Posco – Building A Better Tomorrow with Steel: Madhumita Dutta



Policemen deployed at the proposed Posco site in Jagatsinghpur, June 2011

As I read the ‘sustainability-commitment’ page[1] on the website of Posco India Ltd, I was reminded of the images of a morning in a village square in the Ersama block of Jagatsingpur district in the Orissa. On April 1, 2008, Balithutha, a small village square, became the battle ground as hundreds of women, men, young and old tore down with their bare hands a 20 feet high bamboo barricade erected by the district police.  An act of defiance by people who came in hundreds, mustering whatever they had—courage, fear, rage—to battle a giant – Posco Steel company of South Korea and the state of Odisha. They came to say ‘we disagree, we oppose’ the plans to take over the lands that we have farmed for generations. That day the sound of their voices and ululations reverberated from the small village square of Balithutha to the offices of the powerful.

But then some seem not to have heard it. Or maybe have chosen not to hear it?Posco India’s claim of ‘the approach towards the land securing process has been consensual and peaceful with regard to the local community sits a bit uncomfortably with the facts on the ground. If things were so ‘consensual’, then why thousands of villagers of Jagatsinghpur who have been opposing the project since 2005 when the Memorandum Of Understanding was signed between Posco and Odisha state government face hundreds of criminal cases; why most of these men and women cannot step out of their villages for fear of arrests; why since 2005 the state government of Odisha has not been able to acquire the 4004 acres of land that it has promised to give to Posco Steel company to set up a 12 million metric tonnes per annum steel plant? Surely a ‘fair land acquisition process’, a commitment ‘to first safeguard the human rights and livelihood of innocent villagers’ does not include beaten bloodied bodies and bullets. Or does it? Maybe one needs to carefully read Posco’s statement which states ‘Posco….rejects/deplores any unlawful violence against them (villagers)’.  The key word being ‘unlawful’. Does it mean ‘lawful’ violence is allowed? Does it mean that if the state deems a population to be ‘unlawful’, then it can use ‘lawful violence’ to discipline them?

Are the villagers of Jagatsinghpur, who have tilled, farmed and lived on this land ‘unlawful’ in their assertion to not part with it , and the state government ‘lawful’ when it claims that it has a ‘sovereign’ rights over the land which its deems to be ‘government land’? If one wants to simply argue on technical ‘legal’ grounds then is the government of Odisha ‘lawful’ when it decides to override the resolutions passed by Dhinkia and Gobindpur palli and gram sabhas not to allow diversification of forest land empowered under Section 5 of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006? Out of 3566 acres of ‘government’ land, 2958.79 acres is forest land that is proposed to be acquired for Posco.

The battle between the little people and the giant seems endless as the state government of Orissa attempts yet again to acquire the contested land[2]. If one were to keep one’s ear to the ground, one can quite clearly hear what the ‘consensus’ is — ‘Posco go back’.

But can Posco hear it?

Or is it steely in its resolve to manufacture a ‘consensus’ that suits it?

Madhumita Dutta is a member of Vettiver Collective Chennai, Tamil Nadu

One thought on “Posco – Building A Better Tomorrow with Steel: Madhumita Dutta”

  1. Since long it is bothering me a lot, How it could be a development if it is not acceptable to the people? People are resisting from time to time, for the simple cause that we simply need food and basic civic amenities, but the government is relentlessly convincing the people that these mega projects are their future, if they get food and other basic need or not doesn’t matter but you STUPID tribal need to think about your future. Ridiculous, Insane it is. It would be like asking a person suffering from asthma to play in the dust and they game would help him in improving his/her health, without even thinking of asthma and dust, to whom he would be very allergic. There could be only two reasons for their Insanity, Either They are Innocent Mad or other could be the cruelty that the people have in the capitalist culture.
    Dear, PM the tribal people need food to survive, Dispensary for Health facilities, school for Education not POSCO to miss use the tribal people, to exploit them, ask them to leave the area for Country’s development for nation’s pride, as the project over time would need space to enlarge itself. This is very unfortunate Mr. PM that you kill your own people, whom have voted you to power. They didn’t vote you to power, to displace them, to exploit them and some time when they dare to resist kill them. These poor people to whom the constitution of India has the given the right to vote after every five years to vote for LOK SABHA election and the same to exercise for State assembly, which in turn entitle them to Exploitation, displacement, and some time death as well.
    This is your country as well, don’t let it go in the hand of imperialism and neo-liberal policies. Don’t let them colonized us, let us resist and to keep the freedom for whom thousands of our ancestors had sacrificed their lives and we again don’t want them to come. Help us to keep this country free from Imperialism.


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