POSCO PROJECT: NAVEEN NOW SHOULD SHOW THAT THERE IS NO ROLE OF BRIBE

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

POSCO has declared to fight against the people of Orissa to proceed with its project only a couple of days after it had aired its intension to quit the State if the government fails to extinguish the ongoing mass opposition. And, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has simultaneously declared that his government will not tolerate peoples’ opposition to POSCO any longer.

If our democracy would have been real, POSCO could never have dared to fight against our people on our soil with our own government at its beck and call.

But our democracy has changed into plutocracy and plutocracy is always managed by commission agents. So commission agents in power have helped and have been helping POSCO against our people. And as long as commission agents are in power, in the State or/and in the Center, there is no dearth of official support for POSCO or for any of its kind.

Plutocracy does not replace democracy through political machinations alone. It first injects a false sense of superiority into the minds of intellectuals in a democracy, thereby creating a wedge between the common people and the educated so that the common people are bereft of educated support in determining their path or deciding their affairs.

It sabotages the public sector into avoidable but chronic losses and uses public administration to curb job-scopes in public offices thereby pushing more people into an environment of lack of ideal employment and simultaneously organizes campus recruitments offering lucrative pay packages to certain students and helps them acquire foreign postings so that from foreign soil they can look like shining stars enough to overawe toiling people in their homeland to make them acquiesce in the culture of industry in private sector.

It advocates for and ushers in a climate where whosoever accumulates massive wealth notwithstanding in howsoever clumsy a manner becomes worth national importance and reference.

It enhances a cultural decadence whereby criminals are worshiped like heroes or heroines if they are cine-stars, sports-stars, yoga-teachers, scripture-chanters, sermonizers or political right-wingers.

When the Constitution of the country emphasizes on secularism in order to maintain unity and solidarity of the people, plutocracy engages its agents to interpret secularism as a mere mechanism of tolerance to superstitions and thereby obstructs sociological study of scriptures and religions and relegates the nation into obscurantism.

Its agents, in order only to help revivalism, prostrate before a Satyasai or a Samkaracharya even while holding office as a Prime Minister or a President, oblivious of how thereby the august offices they carry on their body at that time, would be prostrating before a person not recognized by the Constitution.

Willfully using such matrices, Plutocracy estimates as to how far the toiling majority of a country tolerates anti-people activities of the persons placed in advantageous positions. And eventually takes over democracy.

In India this has happened.

So, we are hearing what POSCO wants us to hear. We are seeing, how a government of our soil is eager to assist POSCO in its fight against our people. We are seeing, how the blue colored jackals of our society are raising war cries against our people who are fighting against POSCO.

To these jackals, POSCO is more important than our people. Like prostitutes use the best of their techniques to satisfy contract masters, these jackals are displaying the best of their acumen in seeking satisfaction of POSCO.

If what the Pricewaterhouse Coopers says in its 4th Biennial Global Economic Crime Survey is trustworthy, (and it is), 66% of the companies operating in India are in their business because they have succeeded in vanquishing their competitors by bribing the authorities. 34% of the companies have said that they have lost an opportunity to a competitor, “who may have paid a bribe” whereas 38% of the companies have admitted that they were asked to pay a bribe. Top politicians and bureaucrats in decision taking positions have asked for and fetched bribes in India.

Naveen Patnaik, who has declared to go against our people to help POSCO, is a politician in power. And in the survey report on economic crime quoted supra, politicians in power are, as a category, noted for demanding and accepting bribe in order to help industrial companies. The role of Subas Pani and the gang of three IAS officers before Naveen was roped into POSCO network also attracts the needle of suspicion in view of the cited survey.

So, before proceeding to use State force to suppress peoples’ opposition to POSCO, it will be better for Naveen Patnaik to convince the people of Orissa that he has not taken any bribe from this foreign firm.

For this, he may start with saying how he came in contact with POSCO. He may simultaneously say, who first prevailed upon him to support POSCO. And from there we may proceed to see if Orissa functionaries have been bribed by POSCO and to its resultant ramifications.

Before clearing the cloud of suspected bribe, which, following publication of the economic crime survey, has now shrouded over politico-administrative sky of Orissa, Naveen should refrain from proceeding further in POSCO matter.

People of Orissa will never tolerate that a gang of IAS officers and a political autocrat donning a brand of democracy would dupe them in the name of industrialization and destroy their citizen-rights in order to help a foreign firm like POSCO, if they are not convinced that the foreign firm has not bribed them like what has been exposed in the cited survey.

There is a brilliant note on POSCO agenda in Radical Notes. it should be noted by everybody interested in the subject.

