A group of ecologists have warned of an ecological disaster at the Posco Steel Plant’s site in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa, with the state government cutting around 50,000 trees to prepare the site for the plant.
In a letter to Orissa chief minister Navin Pathnaik and environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, the ecologists have expressed concern over the state government’s decision of afforestation in non-forest land in lieu of the trees being cut in forest land.
“This activity will entail conversion of non-forest land into forest land to carry out afforestation and in the process deprive another lot of people of access to common land,” said the letter signed by Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India, Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Orissa, Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust, Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace, Kartik Shanker of Dakshin Foundation and Centre for Ecological Sciences, Ravi Chellam an wildlife biologist and Sharad Lele of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
They said the afforestation in the country has been far from satisfactory and can seriously damage the existing coastal ecosystem and expressed displeasure over cutting down of trees in huge police presence.
This is being done when the state government does not have a valid Memorandum of Understanding with the project proponents Pohang Steel Company (POSCO).
“It seems that the decision is driven by a desire to crush the spirit and livelihoods of the people of the area,” the letter said, while demanding an immediate stopping of felling of trees and carrying out restoration work with the help of local communities.