the project are defending and they assert that POSCO-India can never adequately compensate them for it. There is little possibility the purported job creation will benefit the local residents, as they do not have the skills needed to work for a steel plant and offspring industries that is supposed to be created. They might be forced to take low paid, insecure and easily replaceable jobs such as cleaning, manual luggage carriers and the like.

Villagers are anticipating that POSCO’s project will destroy a peaceful and sustainable way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, thereby threatening the livelihoods of local residents and the future of their children. While the project would destroy whole communities and local economies, should this forced eviction proceed it will amount to grave violations of several fundamental human rights, including those related to housing, food, water, health and work. Here it does not include twenty thousand indigenous people who will lose livelihoods due to the proposed mining project in Sundhargarh district ( approx 300 km away from proposed steel plant area at Jagatsinghpur)..

Noteworthy to mention that 42 families who have already moved to POSCO-India’s transit camp demonstrate how the evicted people are leading a wretched life over there without any work, poor housings, moving from economic prosperity into poverty, removal from their arable land has cut them off from their previous means of economic independence, leaving them dependent on a dole-like cash payment of 20 rupees (405 South Korean Won) per day.

Environmental Impacts: The project is going to have negative impacts on the environment and local biodiversity. Construction of the port is predicted to destroy the breeding ground of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle, and remove sand dunes that are a natural barrier against regular cyclones – like the one in 1999 that caused the death of 15,000 people. Local people protected by this natural barrier were spared the worst of the category 5 storm that destroyed other communities. POSCO-India plans to remove these dunes to build their port.

Disastrous Impact on Water sources: The POSCO plant will extract huge quantity of water from a rain-fed river already falling short from meeting the domestic and agricultural needs of local people and will affect 30000 farmers in the district. The disposal of waste waters from the plant will destroy the natural water outlets, canals, sea and affect fishermen and farmers.

Crackdown on people resisting forcible eviction: For the past seven years, POSCO has been morally complicit in state-sanctioned attacks and acts of repression by the Government of Odisha to suppress peaceful demonstrations and opposition against the company’s proposed project. Till now it has claimed five lives as a result of POSCO operations and POSCO was never found condemning any of such gruesome incidents. Rather, it shows collaborations of POSCO with the acts of government and private musclemen to terrorise people.

On March 2nd, 2013, at 6.30pm, a bomb killed 3 local community members, Manas Jena, Nabanu Mandal and Narahari Sahoo, and seriously wounded another, Laxman Paramanik. This is part of a long-running pattern of violence used to threaten and harm local people. For example, in 2008 Dula Mandal, another local person resisting the project was also killed. In 2010 police opened fire on locals resisting the project, causing a widespread public outcry. These people have been violently targeted because they are part of the community of local people resisting the progress of the POSCO-India project in defense of their livelihoods, and access to land and natural resources.

The South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Joong Keun visited Odisha on 6th march 2013. When people in the proposed POSCO project site are mourning the killing of 3 activists of the movement who were killed ina bomb attack on March 2, the Ambassador did not say anything to express his grief. He was obsessed with the progress of POSCO project.

From February 2013 onwards there is continuous deployment of five platoons of police at Govindpur village which has made villagers life miserable. The presence of police is only encouraging the criminal elements to unleash a region of terror in the proposed POSCO area. The villagers are in a constant fear that at any point of time the armed police forces resume the operation and take away their land.

Police Cases against Resisting Villagers – Deliberate Harassment of Local People: To date, the Odisha State Government has registered more than 230 criminal cases against the villagers and issued 1,500 warrants, 340 of which are women. Two individuals, who are under trial prisoners, remain incarcerated. Mostly the complainants are government officials, POSCO staffs and followers. The community leaders have been repeatedly jailed as a result of defending their human rights.

Seven Years’ Encirclement of Resisting Villagers – Unable to access medical services and children’s Education: Threats, arrests, tortures, harassment by police and POSCO followers, deployment of huge security forces, open challenges by mercenaries have forced the villagers not to cross their village boundary and kept aloof from the rest of the world as if in an open prison. People trying to come outside their village boundary for medical treatment, marketing or for any other urgent purposes are being abused or arrested on their way. Any complaint of victims of abuse or arbitrary arrest is not entertained in local police station. Sick women, children and others are not able to access medical treatment since years together. Children are not able to attend educational institutions outside their villages. At least 14 women are suffering for years with severe gynecological disorders that need surgery. In January this year eighteen police platoons surrounded the area where communities are resisting the project and threatened to forcible enter the village and evict them. On this occasion the authorities did force themselves into the village and destroyed the local people’s primary means of livelihood, their betel vines that they rely on for the bulk of their income. Furthermore, the intimidation methods extend also to legal persecution.

Issues of Violation of Indian Laws with the POSCO-India project: According to the Forest Rights Act (2006) the consent of local people – as expressed during official community gatherings, known as a Gram Sabha – is required for this project to proceed. In this case local communities have officially voiced their rejection of the project in three legally binding community resolutions.

The original 2005 MoU for the project has expired, and on March 30, 2012, India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered a review of the 2011 final environmental clearance for the project, following which the Ministry of Environment and Forests has withdrawn this approval. Furthermore, the captive port construction as planned would violate Indian coastal development regulations.

Many of these violations and irregularities were pointed out in the Majority Committee Report, of a review committee that was set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests , Government of India in 2010. There have been deficiencies in the manner in which the forest diversion for the project was approved. For instance, the decision was based solely on aerial inspection and telephonic verification. The first set of environment clearances granted in 2007 have also expired in May and July 2012. Despite all this, POSCO-India continues to initiate entry into the project area and carry out felling of trees as part of continuing the project construction in the absence of requisite legal approvals, which are mandatory prior to initiating any construction works.

Corrupting and Weakening Democratic Institutions and Functions in India: POSCO – India works an active collaborator with the forces that engaged in corruption, bribery within the administration and weakening democracy. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has unearthed a land scam in Odisha, where the state government acquired land for industrial houses like POSCO by reportedly misusing existing provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. Media people are lured not to write any stories against POSCO.

Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights:

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the ‘Guiding Principels’), requires that all business enterprises respect human rights. Specifically, this means that businesses are required to ‘avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved’. The responsibility of business enterprises to ‘respect human rights applies to all enterprises regardless of their size, sector, operational context, ownership and structure’.

The Guiding Principles require that all businesses ‘identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved either through their own activities or as a result of their business relationships’. In order to execute this duty, the investor relationship that your company has with the POSCO Corporation requires that you apply whatever leverage you have to ensure POSCO management respects the human rights of the people affected by their project in Odisha.

OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: All companies based in states that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), are obliged to uphold the ‘Guidelines for Multi-National Enterprises’ (the ‘OECD Guidelines’). Chapter IV of the OECD Guidelines requires companies to “respect human rights, which means they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved”. The Guidelines are applicable to financial institutions and to investors, including minority shareholders.

Another provision of the OECD Guidelines requires that companies engage with relevant stakeholders in order to provide meaningful opportunities for their views to be taken into account in relation to planning and decision making for projects, or other activities that may significantly impact local communities. In this case, the POSCO Corporation should heed the voice of local communities as expressed in accordance with the Forest Rights Act during Gram Sabhas, which have three times (March, 2008; February, 2010 & October 2012) reiterated the local communities’ demand that the project not proceed.

UN Global Compact
The United Nations Global Compact also calls on companies to respect international human rights standards and avoid complicity in human rights abuses. In May 2012, POSCO CEO, Mr. Joon-Yang Chung, wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He stated that ‘POSCO supports the ten principles of the Global Compact with respect to human rights’ and ‘with this communication, we express our intent to advance those principles within our sphere of influence’. Evidence from the area impacted by POSCO’s project in Odisha makes a mockery of this promise.

POSCO should honor this commitment to United Nations Guidelines and uphold human rights in general and withdraw its Odisha project in particular as it undermines human rights of local people, the right to democratic dissent and their natural rights to pursue livelihood options of their choice. No project should be imposed on an unwilling population by conniving with coercive state machinery.

Chandranath Dani, Human Rights Advocate
Email: danichandranath@gmail.com

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Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti on March 24

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.

Please find here the statement from different public-concerned citizens to the Chief minister of Odisha. We convey our gratitude for their support. Mr Patnaik apologize to the Women of Govindpur, Patana and Dhinkia

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Civil Liberty Fact Finding Team : Press Release March 10th, 2013

A national-level fact-finding team consisting of civil liberties and democratic organisations and individuals visited Govindapur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsinghpur District on the 9th of March, 2013. The objective of the visit was to assess the situation in the wake of escalated violence since the land acquisition process resumed in the area on the 4th of February 2013. The stationing of armed police platoons in the proposed POSCO project affected areas and finally the recent incident of the bomb explosion that left three killed and had one person severely injured prompted us to visit the area and share our findings with a larger audience and appeal to the Odisha government and local administration. During the visit, the team had a detailed discussion with the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) leader Abhay Sahu and other members, the personnel of Orissa State Armed Police and the State Police stationed at Gobindapur, leader of Gobindpur pro POSCO group Ranjan Bardhan, dalit landless labourers, a group of people in Nuagaon led by Tamil Pradhan (husband of the Sarpanch) and the local youth. The following day, on the 10th of March 2013, the team also visited Laxman Pramanik in the SCB Medical College Hospital, Cuttack. We informed the District Collector and Superintendent of Police about our visit and sought an appointment but they told us that they were out of the district and thus not available to meet us.

The incident of March 2nd, 2013: Discussions with members of the PPSS and families of the deceased clearly indicate that the four people namely Nabin Mandal (30), Narahari Sahu (52), Manas Jena (32) and Lakhman Parmanik (46) were sitting at their usual meeting place after leaving a nearby betel vine in Patana village. A powerful blast occurred that killed three people and left Lakhman Parmanik severely injured. Another person named Ramesh Raut had left the spot just a minute before to buy a paan.
Within hours of the incident SP Jagatsinghpur Sri Satyabrata Bhoi announced through the local and national media that the blast occurred while the deceased were making a bomb, even before any police personnel had visited the site or done any investigation. According to Lakhman Parmanik in the hospital, bomb/s was/were thrown at them. He strongly refuted the accusation by the police that they were making bombs, adding “What gain will I make by lying when I am on the verge of death.” It was reported to be a powerful blast as its impact was felt and heard by most of the villagers as they recalled in discussions with the team. None of the police personnel reached the spot until nearly 15 hours after the incident. This is clear dereliction of duty given the fact that two platoons are stationed within a distance of a few minutes from the area. Even before the police came and took charge of the dead bodies, land acquisition started on the morning of 3rd of March 2013.

