Communist Party of India General Secretary A B Bardhan on Monday criticised the Orissa government as well as Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh over what he called was “pure and straight state vandalism” unleashed against villagers who have been opposing the Posco project for the past six years.
“It’s a heroic battle being carried out by people for six years now without a single act of violence. Yet, in a most illegal and repressive fashion, the Orissa government has been trying to acquire 4,000 acres of land by force...by coercion,” Mr. Bardhan told a press conference in Hyderabad on Monday.
The CPI chief came down on Jairam Ramesh for saying that “political and strategic considerations have to be taken into account” while granting clearances for the Posco project.
“What is the Ministry of Environment and Forests for? Two committees appointed by the Ministry itself said the project is ‘illegal, ill-conceived and environmentally-harmful.’ Even Jairam’s own Department said the Forest Rights Act has been violated in the case of Posco,” Mr. Bardhan pointed out and alleged that “forgery and lies have been resorted to” despite the local panchayats passing resolutions against the project.
Mr. Jairam’s claims on Posco only exposed his “naivety and hypocrisy,” Mr. Bardhan added.
Posco was project controlled by American capital masquerading under a South Korean steel company, he claimed.
Senior CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta would visit Posco site on June 21 to express solidarity with the fighting villagers.
The CPI General Secretary demanded that the Central government immediately scrap the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 and a new law that was farmer-friendly should be drafted.
“Any project requires only limited land, not thousands of acres. Ambani wanted one lakh acres of land for a project.
What for? Even the Reserve Bank of India said it is nothing but real-estate business,” Mr. Bardhan pointed out and recalled that Tatas sold out huge tracts of land in Nagpur, given to them for setting up textile mills years ago, for commercial purposes.
“None of the mills are working and the land has now been sold for malls, corporate houses and other purposes,” he said.
Hereafter, only barren land should be acquired for any purpose and not fertile land, Mr. Bardhan said.