Tribal groups in two Orissa coastal districts have stepped up protests against Indian and Korean steel companies.
“The situation is quite tense. The government is using police to forcefully evict people,” Dhirendra Panda, a human rights activist working among the tribal people, told ucanews.com on June 7.
India’s Tata Steel Company is setting up a plant in Jajpur district, while the Korean Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) plans its project in Jagatsinghpur district.
On June 2, clashes between the protestors and the police at Balithutha in Jagatsinghpur wounded some 20 people.
The protestors demanded withdrawal of the Korean company and police force from the area and the dropping of alleged false charges against their leaders.
Since Jan. 26, more than 300 tribal villagers have staged a sit-in at the site of the proposed POSCO plant, saying it would displace thousands of people.
Kalinganagar area has witnessed clashes since May 6.
Praful Samanatray, president of Lok Shakti Abhijan (campaign for people’s power,” alleged that a “nexus” between the government and transnational firms has taken “a heavy toll” on tribal and poor people.
“It is not just displacement; it is destruction of life, livelihoods, environment and cultural-religious identity,” he told ucanews.com, warning the government not to undermine tribal struggle for survival.