People who have been peacefully resisting the grabbing of their forests and agricultural lands for the last two decades are now facing a crackdown from police forces.
More than 100 people in the village of Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur District in the state of Odisha have allegedly been injured, including women and children. Many others have been arrested, including the leader of the people’s movement opposing the mega steel project that was earlier proposed by the South Korean firm POSCO and now by the Indian firm JSW Utkal Steel Ltd.
The goverment has already cut down numerous betal vineyards, the main agricultural crop and the economic lifeline of people in the area, even without their free consent and the absence of an environmental clearance for the project. This was done when majority of the men in the village fled their homes in fear of police action against them.
According to estimates, the corporate takeover of 1,173.58 hectares of land will lead to the devastation of livelihoods of over 40,000 villagers.
In a recent open letter to India Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupendra Yadav, FIAN International expressed its concern over the issue and reiterated its previous requests 2019 and 2020 for the government to adhere to its legal frameworks and established procedures such as the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, and the Forest Rights Act.
FIAN International also urged the country to abide by its international obligations and commitments related to the right to adequate food and nutrition and the environment such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on Biological Diversity; the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals; and the UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.