ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Somersault on POSCO

We are writing to publicly challenge your shocking decision to grant a “conditional” and yet also “fi nal” approval to the POSCO project, and to give a goahead to the same Orissa government and POSCO whose violations of due process have been well-documented. Objections to the project have been raised not only by the project-affected people, and by environmental and social justice groups, but also by three different expert committees appointed by your own ministry. Your a ction exhibits profound disrespect for democratic norms, and comes as a stab in the back of the people who will be d isplaced and whose livelihoods will be destroyed, people who have been peacefully opposing this project for their very survival for over fi ve years. Your action is also a slap in the face of everyone – ranging from ordinary citizens to public intellectuals to experts, including three committees that you appointed – who have been struggling to inject a modicum of transparency and democratic process into the governance of the country.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) committees, which investigated the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the three projectaffected gram panchayats, found that the Orissa government had subverted the FRA by withholding relevant information and documents regarding other traditional forest dwellers in the region. Given this, your decision to approve diversion of f orest land based solely on a “categorical assurance” by the Orissa government that all legally tenable FRA claims have been processed is confounding. We cannot u nderstand why you would privilege the claims of the Orissa government over those of the people whose lives would be destroyed, especially when the same Orissa government has consistently shown u tter contempt for the law, and disregard for its own citizens as is evident from its attempts to ruthlessly suppress peaceful protests against the project.

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