As environment minister Jairam Ramesh gets close to deciding the fate of $12 billion Posco’s steel plant in Orissa, civil society pressure from India and around the world is mounting to scrap the project.
Around 40 business schools professors have urged Ramesh to look into the dubious data produced by Orissa to convince importance of the Posco’s project of steel plant and a port.
The professors, who analysed reports submitted by different agencies, said Orissa failed to mention that the study done by National Council for Applied Economic Research to claim that 8,70,000 jobs will be created by the project was funded by Posco. “This constitutes a clear conflict of interest and should be enough to put the findings of the report in serious doubt,” the letter read.
The letter comes at the time when there appears to be a confrontation between environment ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office over what action should be taken on Meena Gupta committee report regarding alleged violations for granting clearance to Posco’s steel plant.
The report was submitted to Ramesh on October 18, after which Forest Advisory Committee had concluded that the Forest Rights Act had been violated.
Ramesh is said to be keen to take some action against Orissa. But, the PMO is against this as it would delay India’s biggest foreign direct investment. “There has been a series of meetings to find a way out in the last one week,” an official said.
The professors, however, accused Orissa of trying to take over large tracts of forest land and hand it over to Posco, while displacing communities that have lived there for generations.
The professors from institutes such as University of Massachusetts and Cardiff Business School, Wales, said: “Posco India project has become an important symbol of India’s commitment to a sustainable new economic policy”. They told Ramesh his actions will be crucial as he can set into motion pathways on how India must respond to such issues in the future.