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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 10, February 23, 2013

The Struggle Against POSCO Needs Wider Support

Tuesday 26 February 2013, by Bharat Dogra

COMMUNICATION

The month of February has brought a new wave of repression against the villagers threatened by the grant steel project of the POSCO multinational company.

This project has been widely debated and steadfastly resisted with great courage by villagers. They have been arrested, beaten up and threatened repeatedly, but many of them have continued their opposition against extremely heavy odds for several years. Even among those who accepted compensation, many villagers say that they did so because the repeated use of force did not leave them any other option.

A senior official of POSCO recently said that in principle his company doesn’t want to acquire land against the wishes of the people. But the truth is that the real wishes of the people, as expressed by their village resolutions or in other ways, were never given an important place in the decision-making process.

It may be entirely futile to remind the Central or State Government of the essential principles of Gandhian Economics, because in their devotion to the neo-liberal agenda these days they do not even pay lip-sympathy to these principles. But someone should nevertheless tell them that if any evaluation is made on these principles, or on the basis of sustainable livelihoods, then anyday the viewpoint of those resisting the POSCO project will prevail over the arguments given in favour of the giant steel project.

The commitments of our freedom struggle have been sacrificed by the present-day govern-ments to such an extent that one day a senior multinational company official makes a statement for speeding up such projects and the next day there is police action against anyone opposing such projects.

If the government wants the people to still retain some faith in its commitment to truth, all the evidence presented by the struggle against the project should be heard impartially, including the evidence heard at the time of suspension of the environmental clearance.

The struggle against POSCO in India should get wider support at all levels.

Bharat Dogra
C-27 Raksha Kunj,
Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi-110063

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