Posco gets clearance for billion dollar steel plant

Posco, Asia’s top steel producer got clearance from India’s top court on Friday for a $12 billion plant in Orissa. The plant to be built by Posco, in the resource-rich eastern coastal state of Orissa would be the biggest foreign direct investment in India since it launched market reforms in 1991.

The case was seen as controversial as it pitted farmers’ interests against growing industrial development. The plant, which aims to create 18,000 jobs in a poverty-ridden part of the country over the next decade, had stirred violent protests by farmers objecting to loss of their land.

We are deeply connected with the mountain… our sacred place. It is home to our god Niyamraja. The ruling has no bearing on our struggle. We’ll continue our fight against Posco. We’ll never give up our land, said Abhoy Sahu, head of the group spearheading the protests against the steel project. London-based Survival International director Stephen Corry called the ruling a devastating blow to all of India’s tribal peoples.

The government has been keen to draw foreign and domestic investment to create job-generating industries. But the shift from agriculture has stirred big debates and often violent local opposition as many projects encroach on farm or tribal land. This case was seen as an important test of tribal and environmental rights against industrialization.

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23.8.08 00:13

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