The Role of the Police: One, the police neither reached the area nor sent any help for taking Laxman Parmanik immediately to the hospital, despite PPSS informing the police immediately after the incident. Secondly, the police arrived only on the morning of 3rd of March at the scene of the incident and took charge of the dead bodies. Thirdly, families of the two deceased shared that the police arrived on the midnight of the 3rd of March, and asked them to sign a written statement stating that the victims died in the process of making the bomb which they refused to do. Fourth, when Kusumbati Sahu, sister-in-law of the deceased Narahari Sahu went to register an FIR at the thana of Abhoychandranpur on the evening of 3rd of March, the police refused to accept the FIR, scolded her that she has been sent by Abhay Sahu although they themselves were making the bomb and had come to lodge an FIR. She had to leave without registering the FIR. However it should be noted that the only FIR that was accepted by the Abhaychandranpur thana on 4th of March was lodged by Ranjan Bardhan against the 3 deceased, the injured Lakhman Pramanik, Abhay Sahu, Surendra Das and five others of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Our observations of the Current Situation: Following the March 2nd bomb blast the already existing tension in the villages have been greatly escalated. The villagers are unable to move freely and are in constant fear of harassment and arrest by the police. Since 4th February when the land acquisition process was resumed accompanied by a severe police lathicharge on the villagers, outbreaks of violence have become more frequent. In Govindpur village, 2 platoons of police have been deployed, which has greatly contributed to the escalated tension in the villages. At least 105 betel vines have been destroyed in Govindpur village in the process of land acquisition. There was a lathicharge on 7th March on villagers demanding the removal of the police camp, in which 41 villagers including 35 women and children were injured.
This situation has also gravely affected the lives and livelihoods of the villagers. The situation of dalit landless labourers is very grave. Over 150 families depend on betel vines located on approximately 1 acre of land. They are keen and clear that the plant is most undesirable since it is the only source of livelihood. Two persons shared how they have got no compensation after sale of land. Most others said how there are no provisions for compensations for the landless in the acquisition process. In fact, Laxman Pramanik, who has been gravely injured in the bomb blast is also a landless labourer, the sole breadwinner of a family of eight persons, depending on the same. In short, the livelihood activities and mobility of the entire community is under threat. Any access to health care or medical treatment, however critical, is difficult to obtain as most of the community is under threat of arrest.

Demands:

In view of our discussions with all the affected persons, and the clear attempt of the police to blame the deceased persons in a premeditated manner, we demand
1. A high level judicial enquiry into the bomb blast incident resulting in the death of three persons and injury to one person, to ascertain the truth of the matter.
2. The immediate withdrawal of the police camp from Gobindpur village as it is contributing to escalating tensions in the area.
3. The cessation of the land acquisition process forthwith in the Dhinkia panchayat area including Gobindpur village.
4. Compensation on humanitarian grounds to the families of the deceased who were killed in the bomb blast and proper medical help for the injured person.

Team Consisted of:
Meher Engineer, Former Director, Bose Institute, Kolkata
Sumit Chakravartty, Editor, Mainstream Weekly, Delhi
Dr Manoranjan Mohanty, Retd Professor, Delhi University
Pramodini Pradhan, PUCL Odisha
Saroj Mohanty, PUCL, Odisha
Ranjana Padhi, PUDR, Delhi
Dr Kamal Chaubey, PUDR, Delhi
Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum, Delhi
Mathew Jacob, HRLN, Delhi
Samantha, Sanhati
Partho Roy, Sanhati
Gyan Ranjan Swain, Ravenshaw University

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PPSS Update from March 10

The PPSS condemns in unequivocal terms the assault on the Civil Liberty Fact Finding Team (CLFFT) consisting of Meher Engineer (Scientist, Kolkata), Sumit Chakravartty( Editor, Mainstream Weekly), Manoranjan Mohanty (Former Prof. Delhi University), Kamal Nayan Choubey (PUDR), Ranjana (PUDR), Pramodini (PUCL, Odihsa), Mathew Jacob (Human Rights Law Network), Partha Ray, Sanhati, Sanjeev Kumar (Delhi Forum)when they were returning from visit to our villages on March 9, 2013. We feel sad because they had come all the way from Delhi and Kolkota to find out truth relating to bombing and lathicharge that resulted in the killing of three of our men on March 2 and severe injuries of several women on March 7.

When the world was preparing to celebrates Women’s day, the village women of Govindpur , Dhinkia, Patanahat got brutally beaten up by police and goons close to armed police camp in Govindapur as they had gone there to demand withdrawal of police camp from the area and to allow them to live in peace on March 7 as continuous deployment of five platoons of police at Govindpur village has made life miserable for everybody. Police presence is also a major reason why bombing has taken place and we have lost 3 important lives. The presence of police is only encouraging the criminal elements to unleash a region of terror which was also experienced by the fact finding team on March 9, 2013.

Perhaps it does not require any emphasis that women are the worst hit in today’s situation. Our women don’t at all feel safe and the administration is fully aware of this fact. Despite that they are not doing anything which prompts us to say that they might be behind all these acts of violence. Everything could have come out in open by independent fact finding teams but now even such teams are attacked.

One can understand what might have happened to our women protesters on March 7. Around 2.30 p.m. on 7th March 2013, hundreds of men and women of PPSS came in procession and staged a peaceful demonstration near the Mangalapada police camp at the entry point of Gobindpur village demanding withdrawal of armed police from their locality. The police fired teargas shells and made a lathi-charge on the peaceful protestors as a result more than 40 persons have sustained injury. Women activists were cornered and beaten up by plain-clothed policewomen. Bilochan Khatua, Sulochana barik, Solia mallick, Sati Barik, Nayana Dash, Tulashi Dash, Basanti Mandal, Satya Mallick, Pravati Swain, Taaopi Samal , Lopa Samal and many more of Govindpur village were injured.

Women claimed that their eyes burned when the police fired teargas shells. This shows the government’s double standards. On one hand, the government is claiming that it was acquiring land peacefully while on the other hand it is using police force which is contradictory.

Meanwhile the South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Joong Keun visited Odisha on 6th march 2013. When people in the proposed POSCO project site are mourning the killing of 3 activists of the movement who were killed in a bomb attack on March 2, the Ambassador did not say anything to express his grief. He was obsessed with the progress of POSCO project.

We also condemn in strongest terms POSCO’s attempt to take Odisha Scribes for pleasure trip to outside. We also appeal friends from media please not to fall in the trap as people will lose complete faith in them.

Meanwhile , the CPI (ML) leader K N Ramachandran and Sarmistha Choudhury, who attended an anti-Posco meeting have announced a ’Jana Sansad’ at Jantarmantar in New Delhi on March 15 to protest ‘forcible’ land acquisition for POSCO.

Different social action groups organized a protest meeting over the killing of Anti-POSCO Protesters and Forcible Acquisition of Land in Odisha, at Odisha Bhawan, 1 Niti Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, on 9th March (Saturday), 2013.

I am attaching herewith the statement of various social action groups on the murder of PPSS leader, Complaint to NHRC by Center for Legal Awareness and Human Rights (CLAR) and the latest interview of our activists Mr. Debendra Swain prepared by Video Volunteers. This is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZfaKYUkiLM&feature=youtu.be
We express our gratitude to all our friends for their support and circulating their statements.

We call on all democratic and progressive organizations and individuals to condemn the blatant use of brute force through police as well as goons to brutally crush our democratic movement.

Kindly forward this mail widely.

Hoping for Solidarity.

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

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Bombing in POSCO Area:When we don’t question..

by Samadrusti

It is not even a month old when armed police force invaded Govindapur to forcibly acquire land for POSCO. Since February 3, 2013 this area has been turned in to an armed police camp. Excepting pro-posco goons no one can enter the village and no one can get out.Police patrolling continues for 24 hours. Even cats and dogs can’t enter without police approval. Suddenly there was a bomb attack in the village on March 2, 2013 evening.. Police were informed. They did not respond for 15 hours. But within an hour they could call media to inform them that it was an accident involving bomb making.No media person questioned the SP how could he know it without reaching the spot. 3 important leaders of the anti-posco agitation died on the spot. Two would have survived had they received medical help. One was taken to the hospital by people themselves. One of them had filed a FIR against a very powerful Idco officer who had attacked villagers on February 3, 2013. Our team was among the few people to reach the spot within hours.The images will make any one think and raise questions. When we don’t question, truth is crushed and untruth prevails.

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STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF ANTIPOSCO ACTIVISTS

March 6, 2013

We the undersigned are outraged and distressed over the latest turn off events in the antiposco struggle villages of jagatsinghpur district Odisha.

On 6:30 pm on 2nd March, hired musclemen of Posco threw bombs at antiposco activists in patana village and killed 3 activists and severely injuring several others; one of them is batting for his life at cuttack medical college. This conspiracy was hatched by Posco management and local contractors with active connivance with the Odisha government to murder Abbay Sahoo the President of Posco pratihrodh sangram samity, and to violently supress the antiposco struggle with despicabls unconstitunal means by hiring criminal elements to eliminate and intimidate activists of PPSS which is spearheading antipopsco movement.

It is to be noted that few years ago the hired hoodlums of Posco management attacked shri Dula mandal an antiposco activist of Gobindpur village killing him. This indicates the criminal degeneration of the corporate sector with a complicit probusiness and anti people state can stoop down to any level for their greed.

On 5th march 12 platoons of armed police led by the district collector and SP forcible entered Gobindpur village and destroyed more then 25 betel vines the major source of lively hood of local people.

The state assembly session is in session from February 26- March 7, the Odisha government has begun preparations to resume forceful land acquisition in the village. The government was forced to stop land takeover activities at Gobindapur village in the proposed project site in the first week of February owing to stiff opposition from villagers and concerned people across the globe.

The Odisha government is going ahead with the forceful land acquisition process for the steel plant despite the fact that Posco does not have an environmental clearance for the project. The environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 was suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 30 of 2012. Posco was not even have a memorandum of understanding with the government now. The one it had singed on July 22, 2005 lapsed on July 21, 2010 and no fresh MoU has been signed so far.

Even, the palli sabha meeting of Gobindapur, and the gram sabha meeting of Dhinkia panchyat on 18 October, 2012, more then 2000 residents unanimously voted against diversion of land for Posco’s project under provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006. The ongoing land acquisition is a blatant violation of the Forests Rights Act as the rights over forest lands in the area are not being recognized and vested and consent of the Palli Sabhas has not been obtained by the state government.

The above incidents exposes the criminal nexus between national and international big business with the comprador third world states, who can go any extent to prostrate in front of their imperial masters to hand over the natural recourses to the Merauding Multinational Corporations.

We are worried of the growing criminilastion and lumpenisation and the strengthening of the insidious nexus between the National and Multinational Corporations with the third world states.

The bloodsucking neoliberal economy has created an equally predatory neoliberal state which joins hand with hired musclemen of the corporate sector and also sends its Coercive apparatus like the police and paramilitary forces to forcibly dispossess the peasants, Adiasisard other marginal communities from their land and livelihoods. This is the ugly reality of 21st century primitive accumulation where accumulation through violent dispossession is the sad story of contemporary land grab.

We condemn this dastardly act of violent attack and murder of PPSS archivists and demand the scrapping of the Posco project.

