“The govt. should return all the land occupied for the project to the villagers; withdraw cases against them”
The villagers opposing the POSCO steel plant project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district are demanding that the South Korean steel company be forced to make a formal announcement to completely withdraw from the project.
This demand has been made in the wake of the hearing of a case pertaining to the project in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) where POSCO submitted that their environmental clearance was valid up to July 19, 2017, and they would not be able to do any work because the land has not been handed over to them and therefore the project cannot proceed any further.
At this stage, POSCO is unable to carry out the project and if they plan to take advantage of the environmental clearance and complete the project, they would inform the Applicant and the Tribunal, the NGT noted in its recent order.
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), an outfit of the local people that has been opposing land acquisition for the project since 2005, on Wednesday demanded that the State government, which had acquired land for the company’s proposed steel mill, should hand over the all land occupied for POSCO to the villagers immediately and recognise their land as per the Forest Regulation Act, 2006.
“The government should stop all types of repression to our people and withdraw all false and fabricated criminal charges against our villagers immediately,” said Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of PPSS.
Mr. Paikray further demanded that the government replant the trees in their sensitive coastal areas where more than two lakh trees were indiscriminately cut down by the administration for POSCO. “Proper and adequate compensation should be paid by the government to the widows and children and the injured family members attacked by the pro-project goons in the year 2008 and 2013,” Mr. Paikray demanded.
He alleged that the State police have turned their area into a repressive colony. After inflicting severe physical injuries on the old and young people, they have slapped numerous fictitious cases on our people and have put many in the jail, Mr. Paikray added. “More than 420 false cases have lodged against the villagers and warrant order has been issued against more than 2,000 people, out of which 300 are women. Due to the police warrant, the villagers are not able to venture out of the villages,” claimed Mr. Paikray in his statement.
He said that in response to a call by the PPSS, the people have started reoccupying the betel vine lands forcibly occupied by the district administration for POSCO. As a result, many cases have been filed against the villagers, he added.