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 yesterday (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.
Please circulate widely.
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
E-Mail – [email protected]