Monday, March 30, 2009

Himalayan plant species found in Eastern Ghats

First Published : 28 Mar 2009 09:58:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Mar 2009 12:57:19 PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: A Plant, endemic to Himalayan region, has been spotted in the Eastern Ghats of Orissa leaving biologists puzzled. Corallodiscus batalin, the species, is known to grow at an altitude of 600 metres to 3600 metres above the sea level. In the past, the botanists recorded it in the Himalayas of North Eastern India and China. Recently, it was found by a researcher group in Similipadar hills under Karlapat range of Kalahandi. Strange but true. Lately, there have been many instances of plants ‘moving’ due to climatic change. If this is a case of climate change forcing movement of plants needs a debate and further research. Interestingly, the species was not only discovered in Eastern Ghats, it was also found in Western Ghats indicating its distribution to the peninsular India. Plant biologists have recorded at least 18 species of Corallodiscus batalin genus in China besides its occurrence in India. A team of plant biologists from Institute of Minerals and Metals Technology and North Orissa University (NOU) discovered the plant in Similipadar, according to Current Science. Interestingly, a magazine on traditional Himalayan healing herbs says that the species is used for kidney disorder in many parts of the world and has shown promising result in ailments. Plant biologist PK Dash said since the discovery extends the distribution of the species to peninsular India, it gives opportunities for scientists and researchers to explore the area for some more such findings which may come handy for modern drugs of herbal origin.

Climate Change: a triple whammy for third world Poor

I went to this interesting presentation on climate change yesterday, and that set me thinking about the basic injustice of climate change, specially when seen from the perspective of the common people of Orissa and India, and their oppressed brethren from across the world, who are not lucky enough to be living in developed countries or being the elite of their respective countries.

The developed countries (europeans/Americans/whites) exploited us for the last couple of centuries through colonisation, slavery, looting our societies while industrialising themselves. This they did with the help of the turncoat elites of our nations - many of whose descendents still lord it over us. And during their industrialisation, they belched billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Then as decolonisation took place, they, along with our elites felt that we needed to be developed - and so now our land, water, forests- all are being taken away for models of development which add to their wealth and wellbeing (and developing a small percentage of our population who seem to be doing much better). And this fossil fuel based development adds more carbon dioxide to the air.

And then we have climate change and global warming - because of all the CO2 that these people have put in the air while improving their life standards and driving their SUVs and cars. But look at the irony, it is our countries in the tropics which are going to become deserts or face massive floods, and its our water which is going to dry up with the dissappearing glaciers in the Himalayas and the Andes. And the poor are the vulnerable population who have no capacity to protect themselves from the ravages of global warming, who are going to die in millions and who are going to starve as food supplies become costlier because the rich people won't reduce meat in their diets and need bio-diesel for their cars.

And the carbon mitigation plans - based on markets and purchasing power- will convert all our cultivable land into carbon sink plantations and jatropha plantations - while the poor starve and live in hunger, and try to migrate - and start killing each other- while fortress Europe and Fortess America put walls around themselves so that environmental and climate refugees can't pour into their countries

The God/s, if there is one, has a real perverse sense of humor. Or a wicked sense of justice. He definitely seems to love the rich and the powerful and to dislike the poor. The poor don't inherit the earth - the rich and the powerful do.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vedanta and Lanjgarh children's education: the story of Kile Majhi

A few home truths by our esteemed friend Xavier Dias expose the web of lies and propaganda spun by the corporate public relations. At issue is a press report (no doubt greased by corporate PR office) of Vedanta's fulfilling its Corporate Social responsibility (I do love the elegant acronym CSR) which was put on Jharkhand listserv. 

The post by Ashok Paikray, which apparently is taken from some news report is revealing in so many ways. A four year old Dongaria Kondh kid learning english rhymes sponsored by a corporation which seeks to destroy the home of his gods. I am sure anthropologists could write reams about this strange intersection between corporations, cultures, languages, donagrias and sacred landscapes. 


The first post by Ashok Paikray:

Kile Majhi, (4) is on learning mode. 

He is reciting English rhymes and identifying the numbers. 

Six months earlier, he was not so lucky enough to think about education and school. 