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2 Responses

  1. The Posco Game and why counter it

    It all began officially on June 22 nearly three years ago when a foreign steel making giant signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Orissa government to setup a steel plant in the state.
    The company was Pohang Steel Company, known more commonly by its acronym Posco, which is a steel company based in South Korea and ranks among the first five largest steel makers in the world. The eventual investment was calculated to be of the tune of $12 billion (Rs 52,000 crore), it being the single largest foreign direct investment in India so far. The company that has generated so many hue and cries in India, more so in the state of Orissa, for all the wrong reasons was formed on April 1, 1968 by Tae Joon Park, a young and dynamic entrepreneur. It scaled unimagined heights without any initial support and investment only because of its entrepreneurial capacities. The company that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1994 and on the London Stock Exchange in 1995, it got privatised in 2000.
    As far as the project in question is concerned, it is proposed to be placed at Paradip in Orissa, planned to be completed in two phases. As per the initial plans, the first module of 3 million tonne capacity was expected to be completed by June 2010 adding 3 million tonne capacity after every two years, so as to reach its full capacity of 12 million tonne by 2016. The proposed plan is an integrated steel plant accompanied by attached mining leases.
    Both Posco and the Orissa government claim that the project would fetch revenue for the government to the tune of Rs 700 crore to Rs 800 crore (Rs 7-8 billion) annually. and would additionally provide direct employment to 13,000 people and ensure indirect employment for another 35,000. They say they chose this place because it assures long-term reserves of high quality iron ore, surplus and cheap electricity and easy access to major steel consuming markets and raw material sources.
    But not everyone is taking the government’s word at its face value nor are they willing to accept everything being claimed either about the project or the company. Those opposing the project include not only the political parties like the Left Front, the Orissa Gana Parishad, Samajwadi Party and so on but also numerous non-governmental organizations, Civil societies, public spirited persons, scholars and academicians. Many reasons have been put forth by these opposing groups but the State government behaves as if it is totally oblivious to these charges as being motivated or frivolous or distorted ones. Even on the day of the signing of the memorandum of understanding over 200 protestors were needed to be taken into custody by the police outside the state secretariat as they raised slogans against the signing. They belonged to some opposition outfits and Civil societies.
    The State Government has offered POSCO a disproportionate quantum of iron ore and land relative to what it has recognised as the requirement of so many other projects like that of the Tatas. It has also permitted the company flexibility in the choice as between domestic and imported ore. It is even willing to allot iron ore and coal blocks out of what is currently available with its own undertaking. But most important of all, it has promised to `interface’ with the Centre to secure additional quantities of iron ore for use by its plants in South Korea. On the relevant clause on iron ore entitlement, the MoU concedes that the company would require 600 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore for its 12 mt of annual steel making capacity. It is such facts that show the real intent of the project and put the State government’s credential under serious doubts. While Naveen Patnaik loves to be called a Mr. Clean, just like his original Indian role-model, Rajiv Gandhi, but the deal with Posco with such disfavourable terms for the government and so many accrued direct and indirect benefits for the Posco company are such that do not go down the throat so easily. It smacks of corruption. And the strong arm measures being used by the government through its administrative and police machinery only add up to this doubt. The hurry with which things are being implemented and the way the Chief Minister is visibly acting anti-people is generally the case with people who have been properly and substantially obliged.
    Dhinkia is among a set of six small coastal villages, about 12 km from Paradeep Port in Orissa’s Ersama block. Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) , the Rashtriya Yuva Sangthan and the Nab Nirman Samiti are the main associations proclaiming its deep dissatisfaction with the project with Abhay Sahoo of PPSS leading the campaign. Dhinkia, a cluster of 600 families, is the heart of the resistance. Those resisting the foreign invasion have put forth a romanticised view of the local economy. “Paan, dhan, machchi (betel, paddy, fish) is the essence of their life,”
    On 10th October 2007 a team of academicians, journalists, human rights activists and leaders of peoples’ movement representatives, joined hands to express their categorical opposition to the proposed Posco Steel project as anti-people, ecologically degrading and destructive of livelihood of farmers and fisher-folks and expressed its solidarity to the heroic struggle of the people of Gadkujang, Dinkia and Nuwagaon for protection of their land and livelihood. The team having deeply interacted with the members of the resistance movement including Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and Nav Nirman Samiti came to the conclusion that the ill-effects of the so-called wonderful project were many and the disastrous consequences were such that far outweighed its beneficial effects, whatsoever. These included attack on People’s Livelihood, Land Acquisition & Land Alienation, repression to meet Democratic Dissent, environmental ill-effects and huge exploitative nature of the project. Land being the major source of livelihood, with betel vines and cashew cultivation being the main source of income in Dinkia, Nuwagaon, and Gadkujang, the villages were to be badly affected by the project.
