A fact-finding team, which visited several villages at the site selected for the controversial megasteel plant of Posco India Private Limited in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district, has demanded the immediate scrapping of the project.
Addressing a press conference on the team's return here from Jagatsinghpur on Wednesday, the former Bombay High Court judge, Justice H. Suresh said the proposed land acquisition for Posco was violative of the constitutional rights of the locals.
Justice Suresh — who led the team that looked into human rights violations in the wake of the May 15 police attack on villagers opposing the steel project in their locality — also demanded the withdrawal of all “forged cases” against the villagers and anti-Posco movement leaders.
Condemning the police action against the villagers, the team members also demanded the withdrawal of the police force from the area. For, the democratic agitation by the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti had been going on peacefully for the past five years.
“The police attack on May 15 on peaceful protestors was totally uncalled for and should have no space in a democratic country. Over 100 people were injured in the police action, five of them critically. Violating norms of criminal procedure, women protestors were manhandled by the male police,” the team said in a statement.
The Orissa government violated international norms on treatment of the injured even during war times, by not providing medical help to the villagers. “A number of injured persons are languishing in their villages without any medical help as they fear police arrests if they leave the villages,” the statement said.
The team said the villagers were determined not to leave their land and wage a protracted struggle against any displacement. “Most of the land being proposed for acquisition is rare and fertile, and rich in biodiversity and eco-diversity.”
The statement said: “All the affected villagers have depended on that land for their livelihoods for centuries, and displacing them from there is an attack on their lives and livelihoods and will have a very serious and irreversible impact on the fragile and unique ecology of the area.”
The other members of the team are veteran social activist Chittaranjan Singh, Professor Kalpana Kannabiran, veteran public health doctor Punyabrata Gun, senior journalist Bolan Gangopadhyay, and human rights activist and journalist Harsh Dobhal.
Keywords: Posco steel