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Posco India: Diplomatic pressure felt in Odisha!

 

Updated Tuesday February 05, 2013

Odisha, Posco India, South Korea, Land acquisition  
 

When acquisition of land without a valid MoU has been criticised by many, diplomatic pressure is being built by Korean government on many occasions to make the Odisha project of Posco move ahead. May be under pressure from diplomatic circles, the PMO has been taking keen interest in the early implementation of the project. But the question remains, why Korean government and the Prime Minister of India do not insist upon renewal of the MoU between Posco and Odisha government before acquiring land for the project and pushing the project ahead?

 
Basudev Mahapatra  
 

It seems that the diplomatic pressure built by South Korea to end the stagnancy faced by the proposed Posco India project in Odisha has its ripples felt in the State and the place where the project is planned.  In less than week of the South Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy Sukwoo Hong expressed concern about the project and, as came in Indian media, categorically asking the Indian government to intervene and sort out the hurdles in way of the Posco project, Odisha government aggressively attempted to restart its land acquisition operations by using state forces.

Such an attempt was made in the early hours of February 3, 2013, where Odisha Police lathi-charged women and children who were protesting the proposed POSCO plant near Gobindpur in Jagatsinghpur district.

 

The police entered Govindpur village of Jagatsingpur district all of a sudden at about 4 o’clock in the morning, “beat the people and raided the houses. About 50 people were injured in the lathi-charge out of which 3 women were seriously injured,” alleged Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samit (PPSS) adding that male police dealt with women and children and protestors including Debendra Swain from Dhinkia village were detained by Police.

On his way to the place of incident, local MP Bibhu Tarai was detained by police. But later, after a meeting of the administration, it was decided that forces were to be withdrawn from the outskirts of Gobindpur. The collector formally announced this and the police left the place by evening, confirmed Abhay Sahu, PPSS Chairperson on February 3, 2013.

But, in fact, Police continued to remain and administration went on acquiring land.

The state government resumed acquisition activities for 700 more acres of land required for the project. As claimed by the state government time and again, it has already acquired 2000 acres of land for the project. But, the recent attempt in the wee hours of a Sunday, usually a holiday for all government officials and servants, raises several questions. The first among all is why in so early hours of a winter day? Second, if the aim of the whole operation was to take Batatikira into control, why there was raid in the village? Was there any hidden agenda set by the administration?

Again, the attempt was made by the district administration when green clearance to POSCO has been suspended by National Green Tribunal (NGT). “This is clearly undemocratic and illegal to make any such attempt when the clearance is suspended and the matter is sub judice,” said Prafulla Samantara of National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM).

Many even doubt the intention of the government behind such hasty land acquisition plans at a time when the country is going to replace the old land acquisition law with a new one.

While the $12 billion proposed steel cum power project by Posco is lauded by both the union and the State governments as the biggest FDI project in the country, the CAG report has again mentioned that most of the big projects planned in the state do not have a clear guideline to follow. And, in case of Posco projects in Odisha, the MoU between the state government and the company that expired in September 2011 has not been renewed yet.

When acquisition of land without a valid MoU has been criticised by many, diplomatic pressure is being built by Korean government on many occasions to make the Odisha project of Posco move ahead. May be under pressure from diplomatic circles, the PMO has been taking keen interest in the early implementation of the project. But the question remains, why Korean government and the Prime Minister of India do not insist upon renewal of the MoU between Posco and Odisha government before acquiring land for the project and pushing the project ahead?

 
 

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