Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mining brings prosperity to whom?

Why POSCO type projects are unwanted?
Dear Friends,
We just returned from a trip of the Dhinkia-Nuagaon area where people, for seven years now, are democratically fighting against the illegal POSCO project that continues to destroy the local economy and ecology even without having a valid MoU with the state government.   The people in the village are virtually living a life of ‘exclusion’ from the mainstream as their ‘democratic protest for their just right’ has invited the ire of their own government for profit of a Foreign Company.  They fear to come out of the village even when they are ill because, according to them, both the police and company goons are waiting to nab them waiting to grab them, book them under false charges (which many of them are already facing), arrest them, beat them up and all the ‘hell’ they had never expected in this ‘Independent’ country of theirs. They live under the reign of terror and for them the State is a Terrorist outfit.
I have decided to put this up for members of the groups because some members of this e-group (as well as other e-groups in which I am a member) seem to be disillusioned about the ‘real development’ and have been blindly promoting the cause of Vedanta and POSCO type of industrialization. True, from this kind of destructive industrialization, their types of 'educated' and greedy people will get huge benefits - as the case has been historically - but only at the cost of the environment, local people and entrepreneurs. 
In case of POSCO for example, the beetle farmers are enterprising farmers and not only earn handsomely but also pay the labour they engage, almost twice and thrice than even the minimum stipulated wage rate of the government.  Most importantly they hold on to the mother land, protect the forests that gives them the required ingredients for their economy to thrive as well as help the coastal ecology to maintain its necessary ecological balance.  Most importantly, development this way means development of all in the locality. 
On the other hand, what POSCO will do?  It will destroy the ecology (as you know how trees are the first victim of the arrogant and abusive industrialization being promoted in that area); it will displace the local people by paying them some 'cash' compensation which will mostly help them to become wage labourers and later paupers; it will benefit the rich and the elite and most importantly the bureaucrats, political parties and criminals like Bapi Sarkhel to flourish.  Development here is centralized and is not distributive at all. 
I am sure, some so called 'development pundits' in this group, who term everyone who oppose POSCO type projects as anti-development, will have the guts to understand the basics of economics and ecology and will dare to have a vision beyond two-three decades (when all the mineral wealth of this state would be over - partly by legal extraction and mostly by theft).  Just for your ready reference, pasting below a latest news from the POSCO area, published in the Hindu today.
Thanks and regards
Ranjan Panda
Betel farmers turn daily wagers

Their vineyards were demolished for Posco project

Kabir Pradhan, a betel farmer, now considers him lucky as he did not sway with ‘majoritarian' sentiment in his Nuagaon village. The betel farmer had refused to accept compensation for allowing his vineyard to be pulled down.

In fact Kabir's vineyard is the only one of 438 betel vine enclosures left to be demolished in Nuagaon, a part of which is to be acquired for the proposed mega steel mill by South Korean Posco.

“As many as 12 vineyard owners, who got richer by few lakhs of rupees after receiving compensation from administration a couple of months ago, now work under me. Had I agreed to administration's proposal and given up the right over my vineyard, I would have met the same fate,” said Kabir.

Most of the betel farmers of Nuagaon village whose vineyards were razed to ground have spent the compensation money within few months. They have now turned daily wage earners from being proud owners of betel farms.

“Two of my brothers opted for compensation and handed over their vineyards to administration. Now, one of them is an agricultural labour and another is on his way to spend the compensation money,” Kabir said.

Sudhir Dalei, a former betel farmer of Nuagaon, had invested the compensation money in purchasing a pick-up van. With no previous experience in passenger car business, Sudhir failed to extract profit from his new venture. “I failed to pay this month's instalment of the car loan. I don't know what would happen in future,” he said.

“All of my fellow betel farmers, Sukuta Nayak, Tima Pradhan, Dolagobinda Sahu, Jagabandhu Pradhan, Abhi Jena, Ramesh Khuntia and Nistur Rout, had betel vineyards. Now they look for engagement on daily basis to eke out their livelihood,” said Kabir, who claimed to earn profit of Rs. 20,000 per month from his farm.

The administration had announced compensation of Rs. 11.5 lakh per acre of vineyard and 20 per cent of the compensation for daily labourers who would be rendered jobless. Total 1,503 betel farmers from six villages such as Nuagaon, Polang, Noliasahi, Gobindpur, Bhuyanpal and Bayanalakandha were to lose their vineyards. Jagatsinghpur district administration estimated that 253 acres land would be made encroachment free if vineyards were pulled down.

“This is a classic case how situation can quickly turn worse when government displace people from resource-based livelihood. Gullible villagers cannot thrive on a cash-based livelihood sources. The sooner the government understands this, the better off the farmers' condition will be,” said Ranjan Panda, a social activist.

Kabir reiterated his pledge to oppose land acquisition for facilitating mega steel plant near his village.

·  Many of them have squandered the compensation money
·  Kabir Pradhan is the only farmer who refused to accept compensation

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