But now the boy of the vanishing tribe of Dongria Kondh goes to the newly opened Child Care Centre (CCC) set up and run by the Sterlite Foundation, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources in his village. 

And he is very happy now because, unlike children in neighboring villages he does not have to go to the jungles. 

However, after opening of the CCC, the residents of this tribal village could feel the difference, after sixty two years of Independence. 

“We are illiterate and same were also our forefathers. 

We are very thankful to Vedanta Company for responding to our cause. 

Now our children can receive education in this school.” Says Chanchala Naik, Naib-Sarapanch, Trilochanpur GP. 

For them the CCC is a school, as they receive basic education and training. 

35 children, mostly from Dongria Kondh community are studying in this centre. 

In order to encourage the children for education and also to minimize the burden on their parents, the CCC provides dress, books and teaching and learning materials free of cost. 

Besides, the children were also taught about sports, games, singing and dancing. 

Nutritional food such as egg, rice, dal and vegetables are given to the children. 

The students of the peripheral villages of Lanjigarh are immensely being benefited out of these child care centers of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) in the area. 

Dr. Mukesh Kumar, CEO, VAL has all along harped on the peripheral development of the areas in and around the project. 

“Health of our children has also improved, after joining the school. Being a tribal village, Phuldumer was completely ignored by the Government,” says Ratu Majhi another tribal leader. 

“The response by children and villagers is excellent. The children come to the Centre neat and clean,” adds Gita Pattnaik, a teacher of the centre. 

Earlier there was not an education facility available in the village. 

The nearest school is at Trilochanpur, five kilometer away from the village. 

“As forest comes in the way, it is risky to send our child to the school,” said Shringa Majhi. 

So, all of the children preferred to go to forest, rather than to schools. 

All the parents vow that they will send their children to primary schools, after completion of their education in Centre, said he.

Response by Xavier Dias

Dear Members of the Jharkhand list,

I think that such news items (below) should be circulated with a rider.

  1. Under the Constitution of India primary and secondary education are mandatory and have to be provided by the State. When Corporations try to replace the job of the State we will have a situation which is presently causing the economic collaspe rooted in the USA free enterprise ideology. If States are not fulfilling their consitiutional responsibilities in Adivasi or Dalit areas it is not because they are corrupt or inefficient. It is because the Indian State its politicians and buerocracy are essentially racist. Secondly the education system itself is anti-ethnic minority and alienates the Adivasi from their culture.
  2. Sterlite or Vedanta or any other Corporation is not undertaking such programmes for the love of the people whose livelihood they have destroyed and left with no livelihood options.
  3. An Adivasi or tribe (sic) group does not vanish on their own. The use of the word vanish is not only incorrect but highly objectionable. Things vanish either due to their inert properties or influence by the athmosphere or for antroprogenic reasons. Why does a community that lived for centuries suddenly have to 'vanish'?
  4. Last but not least after expropriating all they  possess, destroying and evicting them form their livelihoods, throwing them into a proleteriate class, this formal education is supposed to prepare them to fill in the 'job market' which thanks to corporations like Vedanta has actually vanished.

please do not let Corporations like Vedanta or Tata or any other fool us people especially us who use the internet!

Xavier Dias

Reflections on Non Resident Oriyas, specially of the USA variety

Like the rest of India, many of our better off Oriya brothers have moved to easier and more lucrative careers abroad. We have a thriving NRO community with a number of common platforms and listserves. Most of them, specially the first generation NROs who grew up in Orissa, are deeply concerned about Orissa, and many of them try to put their concern into concrete terms, both through words and actions. Due to their intellectual and financial capacities they also have a deep influence on Orissa's fate - this is no different from the relationship between diasporas and their original homeplaces.

Living in developed countries, many of the NROs seem to feel extremely uncomfortable, and probably humiliated that their ancestral home is so backward and poor. If they had the capacity, they would transform Orissa into California or Taiwan or South Korea in a generation. Some even seem to prefer the fate of China for Orissa rather than continue in the current situation. They want to see Orissa "developed". I appreciate their concern for the state.

