For a people who have faced numerous problems for decades now, the struggle does not end yet. From floods to death, to being taken advantage of, the latest to the list of pains for the people of Orissa will be the POSCO steel plant if it is established. It is estimated that around 50, 000 people will be evicted because of the project and a very small percentage will benefit at all.
Villagers from Jagatsinghpur district, political leaders, and social activists along with the Posco Pratirodhak Sangram Samiti (PPSS) have been fighting the establishment in the area for very long. Their struggle is inspiring to say the least. People are asserting their right to land that belongs to them. Meanwhile, the establishment is condemning the struggle of the people saying that they are using little children to stop the company from taking over the land. In a country where child rights are otherwise ignored it is motivating to see that the establishment is ready to slander the reputation of those who struggle because they involve everyone who is affected by policies and decisions that are taken without any consideration for their rights. Apparently, displacing children from their homes is not going to go against child rights.
There are various reasons as to why the people are protesting. The area is extremely fertile and has been a source of income to numerous farmer families for decades now. The water for the plant will be taken from the Mahanadi and the entire port of Paradip would be handed over to POSCO along with captive mines. Handing over an entire port to a monopoly company that is not bound by a sense of nation or patriotism doesn’t seem like a very wise decision. It has become increasing clear not just in Jagatsinghpur, but places all across the country that people are challenging the arbitrary authority of the establishment.
This is not a new issue, people all across the country are struggling against forcible land grab and displacement. It seems that ‘people first’ is not the motto of our ever changing governments. There is a lot of effort being put to ensure that people’s struggle all over the country are kept isolated. At such times, it becomes crucial to show solidarity for the just struggles that people are waging.
By Surkhraj Kaur