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Anti-Posco lobby to move Green Tribunal, take protests to Korean president

Bhubaneswar, Jan 11 (PTI): Activists ranged against the steelmaking project of South Korean giant Posco here have decided to move the National Green Tribunal against the clearance given by the environment and forest ministry.

The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti or PPSS, which is backed by the Communist Party of India, also said it would send a team to Delhi to protest before the South Korean president when she visits the Indian capital on January 15.

Veerappa Moily, the oil and natural gas minister who was given charge of environment and forests recently, had said on Friday that the Rs 52,000-crore steel plant had been cleared by him.

However, the port, which is a key component of the 12 million tonnes a year project, has not yet got the environment clearance. The project has been waiting for the environment and forest clearance for eight years.

Abhay Sahoo, president of the PPSS, said “How can the project be built on forest land without forest clearance? We will draw the attention of NGt during its next hearing on January 13.”

He said that PPSS would also draw the attention of the Tribunal on environmental clearance for a 4 mtpa capacity steel plant against its planned capacity of 8 mtpa and also for barring its port project.

Sahoo alleged that both the state and Centre bypassed the law and was trying to suppress the agitation at the plant site.

He said a group of villagers would go to Delhi and and hold demonstrations before the hotel where the South Korean President would stay to draw his attention.

“Our people will inform the Korean President that the Posco project is being developed after demolishing our house and livelihoods,” Sahoo said.

“If Dangaria Kandhas can go to London to protest against Vedanta's mining, why can't our people agitate in Delhi?” the PPSS leader asked.

He said that the people living or depending on the forest land near Paradip, were non-tribal forest dwellers (NTFD) who had rights over the forest under the provision of the Forest Rights Act.

The South Korean President is scheduled to be on a four-day visit to India which she will discuss the progress of the project with the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile CPI's Central Secretariat said in a statement in Delhi “Government should take note of the popular resistance and also opposition of NGT under the Forest Conservation Act. It should not ride rough-shod over all this opposition in the name of development.”