UN Urges India to Shut Gigantic Steel Project

Plant by SKorea-based company threatens to displace 22,000 Indian people
By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
October 3, 2013 Updated: October 3, 2013

BANGALORE, India – Amid serious human rights concerns, the United Nations experts have asked Indian authorities to halt construction of a mega-steel project in Odisha state.

 “The project reportedly threatens to displace over 22,000 people in the Jagatsinghpur district and disrupt the livelihoods of many thousands more in the surrounding area,” a group of eight independent human rights experts said in a U.N. release on Monday.

 The mega-steel project based at Jagatsinghpur is run by a South Korea based corporation, POSCO (formerly Pohang Iron and Steel Company). The experts have expressed their concerns to India, South Korea, and the corporation involved “following allegations of human rights abuses and potential negative human rights impacts linked to the project.”

 “4,000 families are directly impacted by POSCO’s activities,” Prashant Paikary, spokesperson of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (a protest movement against the steel plant) told the Epoch Times via telephone. “We are facing problems of food, water, environmental degradation, mining, and landlessness and we hold the corporation responsible for it.”

 The U.N. experts have also stressed on South Korea to “take measures to ensure that businesses based in its territory do not adversely impact human rights when operating abroad.”

 The steel corporation has been facing protests locally and internationally. In a memorandum to Odisha’s chief minister by a non-governmental organization, Counter Current, activists have blamed POSCO and the local administration for forcible land grabbing and the violent suppression of the protest-movement.

 Paikary said the steel plant indirectly impacts many more people and a mere statement will not budge those involved.

 “We welcome the statement of U.N. experts but this will not help. We request the U.N. to give direct instructions to the Indian and South Korean governments, and POSCO to stop the plant,” he said.