November 29 - December 5, 2009
Orissa, one of the resource rich states in democratic India, was recently attacked by large corporation both local and multinational. The South Korean steel giant POSCO had signed a memorandum of understanding with Orissa in June 2005 for the 12-million-tone-capacity steel plant to be built in three phases by 2016, with production scheduled to begin by the end of 2011 at the completion of the first phase. The budget of the project is 12 billion American dollars approximately 52 thousand crore rupees in Indian value. This project needs nearly 4000 acres land includes forest land, farming land with coastal lands.
The farmers opposed this project as they don’t want to lose their ancestral land. Faced with this strong opposition from the villagers, the company organized attacks through its hired goons, while the Government started filing false cases against the villagers. With the harassment intensifying, the people formed a movement called Anti Posco Movement. In Orissa, there are various people’s movements struggling against the attacks of large corporations exploiting the rich resources of this state, these are; the anti-Vedanta movement in Puri and Lanjigarh, the anti-Tata movement in Kalinganagar and Naraj, the farmers’ movement in Hirakud, anti-UAIL movement in Kashipur, the anti-Mittal movement in Keonjhar, the anti-Bhusan movement, the anti-Sterlite, anti-Reliance or anti-dam movement in lower Suktel area.
SCM of India decided to take part of this people’s struggle.
The Anti POSCO movement in Orissa organized the pada Yatra (rally/march) from Dinkya village to Puri Vedanta University from 29th November to 5th December 2009. There were more than 700 participants who took part in the Yatra representing various villages, organizations, peoples movements, cultural groups and student movements. There were more than 10,000 people who participated at the final day protest at Puri.
SCM of India was represented by 8 students from various SCM Units. This was a meaningful experience to the students. Through this participation, the student members realized the real struggle of the people and their struggles. After this rally, SCM India organized discussion with in student groups and civil society organizations on the Anti-POSCO Campaign.
Now we are getting the fruits of the struggles. The Government has withdrawn its mining permission to the Vedanta Groups, one of the company operating in Puri. The Environment Ministry directed the Orissa Government to stop the POSCO project despite Orissa Government’s intention to continue with the POSCO project.
The struggle will continue. We need to show our solidarity with the people of Orissa who are affected by the aggression and exploitation of these companies, and the anti people policies and projects of the Government. We call on our brethren and sister SCMers to join us in our struggle. You can log on www.orissaconcern.net and learn more about the Anti-POSCO Campaign and leave your comments of solidarity to the people of Orissa.
We encourage you to join as a member of the site and send this cause invitation through Facebook. You can also organize peace march, prayers and share the information in your countries for this affected indigenous Orissa people. I hope you will take this as a challenge as SCMers and servant of Jesus. (AV Caleb, Human Rights and Advocacy Desk, SCM of India)