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Government nod to iron and steel project angers many
Church, activists: Fight against Orissa development will go on
- Ajay Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
- February 1, 2011
Father Nicholas Birla, a human rights and environmental activist, said the proposed mines would displace some 40,000 people, including 32,000 tribal, Dalit and poor Christians.
â€śIt is total sell out. This is how the tribal are treated by so-called welfare government,â€ť the priest said.
The federal Environment and Forests Ministry said yesterday the project has considerable economic, strategic and technological significance for the country but at the same time, laws on environment and forests must be implemented seriously.
The Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) plans to mine for iron ore and build a steel processing plant and private port in Jagatsinghpur district of the eastern Indian state.
Local tribal people have been protesting the project for the last five years as it would deprive them of their livelihoods by destroying their farmlands and fishponds.
They and local activists have vowed to continue the fight against the project.
â€śThe governmentâ€™s green light for the project is an act of rape against justice and the people,â€ť Prashant Paikray, spokesperson of an anti-POSCO group, said.
â€śWe will not give up our lands, forests and homes to this company. If this project comes, it will come over our dead bodies,â€ť Paikray said.
Praful Samantaray, who leads Jana Shakti Abhiyan (peopleâ€™s power movement), a community group involved in the campaign, said,
â€śThe fight will go on. We will plot a further course of action. There is no question of withdrawing or compromising on the issue.â€ť
Bishop John Barwa of Rourkela, under whose jurisdiction the project falls, called the governmentâ€™s decision a rude shock.
The decision reflects how voiceless and marginalized communities can be exploited, he said.
Scores hurt in protest against Korean project
Church backs villagers against steel giant