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.
BBC NEWS | 2010/02/09 | 08:06:24 GMT
An alumina refinery in east India run by a UK-based firm is causing pollution that threatens the health of local people, a human rights group says. Amnesty International said those living near the Lanjigarh refinery in Orissa breathed polluted air and were afraid to drink from or bathe in local rivers. It called on Vedanta Resources not to expand the refinery or mine for bauxite nearby before resolving the problems. Vedanta has consistently rejected the allegations against it. It points out that India’s Supreme Court has approved its initial plans. The firm has previously argued it has support from the state authorities. But it did not respond immediately when asked for the comment by the BBC on the Amnesty report. On Friday, the Church of England said it had sold its £2.5m stake in Vedanta. The Church said it was not satisfied the firm had shown “the level of respect for human rights and local communities that we expect”. Vedanta said it was disappointed by the Church’s decision and remained “fully committed to pursuing its investments in a responsible manner, respecting the environment and human rights”.
In a report published on Tuesday, Amnesty International said the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) had documented widespread water and air pollution caused by the Lanjigarh refinery since it opened in 2006, but failed to share it with those affected. The OSPCB found the alkalinity of the Vamsadhara River downstream of the refinery had increased, and believes the seepage, leakage or discharge of highly alkaline Continue reading