- Subhash Gatade
|Photo courtesy: The Hindu|
Big news - at times - go completely unnoticed.
(Thanks to the mediatised times we are passing through)
And thus it did not appear surprising that the decision by Posco, the South Korean steel giant, the fourth biggest in the world, to exit the proposed 12 million tonnes a year steel plant in Odisha did not cause much flutter. Yes, newspapers duly reported POSCO India's 'request to the Odisha government to take back the land provided to it near Paradip' where it was supposed to invest 52,000 crore Rs.' The letter stated company's 'failure to start work on the proposed plant'.
Perhaps none from the media wanted to showcase a negative example which is at variance with the efforts by the powers that be to project the idea of 'ease of doing business' here. Undoubtedly at a time when the government is keen to attract foreign capital and inducing it in very many ways, the way in which a Corporate Major - supposed to be one of the leading in the steel sector - had to exit from its project can easily shake their confidence about investing here. Or was it to cover up the fact that over the years how the South Korean Steel Major had dealt a heavy blow to the local environment by felling down more than eight lakh trees at the project site and residents are demanding accountability and compensation over such large-scale environmental destruction. What is more disturbing has been the fact that while the Union Environment Ministry never gave permission to cut the trees the MNC with due help from the local administration and law and order machinery went ahead with it. A case has been filed before the National Green Tribunal about this issue.
The question arises why did POSCO decide to quit despite receiving continued support from the central as well as the state government? Remember the company had been handed over 1,700 acres of land by the Odisha state for the project and around 1,000 acres of land was still lying with the state which it had acquired for the project. In fact, the Odisha government went ahead with the forcible land acquisition for the steel plant despite the fact that POSCO did not have an environmental clearance for the project. And also the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011, had also been suspended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 30 March 2012.
Whether it had a 'change of heart' about concerns expressed by local people - who were leading and continuing with the struggle which was billed as one of the 'largest social movements in recent times' - about the devastation it had brought out in the lives of the people or the company decided to become 'green' and decided to discontinue the project.
|Photo provided by author|
Capital or capitalists never get moved by such humanitarian concerns ( which are exhibited by lesser mortals like us). Soul of capital or capitalists rest in profit only. It is the sole criterion for it to make decisions. (As an aside if capital/capitalist would have been really 'moved' by human misery neither we would have seen giant armament factories manufacturing weapons of death or and human trafficking becoming 'lucrative' business or crores of children slogging out on peanuts).