Korean civil society groups have published their official report on fact-finding research for the POSCO project launched by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Orissa government in 2005.
The fact-finding team composed of two lawyers and a human rights activist who are experts on monitoring of human rights violations of multinational companies conducted the second fact-finding research between August 28 and September 5, 2010, following the first one that had been carried out between April 26 and May 6, 2008.
In the report, the team explains that Korean civil society has been paying attention to the issue since the violence broke out between the villagers for the POSCO project and those who were against it, in November 2007. Since then, the Korean civil society groups have been monitoring the Orissa government's attitude and also made the constant queries and demands on POSCO in Korea. The English brief report can be found here and the Korean report is available here.
Through the two visits for fact-finding research, the Korean civil society has been observing that the villagers for the POSCO project are not fully satisfied with the amount and the manner of compensation and those who are against the POSCO project have been completely excluded, which implies that the Orissa government and POSCO do not respect and observe the principles of democratic procedure and participation in promoting development projects. The Orissa government as well as POSCO has rather been contravening the Forest Rights Act 2006, violating human rights and creating environmental destruction, the report says.
The case of Khandadhar, which is mentioned in the report, is where the Orissa government and POSCO had applied for an iron ore mining license but was rejected by the high court in July 2010, clearly proving how the forest area and the tribes' lives have been destroyed by the development project.
The report also denounces the Orissa government's violent and partial attitude, pointing out the police firing and violence against protesting villagers which happened in May, as well as the the detention of the fact-finding team members in a police station for several hours, after their visit to anti-POSCO villages.
The Korean civil society groups, through the report, strongly recommend the below:
1. The Orissa government, promoting a development project without precise field research and discouraging the affected villagers' participation, should provide compensation and apology to the villagers who have been facing human rights violations and exclusion so far.
2. As apparent from the fact that the fact-finding team was taken to the police station and investigated immediately after visiting the anti-POSCO project villages on August 30, 2010, the police should stop the suppression and surveillance of the anti-POSCO project villagers, which violates their human rights.
3. The Orissa government should acknowledge that the POSCO project cannot succeed in its launch without the villagers' participation and agreement, and it is highly recommended to thoroughly reconsider the POSCO project.
4. Starting with the POSCO project, the Orissa government should respect and observe the principles that any development project should be initiated only with a transparent and democratic process that includes the villagers' participation.
5. The Ministry of Environment and Forests of India should immediately respect and fulfill the recommendations proposed by the Saxena Committee, the Meena Gupta Committee and the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), a key committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
6. The central government of India also should immediately conduct a thorough re-survey and re-examination of the whole POSCO project.
For English brief report,
For Korean report,