I am writing to you to appeal for actions in solidarity with the people of Dhinkia and the surrounding village whose struggle against the Korean company POSCO has taken a dangerous turn because of the government's recent actions.
When the struggle began local people were trying to protect 4004 acres of land. In the last 5 years, they have already lost 50% of the land they were trying to protect to the company. I know, even within the government, there are people who think that there is no need for another sea-port by POSCO when there is already sea port in Paradeep that is not fully utilized. The local people are absolutely right when they say that according to the recent Forest Rights Act, their claim on the land needs to be settled before the land is given away to any company. The government's efforts of evading one law and imposing another are not justified. Once people have titles to the land that they are now cultivating, they will have the freedom to decide whether they want to give away the land or not. But forcing them out of their lands without looking at their claims is a clever way to avoid payment of compensation.
Because of people's struggle, a negotiated settlement was reached with the government to halt all land-acquisitions. But now the government has resumed its efforts to acquire the remaining 50% of the land despite the National Green Tribunal have put the project on hold on environmental and forest rights ground project on 30th March 2012. As expected people are strongly opposing this move by the government. The struggle has become tougher but people are willing to sacrifice their life in order to protect their sandy soil that has fed them for generations. Women and children are at the forefront of this resistance, physically and metaphorically. I am told that 18 platoons have been deployed to put down any resistance to the acquisition of land.
During my 4th visit to Dinkia village Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, one question came up again and again in my mind - "Why is the Odisha government pursuing the interest of a Korean company in spite of all the resistance that people are putting up for the last 5 years”? The other question that is coming from the people is why so many people should be thrown out of their traditional employments like fishing, paddy cultivation, and the cultivation and marketing of beetle nuts in order to create employment for a handful of "educated" people. All such questions are difficult to answer. Maybe the government has decided not to answer any reasonable question but use police and force to get the land for POSCO.
This is the time for us to stand in solidarity with the people who are doing everything in their capacity to protect their livelihood resource. We need to apply pressure on the government to give up its tactics of displacing so many people at the altar of corporate profits and urge them to act in the interest of the people. Please sign a petition at http://tinyurl.com/support-anti-posco-struggle ASAP. If possible, please also write directly to the Chief Minister of Odisha (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chief Secretary of Odisha (email@example.com)
President- Ekta Parishad
Member- National Council for Land Reforms, Government of India
House No. 2/3 A, Second Floor, Block A
Jangpura, New Delhi-110014, India
Mobile No: +91-99935-92421