Unfortunately, they would like to develop Orissa like the "USA", but seem to be unwilling to share the same enthusiasm about democratic, human and citizen's rights that USA confers on its citizens (and not to rest of the world). In their impatience to develop Orissa, they almost seem to subscribe to a semi-fascist and authoritarian state.

One particular gentleman who has come back to develop Orissa (I wonder if it is fulltime or parttime) has specially strong opinions. In his opinion it is stupid to block economic development because of environmental reasons. I am not sure what he means by economic development - maybe he is thinking of the russian roulette that the Wall Street played with derivatives and CDS; or of the financial flows and ebbs across the world which have provided corporate entities like Vedanta with enough capital to purchase our democracy itself. As far as I know, he is going to turn the whole agriculture in Orissa into hydroponics, which, along with GMOs, is something he touts to the poor farmers of Orissa. Also, the anti GMO and anti-vaccine activists make him really angry.I like his blind faith in science- after all it is science and technology which gave us the atom bomb and the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka

I am also amazed at another Professor from a famous uinversity in USA who suggested that the Chief Minister use the police to ensure that land acquisition for the Vedanta university (promoted by our current favorite fatcat Shri Agarwal) proceed smoothly. I am sure he knows what that means - with his huge website on Orissa, he must be aware of Kalinganagar and Maikanch, where police were used to "smoothen the land acquisition process". If I know the people of Puri, I can imagine the same outcome if police is used to force the land acquisition. Does he think Orissa has become a province of China? I was amazed. Then I found that he doesn't even know the basics about the Land Acquisition process in India. I went to his website (appreciate his genuine efforts at many things which will help Orissa). But with this twisted, undemocratic notion of development- he has one section called "Exposing Anti Orissa Growth Scheme". Two major entries relate to the Kalinganagar movement and the POSCO movement, depicting these as being the part of a larger conspiracy against Orissa. My own suggestion to this gentleman that he should shift with his family and baggage and settle down in either the hexavalent chromium polluted area in Sukinda or in the midst of the coal mines in Talcher or Belpahar or below the red mud pond of Vedanta. With this he will set an example for all the people affected by environmental pollution in Orissa to grin it and bear it.

There is another NRO- a whole hearted supporter of Sangha Parivar. You can get a taste of his taste by looking at the Jharkhand listserve. He loves baiting environmentalists and so called social activists - but his lack of knowledge of Orissa and India is even more apparent than others. His love for fascistic tendencies is quite apparent though.

On more serious note - diasporas, specially those who have access to both finances and knowledge, can deeply influence their places of origin. In India we have had both good and bad influences. Even in Orissa we have had very good initiatives by NROs, including by gentlemen mentioned above. However they must also learn more about their state and its ethos and have greater respect for democracy and democratic processes. Orissa will not be Singapore or China - its people have a deep fortitude and patience - but they also love their land too much to allow it to be despoiled by a greedy, extraction based industrialisation financed by international finance capital, which externalises all its environmental costs for profits.

There are NROs who understand this, and are sensitive to the contexts of Orissa, and the needs of our common people. I think the main difference is in the manner one views and understand the notion of development and its relationships with democracy and human rights.



World Indigenous People want halt to mining, other extractive projects in their habitats

March 26, 2009

World Indigenous Peoples want global moratorium on mining, other extractive projects

MANILA, Philippines -- The united voice of the Indigenous Peoples yesterday swept from continent to continent in 37 countries calling on their respective governments to stop large-scale mining and other extractive activities (oil and gas projects) on their indigenous lands until effective measures to safeguard their rights and the environment are in place.

The call for a global moratorium on extractive projects for oil, gold, gas and other mineral resources also includes a demand that World Bank must stop funding transnational mining companies in their effort to exploit the world’s natural resources.

This is among their collective calls contained in the final Declaration that is set to be submitted to the United Nations, multilateral banks and government officials who will be attending the International Expert Workshop on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Corporate Accountability and Extractive Industries at the Legend Villas in Mandaluyong City on March 27-29, 2009.

According to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Kankana-ey from the Cordillera and the current chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) that following the growing and alarming reports by indigenous peoples against extractive industries, a recommendation was adopted during the 7th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which authorized a three-day international expert group workshop on indigenous peoples’ rights, corporate accountability and the extractive industries and requested that the results of the meeting be reported to the Permanent Forum at its 8th Session, on 18-29 May 2009. The UNPFII s an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. .

