The CPI on Tuesday hit out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for holding talks to expedite Posco steel project and termed it as an exercise "intended to influence" a Central committee set up to verify implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the proposed plant site near Paradip.
"It is surprising that Patnaik rushed to Delhi and met Prime Minister and environment minister Jairam Ramesh for Posco project instead of correcting mistakes committed in implementation of the forest rights act. 2006," CPI's state secretary Dibakar Nayak said.
The (NC) Saxena Committee set up by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had already found fault in implementation of FRA in the proposed plant site villages near Paradip, he said.
"The panel had already mentioned that villagers depend on forest land for their livelihood. The people are earning their living since generations by undertaking cultivation on forest land," the party observed.
While Meena Gupta committee was yet to visit the area, there had been attempts to influence its decision, CPI said wondering how can the PM and CM give "push" to the project.
"We believe the chief minister's claim that the PM has assured to expedite Posco project, will certainly influence decision of the Meena Gupta committee," Nayak said.
Demanding shifting of Posco project from fertile agricultural land to some barren land, CPI asked both the PM and CM to ensure implementation of FRA in letter and spirit.
The union government had set up a separate panel headed by former secretary of MoEF Meena Gupta in view of Orissa government's protest to Saxena Committee's observation on Posco project. Gupta committee was likely to visit Posco area next month.