1) Chittraranjan singh National Secretary PUCL

2) Ashok Choudhury NFFPFW

3) Dr. Sunilam Kissan Sangharsh Samity

4) Kiran Shanheen Women against sexual violence and state expression(WSS)

5) Anand Swarup Verma Editor samkaleen tisri duniya

6) K.K. Niyogi All India platform for labour rights

7) Manj Mohan Hind mazdoor sabha

8 ) Roma NFFPFW

9) Anil Chaudhury INSAF

10) Insha Malik Research sholar JNU

11) Bhupen Singh Research sholar JNU

12) Vijay Pratap Socialist Front

13) Madhuresh NAPM

14) Rajendra Ravi NAPM

15) Anna Khandre Samajwadi Party

16) Putul Yuva Bharat

17) P.K. Sundaram IndiaResists.com

18) Prakash Kumar Ray Editor bargad.org

19) Nayanjyoti Krantikari naujawan sabha

20) Vinod Singh Samajwadi jan parishad

21) Rakhi Scigal Labour activist

22) Gopal Krishna Taxis watch

23) Mamta Dash Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi

24) Asit Das Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi

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NAPM Condemns Attack on PPSS by Goons and Subsequent death of 3 activists 030313
State is Sponsoring and Promoting Violence not the PPSS
Punish the Criminals Halt Land Acquisition

New Delhi, March 3 : In the continuing saga of state violence and oppression, when nearly 6 platoons of police were present in the area for starting the forceful land acquisition procedure, bombs were hurled at around 6:30 pm on a meeting room of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, at Patna Village, Dhinkia, Jagatsinghpur, killing Manas Jena – Age 32 died on the spot. Two others Nabanu Mandal – 35 and Narahari Sahoo – 52 succumbed to their injuries, since police didn’t respond to their call for ambulances on time. Mr. Laxman Paramanik was critically injured and is undergoing treatment at the moment.

This act of terror is extremely condemnable and will not deter the spirit of resistance. It is also unfortunate that rather than taking action against the company sponsored goons, who have attacked in past too, the district administration has been spreading canards that the people died while making bombs. The history of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti shows that the movement has been non-violent and peaceful even when the the state forces and goons have attacked them with ferocity on many occasions latest being on February 3 rd.

It need to be mentioned that the movement has faced several instances of state repression, document in a recently release fact finding report titled, “Captive Democracy”. The report says that “230 cases had been filed implicating about 1500- 2000 villagers resisting POSCO between 2006 and 2012. Most of the complaints have left the number of accused open-ended, which allows the police to implicate any person in any case, despite not being specifically named therein. A large number of these cases have been filed by government officials during times of peaceful demonstrations by the members of the PPSS.”

Shri Abhaya Sahoo, the President of the PPSS was arrested on two occasions and has over 50 cases registered against him, including cases when he wasn’t present in the villages on the day of the alleged offence. Manorama Kathua, President Women’s Wing of the PPSS, aged about 29 years has several cases filed against her and has been unable to apply for bail due to financial constraints and has not left the village in 6-7 years. These are just few instances of arbitrary actions of the police and the impacts of the same.

Hence, it is unfortunate that the state is again trying to criminalise the movement and forcefully acquire the land. The sacrifices made by the activists to save their land and right to earn a dignified living must be respected. The actions of Orissa government is in complete violation of democratic norms and principles of justice. As of now the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 stands suspended by the order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) dt March 30 2012. The project does not even have a memorandum of understanding with the state government now, with one signed on July 22, 2005 having lapsed. So what is the basis on which the state is acquiring land for the project?

The nation needs an answer for this continued brutality and loss of life and livelihood and constant harassment and complete disruption of normal life. People’s movements from across the country stand in solidarity with the struggle of villagers of Jagatsinghpur and condemn this barbaric action of the state government and company sponsored goons.

Medha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam, Prafulla Samantra, Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishna Raju, Sister Celia, Suniti S R, Gabriele
Dietrich, Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Anand Mazgaonkar, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Vimal Bhai, Mukta Srivastava, Suhas Kolhekar, Rajendra Ravi,
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Seela Mahapatra, Madhuresh Kumar

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PPSS Update on March 2

received from Prashant Paikary (Spokesperson, PPSS)

Today i.e. on 2nd March 2013, at around 6 .30 PM, the POSCO company and state-sponsored goons threw bombs on our villagers at Patna village, Dhinkia , Jagatsinghpur. As a result, Manas Jena – Age 32 died on the spot. The rest two Nabanu Mandal – 35 and Narahari Sahoo – 52 were died after half an hour waiting for ambulance. Mr. Laxman Paramanik is critically injured. We have informed the police for ambulance once the incident happened. But the police didn’t respond.

We strongly condemn this barbaric and inhuman killing of innocent villagers and strongly demand to arrest the culprit immediately.

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Today i.e on March, 2nd 2013 , the government of Odisha has sent around six platoons of police at Badagabapur (near POSCO transit camp). It’s highly possible that they repeat a forceful police operation tomorrow. Our villagers are in high alert to face any forceful land acquisition for POSCO steel plant.

As you know that the state assembly session is in interegnum from February 25- March 7, the Odisha government has begun preparations to resume forceful land acquisition in our village.

The government was forced to stop land takeover activities at Gobindapur village in the proposed project site in the first week of February owing to stiff opposition from the villagers and concerned people across the globe.

The Odisha government is going ahead with the forceful land acquisition process for the steel plant despite the fact that Posco does not have an environmental clearance for the project. The environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 was suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 30 of 2012.Posco does not even have a memorandum of understanding with the state government now. The one it had signed on July 22, 2005 lapsed on July 21, 2010 and no fresh MoU has been signed so far. So what is the basis on which the state is acquiring land for the project ?

Even, the palli sabha meeting of Govindpur, and the gram sabha meeting of Dhinkia panchayat on 18 October, 2012, more than 2000 residents unanimously voted against diversion of land for Posco’s project under provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006. The ongoing land acquisition is a blatant violation of the Forest Rights Act as the rights over forest lands in our area are not being recognized and vested and consent of the Palli Sabhas has not been obtained by the State government.

Requesting all of you to circulate this message to our media friends and start calling the authorities to stop the forthcoming police operation at Govindpur village .

You can write and call to the following :

1. Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister, Odishas
Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,
011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163
Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,
011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,
Fax No- (91)6742535100
E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2. Murali Chandrakanta Bhanadare, Governor of Odisha, Fax No- (91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.
Phone no – 0674 – 2536700
0674 – 2534300
0674 – 2322196
Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

3. S.K. Mallick , District Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Contact number 09437038401, Fax no -: (91)6724220299

4. Superintendent of Police, Debadutta Singh. Mobile no-09437094678, dmjsp@ori.nic.in

5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Tel no- +9111-23016857
e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

6. Sonia Gandhi: Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656, Fax- (91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

7. Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo
Minister of Tribal Affairs
Ministry of Tribal Affairs,
Room No. 400 ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan,
New Delhi- 110001
vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
Minister of Environment & Forests
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan,
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi-110003
mosefgoi@nic.in

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PPSS Update : February 26

Appeal for a United Struggle

There is no regard for democracy in corporate raj-the Odisha Government is proving it again and again by ignoring and repressing the popular resentment in our area against forcible land acquisition for POSCO. The government is also behaving as if it does not care at all even if people across the globe appeal it for marinating calm and restraint. Despite that our people’s resolve to fight and drive out POSCO remains totally unaffected. We are continuing daily peaceful demonstration at Patnahat village against the patrolling of at least two platoons (about 60 personnel) of armed police in the Govindpur villages. It is needless to say that government is not willing to part with its terror tactics. Democracy is at stake.

Now we need a united struggle to tell the state in clear terms that what they are doing for corporations like POSCO is not acceptable in a democracy. We call for a nationwide movement in support of the villagers’ struggle against the integrated steel plant to be set up by POSCO in our land. We are fighting with the government of Odisha, tooth and nail, for the past eight years. We appeal to all the major political parties, intellectuals, people’s movement and individual groups across the country to join us. Unless and until there is a united fight, the governments in the state and at the centre would continue their ‘anti-people’ policies and ‘oppression’ in the name of development.

Undertaking forceful land acquisition process for POSCO is aimed at negating the forthcoming amendment of 1894 Land Acquisition Act. The government is in a hurry to complete land acquisition before the Bill is passed. Once the new policy comes into effect, it will become more difficult for the government to implement the project as it is being opposed by all our villagers.

On 15th February 2013, PPSS organized a protest demonstration at Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha. The representatives of different political parties like Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI(M), Forward Block, RJD, Samajwadi Party, CPIML, CPIML (liberation), SUCI (communist), CPIML (new democracy) , Aam Admi Party and different human rights organizations like PUCL , NFFPFW and Janabadi Writers Organization joined hands to oppose the project. In a unified voice, they said that the state government has no right to acquire land forcibly. Whatever was done at Gobindpur village is undemocratic, illegal and above all criminal in nature.

Please click here for a fact finding report on the human rights situation prepared by Delhi Forum and Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore.

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Open letter to the Government of Odisha, India

February 15, 2013

(Source – Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group)

We, the undersigned, write on behalf of an international community of human rights activists, organizations and independent experts to express our deep concern about the ongoing violent acquisition of land by the government of Odisha in Gobindpur village, Dhinkia Gram Panchayat. We strongly condemn the illegal use of force by the government of Odisha against village residents and protesting community members. The most recent wave of police violence, which took place between February 3-6, 2013, is consistent with a documented pattern of abuse, threats, and intimidation by the Indian government to forcibly acquire land in Odisha for the South Korean POSCO corporation’s steel processing plant. We wish to emphasize that these attacks are in clear violation of Indian law, as well as established international human rights norms and standards.

Between February 3 – 6, 2013 we received direct reports of escalating government violence through our contacts among community leaders in Gobindpur, Dhinkia, Cuttack, and Bhubaneswar. We were informed that a police force of twelve platoons, along with senior government officials and POSCO representatives entered Gobindpur village at 4 am on Sunday, February 3rd. Reportedly, the police attacked a human barricade composed of over 350 women. The indiscriminate use of force, which allegedly included lathi attacks on women and children, injured over 50 people. Three women and one elderly man sustained serious injuries.

Although the land acquisition process has temporarily been halted, we find the Indian government’s continued efforts to forcibly acquire land for the POSCO project to be incredibly troubling especially in light of serious questions that have been raised regarding the legality of the project. The environmental clearance for the POSCO project was suspended in March 2012 by decree of the National Green Tribunal – a body established by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. In addition, the government of Odisha has refused to follow the procedures established by the Forest Rights Act, whose provisions require clearance of the project by local governance structures, known as Gram Sabhas, which have issued three resolutions rejecting any diversion of land for the POSCO project. Further, the initial Memorandum of Understanding for the project, which expired in July 2010, has not been renewed.

According to Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, and Executive Director, Housing and Land Rights Network: “the lack of transparency, accountability, and due process in acquiring land for POSCO and moving ahead with the project is alarming. It is clear that the recent action in Odisha 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 local villagers. I strongly condemn this undemocratic action that also defies reports of independent and government-appointed committees cautioning against environmental and human rights abuses of the project.”

We urge the Indian government to take the following measures in order to address ongoing human rights abuses associated with the POSCO project:

Immediately cease all measures aimed at the forcible displacement of residents living in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha;
Carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the illegal use of force by the police and a government official on the morning of 3 February 2013 and hold those with command responsibility to account;
Ensure adequate compensation to those injured and those who incurred loss and damage of property, and loss of livelihood;
Rescind the false charges filed against more than 230 individuals and several prominent leaders of the anti- POSCO movement, and
Uphold the rights of the affected communities established under the Forest Rights Act as well as the determination of the National Green Tribunal that raised serious environmental concerns relating to the POSCO project.

