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People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy 참여 연대
INDIA/SOUTH KOREA: Korean Civil Society Expects the Meena Gupta Committee to Make a Fair and prompt Decision on POSCO Project in Orissa
Sept. 18, 2010
Forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
In June 2006, the State government of Orissa, India, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Korean company Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) for the establishment of a 12 million tonnes per annum Integrated Steel Plant at Ersamma Block of Jagatsinghpur district of the state. Recently, the Indian government established the Saxena Committee to investigate POSCO's builidng site according to The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Acts. As a result, the Committee concluded that residents or Orissa who should be protected under the abovementioned Act could not get into consensus with POSCO during the construction of their Steel Meal. As a result, the Ministry of Envirnoment of India has cancelled the Posco's activity on 5 August. (http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/economy/serious-violationforest-rights-actorissa-nc-saxena_480463.html)
The State of Orissa who pushed for POSCO project strongly against the decision and as a result, the Ministry of Environment re-set up the Committee with the Chairperson Ms. Meena Gupta to reinvestigate Posco's building site. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_ic2mbrBiE ) According to Indian local media, this Meena Gupta Committee was established to overturn Saxena Commttee's decision and to faciliate Posco's construction work in Orissa.
Based on Korean House for International Solidarity(KHIS)'s fact finding mission, they strongly believe that Saxena Commttee's report is well-grounded, and if Meena Gupta Committee overturn the decision, it will bring further violation of human rights and give power to POSCO to conduct their work in Orissa without considering local people's rights.
Therefore, PSPD, KHIS and other Korean civil society sent a letter to Meena Gupta Committee to express their deep concerns and request them to conduct fair investigation on the issue. For more details, please see the below open letter.
To: The Chairperson
Meena Gupta Committee
Greetings and peace from the People of Korea
First, let me say that we appreciate your efforts regarding the Pohang Steel Company (POSCO)’s project launched in Orissa. Our civil society, including NGOs in South Korea, has been paying close attention to this project. We have noticed recently that the Saxena Committee’s report reveals this important fact. The villagers, protected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest-Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006 (Forest Rights Act) reside in the areas the POSCO project will occupy. Furthermore, the report discloses the problems caused in the process in which the state government attempted to acquire the land for the POSCO project.
The objection has been constantly raised that the POSCO project has been proceeding without appropriate communication with the villagers which would further deprive the villagers of the right to livelihood while destroying their environment. As a result of our first and second fact-finding research conducted in April 2008, and August 29. 2010, immediately after field research by your Committee, we can clarify the proof upholding the findings of the Saxena Committee. We also share the concerns about violations of their right to livelihood and environmental disruption voiced by the villagers and local NGO’s.
As your Committee is well aware, the kinds of natural resource development-based projects have been emerging as acute social issues at a global level. It is creating various human rights violations including environmental disruption, forced eviction, and deprivation of the right to livelihood. Up to now, Korean civil society has been making efforts to solve these problems.
It is impressive that Indian society, the world’s largest democracy, deals with issues and problems through consultation and intervention with different interest groups. Accordingly, we absolutely respect the decision made by the Ministry of Environment on August 5 2010. She ordered to stop the land acquisition for the POSCO project based on the Saxena Committee’s report, which is in accordance with the Forest Rights Act, protecting the rights of residents in the forest area.
We are aware that the Meena Gupta Committee, composed of four members including the honourable Chairperson, conducted thorough investigations with a report that will be published in September. They included various environmental issues relating to POSCO projected areas as well as the Forest Rights Act. We would expect your Committee to give more attention to the problems raised by villagers and local NGOs by looking into the documents and the evidence submitted by them.
Korean civil society confidently expects your Committee to make a fair and prompt decision that will lead international society to reinforce the credibility and trust of India. If your Committee fails to release findings that are believable, it would cause great dissatisfaction to the villagers affected by POSCO project as well as the entire Korean civil society. To constantly raise disputes and doubts regarding the POSCO project is not productive to either POSCO or Korean society.
Korean civil society requests your decision will be based on conscience and common sense.
Korean House for Internation Solidarity
110-440, 2 F, 184-2, Pirun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
tel) +82-2-736-5808 fax) +82-2-736-5810
September 17, 2010
Amnesty International S. Korea
Buddhism Human Rights Committee
Citizen’s Movement for Environmental Justice
Corporate for All
Dasan human rights centre
Democratic Legal Studies Association
Network for Glocal Activism/School of Feminism for glocal activists
Jeju human rights centre
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
Migrants' Trade Union
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Public Interest Lawyers Group ‘Gonggam’
Sarangbang Group for Human Rights