POSCO project unconstitutional: Medha Patkar

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Bhubaneswar, Dec 13: Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar today said the POSCO project in Orissa should be cancelled as it was being done without the approval of the gram sabhas.

Ms Patkar, who toured the POSCO project site following violence between the pro and anti POSCO supporters, alleged that the BJD-BJP government in Orissa had adopted illegal, unconstitutional and unjustifiable means to push through the project. ''The ruling party, the local politicians and the hired hooligans have unleashed a reign of terror against the common man, women and the aged in the POSCO project area to shut their mouth and suppress the democratic movement,'' she said.

The social activist alleged that the POSCO project in toto was exploitation of Orissa's rich mineral resources with serious social and environmental impact.

The mega steel plant proposed under the Special Economic Zone(SEZ) Act 2005 with various notifications by the state government had received ''in principle approval'' without the necessary economic, social and environmental impact assessment.

She demanded that the gram sabha be immediately convened in the three panchayats where land would be acquired for the project and the people allowed to discus the type of development they want in their areas.

Ms Patkar said the people in the area had been terrorised,attacked and imposed fine of thousands of rupees for speaking out against the project and interacting with the social activists who were branded as an 'outsiders'.

Expressing grave concern over the prevailing situation in the villages, she said she would soon submit a report drawing the attention of the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) and seeking their intervention.

Ms Patkar said the people of Nuagaon and Govindpur had paid fine and faced violence for opposing the POSCO project and described it as a ''criminal'' way of imposing industry by a democratic government involving ''violation'' of law and human rights. She said investment of Rs 52,000 crores by a foreign MNC, revenue and export earning besides jobs to 18,000 people by 2014 were some of the reasons cited by the government to justify the setting up of the plant.

''But the permission to export 400 million tonnes of iron ore to South Korea is corruption in the name of development and use of Orissa's resource base,'' she said, adding that private investors were favoured in the name of public interest.

Ms Patkar further said with the majority of population being opposed to the project, its imposition on the people was against article 243 of the Constitution and the SEZ policy and enactment with undue concession and favour to the corporate was a clear violation of the directive of principle of article 39(C) which directs equitable economic planning.

She said during her visit to the villages, the people of Nuagaon and Govindpur came out to the street despite threats by hired goons, their silence pregnant, and expressed their solidarity with the anti- POSCO movement and anguish against ''state terrorising''.

UNI

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