The Undersigned,

Actionaid International
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
Amnesty International
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
Asian Foundation for Human Rights and Development
Asian Human Rights Commission
Asian Institute for Human Rights
Association for India’s Development
Boston Mobilization
EarthRights International
Ekta Parishad
ESCR-Net
Friends of South Asia
International Development Exchange
Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal
Mines Minerals & PEOPLE
Mining Zone Peoples’ Solidarity Group
Oakland Institute
Pesticide Action Network North America
Sanhati

[For the complete list of endorsers, see ESCR-Net]

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PPSS Update : February 11

PPSS leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo ends his fast.

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, i.e. on 10th February 2013, Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, the chairperson of PPSS was persuaded by the villagers and visiting activists from across the state and outside to call off his six-day hunger strike as the state government suspended temporarily the forcible land acquisition process owing to the resistance on one hand and the support and solidarity the movement received from across the globe. The PPSS wishes to thank all those who expressed their support and solidarity with the movement. Though it is difficult to predict the next move of the government but they might not resort to forcible
land acquisition now since the state assembly’s budget session is about to start soon.

As you are aware, Mr. Abhaya Sahoo , had to launch an indefinite hunger strike since 5 February 2013 in protest against the illegal land acquisition by the government. He demanded immediate withdrawal of police forces from Gobindpur village. Due to the heavy protest from the villagers, the government has been compelled to stalled land acquisition work. Needless to say the withdrawal of police from Gobindpur is our moral victory. Although a majority of the armed police personnel had been withdrawn from the site outside Gobindpur where land was being acquired for POSCO by the State government by demolishing betel vineyards, two platoons of police are still camping in the village.

We have decided to continue our mass peaceful demonstration at Govindpur till the police completely withdraws from Gobindpur village. Today, prominent social activist Dr. B.D. Sharma is joining with our villagers at Gobindpur village.

Officials of POSCO and district administration lunch together:-
In the media, POSCO –India is repeatedly saying that it has no role in the forceful land acquisition. We are attaching herewith a photo where the POSCO India official at Paradip Mr. S.N. Singh, General manager Construction, (in red shirt, second from right) was having lunch with the district collector S K Mallick (Second from left in sky blue shirt) and Superintendent of Police (Extreme left in Khaki). You can get the more details in this link.

bonhomiebeteweenposcoanddistofficials.jpg

POSCO-India is providing all such logistical support at the site to drive out the people. If the district administration will work as the agent of POSCO, how the common villagers will have trust on the administration to get justice. We would request friends not to trust POSCO India press notes as they are sharing blatant lies. They have been instrumental in unleashing a terror in the area by engaging paid agents and goons. At the same time they are trying to portray a very good image about themselves with the friendly elements in media. You may also know that the recent fraud committed by POSCO-India. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has slapped a penalty of close to Rs.10 crore on one of its associate companies in India, POSCO India Delhi Processing Centre (IDPC), for alleged tax evasion. The customs department has also ordered the confiscation of goods worth
about Rs. 200 crore imported by the company.

We would request you to please keep a watch on POSCO and to please remain in touch with us –the victims and potential victims of POSCO’s
invasion.

Hoping for solidarity,

Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

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PPSS Update : February 8

Dear Friends,

As you may be aware our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo had to take the extreme step of sitting on hunger strike till the time withdrawal of armed police force from our area is completed. His fast has been going on at Patna Hat village since the morning of 5th February 2013 though he is not in good health.

While thanking you all for the support and solidarity you have been extending to the movement which certainly keeps our hope alive even when forcible displacement and despair knocks at our door, we do also appeal you on behalf our agitating villagers to please come and join us physically at the site of the Dharana in Govindapur and Patana Hat. You may be a leader/activist of a political party or a social movement or a progressive intellectual, a media person, does [not] matter where you belong to – please come and join us in the peaceful demonstration at Govindpur against the government’s coercive action to forcibly dislodge us from our land and livelihoods.

We have already informed you about the happenings on 3rd February dawn when police force forcefully entered Govindapur village and blocked the area from all sides and started beating our villagers mercilessly. Our women are complaining about torture and sexual atrocities in the hands of the police. [The police] did also pull down trees and betel vines, the major sources of our livelihood.

On 6th of February 2013, the district administration of Odisha was forced to halt the operation at around noon when hundreds of women and children formed a human barricade and told the police : ‘Kill us first before you proceed further,”.

A large number of activists from CPI, CPM, CPI ML, Liberation, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, RJD and members from different social movements also participated in the demonstration. The supporters and activists of opposition Congress and BJP also joined the gherao agitation lead by Com Raja. It seems that the government would resume land acquisition work today.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh was scheduled to visit Gobindpur village today to express solidarity with our villagers.

We don’t understand the Odisha government’s determination to go ahead with the forceful land acquisition process for the steel plant despite the fact that Posco does not have an environmental clearance for the project. The environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 was suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 30 of 2012.

Posco does not even have a memorandum of understanding with the state government now. The one it had signed on July 22, 2005 lapsed on July 21, 2010 and no fresh MoU has been signed so far. So what is the basis on which the state is acquiring land for the project?

Even the palli sabha meeting of Govindpur, and the gram sabha meeting of Dhinkia panchayat on 18 October, 2012, more than 2000 residents unanimously voted against diversion of land for Posco’s project under provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006. The ongoing land acquisition is a blatant violation of the Forest Rights Act as the rights over forest lands in our area are not being recognized and vested and consent of the Palli Sabhas has not been obtained by the State government.

There is a clear indication that the government is acting at the behest of and for the benefit of the private company and is in a hurry to begin work even when the new land acquisition bill is being considered by the Parliament, which mandates consent of nearly 70% people in a village before acquiring their land for any project. The project is also facing court cases relating to allotment of iron ore mines and water as well.

We have been questioning the project’s potential to generate jobs for the people and the net benefit the country will get after sacrificing land, water and doling out concessions to the foreign company. The government is completely silent on its part to discuss the issues involving the project.

At this juncture, once again, we earnestly appeal you to join us and express your solidarity with villagers of Govindpur.

Click here for photographs from the protest against POSCO’s land acquisition

Hoping for solidarity,

Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

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Support for the anti-POSCO resistance

* Korean Civil and Labour organisations condemn State violence on anti-POSCO villagers

* Support Letter by French Civil Society to Anti-Posco Movement

* An Open Letter from concerned citizens to the Chief Minister of Odisha[pdf]

* Letter of Concern from Global Forest Coalition at the barbaric action of police proposed POSCO project area in Jagatsingpur district of Orissa[pdf]

*************************************

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PPSS leader Abhay Sahu’s fast entered the fourth- day – Call to Join the peaceful struggle at Govindpur, Jagatsinghpur, Odisha

February 9, 2013

As you may be aware our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo had to take the extreme step of sitting on hunger strike till the time withdrawal of armed police force from our area is completed. His fast has been going on at Patna Hat village since the morning of 5th February 2013 though he is not in good health.

While thanking you all for the support and solidarity you have been extending to the movement which certainly keeps our hope alive even when forcible displacement and despair knocks at our door, we do also appeal you on behalf our agitating villagers to please come and join us physically at the site of the Dharana in Govindapur and Patana Hat. You may be a leader/activist of a political party or a social movement or a progressive intellectual, a media person, does matter where you belong to- please come and join us in the peaceful demonstration at Govindpur against the government’s coercive action to forcibly dislodge us from our land and livelihoods.

We have already informed you about the happenings on 3rd February dawn when police force forcefully entered Govidnapur village and blocked the area from all sides and started beating our villagers mercilessly. Our women are complaining about torture and sexual atrocities in the hands of the police. They did also pull down trees and betel vines, the major sources of our livelihood.

On 6th of February 2013, the district administration of Odisha was forced to halt the operation at around noon when hundreds of women and children formed a human barricade and said the police ‘Kill us first before you proceed further,”.

A large number of activists from CPI, CPM,CPI ML, Liberation, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, RJD and members from different social movements also participated in the demonstration. The supporters and activists of opposition Congress and BJP also joined the gherao agitation lead by Com Raja. It seems that the government would resume land acquisition work today.

Social activist, Swami Agnivesh was scheduled to visit Gobindpur village today to express solidarity with our villagers.

We don’t understand the Odisha government’s determination to go ahead with the forceful land acquisition process for the steel plant despite the fact that Posco does not have an environmental clearance for the project. The environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 was suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on March 30 of 2012.

Posco does not even have a memorandum of understanding with the state government now. The one it had signed on July 22, 2005 lapsed on July 21, 2010 and no fresh MoU has been signed so far. So what is the basis on which the state is acquiring land for the project ?

Even, the palli sabha meeting of Govindpur, and the gram sabha meeting of Dhinkia panchayat on 18 October, 2012, more than 2000 residents unanimously voted against diversion of land for Posco’s project under provisions of the Forest Rights Act 2006. The ongoing land acquisition is a blatant violation of the Forest Rights Act as the rights over forest lands in our area are not being recognized and vested and consent of the Palli Sabhas has not been obtained by the State government.

There is a clear indication that the government is acting at the behest of and for the benefit of the private company and is in a hurry to begin work even when the new land acquisition bill is being considered by the Parliament, which mandates consent of nearly 70% people in a village before acquiring their land for any project. The project is also facing court cases relating to allotment of iron ore mines and water as well.

We have been questioning the project’s potential to generate jobs for the people and the net benefit the country will get after sacrificing land, water and doling out concessions to the foreign company. The government’s is completely silent on its part to discuss the issues involving the project.

At this juncture, once again, we earnestly appeal you to join us and express your solidarity with villagers of Govindpur.

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PPSS Update : February 5

Thanks for your support and solidarity with PPSS. Any single step taken anywhere in the world in extending support to us does inspire us to continue our just and peaceful struggle against a mighty company and its henchmen in our government. Yet, the forcible land acquisition continues despite protests and solidarity expressed with us-just for a foreign company.

Today i.e. on 5th February 2013, our villagers resisted when 12 platoons of police (around 400 police personnel) made a flag march along with the officials of POSCO-India, state revenue department and Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) to acquire a patch of 700 acres of land of Gobindpur village. During the resistance, some of the school children have been injured. These children while staging a rally demanding the removal of police force from the area came face to face with the police force which was on a flag-march. Due to the heavy presence of police force, tension prevailed in the area. The POSCO-India officials are busy in providing food and other logistical support to the Police and other officials.

The Jagatsinghpur district collector Satya Kumar Mallick repeatedly said in the media that “the land acquisition process in Gobindpur was going on peacefully with the consent of villagers and we have deployed police force to protect the villagers from the threat of PPSS”. This is false and misleading. Actually 80 per cent of the people were against handing over their land. If the people are giving their land voluntarily, then why the police is entered in wee hours of Sunday which was a holiday and started beating the villagers in which 18 villagers were injured. Four of the injured including three women were seriously hurt. The way the administration acquired the land without the consent of the villagers is undemocratic and uncalled for. We are attaching herewith the video link http://www.indianexpress.com/videos/business/25/protester-police-clash-at-posco-site–/15258. One Sangram Mohapatra, the land officer with the state-run Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), was seen mercilessly beating a protestor with a stick. The footage also showed the officer dressed casually in a red sweater over a white shirt moving from one place to another and dragging some children across the protest site. He has no police or magistrate power.

On 2nd February, the administration crushed millions of betel leaves as the vineyards came crashing down under tractors. The crushing of beetle leaves is continuing with the presence of heavy police force in the Govindpur village.

