India’s top court clears Posco, Vedanta projects in key rulings

NEW DELHI, August 10, 2008 (AFP) – India’s top court has cleared South Korean steel giant Posco’s plan for a 12-billion-dollar plant in a controversial case seen pitting farmers’ interests against growing industrial development. In another key case viewed as a test of tribal rights, the court approved British mining company Vedanta Resources’ proposal to mine bauxite on land held sacred by locals to feed a 900-million-dollar aluminium refinery.

The plant to be built by Posco, Asia’s top steel producer, in the resource-rich eastern coastal state of Orissa would be the biggest foreign direct investment in India since it launched market reforms in 1991.

But the plant, which aims to create 18,000 jobs in a poverty-ridden part of the country over the next decade, has stirred violent protests by farmers objecting to loss of their land.

In both rulings, the court imposed environmental and compensation conditions but the stipulations did not satisfy the projects’ opponents.

“The ruling has no bearing on our struggle. We’ll continue our fight against Posco. We’ll never give up our land,” said Abhoy Sahu, head of the group spearheading the protests against the steel project.

The government has been keen to draw fo