    A major game being played insidiously by the government authorities is that nearly 3500 acres out of a total 4000 acres of the land to be acquired is shown in revenue records as governmental land. But in reality most of such land has been under continuous cultivation by peasants. Interestingly, the land was transferred to the forest department after a local struggle in the 1960s to salvage the area. Led by Loknath Chaudhury, a CPI member of Parliament, they got the department to undertake afforestation to protect the villages against the severe cyclones that lash the area and to provide fuel and raw material for the betel vines. For decades it was categorised as village commons. The crux of the dispute in the Orissa government’s efforts to acquire 4,004 acres for the Posco complex is that the government says only 438 acres are private land, the rest being its property. But the fact is the 1,253 hectares of forest land that has been put up for clearance is under betel vine, cashew and other crops.
    Therefore, the impact of the project is going to be much more destructive than the official estimates because the farmers are not going to get any compensation for such land which has traditionally been in their possession but which they technically do not own. This would result in double loss and is certainly a means of land alienation. Ceding such ‘government land’ to a foreign company is nothing but a clear cut case of apathetic behaviour. Again being a SEZ it decimates all democratic rights. So many different Indian laws are inapplicable within the zone, one of the most important being the Panchayat law. Even otherwise it won’t have any space for the local people. The SEZ will employ only highly educated and hi-tech people. Besides, it being a duty-free zone, the Posco company will be granted huge concessions in customs duties, sales tax and even income tax.
    Again the eco-system in the region is too fragile. The proposed mining site is very close to pristine forest and natural water sources. A port is being proposed at the mouth of Jatadhar river, only 7 kms away from existing port at Paradip. It is feared that construction of the port will lead to waterlogging in the area and excessive siltation. This will also deprive thousands of fisherfolks of their source of livelihood.
    The public hearing by Orissa Pollution Control Board in Kunjang village on 15th April 2007 has been nothing more than a public drama where only the official version and official mindset has been reiterated and tried to be affirmed among the public without getting the actual feedback from the people. Moreover the hearing, which is a legal requirement under Environmental Impact Assessment guidelines, were conducted some 25 kms away from the affected villages.
    As examined in a brilliant piece by Sandip Dasverma and Dr Sanat Mohanty, where they have gone into the arithmetic and economic details of the Posco project in a detailed manner performing a deep analysis, it is amply clear that the Posco project is not so much of a gain either for the State or for its people as it is presented to be. If we go into the intricacies of the SEZ concept and analyze all the benefits that the State government is providing to the Posco company comparing it vis-à-vis the return that is being gained, we find that the State actually comes forth as a massive loser. It is estimated that Indian government will lose Rs 89,000 crores and state government of Orissa will lose Rs 22,500 crores for SEZ alone with another Rs 2,400 crores to Rs 3,600 crores subsidy on approx $6 billion of machinery to be imported. Then there are facts like withdrawal of over 250 million liters of water per day seriously affecting the water table of that region. As Dasverma and Dr. Mohanty say, even assuming that Posco employees 10,000 people at Rs. 10,000 per month, this accounts for Rs 3,600 crores for the 30 years of life of this project. The rest of the investment is mostly on equipment and services to support production that do not necessarily trickle into the local economy.
    While the Orissa government’s nodal officer for the project, Priyabrata Patnaik, principal secretary in the commerce department, points out that the South Koreans are offering very generous terms that will set the benchmark for future displacement packages, there are not making takers of his words, who take is as nothing more than an hogwash and the only solution acceptable to them is the complete scrapping of the project or at least a massive change in its term and conditions.
    Even the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch leader, Mr KN Govindacharya, as far back as 2005 had called upon the people to oppose the proposed Posco steel plant project, irrespective of party affiliations, in an organised way, even daring the ruling BJP to come out openly to oppose the project to prove its sincerity for the cause of Orissa. He was correct when he said – “Posco is setting the steel plant in Orissa only on profit motive. Development of the state is just eyewash,”
    Now the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also interfered in this sensitive matter sending its representative Damodar Sarangi who recently visited the proposed site to assess the alleged violation of human rights. He visited Dhinkia, Nuagaon, Gadakujanga and Gobindapur villages of Kujang block in Jagatsingpur district to take stock of the situation after the social activist Prafulla Samantray had filed petitions before the Commission. He was informed by the activists that the proposed steel plant was going to deprive the livelihood of about 30,000 locals both directly and indirectly.
    The war is not over as yet. On June 23, leaders of different political parties, social activists and activists assembled at the proposed Posco steel plant site with people like A B Vardhan of the CPI along with leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Samajwadi Party supporting the cause of the people. Mr. Bardhan rightly questioned the clauses in the MoU that promised captive iron ore mines to the company as well as the permission to construct a captive port, a few km away from the existing Paradip port calling it a form of colonial exploitation and asked it to purchase iron ore from the State government-run Orissa Mining Corporation.

    Dr. Nutan Thakur,
    Editor,
    Nutan Satta Pravah,
    Lucknow
    # 94155

  2. [...] can say, mother, sans specific in-depth official investigation, as to whether any payola had played the role in this matter. But the way your children are being oppressed by the Government [...]

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