Stop POSCO – Act Now- Free India
Join POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti’s protest
10 June 2012
Orissa is considered to be one ofIndia’s poorest regions- some 39.9 per cent of people live below the poverty line. However, the presence of rich mineral resources such as coal and iron ore, have made it one ofIndia’s most attractive investment destinations. Back in 2009, the figure was some US $ 40 billion. Because if the nature of natural resources available, steel and power are among the sectors that attract maximum investments.
POSCO is a $12 billion project in Orissa with three main components: Iron ore mines in Keonjhar and Sundargarh Districts, a steel plant: in Jagatsinghpur District, and a private port: at the mouth of the river Jatadhari, close to the steel plant.
The protest against the project stems from two main considerations: the dispossession of tribal cultivators, and despoiling of the environment.
In many primarily tribal areas the tribal people are deliberately dispossessed of their land and resources using unscrupulous ways – the government often siding with the investors to cheat people of their livelihoods. The government in it’s anxiety to attract foreign investment is willing to forego its own peoples interests. When the tribals protest, they are dubbed as “extremists’ and Home Minister, Chidambaram sends in an army to eliminate them as if they were the enemy! If, today, the tribals in areas that have been taken over for mining have resorted to what is categorized as extremism as their only option, should anyone be stunned? Tribal cultivators are punished for being “encroachers”, and are evicted from mineral rich forests and hill tracts. Legal protections and provisions to indigenous forest dwellers are ignored by the government so as to grab land for vested interests of lobbies that seek to capitalize on these precious resources.
The POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI (PPSS) has argued that the government’s final clearance for diversion of this forest land for the steel plant as of December 30, 2009 is in blatant violation of the law. There is collusion between corporate vested interests and Parliament.
In an appeal for solidarity, the PPSS has called on groups and people’s movements working on fisher people, dalits, women, children and indigenous people to organize solidarity actions on 22nd June 2012. In their letter (revised version reproduced below), they spell out the imperative for broad solidarity underlining how POSCO is the largest FDI investment in this country. The suppression of the anti-POSCO movement is an overt expression of corporate interests over people’s interests. In that sense it is patently anti-democratic. It must be contested and the people must prevail. Failure to challenge the government could easily to the suppression of similar struggles in Odisha as well as rest ofIndia. PPSS has asked that the struggle be “treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization andIndia’s freedom”.
The people’s movement against POSCO started soon after the signing of the MOU between POSCO and Odisha Government. Some 100 villagers have been shot by the Odisha police. Leaders like Abhay Sahoo and Narayan Reddy along with more than 1500 villagers and activists are facing some 200 fabricated charges. Villagers can not come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. While 5 activists are still in jail, the struggle against POSCO led by POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti is still resisting this invasion by a global capitalist giant in partnership with the Central and State Governments.
The central government and the Odisha government have treated this struggle for livelihoods, identity, and protection of natural resources as a law and order issue. That is not what it is. It is a struggle for justice, dignity, and basic livelihood.
Badayl Alternatives urges subscribers to join PPSS by acting in ways as suggested at the end of their letter.
The state may have arrayed its forces against that of the people. But the people are determined- even if they may seem weaker than the state for now. It is a ‘David and Goliath’ battle. And David shall win!! The steely resistance of the last seven years testifies to this distinct possibility.
Join the struggle of PPSS in any way you possibly can.
Copy to: Prashant Paikary , Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Mobile no-09437571547 , E-Mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
PPSS calls for justice movements all over the world to:
- Protests demanding the ouster of POSCO
- Removal of all fabricated false cases against activists and villagers
- Public meetings condemning the displacement/environmental destruction.
- Expressions through, songs, posters, paintings, theatre, print media and internet actions against POSCO
- Mobilise concerned sections to be part of the event in Odisha
- Write letters to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Odisha