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Posco project hit people should get justice: Rahul

Last updated on: July 14, 2011 17:32 IST

Posco project hit people should get justice: Rahul

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Giving a patient hearing to woes of tribals in Jharsuguda in Orissa, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday asserted that people affected by the Posco steel project must get justice, proper compensation and rehabilitation.

He said development is essential but it has to be ensured that people affected in this process must be adequately taken care of.

Stressing that the poor must not be pushed aside to set up the Posco steel plant in Orissa, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said if non-agricultural land was available for the project, it would be a better option.

"If there is land available (for Posco project) which is not agricultural land, it will be a better solution," the Congress general secretary said before winding up his two-day Orissa visit.

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Image: Villagers hold placards during a protest against Posco.
Photographs: Reuters.
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"If Posco provides proper rehabilitation to the affected people then we will be with Posco. If it fails to do so, we will be with the agitating people fighting for justice," Gandhi said during an interaction with tribals at a youth conference.

Jharsuguda is about 400 km from Bhubaneswar.

Asking the state government to fulfill 30 conditions set by the Ministry of Environment and Forests with regard to the Posco project, he said, "Our stand on Posco is very clear...the poor people should not be pushed aside."

Maintaining that there is no double standard on the part of Congress regarding the Posco project, the Nehru-Gandhi scion said it wants adequate compensation to the affected people and their proper rehabilitation.

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Image: Rahul Gandhi.
Photographs: Reuters.
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South Korean steel major Posco's $12 billion steel project in Orissa, billed as country's largest FDI, was given conditional clearance by the environment ministry in May after adopting a tough stand.

The young Congress leader was responding to queries on the state Congress leaders opposing the mega project and demanding its relocation to some barren land even after forest and environmental clearance was given by the Centre.

"We want the rights of the people to be safeguarded and fulfillment of 30 conditions by the state government while setting up the project," he said, adding that it would be fine if the state government meets all the requirements.

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Image: Villagers attend a protest at Balitutha village.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Posco project hit people should get justice: Rahul

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"Congress is with the people to provide them justice. Development is essential, but the project affected people should be provided proper compensation and rehabilitation," Gandhi, who has also backed tribals of Niyamgiri in Orissa who had opposed Vedanta's mining project, said.

Pointing out that Posco and Bhatta Parsaul issues in Uttar Pradesh are similar, Gandhi said both pertain to transfer of land from the poor to the rich.

While there is no problem with the project and the infrastructure, the basic issue revolves around what the people are finally going to get, Gandhi said.

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Image: Villagers sit at the entrance to a house in Gobindpur.

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He had earlier visited Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi district where tribals have been agitating against bauxite mining there. Gandhi asked tribal youths not to tolerate injustice and come forward to lead their own community with the Youth Congress providing a platform for them.

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Image: An activist from Socialist Unity Centre of India burns an effigy of Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik.
Photographs: Reuters.
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"Leadership is lacking among adivasi youths. Do not tolerate injustice, come forward to take the leadership for your own community," Gandhi said in an interaction with the youth after arriving in Jharsuguda from Kotpad in Koraput district, about 500 km from the Orissa capital.

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Image: Children gather at the entrance of their thatched hut in Gobindpur village.
Photographs: Reuters.
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He said while the Communists opposed development and liberalisation, BJP only thought of development of rich. It was only the Congress which always thought of common people and their interest, he said.


Image: A woman sits on the ground at a transit camp for villagers who have been displaced in Jagatsinghpur.
Photographs: Reuters.
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