“We call for a moratorium on further extractive industry projects that may affect us, until structures and processes are in place that will ensure respect for our human rights. The determination of when this can be realized can only be made by those communities whose lives, livelihoods and environment are affected by extractive activities,” they said. Further, stronger mechanisms should be enforced to fight the indiscriminate practices of extractive industries, which they said are often ignored or intentionally allowed by their respective governments.

They want the World Bank to immediately stop financing transnational mining companies and commence phasing out of its funding, promotion and support for fossil fuel- related projects, including large-scale mining projects. “The World Bank must provide a timeline to end such funding,” the declaration said.

One provision in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) -- the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) -- poses serious disagreement with the World Bank, as the latter has not accepted such and instead coined and followed its own words to read: “free, prior and informed consultation.” This, the Indigenous Peoples said, has been used by the World Bank and the transnational mining companies to skirt the law and push through with the extractive activities. They said that “consent and consultation” are two different words and each has distinct meaning. The UNDRIP is the latest international agreement adopted by the UN General Assembly and signed by 143 countries in September 13, 2007.

“We want to request that UN to establish procedures which provide indigenous communities with the opportunity to request the relevant UN agencies to assist them in the monitoring and provision of independent information on FPIC processes,” they said.

In the Philippines,” free, prior and informed consent” is also embodied in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.

They added that World Bank Group must update its operational directives and safeguard policies with regard to indigenous peoples and adopt the UNDRIP provision of free, prior and informed consent in all the WB assisted mining projects,

Indigenous lands around the world are facing massive threats from the influx of extractive industries, which the indigenous delegates to this second international conference claimed have appalling records of environmental destructions and violations of human rights of the indigenous peoples.

The 85 delegates from 37 countries said they demand compensation for damages inflicted upon their lands and lives, and the rehabilitation of their degraded environments caused by extractive industries.

As extractive industries invades indigenous lands, countless of violent incidents are happening around the world, which is the reason why the delegates are proposing to create an international indigenous criminal court that would address this kind of problem, including the loss of lives as a result of indiscriminate mining committed by transnational mining firms, and whose “decisions will be based on our customary laws.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Discussion on Dhamra Port, Gahirmatha and Turtles

There is an interesting exchange going on the nathistory listserve on the Dhamara project of the TATAs and its impact on turtles and their nesting ground in Gahirmatha. Amlan Dutta, who was earlier with Wildlife Institute at Dehradun, is now working with Dhamra Port Company Ltd., and therefore questioning those who claim that the Dhamra Port will be harmful for the turtle rookery at Gahiramatha.

Arribada refers to the mass nesting of turtles

Please read on:

Amlan Dutta wrote:

Dear Members,

We just got the news that the first wave of arribada happened saturday night, and according to forest dept sources 75000 turtles have nested. The details are not very clear but initial reports suggest that nesting happened in Nasi I. 

Last year when arribada didn't happen many voices were raised on dredging of dhamra port having affected turtles, while the truth is average reproductive effort of a female olive ridley is 4 years, i.e. in other words a female turtle comes to nest once only in 4 years, it takes that much time for the egg folicles to develop and make the pan-oceanic trip worthwhile for the females,, while the males do come to mate every year, so if arribada has not happened doesnt mean that the dredging of last year and this year caused some disturbances,, it would have been something which took place 4 years ago, and the fact is arribada didnt take place in many instances since the discovery of arribada in the 1970s ( Bustard, 1976 : Worldâ™s largest sea turtle rookery? Tigerpaper 3: 25) and these years are 1982, 1988, 1997, 1998 and 2002. (Kartik Shanker et. al. Biological Conservation 115 (2003) 149“160) was the dhamra dredging happening then??


The reponse from Sudarshan

Dear Amlan 

I am sorry , but dredging is just one of the things that can have a impact on turtles . They are quite a few others  issues -lighting , oil and cargo spills etc etc. However, more specifically  and importantly - what about the more long term and perhaps permanent impacts such as  erosion/shoreline changes  on the turtles nesting habitat ( or the coastline in general for that matter)  that the port can cause?. This is inevitable in any port -whatever be its design. Both the north and south of the port are sensitive habitat.  Zero impact is a thermodynamic impossibility.

