Orissa, India: The Orissa state government has begun land acquisition and resurvey for the proposed INR 54,000-crore Posco steel project, even though a visiting central team termed the process “illegal”. The team said the Forest Rights Act had been violated.
The officials, for the first time, are using a GPS to measure the betel vines, instead of the traditional way of measuring these properties through tapes. Both pro- and anti-Posco activists are opposed to the resurvey and demolition of betel vines.
The central team of the Union ministries of forests and environment and tribal affairs dubbed the land acquisition process, without implementing the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, illegal.
“It will be illegal to acquire land until the Forest Rights Act is implemented properly,” Ashish Kothari, one of the four members of the joint committee, said. “After realising that the state government violated norms under the Act, we will recommend to Union Ministry of Forests and Environment to withdraw or stay the forest clearance given to the Posco project.”
He said under Section 7 of the Act, the officials involved in land acquisition at this stage were liable to be punished. “We will favour withdrawal of forest clearance to Posco-India, as in case of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh project. The committee would give its report to the ministry within three days.”