International Human Rights Clinic report spotlights human rights abuses involving steel project in India

The Price of Steel: Human Rights and Forced Evictions in the POSCO-India Project,” a new report from NYU Law’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) and the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has drawn attention to what its authors term human rights abuses related to the Indian government’s seizures of land for the purposes of a project with South Korean steel company POSCO.

Smita Narula

The $12 billion POSCO-India project, the largest single foreign direct investment in India to date, requires more than 12,000 acres of land, with plans that include an integrated steel plant and captive port. The plant and port area is currently inhabited by forest-dwelling communities, betel leaf farmers, and Dalits (scheduled castes) that have cultivated the land for generations. The report, based on a year-long investigation, finds that the government's attempts to forcibly evict these communities violates both international and domestic law and details numerous human rights abuses committed by Indian authorities against those protesting the project, including arbitrary arrests and detentions and excessive use of force. More than 22,000 people would be displaced if the project moves forward.

“India’s attempts to forcibly evict communities for the POSCO project are in clear violation of Indian and international law,” said Professor Smita Narula, co-author of “The Price of Steel” and the IHRC’s faculty director, in a press release accompanying the report. “Project-affected communities are living under siege, and suffering severe violations of their fundamental human rights. India must act now to end these abuses and put the rights of its people ahead of the needs of a corporation.”

The report calls on the Indian government to suspend the project until and unless it complies with international human rights standards and to safeguard the rights of those living in the affected area. The co-authors also ask the South Korean government and POSCO similarly to abide by human rights standards and the law.

Posted on July 8, 2013