Political parties to support anti-POSCO movement

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - The movement against South Korean steel major POSCO’s $12 billion project in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district got a boost with leaders of various political parties Tuesday announcing their support to the agitation led by the people likely to be displaced.

The one-day convention organised by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) saw the presence of the leaders of Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Communist Party of India (CPI), and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

“Leaders of various political parties participated in this convention and extended us their support. They agreed to join our fight against the project,” PPSS spokesperson Prasant Paikray told IANS.

The group, which has been spearheading the movement against the project in the coastal district, has planned a massive protest meeting at Dhinkia project site March 13.

“Leaders of different parties, civil society organisations, human rights groups and others who are opposed to displacement also attended this convention. They will be joining our protests in the coming days,” Paikray said.

“After the March 13 programme, we will expand our agitation to all parts of the state and also take it to New Delhi because displacement is not a local issue, it is a major state and national issue,” he added.

The PPSS has speeded up its agitations after the central environment ministry in January gave conditional clearance to the project, the biggest foreign direct investment in the country.

POSCO’s venture is an integrated steel, mining and port project and separate clearances had to be given to all three. It also comprises a captive power plant to provide electricity to the steel plant.

The environment ministry imposed 28 additional conditions as part of the environmental clearance for the steel-cum-captive power plant and 32 conditions for the captive minor port in the state.

Thousands of villagers have been opposing the project, saying it will displace them from their homeland and ruin their betel leaf farms. The villagers earlier held rallies and meeting at the project site Tuesday.

POSCO had signed a deal with the Orissa government June 22, 2005 to set up the project near the port town of Paradip, some 100 km from Bhubaneswar, by 2016.

PPSS activists have erected wooden gates and barricades in several places to prevent government and company officials from entering into the proposed site. ” We dont want Posco. It must go back,” Paikray said.

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