The Posco Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti (The Posco resistance committee) has called environment minister Jairam Ramesh’ bluff today by pointing to his complicity in the entire episode.
The PPSS, in a statement, pointed out that Jairam Ramesh was responsible for giving an “illegal” clearance to the project and had no right to be the advocate of “democracy and dialogue.”
Jairam had, yesterday, asked the State government (ruled by his rival alliance) to respect “democracy and dialogue” and not treat an environmental clearance as a license to grab land using force. He had given the go-ahead for the project after over-ruling protests from the same Samiti three months ago.
“Faith and trust in what the state government says is an essential pillar of cooperative federalism.. the bona fides of a democratically elected state government cannot always be questioined by the Centre,” he had said in his order overruling the protests by the Samiti.
Not surprisingly, the Samiti was not very charitable to Jairam’s statements trying to tap into the sympathy aroused by the visuals of hundreds of children resisting armed policemen trying to take over land for one of India’s biggest steel factory.
“It was Jairam Ramesh’s Ministry who gave the land to POSCO without complying with any of this, in direct violation of the law – leave alone of “democracy and dialogue.” So what is the meaning of pious statements now? If Mr. Jairam Ramesh and the Central government believe in democracy and dialogue, let him withdraw his illegal clearance,” the Samiti said.
It pointed out that the Forest Rights Act, which says that the forest land cannot be taken without the consent of the community and without recognition of their rights, but Jairam had held that there was no evidence that the Act had not been followed in this case.
“This fight is for justice and democracy, but it is also for our children’s future. We do not want to see them reduced to starvation and destitution, living from hand to mouth on daily wages, deprived of their entire future and livelihood by a criminal state… We reiterate: neither we nor our children will give up our forests, our water or our lands,” the statement went on.