On 3rd February, The leaders of six political parties-Congress, Samajwadi Party, RJD, CPI, CPM and Forward Block joined with the villagers at Gobindpur and severely criticized the administration for “forcible” acquisition of land for the Posco project.

You may know that on 30th March 2012, the national Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the environmental clearance of POSCO. However the district officials are demolishing beetle-vines and tree felling exercise at Mathsahi locality of Gobindapur in the presence of Jagatsinghpur district Collector S K Mallick, Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi and other officials. This is clearly undemocratic and illegal to make this attempt when the matter is sub-judice.

The chairperson of PPSS, Mr. Abhay Sahu is on an indefinite hunger strike at Patna Hat since this morning with demanding immediate withdrawal of police force from the village. He will not break the fast until police forces are withdrawn from the area.

At this juncture, we earnestly request the concerned citizens, progressive intellectuals, social movements, to join us at Govindpur village and save the villagers from clutches of a cruel, tyrannical, profit-minded pro-corporate state power. If this struggle is crushed so badly we doubt if there will be another struggle anywhere which will be able to drive out such monsters from any part of our country.

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Citizens Groups Protest at Orissa Bhawan Against Brutal Police Violence on Anti POSCO Protesters
Support to PPSS pour in from Across the Country

protest-at-orissa-bhawan-delhi-040213.jpg

protesters-barge-inside-orissa-bhawan-delhi-040213.jpg

February 4, New Delhi:
Reacting to the inhuman attack on women and children by Orissa Police at the crack of the dawn on February 3rd, citizens groups across political spectrum today staged a dharna at Orissa Bhawan, New Delhi. Protesters joined by All India Students Association, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra, Socialist Front and others barged inside the Orissa Bhawan and forced the officials to come out and talk to them. At the intervention of the Delhi police protesters moved out of the premises but continued the protest outside. Speaking at the protest, Vijay Pratap said that there is only ‘company raj’ in Orissa and there is no legitimacy to it, before 2014 elections movements across the country need to come together and expose them. Sandeep Singh, AISA said it is completely inhuman to beat up children, whose right to protest has been accepted by National Commission of Child Rights Protection.

Surya Das, activist – film maker, said that current round of acquisition is completely illegal since there is no MoU, National Green Tribunal has suspended its environmental clearance even then they are carrying the land acquisition, for what ? Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM, added that UPA government is complicit in this too, since they are standing for a company which has been fined Rs 10 Crore by Department of Revenue Intelligence for tax evasion. They should be blacklisted from carrying out any business rather than rolling out red carpet for them. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, brought to fact hundreds of false cases filed against the activists by Orissa state, many of who are living in constant fear of arrest or have already been arrested and then secured bail. Protesters submitted a memorandum to the Joint Commissioner of the Orissa Bhawan, who assured conveying the concerns to the government.

Support to the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti also poured in from all across the country. In a letter Medha Patkar, Maj General Sudhir Vombatkere & Sister Celia (Karnataka), Sandeep Pandey, Arundhati Dhuru (Uttar Pradesh), P Chennaiah & Ramaksrishnan Raju (Andhra Pradesh), C R Neelakandan (Kerala) and others of National Alliance of People’s Movements wrote to the Chief Minister condemning the police violence and brought out all the illegalities with the project. They demanded immediate withdrawal of the police force, false cases against activists and also no further land acquisition, since the project has no legal sanction and is against the wishes of the people.

National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Housing and Land Rights Network, Praja Rajya Vedike, BIRSA Jharkhand, All India Forum of Forest Movements and many other organisations from across the country condemned the brutal attack on peacefully protesting women and children. It is extremely inhuman and against all the laws that Police presence in the area has been increased and used to increase the tension and instill fear in the people. People’s Movements stand in solidarity with the Posco Pratoridh Sangram Samiti and struggling people of Orissa and will continue to oppose any plan for furthering interests of POSCO in the area against people’s wishes.

For details contact :9958797409 | 9868033425

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529
Web : www.napm-india.org
Facebook : www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia
______________________________________________

Update: Protest on 4th February at Odisha Bhawan, Chanakyapuri at 11 AM against brutal police crackdown on villagers resisting land grab by POSCO.
Called by AISA-RYA

___________
Update as of February 2nd, 2013

Police enters our village, beat women and children, arrested villagers and cut trees

In the wee hours today (at around 4 am) the police has entered into our villages and beaten up women and children, arrested some of our villagers (number is yet to be known).

As we have intimated you earlier that the police force has been gradually swelling in our area amidst our continuing human chain and Dharana in the Balitikira-the boarder of Govindpur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsingpur district, the police has deceptively entered to the villages with full force at 4 a.m. today. Our people sensed their possible move at around 2 o clock night and alerted the villagers by ringing bells. Gradually women, children, male members started getting accumulated at the Dharana place. At 4 a.m. the police entered and attacked the women and children first. The male police have ruthlessly beaten our women who were lying on a human chain. Some women have been severely inured. The Police have thrown our children like flowers, some of whom are injured. Some villagers have been arrested by the police and been taken to custody. At the moment we do not have exact numbers as the situation is too tensed on the spot. The police have started breaking our betel vines and cutting the trees forcefully. More and more numbers of our villagers have come to the spot and a war like situation has arisen. Our committed villagers are facing a mighty 12 platoons of police force.

We fail to understand the decision of the state to acquire land when the National Green Tribunal has already suspended the environment clearance to the proposed POSCO project in our area. Naveen Patnaik is behaving like an agent of the POSCO company.

As the situation is too alarming, we appeal all our friends to protest against the barbarism and call/write/fax to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Odisha and Chief Secretary of Odisha, Home Minsitry, Odisha appealing to immediately stop the police brutality and withdrawal of the force from our area. Please call to your respective MPs and MLAs and raise your protest against them urging them to oppose the illegal move. Write to NHRC also.

We request our media friends to rush to our villages and see the situation in their own eyes and report.

We will intimate further developments soon.

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Update as of January 22nd, 2013

Dear Friends,

As you know the police have made its presence heavy in our area and regularly conducting regular flag to intimidate us.

Despite provocation, for the past nine days, our villagers are continuing the peaceful protest against theforceful acquisition of our land for Proposed steel plant by POSCO at Balitikra along Govindapur- Nuagaon border and the protest will continue for the indefinite period till the Government and POSCO management withdraw themselves from our area. The villagers including children and women are keeping a round-the-clock vigil at the entry points to the village to stop the Government and Posco officials to come to the site villages.

As you know the Odisha government is making an unlawful and illegal move to acquire our land without taking the consent of our villager into consideration and avoiding the unanimous resolution passed in recently held Gram Sabha against diversion of forest land for Posco project. Recenlty our chairperson of PPSS, Mr. Abhya Sahoo said that the Jagatsinghpur District Collector was misleading the people of the State that 80 per cent of the villagers of Govindapur wanted the establishment of the Posco plant. Sahoo dared the district Collector to prove it. “I would withdraw the anti Posco agitation, if the District Collector can prove that 80 per cent of the villagers support Posco,” he said.

Further the mines issue is sub-judice, environmental clearance is under suspension and there is no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) . The state government has been unleashing savage repression and violence on our democratic movement. This is a clear illegal attempt of POSCO to acquire land for the project by bribing the State Government, the district administration and the local politicians.

In a resolution adopted at its national executive meeting held at Bhubaneswar, state capital of Odisha, the Communist Party of India ( CPI) asked the state government to withdraw the project from the area and resolved to oppose any industrialisation through repression and at the cost of vibrant agricultural economy. CPI national council secretary and MP Gurdas Dasgupta told .”We are opposed to farmers’ land to be invaded by multi-national companies,”

In this juncture, we strongly demand the state government to refrain from any anti-people and violent actions, withdraw the Posco project from our area and allow us to decide our fate.

Here is an article written by Anant Mariganti, Biju Mathew and Sirisa Naidu published in Economic Political weekly (EPW) that exposes the faulty NCAER report to justify POSCO’s cost-benifit analysis.

Requesting you to sign the e-petition and circulate.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson,
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
________________________________________
Update as of January 11th, 2013
10 Police platoons on spot and 8 platoons more likely to reach and cordon our area – PPSS

Dear Friends,

In the mid-night of 9th January, the police filled in two vehicles entered into the Dhinkia Village secretly in order to arrest Mr. Babaji Charan Samantary aged about 65 years, of Dhinkia village in false cases. However, once our villagers became aware about it, they readied for defense. The vehicles went away.

Mr. Samantary who worked as postmaster in Dhinkia for 28 years, was suspended on 14/12/2007 on the ground that he was not willing to give his land for the proposed POSCO project. Despite of the suspension , Mr. Samantary voluntarily continued his work and delivered the post everyday, for about 7 – 8 months. However, around July, 2008, the bag of post was not sent, and since then the basic service delivery like post office has been arbitrarily closed in the Dhinkia village and villagers are not receiving any letter to their area.

From 9th January 2013 evening onwards, the government has deployed 10 platoon of polices near to our villages. We came to know that the government is bringing another 8 platoons of police to deploy today.

Apprehending the police operation at any time, the villagers are united and erected barricades, refusing entry to outsiders to their village. Both Men and women have kept a strict vigil 24 x 7 and disconnect all the village connecting road to Dhinkia and Govindpur village.

Friends, as you know, the National Green Tribunal have put the project on hold on environmental and forest rights ground project on 30th March 2012. It is completely illegal on part of the state government to announce resumption of the process at the proposed plant site. But since elections are approaching both the Congress in the centre and BJD in Odisha are trying their best to mobilize election funds which will be held at 2014.

At this juncture, we earnestly appeal to all our friends to express the solidarity with our villagers and request our media friends to rush and cover the government’s illegal activities from the ground zero.

In Solidarity,

Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

_______________________________________

Update as of January 4th, 2013

Dear Friends,

We strongly condemn the recent declaration of the District Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Odisha to acquire 700 acres of land for the establishment of the POSCO’S integrated steel plant . You may remember that the forceful attempt by the state administration was halted at the proposed plant site area since December 14, 2011 following the killing of a man over construction of coastal road to connect to our village Dhinkia.

On 28th December 2012, speaking to the media, the Jagatsinghpur district collector SK Mallick said that . “The state government has decided to start activities from tomorrow. We have already taken the consent of local residents for starting the work,”

The statement of the district collector is totally false and misleading. We would like to appeal the district collector to show the evidence in support of the local people’s consent. Rather, on 18.10.2012, the Gram Sabha of of Dhinkia Panchayat passed resolution reiterating their demand to stop proposed diversion of forest land without recognition of forest rights and without obtaining the informed consent of the Gram Sabhas of the concerned villages which is a statutory requirement under Forest Rights Act. In this regard, the Ministry of Environment & Forests in the guidelines issued in July 2009 and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in the guidelines issued recently in 12th July 2012. Further the Minister of Tribal Affairs in his letters of November 19th and December 7th, 2012, to the Minister for Environment and Forests, has stated that no forest land can be diverted without the full implementation of the Forest Rights Act and the consent of the affected Gram Sabhas.

The Gram Sabha has further informed the state government that any diversion of forest land for the proposed project without complying to the provisions under Forest Rights Act would be a violation of the law and statutory rights of the local communities.

