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Millennium Post

POSCO isn’t UPA’s glittering success

Veerappa Moily, who holds the unique distinction of having the twin portfolio of overseeing the energy and environment ministry, has managed to, at least on paper, score a big goal for the dwindling UPA government. Moily’s clearance to the controversial Posco steel plant in Odisha, which was embroiled in protests and agitations by the locals and ecological activists for eight long years, has raised more questions than it has offered answers, even before the dust was allowed to settle on the issue. Not only was the sudden removal of former MoEF Jayanthi Natarajan, who was strongly against clearing the South Korean giant project in the BJD-ruled eastern state, a reason for eyebrows being raised, Moily’s green signal to the steel plant coincided with the visit of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, thus becoming UPA’s last ditch attempt to stitch an investor-friendly mantle for itself. But what good is the ministerial clearance when none of the serious issues at the heart of the protests have been addressed? Not only has Moily given a partial clearance, allowing only the proposed steel plant and not the captive iron ore mining bid, but the MoEF has not sought to understand the locals’ grievances, who will face ruthless displacement and will be summarily robbed of their source of livelihood, a thriving agricultural practice growing a number of cash crops.

National Green Tribunal and other committees had raised grave objections to the Posco project and all of that has been duly brushed under the carpet by a conniving MoEF under Veerappa Moily. Naturally, the UPA is keen to preen up its pre-poll image in the wake of the upcoming 2014 Lok Sabha elections, sidelining disastrous environmental impacts as well as massive uprooting and disenfranchisement that will be the plight of the tribals living in the region for decades. How can the MoEF grant a green signal when none of the affiliated bodies have given their nod? Moily, who has cleared projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore, is clearly a minister in a deplorable and deadly hurry.
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