Bijay Kumar Pattnaik, the Chief Secretary (CS), Government of Odisha announced recently (9th April 2011) that the state government would submit to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), GoI on 13th of April 2011 (Wednesday) the report assuring that there are no Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) in the proposed POSCO area in Jagatsingur district of the state. This was the assurance sought by the MoEF for giving final clearance to the project. The CS also claimed that the state government has properly implemented Forest Rights Act 2006 in the area, which will form a part of this report.
We have all the proofs and evidences showing that we have been living here for generations and depending on the forest land for our livelihood and there are Other Traditional Forest Dwellers present in the area. Two statutory committees constituted by the MoEF i.e. N C Saxena committee and Ms. Meena Gupta Committee found out clear violation of Forest Rights Act 2006 in the area and recommended the withdrawal of phase-I forest and environmental clearance given to the project. Three Gram Sabhas of the area have passed resolutions opposing the project in our area. Despite our opposition and documentary evidences, the state government is making an brazen attempt to cover up facts and file report in favour of POSCO. It has also closed its eyes on the serious damage the project would cause on ecology and environment including the destruction of coast line and endangered species like Olive Ridleys.
We are determined to fight against any attempt towards forceful acquisition of our land for handing over to the company. We will organise a mass meeting in our area on 15th of April 2011 in protest against the fabricated and illegal compliance report and burn the copy of it in public. At this juncture, we call for our friends and supporters to urgently plan for writing protest letters and organize protest meeting, rallies, dharanas in your areas simultaneously. You can share with us ideas to make the protest effective to expose the state government and build pressure on the central and state government to scrap the project.
Kindly circulate the appeal widely.
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti