MAC: Mines and Communities

From The Horse's Mouth

Published by MAC on 2005-08-02
Source: International Watch ()

From the horse's mouth

The following is taken from International Watch's own website

U.S./India Based International Watch Sets up $5 Million (About Rs. 22 Crore) Tribal Rehabilitation Fund to Assist the Posco Project in Orissa

New Delhi, Delhi, India, Tuesday, August 02, 2005 -- (Business Wire India) -- International Watch organization, based in the United States and India, has set up a $5 million (about Rs. 22 Crore) Tribal Rehabilitation Fund to ensure proper and humane rehabilitation, and resettlement, of tribals who would be displaced as a result of the Posco (S. Korea) project in the State of Orissa, India. The $5 million is the first instalment for the fund, and more money will be added as the rehabilitation and resettlement of the tribals move forward. Based on the projections of the Orissa Government, around 4,000 tribal families would be displaced as a result of the Posco project. Part of the fund will be used to provide micro-economic seed money to tribal entrepreneurs for setting up small businesses in connection with the Posco plant. International Watch is scheduled to open up an office in Bhubaneswar by August 25, 2005.

Government of Orissa is facing strong opposition from certain quarters of the Congress Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI), and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), among others. Certain major domestic steel conglomerates are also opposing the project.

Such opposition might derail the project-the largest FDI the history of India ($12 billion). The state of Orissa is one of India's most impoverished states, with approximately half the population living below the poverty line. Posco of South Korea is the first international conglomerate to come to India with a serious proposal and serious money. Posco's investment - the plant, the port, and the mines - will lift thousands of poor citizens off a life of abject poverty.

International Watch has been in close contact with the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress Party President Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, Orissa's Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik, and various ministers and leaders, encouraging expeditious infrastructure development in the state, and praising their efforts in welcoming Posco.

International Watch has made strong pleas to CPI (M) leaders Shri Prakash Karat and Shri Sitaram Yechuri in favor of the Posco project. The organization has also been in constant contact with CPI National General Secretary Shri A. B. Bardhan, BJP President Shri L. K. Advani, and the SJM leadership, among others. International Watch has requested each political party to nominate a representative to the Board of the Tribal Rehabilitation Fund. The organization wishes to express its deep gratitude to all the leaders who are considering full cooperation and support for its efforts.

One major goal of International Watch is to facilitate the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between POSCO and State of Orissa, after the feasibility studies by the company are completed. If the Posco project fails to take off for some reason, it will be a great loss to the state of Orissa as well as India. Furthermore, if the project fails, other multinationals eyeing India for investment will back off, and that will be the greatest loss of all.

Quoting Posco Chairman and CEO Mr. Ku Taek Lee: "Through the Posco project, we hope to contribute significantly to India's rapid economic development and further accelerate the progress being made by India toward achieving the status of economic superpower. I am also confidant Posco's Indian investment will shed positive light on India for other global investors, attracting more mega projects to the nation. The success of our project in Orissa will demonstrate to the world that there is a multi billion opportunity to build Indian infrastructure."

About International Watch

With deep roots in the United States and India, International Watch is a non profit organization that operates on many fronts. The organization has offices in the US, India, and satellite offices in other parts of the world. It is linked to other non profit organizations, like the India Terrorism Victims Relief Foundation, which is involved in providing all sorts of assistance to families in India. International Watch also operates as a watch dog to detect and monitor groups that finance, aid, and abet terrorists around the world. The organization works with international conglomerates committed to improving quality of human life and eliminating poverty. International Watch also assists multinationals in establishing roots in India so that the nation can achieve its full potential in all economic fronts.

Contacts:

Mr. P.N. Kutty
International Watch
1259 West Cliff Court/2B
Dayton, Ohio 45409, USA
(937) 290-3780/937-29-0500
pnkutty@internationalwatch.org

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