Indian Decade

Congress Eyes Tribal Image

Is the Congress party looking to boost its image among tribal people by halting a POSCO plant?

An interesting internal development this. Anxious to correct its image of being anti-tribal, two Indian central ministries have accepted a panel’s recommendation and stopped the construction of the $12 billion, South Korean Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) iron and steel plant in Jagatsinhpur district in the eastern province of Orissa.
Orissa’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, has frantically petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reverse the order, but that seems unlikely to happen since the ruling Congress party has anyway been looking for a course correction on the issue of tribal exploitation, which has been behind an upsurge in Naxalite violence.
The go-ahead for the project had only been given in December 2009, but a panel established by the Union environment and tribal affairs’ ministries discovered that the district administration was evicting tribals from their land, land that had apparently been acquired for POSCO in violation of the Forests Rights Act.