UPDATE 16th Jan 2014 : Release: Rights Groups Call on India, South Korea to Suspend POSCO- India Steel Project and Address Human Rights Concerns
For eight years, the people of Jagatsinghpur, Odisha have been involved in a movement to stop the POSCO project in their area. In June 2005, the Government of Odisha signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Korean Steel Company POSCO enabling the latter to set up an integrated steel plant and captive port in Jagatsinghpur District Odisha. At US$12 billion, it is the largest foreign direct investment in India.
The affected citizens oppose the project as the area earmarked for the it is home to a flourishing and sustainable local economy. Should the project be completed, 22,000 people in Jagatsinghpur district stand to lose the livelihoods on which they have depended for generations. The anticipated economic benefits and proposed compensation packages will in no way match the existing levels of sustainability of the people.
The communities have stated their firm rejection of the diversion of their forest lands for the purpose of the project in several resolutions. Under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the forest dwelling communities have a final say with regards to the use of their land. The resolutions have in effect been ignored by the Indian government, which has proceeded in attempts to forcefully evict these residents in violation of both domestic and international laws.
Video Volunteers has been documenting the struggle of the people. This campaign aims to bring their voice to the forefront.
Video Volunteers and other human rights groups in solidarity with the anti-POSCO movement call on the government of India to:
- Suspend the POSCO-India project until and unless it complies with international human rights standards and domestic law.
- Ensure full implementation of the Forest Rights Act and cease all attempts at forced evictions and land acquisition until and unless the rights claims of forest-dwelling communities are adjudicated and recognized rights-holders consent to the diversion of forest land.
- Take decisive steps to ensure that police officials act in accordance with international standards on the use of force and do not engage in arbitrary arrests and detentions.
- Provide effective protection for project-affected communities against acts of violence committed by private actors.
- Ensure project affected communities unencumbered access to work, adequate food, healthcare and education services.