These issues ought to have been studied  in the EIA and a Environment Management plan (EMP) and mitigation options explored within  that.  Please do not tell me the environment management plan is perfect and mitigation is being done! On what basis? An invalid EIA and environmental clearance. The  legal validity of the   EIA/  Environment clearance for Dhamra port  is questionable, and  the clearance in my opinion is  NULL and VOID.

The  clearance / EIA is for the location on kanika sand banks ( an island ) but the Dhamra port is on mainland and is moreover FOUR times the size now ! The table below illustrates it better – its clearly a case of apples and oranges

ISP Ltd( 1997)

Dhamra Port Company Limited

No Fresh EIA or Environment Clearance

On Kanika Sand Banks (9000 acres) Island

1200 acres on main land for port area

5000 acres for industrial park

3000 acres for Rail Road Alignment


EIA discarded mainland option

On Main Land

(4013 acres for port

3000 acres for Rail Road)

14 M depth  7 km long channel

120,000 DWT ships

18 M depth, 18 km channel

180,000 DWT ships

Capacity -25 Million tons per annum

Capacity -83 Million tons per annum

50 million tones of dredging

60 million tonnes of dredging  for phase I alone

2 berths

Phase I- 2 berths

Total 13 berths

 There is a larger issue here as well - there are a total of 14 ports being developed/proposed along the Orrisa coastline of 480 km. That's one every 35 km.!!!1 including the ones at the other two  important nesting sites near Devi and Rushikulya river mouth.

If the "environment due diligence"  track record of the Dhamra Port Company Ltd. (DPCL)   is anything to go by -i.e  one that illustrates an example of how the govt. and a corporate makes a mockery  and of  environment laws and  regulations, one can  only wonder about  the consequences and impacts of the other proposed port projects  following similar footsteps!

One can rest be assured that the individual and cumulative impact of these ports on not just turtles but all coastal and shoreline biodiversity is likely to be devastating.  This will also be the death knell for the livelihoods and settlements of millions of  fisher folk  who habitations and livelihoods are derived from the health of this coastal and marine biodiversity.

For readers who might be interested in the Dhamra port issue please read a the special issue on the Dhamra port at



I am sure that this is going to get a strong reponse from the DPCL spokesman i.e. Amlan Dutta. I have had my own brush with him- I suppose his job with DPCL rests on ensuring effective greenwash.

It is also important to note that not only Amlan, but even IUCN is collaborating with the TATAs in greenwashing the Dhamra Port, which possibly is situated in the most incredibly sensitive location, close to Gahirmatha and next to the Bhittarkanika. I would like to thank Sudarshan for refuting the greenwash effort by Amlan Dutta.

Smitu Kothari passes away

This is terrible news- and one feels bereft and hurt that it is all the good people that leave us early. Though I didn't know him personally, but only through his work, his loss is terrible and wrenching. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mine over Matter- report on mining in Keonjhar by the World Bank

Even the World Bank admits that mining in Keonjhar haven't been a boon for the local inhabitants. Based on detailed study of a large sample of villages in Keonjhar, using quantitative as well as spatial analysis, the study finds that "In terms of indicators of overall welfare, villages closer to mines have poorer health, education and production assets. These impacts are likely partly due to the impact of mines on forest quality. Proximity to mines is associated with reduced forest quality, as measured by the diversity of forest products available to village residents." 

It also goes on to say "The villages closest to mines appear to bear a greater  environmental cost".

We have uploaded a copy of the report on the epgorissa website.

