Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The MLA from Paradeep, Dr. Damodar Raut, ousted from the cabinet on 16.5.2006 by Chief Minister Navin Patnaik for reasons best known to himself, punched Patnaik on his face by threatening in his journal “Sanchar” to expose him as “the mercury was falling down from the Belgium glass” and curiously enough he was soon inducted back into the cabinet on 22.5.2009.
As he became a minister again, he stopped exposing Patnaik.
But the central Government in the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has punctured the POSCO pelt and exposed the perjury resorted to by Navin (in POSCO matter the administration acts as per his direction) in support of this foreign firm.
As indigenous inhabitants’ resistance to POSCO becomes more resolute, the MoEF and Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA ) jointly commissioned a Committee under N.C.Saxena that deputed Arupjyoti Saikia, Ravi Rebbapragada and Ashish Kothari to study and report if there is any violation of environmental laws involving the POSCO project. On the basis of realities found on the spot and documentary as well as oral evidences, the three member committee came to the conclusion that the provisions under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), specifically the rights of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) stipulated therein, were blatantly violated and the State Government had given false and fabricated reports to the Union Government in order only to serve the interest of POSCO.
Therefore, the “final approval” given by the MoEF on 29 December 2009 was itself a violation of its circular No. F. No.11-9/1998-FC (pt) dated 30 July 2009 and improper.
This improper approval was influenced by the false reports given by the State, the committee held.
Hence it urged upon the MoEF to withdraw the forest clearance issued on 29 December 2009 and to ask the Orissa government to stop all such work till the required processes under the FRA are completed.
Accordingly the MoEF has written to the Orissa Government to “ensure that work, if any, being undertaken on the said land, for the said project, including handing over of the forest and non-forest land to the said project, shall be stopped forthwith”.
Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has sought for Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh’s intervention and as the later is known for his pro-POSCO stance, time would soon say as to how the Union handles the predicament.
But the pertinent question at this point of time is: why the Government of Navin Patnaik has misled the Union Government with false reports on compliance of the FRA in the so-called POSCO area?