Since National Green Tribunal has suspended the environmental clearance granted to the project on 30th March 2012, it is illegal on part of the state government to announce resumption of the process at the proposed plant site .The environmental clearances granted for the proposed private port and the proposed POSCO steel plant have already expired on May 15th, 2012 and July 19th, 2012 respectively. Hence any further action will be tantamount to be violation of the provisions of the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006. Further, there is no renewal of the memorandum of understanding with the company which has expired in June 2010.

It is a matter of great concern that ignoring the above glaring illegalities involved in the project the State government is deliberately subverting laws of the land, rights of the affected communities and decisions of the Gram Sabha and is encouraging illegal takeover of land in favour of POSCO.

On the other hand taking advantage of the undue favour shown by the State government and in active collusion with the state POSCO has offered the so called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) package of Rs 2000 million for peripheral development with the clear intention to woo and divide the people and to weaken the people’s movement. This is how an unholy empire of criminals, crooks and wrong doers is building with the full complicity of the administration.

Against this impending threat of forcebly land acquisition, we are planning to hold a mass demonstration at Balitikiri ( Govindpur Village boarder) on 6th of January 2013 ( Sunday). Police has already lodged 230 false cases against our people and put our four villagers viz. Bibhuna Mahapatra, Alok Swain of Dhinkia village and Achyut das, Nivaran Das of Patna village in the jail. Democracy and our right to dissent and protest are being brutally assaulted by the so called democratic government of the state. Despite of all kinds of false propaganda, intimidation, false cases and threats of forcible eviction has not demoralized our people and they are doubly determined to take the struggle to its logical end that is till POSCO is driven out of the soil.

At this juncture, we are expecting you to also help us by contributing in any possible way according to your capacity. As your support shall be the strength of the people.

We request you to come with your own ideas of protest. You can also lodge your protest by writing the following authorities by keeping the following demands.

1. Immediate withdraw of the recent declarations to acquire our land in violation of law.

2. The Gram Sabha resolution be respected and the Forest Rights Act be implemented in letter and spirit in the affected area.

3. The State government must stop diversion of forest land for the proposed project in violation of Forest Rights Act 2006.

In Solidarity,

Prashant Paikary

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

Mobile no-09437571547

E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

You can write to the following :

1. Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister, Odisha
Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,
011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163
Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,
011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,
Fax No- (91)6742535100
E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2. Murali Chandrakanta Bhanadare, Governor of Odisha,
Fax No- (91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.
Phone no – 0674 – 2536700
0674 – 2534300
0674 – 2322196
Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

3. S.K. Mallick , District Collector, Jagatsinghpur,
Contact number 09437038401, Fax no – : (91)6724220299

4. Superintendent of Police, Debadutta Singh. Mobile no-09437094678, dmjsp@ori.nic.in

5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Tel no-+9111-23016857
e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

6. Sonia Gandhi:
Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656,
Fax- (91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

7. Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India,
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001,
Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016,
Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo
Minister of Tribal Affairs
Ministry of Tribal Affairs,
Room No. 400 ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan,
New Delhi- 110001
vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
Minister of Environment & Forests
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan,
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi-110003
mosefgoi@nic.in

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Update from PPSS on 7th December 2012

We had to confront with yet another pre-planned strategy of POSCO and its sponsored goons who were determined to threaten and humiliate our innocent villagers and almost forced us to give up our struggle against the forceful land acquisition by POSCO. On 5th December 2012, few POSCO sponsored goons and villagers started to ring the bell to convene a village meeting in order to force us to extend our cooperation to start the land acquisition process. When our villagers opposed this undemocratic and uncalled for move, the sponsored goons started beating our people. Not surprisingly, the police have filed 12 more fabricated false cases against our people.

Out of desperation POSCO is following a divide and rule strategy in Gobindpur village. The Posco officials are trying to allure and divide our people by bribing the goons for acquiring the forest land adjacent to Gobindpur. However, our people are strongly determined to fight back and would not make it success at all.

As you know, in the course of our peaceful and democratic non-violent struggle to prevent our lands from being forcibly acquired by POSCO, our people have been brutally attacked by paid goons of the company and subjected to grueling economic blockades by the local administration. Several of our leaders have been put behind bars. False charges have been foisted on over 200 activists, both men and women.

On November 29, 2012, more than 3000 people had observed anti-violence day at Dhinkia village. You may remember that on November 29th of 2007, the state government has unleashed series of brutal repression against our people. Again the police has made repression on our people on May 15th 2010. We are attaching herewith the link of a video http://www.videorepublic.tv/2011/12/25/the-big-fat-brutal-lie/ where the state police is burning the huts, beating and firing at the villagers.

On 30th November 2012, the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare attended a farmer’s rally at Jagatsinghpur and condemned the state government’s attempts to hand over 4,000 acre of land to the South Korean steel major POSCO. He said that “Instead of a policy to ensure the rights of farmers and make use of our natural resources, the government is busy appeasing and promoting foreign companies,”. He also said that “problems faced by farmers cannot be solved by bringing foreign currency into India. Laws need to be changed for their betterment”.

In a desperate damage controlling mode, POSCO started to distribute the POSCO TJ Park Foundation Scholarship to 10 students of BPUT (Biju Patnaik University of Technology) and KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) University on 27th November 2012. Besides, POSCO distribute fellowships at Delhi University, OUAT, Bhubaneswar and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi every year. Needless to say that this is an initiative to develop it’s goodwill among the intelligentsia and get sympathy from these institutions.

At this juncture, we strongly urge the students and faculties of the above esteemed institutions to discard this award. We also earnestly request these institutions to compel POSCO to respect the unanimous resolution on Dhinkia gram sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) i.e. on 18th of October 2012 , where more than 2000 people participated in the meeting and refused to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

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Dhinkia Gram Sabha Unanimously Resolves NOT to Divert Forest Land for POSCO

October 22, 2012

On 18th of October 2012 , more than 2000 people participated in the Dhinkia Gram Sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) meeting and passed unanimous resolution stating their refusal to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO for its 12million steel plant covering 4004 acres of land under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It may be recalled here that Gram Sabha happens to be most fundamental unit of decision making in India’s grassroot democracy guaranteed by the constitution.

The resolution that was read and resolved contained the following:

“The Gram Sabha of Dhinkia panchayat in its meeting on dated 18th October 2012hereby decides and resolves on the following matters relating to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and its implementation the village. This has reference to the letter (No. TD 11 (FRA)-06/2011) issued by the ST & SC Development Department. on 7th September 2012 had instructing Collectors to ensure discussion and planning on the pending claims under the Forest Rights Act and to ensure consolidation of list of claims for further monitoring and disposal.

• The villages under this Panchayat have rights over forest lands and have initiated process of claims on rights under Forest Rights Act. Claims on the forest lands approved and recommended by the Palli Sabhas of villages (Dhinkia, Govindpur…) are still pending for recognition and no step has been taken to recognize and vest the rights. No information and training on Forest Rights Act have been provided to the villages, forms and necessary records have been supplied by the government to support claim making process, all contrary to its obligations under the Rules. In this regard the Gram Sabha directs the District Level Committee to ensure completion the process for recognition of individual and community rights as per claims submitted by the Forest Rights Committee/Palli Sabha of the concerned villages which are still pending. In this regard Gram Sabha asks the SDLC and DLC to provide the status of claims to the Palli Sabhas and FRCs of the villages.

• The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012 have been notified on 6th September 2012. As required under the amendment rules the Palli Sabha shall initiate the process for claiming community forest resources rights under Section 3 (1)(i) of the Forest Rights Act. In accordance with the amendment rules of the FRA, the Gram Sabha calls upon the District Level Committee to ensure recognition of the community forest resource rights in the villages coming under this Panchayat as required in the amendment Rule 12 (B)(3).

• The Gram Sabha calls upon the government and district administration to comply to decisions of the Palli Sabhas with regard to use and management of the community forest resources in accordance with Section 5 of the Forest Rights Act. The gram sabha reiterates the decision of the palli sabhas of Dhinkia and Govindpur to protect forests, biodiversity and all livelihood resources in the boundary of this panchayat.

• The Gram Sabha in particular endorses the resolution passed by Palli Sabha of village Dhinkia on 3rd October, 2012 and asks the SDLC and DLC to complete the process of recognition of rights under FRA and to desist from any proposed diversion of forest land as the recognition of rights is not complete and Palli Sabha of the village has not given consent. Any such diversion will be a criminal offence under section 7 of the FRA.

• The Gram Sabha takes note of the disruption of the Palli Sabha meeting of village Govidnpur on 4th October, 2012 which was not allowed to pass resolution on the decisions taken on claims under FRA and on the diversion of forest land. Obstruction of the proceeding of the Palli Sabha amounts to obstruction of the process of recognition of rights and violation of the authority of Palli Sabha under Section 6 of FRA. This Gram Sabha considers this as violation of FRA and an offence under Section 7 of FRA and issues notice to the State Level Monitoring Committee to proceed against the DLC and officials involved. Gram Sabha also takes the decision to hold Palli Sabha again in village Govindpur and directs the authorities to provide necessary support.

• The Gram Sabha endorse decision taken by the Palli Sabhas to not give consent to the diversion of forest lands under its customary use and boundary for the purpose of the POSCO steel plant project, or for any other purpose, and directs the District Level Committee and the State government to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, the guideline issued by Ministry of Environment & Forests on 30.07.2009 and the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs on 12th July 2012 in this regard. Diversion of forest land without compliance to the Forest Rights Act and the above mentioned guidelines is a violation of the Forest Rights Act and a criminal offence.”

It may be recalled here that, on 3rd October 2012, the villagers of Dhinkia Gram Panchayat organized Palli sabha (Village level Assembly of adult persons) and Passed resolution not to divert the forest land to POSCO. Under the Forest Right Act 2006 , no forest land can be diverted until all the rights of the people in the area are recognised and their consent of the concerned gram sabha is obtained for the diversion. This is a statutory requirement under FRA, mandated further by a Ministry of Environment Ministry’s order of August 3, 2009.

The inhabitants of Govindpur village had organized Palli Sabha on 4th of October and passed a similar resolution stating their refusal to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO. However, sponsored goons of the company and the state agencies, created disruption and forcibly took away the resolution paper in a pre-planned startegy. Against this, the PPSS members held a one day protest at Erasama block office. In the end, villagers of Govindpur received their resolution copies.

People’s resolution sent a strong message to the Government that people are against illegal diversion of forest land for the project and gave a befitting reply to the recent declaration of Mr. Yong Won Yoon CMD of POSCO to start the project soon. This resolution has also exposed the government and POSCO’s earlier claim that people are in support of the POSCO project.

The POSCO and the state government are repeatedly announcing that there will be no forcible land acquisition. This Gram sabha resolution has given a strong message that majority of people are against the project. Hence they should respect the decision of people and cancel the POSCO project outright.

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Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

September 24, 2012

The PPSS condemns in strongest terms the evil design of POSCO and the state government to mislead public opinion by suddenly declaring the so called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) package of Rs 2000 million for peripheral development as if the resistance of our people is based on narrow economic interest or opportunism and as if we all have been waiting just to hear a CSR package. Where does the question of peripheral development arise when the project itself is facing serious resistance and thus has become uncertain? They are not yet able to explain to us where they spent Rs 3000 million, the claim they have been making in every possible forum. This is how an unholy empire of criminals, crooks and wrong doers is building with the full complicity of the administration. There is also an ill motivated campaign going against the people by making false assertion that out of the required 4000 acres of land the company has already got 2000 acres. We don’t know who has got this figure and where are the lands? The PPSS is aware of the fact that all the cultivable land and forest land that was under the occupation of the people earlier are still there now even in the so called project area. All kinds of false propaganda, intimidation, false cases and threats of forcible eviction has not demoralized our people and they are doubly determined to take the struggle to its logical end that is till POSCO is driven out of the soil.

