About 2,000 villagers protested against POSCO‘s planned $12 billion steel plant on Saturday. Women and children formed a human ring around the site. Local opposition has long delayed the South Korean company building its 4 million tonnes plant. It is considered India’s biggest foreign investment project, in Orissa.
POSCO signed the agreement for the mill in 2005 and it was scheduled to begin production by the end of 2011. Protests, environmental concerns and government inquiries into alleged illegalities at a related mining concession have delayed it.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh gave the plant clearance in January on certain conditions, including ensuring that tribal rights and forest protection laws are observed. He said while giving permission he was against regularization of illegalities but had to. In fact tribal rights protected by Forest Rights Act, and environment concerns are utterly ignored and violated.
Orissa’s government started acquiring land for the world’s No. 3 steel company after the environment ministry’s January approval. POSCO needs 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares) of land. Local officials tried to persuade the villagers to back away and not use women and children as human shields, media said. About 500 policemen were deployed to try to control the protesters, roughly half them women and children.
The chief minister of Orissa has appealed to the prime minister to allow South Korea’s POSCO(005490.KS) to continue work on a giant iron ore project after the environment ministry ordered a halt. Stopping work at this stage on a proposed $12 billion plant would be counterproductive and affect the investment climate in the country, Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to the prime minister, according to a senior state official, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. POSCO, the world’s third-largest steelmaker, wants to mine iron ore in the Khandadharnear region of Orissa and signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2005 for the plant, which was to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 at the completion of the first phase.
But the project, touted as India’s biggest foreign direct investment, has been repeatedly delayed due to protests by farmers who fear losing their land and livelihood. On Friday, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the state had been directed to stop all work on the project, including land acquisition, as a special committee had found it violated the forest rights act that seeks to protect forest land and settlers. Ramesh, who has scrapped or delayed clearance for some 100 mining projects, wants to protect India’s remaining forest land as part of a strategy to fight climate change. But that could mean giving up mining about a quarter of the country’s mineral reserves. Continue reading
Reuters | Mon May 10, 2010 | 8:30pm IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh censured Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh for comments made in Beijing criticising the government’s "paranoid" attitude towards Chinese companies and investments, officials said on Monday. The spat within the ruling Congress party comes at a sensitive time with persistent media reports India has banned imports of telecom equipment into its booming market from its giant Asian neighbour because of security fears. Government officials deny any country-specific ban has been imposed but say there are "security restrictions" in place which need to be addressed to import sensitive goods. Chinese network gear makers Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp are active in the Indian market and have given global rivals tough competition in the world’s fastest growing telecoms market.
Ties between India and China have warmed recently in the backdrop of a trade boom and close cooperation on climate change since the Copenhagen world climate talks in December, after a difficult year that saw them clash over a raft of issues including their long-disputed border. "At some stage, if we become paranoid about Chinese investments in India, as we seem to be, then we are not going to be able to derive the full benefits of the Copenhagen spirit," Jairam Ramesh was quoted by Times of India newspaper as saying in Beijing, where he was on a visit. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has "clarified it is not appropriate that ministers comment on other departments, ministries, or subjects, especially and particularly when they are on foreign soil," Congress party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.
Reuters | Wed Dec 16, 2009 | 6:08pm IST
The Kyoto Protocol which binds nearly 40 rich nations to limit carbon emissions is in “intensive care” and global negotiations to extend the pact have stalled, India’s environment minister said on Wednesday. More than 190 countries are meeting in Copenhagen to agree the outlines of a new global deal to combat climate change, hoping to seal a full treaty next year to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries want rich nations to be held to their Kyoto obligations, and sign up to a second round of tougher commitments from 2013. But Jairam Ramesh said many developed countries were “vehemently opposing” the protocol and some of them wanted a single new accord obliging all nations to fight global warming. “The sense we get is that Kyoto is in intensive care if not dead,” Ramesh told reporters.
The protocol obliges nearly 40 industrialised nations to limit emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. It does not impose curbs on poorer nations. Talks on a pact to succeed Kyoto have been sluggish since they started two years ago, largely because rich nations want to merge Kyoto into a single new accord obliging all nations to fight global warming. Industrialised nations want a single track largely because the United States, the world’s second biggest carbon emitter, never ratified Kyoto. They fear signing up for a binding new Continue reading