Civil rights groups will stand by agitation against Posco

Paradip: Social activist Medha Patkar on Monday said civil rights groups would stand by the people agitating against Posco`s mega steel project in Orissa`s Jagathsinghpur district and demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visit the area immediately.

Accusing the chief minister of adopting a callous attitude towards villagers, Patkar asked "Why can`t Naveen come down to Dhinkia for the people while he rushes to Delhi for talks with the South Korean President for the Posco project."

"Why are you using the police to beat up villagers for a foreign company? Is not it illegal to acquire land of farmers without their consent? The state government and the Centre have no right to acquire land at gunpoint," Patkar told protestors who have been on dharna at Gobindpur for the last 14 days.

Stating that the chief minister must take the consent of the people before attempting to acquire land, she claimed "the state government`s action was unheard of even during British Rule."

Stating that she had earlier drawn the attention of the chief minister on the multi-crop land in Dhinkia, Patkar criticised the Ministry of Environment and Forest its minister Jairam Ramesh for according forest and environment clearance to the Posco project.

"We will stage a demonstration before Parliament opposing the Land Acquisition Bill," she said.

Patkar was also critical over Posco`s proposed port project.

Social activist Medha Patkar, who joined the anti-Posco stir at Dhinkia area as a mark of solidarity with the agitating villagers today, justified the participation of children in the anti-Posco agitation.

Patkar said she did not see anything wrong in children being part of anti-Posco agitation along with their parents. Children had also joined the Narmada Bachho Andolan, spearheaded by her.

"By participating in non-violent movements, children learn many positive things which help them in life," she told PTI defending the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti action of involving children in the agitation against acquisition of land for the greenfield steel project by the South Korean company.

She sought a clarification from the state government on use of force to acquire land. "If you (state government) claim to be believing in peaceful industrialisation, then what the armed police personnel doing at the Posco`s proposed plant site villages?"

Swami Agnivesh, who had visited the proposed plant site villages on Saturday, too observed that children`s participation in agiation along with their parents was not wrong.