Scrap POSCO project, says Orissa’s fact-finding team

Mumbai, May 31 (Calcutta Tube) A six-member fact finding team, headed by Justice (retd) Hosbert Suresh of the Bombay High Court, Monday demanded the immediate withdrawal of the proposed POSCO project in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district.

Voicing strong opposition to police’s use of force and filing of false cases against peaceful protesters in the district May 15, Justice Suresh said: ‘Everywhere in this country whenever people demand justice, they get police lathis (batons) and oppression.’

Addressing journalists at the Press Club here, he claimed that 35,000 people will lose their land and livelihood for the POSCO steel plant alone. ‘This is besides the irreparable loss to flora and fauna, the pollution of water bodies etc. This large cost to people and ecology does not justify mining in the name of development.’

Refuting government claims that the POSCO project will profit the economy, Justice Suresh alleged that 600 million tonnes of iron ore have been promised to the Korean company at a ‘paltry royalty’ of Rs.130 per tonne while the market rate is Rs.2,600 to Rs.2,700 per tonne. ‘Thus, while POSCO stands to make Rs.96,000 crore, the nation has to settle for few hundred crore.’

Suresh also questioned the decision to establish a new port 10 km from the already existing Paradip port, and said it will ‘affect the environment, take away the livelihood of thousands more and might lead to the extinction of the Olive Ridley turtle, millions of whom have made these shores their nest’.

Other members of the team were Punyabrata Gun, Kalpana Kannabiran, Bolan Gangopadhyay, Chitranjan Singh and Harsh Dobhal.

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