We fail to understand why a democratically elected government is so arrogantly going against its own people and working day and night for a profit oriented multinational having no commitment to our people and this country! The National Green Tribunal has already objected to the project. Both the center and the state governments have gone mad after POSCO and are not even willing to respect judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. Democracy and our right to dissent and protest are being brutally assaulted by the so called democratic government of the state.

We appeal all friends, well wishers and fellow fighters to expose the hypocrisy and misleading campaigns of the state and stand firmly with us till the demon POSCO is out of soil.

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MoEF Review Committee visit to the proposed POSCO project area: Non Transparent, Shocking and Violates NGT concerns

August 30, 2012

It may be informed that the Review Committee, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in pursuance to the suspension of environment clearance to the proposed POSCO project by National Green Tribunal (NGT) , visited the proposed project site on 21st August 2012. There was no prior information about the visit of the committee given to the people likely to be affected by the proposed project, though it seems the state administrative apparatus was fully aware of it along with the brokers working for the project for the last 6-7 years. Our people came to know about the visit suddenly only after the media reported about it.

The committee went to mainly Noliasahi and Nuagaon villages, where land has been acquired by force and deception, and the approach road which was being constructed from IOCL side. They deliberately choose not to visit Dhinkia Panchayat and interact with our people. This is quite bizarre as we have been opposing the project from its inception in 2005. The whole visit to the area was completed in just about an hour. The 2000 acres which is in Dhinkia Panchayat, which could not be usurped by the government due to opposition from our people, is key to the project due to its landscape. It is 3.5 km x 3 km whereas the width of the land which has been acquired is barely half a kilometer. The team also did not visit the proposed port site at the mouth of river Jatadhari. Without visiting such key sites and taking opinion of the key people, the report which will be given by such committee can only be eyewash and would be to the taste of central and state governments and the IDCO, which are hell bent upon implementing the project despite stiff opposition from people. Interestingly, the beneficiaries of the project eying on contract and construction work seem to have enjoyed confidence of the committee as they were the privileged people who could talk to visiting members.

On March 30, 2012 National Green Tribunal (NGT) had suspended the environment clearance to the project on the ground that clearance was given to the complete project of 12 MTPA basing on the Environment Impact Assessment done for 4 MTPA capacity. MoEF had appointed the review committee for ‘re-assessment and review’ as ordered by the NGT. However such un-informed and quick visit to only a portion of the proposed area is likely to capture an incomplete assessment of the possible environmental damage the proposed plant may cause.

PPSS strongly opposes such biased visit of the review committee and demand to scrap the project basing on the Saxena and majority view of Meena Gupta committee reports. PPSS has formally submitted a complaint to Ms. Jayanthi Natrajan, Minister, Environment and Forests opposing such a visit of pretence. A proper assessment of possible damage to the environment could be done by an impartially chosen committee which would visit all the key sites and meet all stake holders. This visit of the committee has been projected by a section of the media as reparatory exercise to give clearance to the project. Even a reputed Odia daily newspaper like Dharitri (edited by ruling BJD MP Sri Tathagat Satapathy ) ridiculed the way the committee visited the area and selectively saw sites and met people guided by district administration- all within an hour (Dhartiri of 22 August 2012 attached).

The PPSS will continue to oppose any unjust and undemocratic step taken anywhere to impose the project on our unwilling people. At the same time we appeal our friends who have been with us all these years to please write complaints to MoEF objecting such stage-managed visits and to generate public opinion everywhere highlighting the violations of law, ethics and democracy done deliberately by the governments at the centre and in the state. We would also request you to please inform the NGT that this visit of the MOEF committee is a clear contempt of the NGT order.

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Appeal from PPSS for solidarity campaign on June 22

In another two months, India will complete 65 years of independence. We will be forced to remember many people who sacrificed their self interests for the benefit our freedom. Sadly, during the one and a half decades of the post-globalisation era in India, our leaders are sacrificing the very purpose of the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom. India’s land, rivers, hills, seas and forests are being sold to global corporates, displacing millions of farmers, dalits, adivasis and fisher folk today, devastating this country’s environment.

The project planned by the multinational giant POSCO represents the largest Foreign Direct Investment of this country (FDI) during the post-globalised India. The project will destroy the lives of thousands of farmers, dalits, women, children, fisher people and indigenous people.

The people’s movement against POSCO started soon after the signing of the MOU between POSCO and Odisha Government. Since then over hundred bombs have been thrown at the resisting villagers by the pro-POSCO goons and around 100 villagers have been shot by the Odisha police. While our leaders like Abhay Sahoo and Narayan Reddy along with more than 1500 villagers and activists are facing over 200 fabricated false charges. Many villagers can not come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. While 5 activists are still in jail, the struggle against POSCO led by POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti is still resisting this invasion by a global capitalist giant in partnership with the Central and State Governments.

We believe that if the anti-POSCO movement is suppressed due to the interests of the corporations, it will affect many similar struggles in Odisha as well as rest of India. Since this SEZ project is the largest FDI investment in this country, it has to be treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization and India’s freedom. Therefore, we appeal to all freedom lovers in India and all over the world to mark your resistance by responding on the day of the completion of the 7th year of signing of the MOU between POSCO and the Government, on June 22, 2012. We appeal to all activists, organizations, people’s movements and concerned indivuals against globalization to express their strong protest against this corporate invasion of our lands. We appeal to groups and people’s movements working on fisher people, dalits, women, children and indigenous people to organize solidarity actions on June 22nd, since it is the lives of these very forces which are at stake. On this historical event, PPSS calls for the following actions all over India and abroad to initiate the fo9llowing actions:

1. Protests in your region demanding the ouster of POSCO and removal of all fabricated false cases against activists and villagers
2. Public meetings in your region condemning the threat of displacement and environmental destruction by POSCO
3. Expressions through, songs, posters, paintings, theatre, print media and internet actions against POSCO
4. Mobilise concerned sections to be part of the event in Odisha
5. Write letters to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Odisha
6. Document the events in Odisha and elsewhere through written media as well as video for future campaigns, or
7. Any other symbolic or imaginative actions you may chose.

We welcome all those who wish to participate in the event in Odisha and express their support to this historic struggle.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

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Protest against construction of bridge for POSCO project

Statement from POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

On 30th May 2012, over 600 people from 10 Grama Panchayats under Erasama block converged at Nuaratanpur village in Kunjakothi Panchayat and opposed the new proposal of construction of wooden bridge over Mahanga river for the proposed POSCO project.

Mr. Pitambar Das, Convenor of Jatadhar Bachao Andolan ( Anti-Port POSCO Movement ) presided over the meeting. Villagers shared that they will intensify stir against the construction of the wooden bridge. For the first time, people from 10 Panchayat’s had gathered to oppose in a single platform for opposing the POSCO work.

This is for your information that in the year 2007, the administration had taken similar initiative constructing the same wooden bridge at Ratanpur but failed owing steep resistance of our people.

As you may know, Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) had selected coastal road from Paradeep to the proposed POSCO site to transport construction and other materials for POSCO related work. As we strongly resisted against the construction work of the coastal road, their plan was measurably failed. As an alternative, IDCO has reselected to construct a new road from Erasama to the proposed POSCO area for said purposes.

The proposed bridge would certainly help POSCO work as communication will be opened between Sahadamatha to Bhuyanpala of Gadakujanga Gram
Panchayat, as we are opposing the POSCO project since years, in no circumstances will allow construction of this bridge.

Meanwhile our protest is continuing in the Govindpur village boarder opposing POSCO project.

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PPSS Statement on the NGT judgement suspending the environment clearance

April 1, 2012

We welcome the judgment of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 30th March 2012 for suspension of the final 2011 environmental order of the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh in favour of the Korean Company. From the beginning, we have been protesting against handing over our fertile agricultural land, sources of livelihood of 20,000 people and rich environment to a private company like POSCO. The judgment of NGT now brings the real truth. We demand the complete scrapping of this project.

The tribunal pointed out that memorandum of understanding between the Odisha government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (MTPA) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for 4 MTPA steel productions in the first phase. “The entire process was vitiated in the eyes of law,” the bench said in this regard.

NGT has rightly said that “A project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving lingering and threatening environmental and ecological doubts un-answered.”

You may remember that Ramesh had set up a four-member committee under the ex-environment secretary Meena Gupta to review the case. Gupta had given a minority report in favour of the project even while pointing out several lacunae, but the other three had demanded the project’s cancellation. Ramesh went ahead and cleared the project after this in January, 2011, with some conditions.

The tribunal bench observed that Gupta’s findings were “definitely hit by personal/official/departmental bias, in other words she supported the decision made by her earlier. This is a gross violation of principles of natural justice. Therefore, the entire process of review is vitiated under law”.

In another development, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest report (civil) for the year ended March 31, 2011 has rapped the state revenue department for acquiring land for these industries by invoking emergency provisions without fulfilling the conditions prescribed under Land Acquisition Act-1894.

An audit scrutiny of these land acquisition cases reveals that 4,967.08 acres of land valued at Rs 165 crore (approximate present market value Rs 901.30 crore) were acquired between July 2002 and March 2011 for establishment of industries by six promoters- Posco India Ltd (Jagatsinghpur) – 437.86 acres, Aditya Aluminium Ltd (Sambalpur) – 2021.41 acres, Bhusan Power & Steel Ltd (Sambalpur) – 608.67 acres, Viraj Steel & Energy Ltd (Sambalpur) – 2.58 acres, VAL (Kalahandi) – 826.56 acres, Dhamara Port Company Ltd (Bhadrak) – 1070 acres.

The CAG is also sore over the fact that land acquired in case of all these six industrial projects was not put to use for a period ranging from 15 months to six years three months from the date of publication of notification under Section 4 (1) against the stipulated time period of six months.

The CAG has also pointed out that application of emergency clause in these cases was misplaced and deprived the land losers of the opportunity to contest the propriety of such acquisition and to be heard under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act. We also come to know from the media report that the Orissa law department has objected to the proposal to extend or renew the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the POSCO, saying that it will be illegal to extend the validity of an expired MoU.

As you may know that the five-year term of the MoU signed between the Orissa government and Posco in June 2005 for setting up integrated steel plant at our villages lapsed in June 2010. The government and POSCO had been in negotiation since for renewal of the MoU with some changes in original terms and conditions.

The law department said. That “In the instant case it appears that 5 years have already expired. So, after expiry of the period of validity, extension of the same may not be possible. Extension is made prospectively before the expiry of the original MoU”.

We will keep opposing the project. All these reports by NGT and the CAG exemplifies the strength of our democracy and the independence of various institutions of democracy. We are confident that at the end of the day the voice of people will be victorious.