Interesting political development in Orissa- activists float Lok Rajniti Manch

Activists float new party

The Statesman
BHUBANESWAR, March 23: Releasing a “people’s manifesto” and floating the Lok Rajniti Manch, leaders of various people's movements across the state led by Mr Prafulla Samantra, Mr Lingaraj and others, today exhorted voters to question candidates and political parties on issues relating to water and agriculture. Also, they urged the people to question where the parties were obtaining crores to spend in the elections.
The activists said they had decided to field candidates in some of the assembly constituencies to establish the power of the common man. Mr Lingaraj will contest the Bargarh assembly seat, while Mr Kishore Das will fight for the Morada assembly seat in Mayurbhanj district. A few other social activists involved in people's movements may also be nominated, said Mr Samantra.
Significantly, most of these activists have been leading anti-displacement, anti-mining and tribal cause-related movements in the state. Mr Lingaraj is widely known for his struggle against the indiscriminate allocation of Hirakud waters to industrial houses. The peasants' movement of which he was a leader has led to violence in recent times in Sambalpur region.
The activists issued a set of questions to the people, imploring them to ponder - and even grill - their political leaders.
Here are some of the questions proposed: Is CM Naveen Patnaik and his government clean? If so, how is it that crores are spent, even on municipal election campaigns? Which minister or MLA has not added to his property and wealth over the last nine years? Doesn’t the common man pay bribes at every office, be it the block, tehsil, revenue, police, forest office? Why does the 'land grab' include valuable agriculture land? What is the motive for taking over such fertile land, and who benefits from it?
The activists challenge the claims of development made by the BJD and point out the discrepancy between "claims that the state had progressed and developed, and the fact that the state had become one of the poorest state in the country". The added: "More than 80 per cent of people in rural areas of the state have a per capita daily income of less than Rs 19. How can this be called progress and development?"
"The MNC and the rich, the politician and his masters, are the only ones who have progressed and amassed wealth while the poor have become poorer and the farmer has been deprived of land and water," they said.
They also announced that each one of them would collect donations, moving around on bicycles to muster the required amount for contesting the election.

Call for alternative political force Staff Reporter, The Hindu
“People’s manifesto” released

BHUBANESWAR: A group of leaders spearheading agitations at the grassroots level on Monday released a people’s manifesto calling upon people to fight elections based on the programmes.

Coming together in a forum, Loka Rajaniti Manch (LRM), these leaders have vowed to make a difference in the way elections. The forum has decided to field candidates for two Assembly seats.

While Samajbadi Jana Parishad leader, Lingaraj, would file his nomination from Bargarh Assembly constituency, Kishore Das of Nabakranti Abhijan, would fight election in Morada Assembly constituency in Mayurbhanj district.

The LRP declared that people’s movement leaders would involve themselves in campaigning for the candidates who would come forward to accept people’s manifesto.

“We want to defeat forces who have been sponsored by corporate houses. The objective behind fighting elections is to build up an alternative political force, which would raise issues such as displacement and betterment of downtrodden people,” said Prafulla Samantra of State unit of LRP.

He said LRP was a national level forum of leaders involved in people’s movements and the process of bringing them together started a year ago.

Mr. Lingarj, whose electoral prospects are said to be bright, will jump into electoral battle for the second time. “We don’t have enough money power to carry out a high profile campaign. I have touched 90 per cent of gram panchayats by bicycles and made people aware about the alternative model of development,” he said.

Governments flayed

The forum leaders came down heavily on the successive state governments for adopting policy of globalisation. Especially in Orissa, the BJD-BJP alliance government had pursued fast industrialisation, which had caused more destruction than development, Mr. Lingaraj said.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Note on Environmental Impact of Industrialisation in Sambalpur-Jharsuguda Region by Chairman, Orissa Pollution Control Board

The Chairman, Orissa Pollution Control Board, paints a scary scenario of the environmental impacts of the proposed industrial investments in the Sambal-Jharsuguda region in Orissa. Some quotes:
"In Jharsuguda region if all the proposed aluminium smelter capacities would be made operational the emission of fluoride will remain in the range of 250-360 kg/hr, and it would severely  affect the agriculture more frequently and the forest around the smelters may even get wiped out permanently." 
On Water situation, he has this to say "Present level of water drawl will increase 20 times to 2143 MLD...The runoff in this region is likely to be contaminated with fluoride since the smelter in this region would annually consume about 80,000 tons of fluoride bearing materials. Considering 1% spillage and related loss, about 800 tones of these materials may be washed into the reservoir. Besides 3160 tons of fluoride will be emitted through stack room and pot room emission, even when it remaining with permissible limit. Similarly, 1,26,000 tons of fluoride bearing hazardous waste would be generated in this region annually, which puts the reservoir under significant risk of fluoride contamination. Fluoride level of more than 1.5 mg/l in water is known to cause fluorosis, a deadly disease for which there is no cure, if contaminated water is consumed for a prolonged period. In areas around NALCO (whose present capacity is 10% of what is proposed in Jharsuguda) signs of dental fluorosis in bovine population have been documented. In the event, if Hirakud reservoir gets contaminated with fluoride, fluorosis may attain a dimension of epidemic in this region and beyond."
On solid waste "This means in 20 years. 13000ha. of land would be converted to waste disposal site around the Hirakud reservoir"
On Greenhouse emission and heat island effect "Thus, the ambient temperature in this region is likely to be at least 2-3 degree Celsius higher than its neighbourig countryside."
This was a two page note- conveying some bitter truth to the people of Sambalpur-Jharsuguda of what waits for them in future. Please see the note at


