Jairam asks Orissa to resubmit POSCO report (Lead)

April 14th, 2011 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday asked the Orissa government to review its submission that that there are no tribal inhabitants or forest dwellers in the land it has proposed for the $12 billion POSCO steel project following objections raised by an anti-displacement group.

The Orissa government Wednesday said it had informed the union environment and forests ministry that there were no tribal inhabitants or other traditional forest dwellers.

The anti-displacement group, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, had made a representation to the ministry, which said the resolutions of two villages, Dhinkia and Gobindapur, had not been considered by the state government.

“While it is true that the state government had earlier categorically denied the authenticity of documentation submitted by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Committee, I do believe that these two Resolutions have to be disposed off by the appropriate authority in accordance with the Forest Rights Act,” said Ramesh in a letter.

He added that the a final decision regarding forest clearance will be taken only after the state government had completed the process of recognition and verificiation procedure for all the villages from where forest land is to be transferred.

“Ignoring these two Palli Sabha Resolutions and not allowing them to be subjected to a due process of law as enshrined in the Forest Rights Act, 2006 would be tantamount, in my considered opinion, to violating the very essence of this legislation passed unanimously and with acclaim by parliament,” said the minister.

The ministry in January granted conditional clearance to the project to be built in Jagatsinghpur, near the port town of Paradip.

While granting approval, the ministry asked the state government to give a categorical assurance that no traditional forest dwellers are dependent on or cultivating land in the project area.

The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which has been spearheading the movement against the project, said the state government has for the third time submitted false information.

“The government of India may or may not grant approval to the project, but as far as we are concerned, our protest against the project will continue,” PPSS spokesperson Prasant Paikray told IANS.

“We have already produced evidences before the government that the area is inhabited by forest dwellers,” he added.

Paikray said his group Thursday obtained the copy of the letter the state government has written to the central government. “We will hold a public meeting at Patna (a village at the heart of the proposed site) and set the copies of the letter on fire”, he said.

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