The Environment Ministry today finally issued a welcome but ambiguous order directing the Orissa government to stop work on the POSCO project and the illegal process of forest land takeovers that is taking place. While giving some immediate relief by stopping the illegal land grabbing that the Orissa government started last week, the order is silent on the basic issue: the illegal forest clearance granted by the Ministry on December 29, 2009.
It has now been proven, and the Ministry itself has admitted in this order, that:
* The Orissa government suppressed facts and distorted the record.
* The Orissa government grossly violated the law and the "conditions" of the clearance.
* The clearance was granted even though the Ministry's own orders required the Forest Rights Act to be implemented first.
* The gram sabhas of the area, which include eligible forest dwellers, have denied their consent to the diversion. Their consent is a precondition for the clearance.
Demonstration against the POSCO project
The lands of a number of people have already been taken and their betel vines demolished, and demarcation of the land has also begun. This was despite the fact that the illegality was proven repeatedly in representations by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, the Communist Party of India, and now through the report of the Ministry's own Committee on the Implementation of the Forest Rights Act.
All have pointed out that the clearance is illegal. So the fundamental question is: why has the clearance not been withdrawn?
The Campaign calls upon the Central and Orissa governments to:
* Withdraw the illegal forest clearance
* Prosecute the officials responsible for suppression of evidence and for the illegal grant of clearance
* Cancel the POSCO project
* Respect the individual and community rights of the forest dwellers of the POSCO area
For more information, see here
The Ministry's order is available here
Campaign for Survival and Dignity 09873657844 and here