Posco steel giant project hit by Dhinkia villagers
Quoting similarities between the anti-Posco (South Korea’s Pohang Iron & Steel Co. Ltd) industrialisation causing land loss scheme and the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) struggles, Mr Abaya Sahoo, chairman of Posco Pratirodh Sangrm Samiti Dhinkia (PPSSD), spoke out to a large local crowd expressing especial thanks to the women.
Owing to the proximity of Paradip, a modern deepwater port built in the 1960s, the area has become a business destination gaining large foreign direct investment (FDI). The Posco project, a steel works, has an estimated US$12 billion to spend. This is a huge input to a region still beset by leftover problems from a super cyclone in October 1999 that hit with the loss of over 10,000 lives.
Posco had signed a deal with the Odisha government June 22, 2005, to set up the project covering 4,000 acres of land, including 2,900 acres of forest land. The future of the company’s steel plant project now looks dim after a National Green Tribunal order suspending the green clearance granted to the South Korean major by the Environment Ministry.
The fate of the coastal road from Dhinkia to Noliasahi, the foundation stone for which was laid several months ago, is also in limbo.
*“There are lots of similarities between PMANE and the Anti Posco Protests,”* says Abaya Sahoo. *“Both are happening on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The problems are set with a background of farming, in the agrarian and the fishery sectors. Both farmers and fishers are affected and their livelihoods are at stake in both struggles.”*
*“The protesters were foisted with false cases in both the protests including attempt to murder,”* he continued. *“They are women-led movements and women have become leaders and activists. Movement led by women will not die. Women participate in the movement with their infants and young children just like here.*
*“Comrades are languishing in jails. There is no help for them to get medical treatment. The central and state governments are trying to intimidate and suppress the movement, split the movement, divide the same. Posco protesters started the struggle in June, 2011; the PMANE protesters, in August. We sincerely hope both protests win. Let us fight the anti-nation and anti-people protests together. Let us continue the struggle in a sustained manner.”*
K.P. Sasi from Kerala, documentary film maker, also accompanied Abaya Sahoo and spoke on the dais as well.
In its order, the green tribunal said the environment clearance given to Posco project would remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh. The tribunal pointed out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (mtpa) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for four mtpa steel production in the first phase.
Unfortunately, this has meant further problems for the 300 pro-industry villagers who were driven out by anti land acquisition group five years back, who are not able to return to their homes. They were banished to a makeshift camp at Badagapapur, 15 km from their village, Gobindapur, in Dhinkia, for supporting the Posco project. Now they want to return to their houses.