NCPCR justifies agitation by children against Posco project

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has justified the agitation by children against Posco's 12 million tonne steel project calling it "voluntary".

"The children think that they are protecting the interest of their families which is contrary to the allegations that children are being coerced to participating the agitation. The anxiety / apprehension on account of the prospect of displacement and loss of the source of lively-hood for their families, has been apparently affecting the minds of the children. It appears to be a factor behind such conduct by the children," said a committee of NCPCR which this month investigated the into the alleged use of children by Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, an anti-Posco front.

Taking suo-motu cognizance of reports in media about small children not going to schools and instead getting involved in anti-Posco agitation, a three-member of team of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights led by its member Dr Yogeswar Dubey on July 4 had visited the proposed Posco steel plant site near Paradip and made an on-the-spot investigation into the alleged use of children by Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. The team also visited the Posco transit camp at Badagabpur village where 52 pro-Posco families have been living since last few years after being forced to leave their villages allegedly by the PPSS activists.

All the interviewed children expressed their unanimous apprehension that if their lands would be taken away, they would loose their betel vines, continuously providing them the source of comfortable lively-hood for years, and would be reduced to home-less labourers either under the Company or elsewhere. The common apprehension of the children was that whether totally displaced or only affected by dispossession from their lands, their parents would not be able to support their study in future and that in the later period, on growing into adult-hood, they would not get any permanent resource from which they could earn their lively-hood. Their common version was that therefore they had been joining with their parents voluntarily and decidedly in this agitation to prevent taking over of their lands by the Government machinery for the POSCO project. They told that they would not go to school till the POSCO project went away from their village," the 26-page confidential report said.

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