MAC: Mines and Communities

Congress To People: Oppose Posco Plant

Published by MAC on 2006-06-09
Source: Statesman News Service

Congress to people: Oppose Posco plant

Statesman News Service, PARADIP

9th June 2006

The Congress has pledged its support to the people’s movement against displacement caused by the proposed Posco steel plant. At an impressive rally held here yesterday, Congress leaders exhorted villagers to emulate the Baliapal peoples movement that had been successful in getting the National Test Range proposal scrapped. Referring to the check gates erected by villagers prohibiting the entry of officials and POSCO representatives,

Congress leaders said that even an economic blockade by the government had failed to break the Baliapal movement.

Significantly, several senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Mr JB Patnaik, AICC secretary Mr Ananta Kumar and others participated in the meeting. Another important aspect of the gathering was the presence of several ruling Biju Janata Dal members who are known to be supporters of former minister Mr Damodar Rout. The Congress leaders pointed out that they were not opposed to industrialisation in the state. Big industries are coming up even in Congress-ruled states, they noted.

They also pointed out that lopsided MoUs favouring the company at the cost of the state had not been signed elsewhere.

The people of the three panchayats, Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang, who will face displacement are prosperous because of their agricultural activities, they said.

Mr Anata Kumar clarified that the Congress was not against POSCO. He said that his party was against the manner of displacement of the people and the inadequate rehabilitation measures.

The leader of the Opposition, Mr JB Patnaik wondered why the state had failed to reply to questions raised on the controversial MoU. The state government has bungled the entire project, he charged. He warned that no project can be set up by force against the people’s wishes.

Mr Patnaik urged the villagers to erect check gates and to bar the entry of ruling party members, government officials and POSCO staff.

He claimed that POSCO will use the hot rolling method at the plant and that it will send products to South Korea for its own benefit. The company will also dispatch iron ore to its plant in Korea, he stated.

Congress leaders said locals who are progressive and prosperous will become beggars and landless labourers, once they are displaced from the agricultural fields.

Former MP Mr Ranjib Biswal said that the agricultural belt of this district will be destroyed by pollution after the establishment of this project. People should not be asked to give up agricultural land for a factory, he remarked.

Tirtol MLA Mr Chiranjeeb Biswal declared that Congress will fight for the interest of the displaced families of the three panchayats. Others including Mr Umesh Swain and Mr Rabi Mallik (both MLAs) delivered fiery speeches criticising the policy of the government.

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