Dr Sanat Mohanty and Sandip Dasverma
[This article is the last part of a three-article series by Sanat and Sandip providing an in-depth analysis of issues around POSCO Steel project in
With an analysis of direct and indirect economic analysis suggesting that the POSCO project has not been negotiated with the primary interest of the state of Orissa in
Perhaps, the only silver lining is that vigilant citizen's groups and participative democracy can force to act accountably – for example one that pushed it to participate in a consortium of states leading to increased (yet measly) royalties for the state of Orissa. In the memorandum of understanding (MoU), the Orissa state government makes explicit claims on facilitating the rapid progress of the project but has nothing to say about the impact of the activities on the local communities.
Holding Orissa state government accountable
Citizens of Orissa need to demand more transparency from the Orissa state government in the project plan details. Has the opportunity cost been analyzed? What is the economic cost of water usage by POSCO? What is the cost of displacement? Clearly, agriculturalists in the neighborhood will suffer. What is the economic value of the loss in agricultural produce and in disruption in livelihoods of lakhs of farming families? Clearly the industry will not provide jobs to all these lakhs. We can estimate these numbers – there will be agricultural losses in the range of Rupees 100 crores per year, almost equal to gain in salary/wages from the plant each year. That is a significant amount. And it raises questions that the government needs to answer – and the Oriya society must ensure that the government answers these questions:
In effect, the state of Orissa may have indirect benefits of up to Rupees 120 crores per year in salaries (for new jobs created) and strengthen that local economy. On the other hand, it loses Rupees 180 crores in the price of land leased to POSCO, Rupees 75 crores/ year in cost of water, Rupees 100 crores per year to the agricultural economy, and Rupees 2400-3600 crores in taxes over the life time of the project.
The dimensions become clear, when one takes into account that
We sincerely believe that the issue of rehabilitation and resettlement is diversionary and the real issue is to keep eyes of public away from the Rupees 250,000 crores give away to POSCO in form of subsidy in
How will the people of Orissa ensure this? In fact, it is important (given the credibility of Orissa state government and its inability to resist the temptation of corruption) that transparent processes be set up so that the people of Orissa can be sure that all the money coming into the state can be accounted for. And it is the people of Orissa who must push for such processes.
News Blaze, US
Scoop Independent News, New Zealand