Bhubaneswar: With the Supreme Court leaving the fate of Vedanta's proposed bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri Hills in hands of gram sabhas, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Friday asked the Odisha government to honour the views of a similar Gram Sabha in case of Posco project.
"Gram Sabha of Dhinkia Panchayat in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha held on October 18, 2012, had passed a resolution unanimously against the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes," said PPSS spokesman Prashant Paikaray.
"The gram sabha was attended by 1600 men and women. Dhinkia gram panchayat comprised three villages like Dhinkia, Trilochanpur and Gobindpur," said PPSS president Abhay Sahu.
Of the 4,004 acre of land required by the steel major to set up a 12mtpa mega steel facility near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district,2959 acres comes under forest category, 609 acres were non-forest and 437 acres of land were private.
Meanwhile, official sources said the state government has taken steps to clear forest land by cutting trees, demolishing betel vines, cutting horticultural plants and demolition of prawn ponds after the central government accorded State-II of forest diversion proposal.
"Till date, 1600 acre of forest land has been cleared and handed over to Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO)," they said.
PPSS, a CPI-backed agrarian body had been opposing the South Korean steel major since it signed the MoU with the Odisha government in 2005. At least four activists of PPSS have been killed in different incidents of violence in the proposed project site since 2005.
“With the spirit of the Supreme Court judgement on Niyamagiri hill, the state government should respect the decision of Dhinkia panchayat Gram sabhha and scrap the POSCO project outright," Paikray said adding that the villagers who have already moved the Orissa High Court alleging non- implementation of Forest Rights Act and protection of private land in Posco case, will submit additional petitions in the court of law.
The villagers have decided to draw attention of the High Court regarding the Apex Court's judgement in case of Vedanta's mining project, he said. "PPSS welcomes the verdict of Supreme Court. This has upheld the authority of Gram Sabha to control, manage and use the mineral resources in Niyamagiri hills," he said.