Catching Up

So much to write about. There has been a hiatus of almost three years since the blog was active. Much water has flown under the bridge during these three years. The Supreme Court provided clearance to Vedanta to mine Niyamgiri; POSCO still continues to be stymied in Jagatsinghpur; Kalinganagar people still continue to hold strong against the TATAs. We had the Kandhmal riots against Christians and the break up of the alliance between BJP and BJD; internationally we are still blinking at the rapidity of the collapse of the neo-liberal bubble. A black man became the president of USA, and continues with the neo-imperialist policies of the Bush the Younger. We lost one of the most important activists in Orissa, Mr. Rajandra Sarangi, to cerebral malaria, a sore loss which continues to hurt all those who love Orissa.
We also have Professors from abroad advocating for industrialisation and displacement - NROs for "Corporations" and "Growth". More of that later.
At this point, I would like to inform you that Survival International has put a beautiful documentary on the Donagria Kondhs and Niyamgiri (and of course Vedanta) on its website at . Please have a look at it - a poignant reminder of what is being lost in Vedanta's lust of bauxite. Professor Sahebs, aapan mane bhi dhekantu, this relates to the same company which is promoting Vedanta University.


Trouble in Niyamgiri

The latest on this is that it is not clear whether anyone has died or not. But the situation is dire and will be used to prosecute the Dongarias

Dongaria Kondhs provoked by Vedanta Goons- one person probably dead

Reported by Surya Shankar Das

On the 18th of March, a motley group of contractors, mafia men, local supporters of Vedanta, etc. managed to get to the Niyamgiri hilltop on a SUV and a mobike. There they had an argument with Dongria Kondhs who fobade them from entering their sacred grove. The men did not heed their words and a clash between both groups became inevitable. The Vedanta men were beaten up badly and their vehicles were torched. One of them also suffered from serious injuries from axe blows. He was admitted in a hospital where he seems to have succumbed to the injuries two days later. This is an unfortunate fallout, that the people have been pushed to this extent. Their repeated pleas to the world has been repeatedly ignored by the company and state. Now they have been forced to use the axe which they had very clearly said they would if the need arises. While things have come to the point where they did use the axe, this will give the state police very good alibi to create a new phase of repression. People will be arrested, framed on false charges, And if that does happen a bigger casualty than Kalinga Nagar cannot be ruled out. If it doesnt happen while the elections are on then it will definitely happen when it is over. My sources have been informing me for more than a week that the mafia has been aggresively campaigning in villages like Kadamguda, Balabhadrapur, etc and they had even managed to dismantle the barricade in spirit at least. Road construction had begun and many villagers had been bought over to the company side. While all this happens at the ground Vedanta's press releases have been splashed all over the media. My sincere appeal to everyone to join hands and counter the media assault by Vedanta as well as find ways to protect the Dongrias from being pushed into such extreme situations where they have to wage medival wars to protect their home, habitat and religion.

Reviving EPGOrissa Blog

This blog was being run by Nachiketa for some time, and then became moribund as the attention shifted to running the website

The responsibility of the running the epgorissa website has been shifted to me as a new moderator and as a part of this responsibility, I plan to restart this blog and link it to the epgorissa website. I will try to bring in things as they happen onto this blog and provide links to papers and documents stored on epgorissa website.

New Moderator for EPGOrissa