MAC: Mines and Communities

Tata, POSCO face protest by locals

Published by MAC on 2006-09-10

Tata, POSCO face protest by locals

Jajati Karan, CNN-IBN

10th September 2006

Kalinganagar (Orissa): Steel giants Tata and POSCO's investment plans in Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district of Orissa had received a major blow after the killing of 13 tribal men and women took place in the area on January 2.

The tribals were killed in police firing while opposing construction of a boundary wall for the proposed six-million-tonne steel plant of Tata Steel.

To compensate for the loss, the company had employed 29 young tribals and provided them with training. TATA and the South Korean steel giant POSCO tried to win over the tribals by providing the local youths scholarships, training and medical camps.

"When we set our plant in South Korea and China we got similar problems. But we can overcome these problems in Orissa by winning the confidence of the local people by such welfare programmes," says Cho Soung Sik, CMD, POSCO-India.

But now, there's a twist in the tale. The tribals who had lead the agitation in January claim the 29 youngsters employed by TATA are not a part of them at all. They say the training camps 'bait' is a clever tactics and a well-planned strategy used by the companies to break the agitation.

"Those youths did not belong to our agitations and that will make no difference to our agitation against the steel plant," says a tribal leader Chakradhar Haiburu.

However, the companies say that the local youth had readily grabbed the opportunities and had said that they wanted to make the most of the offer.

"We know some day the government will take our land for the steel plant. So why not cooperate and at least get benefited from it," Mahabir Hembram, a tribal beneficiary says.

The Orissa government promises to provide rehabilitation to the locals displaced by new investment projects. But the locals are not willing to take back their protests

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