Bhubaneswar: Social activist Ms Medha Patkar offered to mediate between villagers and the CM, provided the latter agreed to a talk on the Posco issue.
The gram sabha is the final word be it at the plant site villages or its proposed mining area at Khandadhar where tribals stay, she noted. Let him talk to the gram sabha and if required we are prepared to facilitate this, she remarked.
Evidently taking a dig at the CM for having said that Medha Patkar ought to realise that Orissa is a poor state and projects like these would bring in revenue and employment, Ms Patkar today said let him agree for a public debate.
Conscious of the fact that the CM shies away from public discussions, Ms Patkar recalled, earlier for 20 days people were on dharna demanding a discussion on Posco, she and Mr BD Sharma had even squatted before the CM’s residence demanding a discussion but it did not materialise.
More recently, I had written a letter to the CM for a dialogue and negotiation but there has been no response till date, she said.
With regard to her two-day visit to the project site villages, Ms Patkar said people were silenced and their ‘silence was pregnant' . She condemned the terror and state repression that had taken place in villages of the proposed Posco project site. Talking to reporters here she demanded immediate withdrawal of police force, stern action against hired goons who were patrolling the area and establishment of democratic rights of the people.
The police and hired elements followed me wherever I went over the last two days. Women who had fed me during my last visit welcomed me with folded hands but did not speak.
I was told that they were all threatened, yet the fact that hundreds moved with me silently, greeted me at Nuagaon and other villages, stood by the roadside spoke volumes, she observed.
Majority of the people do not want to give up their land, betel vines and right to fish but the state wants to impose the project on them. Gram sabha has the right over the resources not the Naveen Patnaik government, she charged.
Reacting to the charge that even the anti-Posco activists had harassed and tortured people in villages, she said about 50 people had met her saying they were neither pro and anti-project and yet they had been ostracised. These people should return home, she said adding that some of it was highly exaggerated as she found only 18 homes deserted but all belongings inside the house were intact. Prof. M Engineer of the teachers and scientists against mal-development association of West Bengal, who had accompanied Ms Patkar, said that proposed Posco site was fast slipping into a Nandigram like situation. The move is to keep others out, isolate the area and impose the project, he alleged.