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Thursday, 7 February 2013

POSCO Update - 6th February 2013


POSCO Update - 6th February 2013

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,

Thanks very much for all your support to the cause of the villagers who are fighting a mighty POSCO.  This email comes with some latest updates.  

Please read an article published in Hindustan Times (link and text provided below) that covers the immoral and illegal act of one of the land acquisition officers whose power seems to have attained super normal heights considering the presence of 12 platoon of police forces.  We at WIO strongly condemn such acts of a public servant who is supposed to be serving the people but in reality is serving a private company of a foreign land.  In fact all the leading political parties and many others have opposed this act as well.

The latest update from the POSCO Pradirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) is also pasted below which shows how the police-administration continues to demolish the beetle vines.  YOU ARE REQUESTED TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO SEND PROTEST LETTERS TO THE MINISTERS AND OFFICIALS WHOSE NAMES, DESIGNATIONS AND CONTACT DETAILS HAVE BEEN GIVEN IN THIS UPDATE.  

Just for ready reference of people in this group the MoU between Govt. of Odisha and POSCO has expired and it is yet to be renewed; the National Green Tribunal has suspended the environment clearance for this project; and the local self governments have not given nod for this plant to be established within their territories.  Still the government is going ahead with its atrocious land acquisition.  Protesting people, including women and children, are being beaten up and as you can see from the PPSS latest update, the Posco-India officials are also in the site, working hand in glove with the administration and police to acquire land forcibly.  

Mr. Abhaya Sahu, the chairperson of PPSS has sat on an indefinite hunger strike demanding immediate withdrawal of police.  We support his cause and request all of you to immediately write to the contacts given below(at the end of PPSS update) asking the government to IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAW POLICE FORCES from the area and bring in an atmosphere for the locals to feel secure in their own villages.  

Looking forward to your support and solidarity.

Thanks and regards,

Ranjan Panda
Convenor, Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), India

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Outrage over govt officer beating Posco protestor

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times
Bhubaneswar, February 05, 2013
 

Some people, it seems, are more loyal than the king.

Sangram Mohapatra, a land officer with state-run Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO), has kicked up a storm and drawn widespread condemnation for taking law into his hand during Odisha's land acquisition drive for Korean steel maker Posco's $12 billion (Rs 54,000 crore) plant in Gobindpur village of Jagasinghpur district, about 200 kilometres east of Bhubaneswar.

In the video-grabs obtained by HT, Mohapatra was seen mercilessly beating villagers opposing Posco's plant with a long stick on February 3 (Sunday), when the district administration resumed its land acquisition in the wee hours of morning, in full view of district official and police. In his enthusiasm to clear protesters comprising children, women and old people, the officer, dressed in a red sweater over a white shirt, was also seen dragging small children from the demonstration site and moving from one place to another carrying the stick .

Mohapatra has been deputed by IDCO to coordinate with district administration for the land acquisition work.

"By beating peaceful protesters without having police or magistrate power, the IDCO officer has proved himself to be an agent of Posco," said Prasant Paikray, spokesperson, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading the movement against Posco's 12 million tonne per annum green field project. 

Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said: "We condemn the highhandedness shown by the officer. We will keep a close watch on the action taken by the state government against the officer."

State BJP chief Jual Oram said if the government officials took law into their hands to crush peaceful protests, it would be disastrous for the democracy. "Strong action should be taken against officers and police taking law into their hands," Oram said.  
       
Odisha health minister and senior Biju Janata Dal leader Damodar Rout, who represents the district in the assembly, also condemned Mohapatra's action. "This is condemnable," he said.  
    
Jagatsinghpur collector SK Mallick admitted of hearing allegations against Mohapatra. "I have brought it to the knowledge of the government. I have also talked to superintendent of police Satyabrata Bhoi and appropriate action will be taken in this regard," Mallick old the Hindustan Times.      
  
Posco, world's fourth largest steel producer, signed an MoU with the Odisha government in June 2005 to set up its project, touted as India's single larges foreign direct investment. Initially, 4004 acres of land, out of which 3000 forestland, were needed for the project. But recently it was reduced to 2700 acres.

The state government has already acquired about 2000 acres for Posco, but suspended land acquisition in June 2011 in the face of stiff opposition from villagers. More than 20,000 people of eight villages under Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga pram panchayats have been opposing the plan under the leadership of PPSS.

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Dear Friends,
 
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.

Kindly circulate this mail widely.

Hoping for solidarity,
 
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
 
You can call and write 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
 
 
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, Satyabrata Bhoi, Mobile no-09437575759, 0624- 220115, dmjsp@ori.nic.in
 
5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Tel no-+9111-23016857
 
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
 
9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan
Minister of Environment & Forests
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhawan,
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi-110003