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Statement from Lok Sakti Abhiyan

March 31, 2012:Bhubaneswar: The Lok Sakti Abhiyan while welcoming the decisions of the NGT to suspend the arbitrary, unjustified and uncalled for green node given to the so called mega steel project POSCO on January 31, 2011 by the MOEF of government of India, congratulates the Judges for not succumbing to the pressures of the global finance capital and their Indian slaves. The President of Lok Sakti Abhiyan and petitioner in the NGT against POSCO Sri.Prafulla Samantara stated here today that it is indeed the victory of the people of Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Nuagaon Gram Panchyats of Jagatsinghpur who have sustained their struggles against this giant steel company at a huge cost to their life, liberty, peace and happiness for the last 6 years. The women and children of the struggle deserve special thanks for the sacrifice they have made and also for inspiring the whole nation. It is quite painful for any conscientious citizens of an independent and democratic nation to realize that its elected representatives are willing to serve any unscrupulous and erring corporation even if the people who have elected them suffer in terms of life, livelihood and peace.

It may be recalled here that the LSA along with others has raised again and again the issues of violations of forest, environmental laws of the country by the company with active support from the state government in Odisha. The government at the center is equally responsible for any single act of commission and commission. The NGT verdict to suspend environmental clearance, review the whole project, suppression of facts, misleading investigations and to have a holistic approach to the project raises many questions. The judges have said, “A close scrutiny of the entire scheme … reveals that a project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving lingering and threatening environmental and ecological doubts un-answered.”The following recommendations deserve special attentions:

Land and infrastructure: The clearance was given for a 4 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant, but the land, water etc. were allocated for a 12 MTPA project (which has been POSCO’s stated plan). The judgment directs MoEF to “consider optimizing the total land requirement for 4 MTPA steel plant proportionately.”(para 8.5) Moreover, the impacts of other infrastructure for the plant have not been assessed at all, even though they were planned for a 12 MTPA plant.

# Issues that should have been done now, but which MoEF left for future studies: On several points highlighted by the review committee, the MoEF just said future studies should be done and ignored the issue. The Tribunal finds this deeply unsatisfactory, and notes the following among other issues:
# Water: The Tribunal said that “We are all aware that … the drinking water is becoming scarce commodity and at every level precaution needs to be taken for protecting the drinking water supply to human habitation and preventing from utilizing such water for industrial use … alternative water source for the present project, like creating/ constructing a small barrage or augmenting any other existing source at the cost of project proponent to avoid the utilizing the water meant for Cuttack city… could be examined.” (para 7.4, page 29)
# Pollution: The plant’s discharge was also left for future study by MoEF. The Tribunal says this is a “serious environmental concern.” (para 7.4, page 30)
# Impact on surrounding wetlands and mangroves, as well as cyclone risk: This was left for vague future studies without any time frame or modus operandi.

Therefore, the LSA demands that no lenient view be taken on the company-POSCO. The project should immediately be scrapped, the Company should be booked for manipulating facts and misleading the nation and all officers involved in the criminal conspiracy against the people and land must also be booked under law and tried. The CAG report has clearly shown how land has been under valued to suit the interests of the company. WE also see how the Collector, Jagasinghpur has decorated his official residence with money from rehabilitation/compensation fund. On the other hand one sees how even the grass root democracy like the GP has been dishonoured and the elected leaders not allowed to function.The battle is not yet over. People will not depend on any judicial process. But recent verdict of the NGT shows that people were right in their opposition and they will continue their struggle against any unjust and immoral imposition on them which would destabilize their life and livelihoods.

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PPSS Statement on the release of Abhay Sahoo

It comes as a matter of cheer that our leader Abhay Sahoo, against whom false charge of giving protection to an accused in an alleged dowry death in Dhinkia Panchayat was clamped, has been granted bail by the Honourable High Court of Odisha, and has been released from Choudwar jail at 5 pm on 14th March 2012 as per the direction of the lower court. False charges under SC/ST atrocities Act was also clamped against him by the local administration. In both the cases he has been granted bail.

After release, Abhay Sahoo thanked all friends and well wishers who have stood for our cause of fighting against POSCO. It’s a victory of the people in struggle. We expect Judiciary to stand up to the cause and defend fundamental rights of citizen.

With the release of our leader, our resolve to fight against the company and to protect our land and forest is doubled. We will, democratically and peacefully, continue to oppose any usurpation of our land by company goons or by the administration.

POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) expresses hearty thanks to our friends who have stood with us during our hard moments and continued
to support our genuine cause.

In the mean time, the matter of illegal and deceiving arrest of our leader Abahy Sahoo was raised recently in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) official meeting in Geneva recently by some activist friends and it has been recorded in the UNHRC minutes.

We seek all your support and cooperation to continue our peaceful and democratic protest.

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Update from POSCO Pratirodh Sangam Samiti

March 4, 2012

from Prashant Paikary (Spokesperson, PPSS)

The reign of terror has once again been unleashed in our POSCO targeted villages, since 2nd March, 2012. This certainly coincides with the release of the noted criminal Bapi Sarkel on February 29, 2012. A group of armed men came around 1PM on 2nd March 2012 on motor cycle and took away Umakant Biswal age-33, of Dhinkia village-a known activist of the anti-POSCO struggle. Umakant was working at that time in his agricultural field. Umakant suspected them to be police and tried to run away but could not escape. People in the nearby area did hear some shots fired and they now strongly believe he has been fired at and injured which has created tension in our villages. We get reports that he has been kept in Paradip police station and is being physically and mentally tortured. If he has sustained any bullet or other injuries they should take him to the hospital immediately. But they are not doing that. We are aware of the fact that, as per the law, the police are supposed to produce him before the magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. However, more than 24 hours have passed but he has not been produced before the magistrate. No one including the villagers, lawyer or even the parents is allowed to meet him in the police station. As we said before, the police have now virtually cordoned off our area and are now hunting innocent people for doing the ‘crime’ of democratic peaceful protests against a foreign multinational company called POSCO who is willing to adopt all illegal and unjust means both covertly and overtly to take away our resources.

As you know ,since months, our leader Mr. Abhay Sahoo is still behind the bar along with our supporter like Narayan Reddy and Jayant Biswal. In contrast, Mr. Bapi Sharkel the POSCO company henchmen – a local contractor and mafia don who was the architect of the incident on 14th December, 2011 injuring our people, has been released from jail on 29th February 2012 after a royal treatment in the jail which had been turned in to a 5 star hotel for him. Because of his contribution to POSCO, Bapi Sarket got the advantage of having a very friendly police and prosecution to his aid.

In this Naveen Pattanaik government, the democratic leaders are languishing in the jail, and the mafia and anti-social elements are moving freely continuing their criminal activities.

Meanwhile our protest is continuing in the Govindpur village boarder opposing the POSCO project.

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Statement from Coalition for Protection of Human Rights Defenders (CPHRD)

Dated: 03 March 12

The Coalition for Protection of Human Rights’ Defenders (CPHRD) strongly condemns the police firing on Umakant Biswal, a young anti-POSCO movement activist and farmer from Dhinkia village district of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha

According to the information received by us from activist friends in Dhinkia, on 2nd of March 2012, while Mr. Bisawal was working on his farm near the village, the Police came on motor cycle in civil dress to arrest him, after recognizing them he tried to run away but was shot in leg and subsequently arrested. We are also told that, Mr. Bisawal has been tortured in custody.

We are shocked to know about the attack, arrest and custodial torture of Mr. Bisawal. It is a serious case of violation of the Supreme Court guidelines to be followed at the time of arrest, defined in the case of D K Basu vs. State of West Bengal. We demand immediate suspension of police officials involved the firing case and also immediate release of Mr. Bisawal.

In solidarity,

Mahtab Alam, Manisha Sethi, Harsh Dobhal and Kavita Srivastava
(On Behalf of working committee of CPHRD)

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Feb 1 2012 – Update from PPSS

Dear Friends,

Since our last update on the anti-POSCO movement, a lot has been happening in the Anti POSCO world. One thing that has not changed is that for the last three months our leader Mr. Abhaya Sahoo, and our supporter Mr. Narayan Reddy, Mr. Jayant Biswal are still languishing in the jail. The state government has filed false cases to derail and destabilize our democratic and non violent protest against this forceful acquisition of our land. Even though our leader is still in jail, the movement continues on as state wide panchayat poll (local–self governance) process has been started. The state government had taken a decision not to hold Sarapanch Election in the Dhinkia Panchayat. This undemocratic action of the state election commission which has been taken at the behest of the state government needs to be questioned by all people who love democracy.

But in this election some of our supporters have decided to fight for different positions elsewhere just to highlight our plight and not to allow the Panchayat Raj structures to be left to the misuse and manipulation of pro-POSCO forces.

Ms. Meena Hembram (46) a native of Polang village under Erasama Block is contesting poll for the post of panchayat samiti member at Gadakujang panchayat. The posts of panchayat Samiti member is reserved for tribal women. Five years ago, she was elected as a ward member. You may recall that in 2011, the state government had told the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) that there were no tribals living in the proposed POSCO villages covering Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang gram panchayats. This was a move of the government to avoid the implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006. The state government of Odisha had told the MOEF that no traditional forest dwellers had cultivated the forest land in the area for at least three generations. However, the Meena Gupta committee set up by Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) had mentioned in its report 21 tribals living in Polang village. The filing of nomination by tribal women Ms. Meena Hembram for the panchayat samiti polls has proved the state government’s submission to MOEF as false.

While we are sharing this information our villagers are in the dire need of medical help. Different groups across the country are extending their support to us. The support includes the visit of doctors and providing medicines.

After elections, the state government may resume construction of the coastal road to facilitate the implementation of POSCO Project. We are continuing the protest against the construction of the coastal road. Daily around 300 villagers are demonstrating their protest at Balitikira, Govindpur Village boarder which was started from June 12, 2011. We have been opposing the POSCO project for over six years and our protest will continue unabated. We are in the high alert and shaping our strategies.

We shall inform you the ongoing development here.

Kindly circulate this mail  widely.

In solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no -                         09437571547
E -Mail-  prashantpaikray@gmail.com

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Jan 4 2012 – Update from PPSS, Resolution of the People’s Convention at Lohia Academy

Dear Friends,

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.

In solidarity,

Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no – 09437571547
E -Mail- prashantpaikray@gmail.com

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.

Represented by,

Abani Boral
Gobardhan Pujari
Panchanan Kanango.
Bijay Nayak
Rabi Das.
Pradyumna Satpathy.
Prafulla Smathray.
Suribandhu Kar.

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Dec 26: Message from PPSS

Dear Friends,

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.
In solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no – 09437571547
E -Mail- prashantpaikray@gmail.com

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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.

Signed by:

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

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Dec 20: Update from Sisir Mohapatra, Secretary, PPSS

Dear Friends,

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.

Sisir Mohapatra
Secretary, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS).
Mobile no.-09437571547

******

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.

We demand:

· 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

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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.

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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.

Sincerely,

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)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Videos:

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.

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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.
poscotable.jpg
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

We demand:

· 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.

Sincerely

1. PUCL
2. Socialist front
3. Mazdoor Kranti Parishad
4. INSAF
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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

http://www.petitiononline.com/posco/petition.html

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.

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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.

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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 prashantpaikray@gmail.com
Ranjan Swain of PPSS: Cell: 09178643193

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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.

Sincerely,

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
K. Satchidanandan
Dr. K S Subramanian, IPS
Suhas Borkar,
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

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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.