World Rainforest Movement

India: Steel-making POSCO strikes again

On 3 February 2013, at around 4 am, twelve police platoons entered Govindpur and Nuagaon villages in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa (present Odisha) and started beating up sleeping women & children, injuring many of them seriously, and arresting people at random. They are demolishing the betel vines in the area – the traditional and one of the most viable local livelihoods.

The villagers of Govindpur and Nuagaon are protesting against a project that for the last eight years has met with stiff resistance. A resilient local movement by a cluster of strong-willed villages, including Govindpur and Nuagaon, have been resisting the forceful and illegal acquisition of their land to set up a steel plant, port and ancillary infrastructure project promoted by the South Korean-based transnational steel-making company POSCO in the Jagatsunghpur district of the eastern Indian province of Orissa, in an area which includes 6000 hectares of pristine forests, prime agricultural land and coastal economy. (See WRM Bulletin No 155)

In this phase there have been many ups and several downs. There have been constant shifts of power with the highest offices of the Government of India intervening so that POSCO’s men and machines could find their way into their earmarked project site.

Due to years of protest and other delays, the first set of environmental approvals to POSCO, granted in 2007, lapsed in 2012. These were valid for only five years. During this time local resistance, solidarity, and lack of the final set of permissions under other designated laws disallowed POSCO from starting operations. There were efforts to forcibly enter the area, local clashes, episodes where POSCO’s officials were prevented from entering, arrests of protesters and so on.

Now the state moved to take possession of the land forcefully disregarding the constitutional rights of the people and in a gross violation of Forest Rights Act 2006.

All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM) strongly condemn this barbarous attack on people who are resisting forceful acquisition of their lands peacefully and demand immediate withdrawal of police from the area and immediate release of people who have been illegally arrested.

Article based on information sent by All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM) Secretariat, e-mail: “POSCO isn’t a closed chapter”, by KanchiKohli; “Demolishing democracy: An Oppressive State violates its own rules”, AIFFM Statementcondemning State Violenceagainst Villagers in Orissa, India protesting against South Korean TNC promoted POSCO Project