Saturday, May 15, 2010
Now we got information abt 2 Activists critically injured with Metal Bullet. Immediate Medical Care is needed for Natha swain (from Nuagan) & Ramesh Das (from dhinkia). They lost a lot of blood so far. All Roads to Anti Posco Villages are blocked & sealed by Police. More than 100 people are Injured , which include women & children. There is no way to get medical support /go out of the Village because of the police blockade.
The video of police brutality can be seen here:
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Yesterday, as per the information received, almost a thousand armed policemen entered Chandia village in order to demolish houses. They were confronted by large number of tribal men and women, who said that they would die before they allow the houses to be demolished. Apparently, for now the police and district administration has backed off. The situation remains tense and the siege of the villages protesting displacement - by police and goons continues.
Major mis-information campaign on internet, through use of false pictures and stories has been launched by the supporters of the Company - using names such as Kalingaputra. Certain TV channels owned by the corporate houses have also been supporting malicious campaigns against the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch. However, the progressive forces in the state including environmental and anti-diaplacement movements, progressive left groups and Gandhians have come out in support of the BBJM and against displacement and police repression.
Thousands of people gathered to protest against the forced displacement of people near Kalinganagar. The news coverage of the meet is as below:
Janamanch gets big support on Kalinganagar issue
BHUBANESWAR: The leaders of the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch on Wednesday condemned the alleged police repression in Kalinganagar steel complex in Jajpur district of the State in the recent months and reiterated their opposition to displacement in the area.
The Janamanch leaders, who organised a protest meeting at Bamiagotha village, said that they would not part with their land, homes and livelihood sources at any cost to make space for the proposed steel plant of Tata Steel and the common corridor road in Kalinganagar.
A number of political leaders, social activists as well as representatives of various organisations opposing displacement in different parts of the State also attended the meeting to express their solidarity with the Janamanch leaders who have been opposing displacement in Kalinganagar with full force since January 2, 2006 when 14 tribal men and women were killed in police firing while opposing work in area earmarked for the Tata Steel project.
‘No faith in govt'
Addressing the meeting, Janamanch secretary Rabindra Jarika said that they had lost all faith in the local administration and the Naveen Patnaik Government as the police had attacked the local people and damaged many houses in Baligotha village in the area just two days after they had a discussion with the District Collector about their demands and grievances on March 30.
The administration was working overtime to protect the interests of the private companies and neglecting the cause of the poor who were opposing displacement, Mr. Jarika alleged.
Among others who addressed the protest meeting include K.N. Ramachandran, national general secretary of CPI(M-L), Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Lingaraj of Samajwadi Jana Parishad, Prashant Paikray of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Mahendra Parida of CPI(M-L)-Liberation, Bijay Parida of Odisha Jana Adhikar Parishad and local leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bharatiya Janata Party.
Many of these leaders stressed the need for unity among the people who were opposing displacement due to proposed industries and Special Economic Zones to make the government take a pro-people stand.
They also called upon all those opposing displacement and acquisition of agricultural land for industries to join a joint convention on the issue in Bhubaneswar on May 16.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Orissa Mining Scam: Government at fault for allowing illegal Mining
Bhubaneswar: In a clear damnation of the Orissa government, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court hearing into the allegation of forest law violations in multi-crore mining scam in the State, has said that mining activities were going on in a large number of the mines in Orissa without the requisite approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Environmental Clearances, and the Air & Water Acts. The mining activities also exceeded the production limit as approved under the Mining Plans.
In December last year, senior journalist Rabi Das had filed a case before the CEC regarding the alleged Illegal mining in the lapsed/invalid mining leases/areas in Orissa seeking appointment of a Commission to investigate and study the modalities of the illegal machinations, fix responsibility on individuals (in Government and outside it) and recommendation of remedial measures. The state has so far granted 596 mining leases for extraction of different kinds of minerals. Of this, 341 mines are operating while the remaining 255 are non working/lapsed mines.
The interim report prepared by CEC member MK Jiwrajka on April 26, also said that a large number of the mines have remained operational for long periods of time after the expiry of the lease period because of the delays in taking decisions on the renewal applications filed by the respective mining lease holders and consequently the mines becoming eligible for ‘deemed extension’ as provided under Rule 24 A(6), MCR, 1960. The CEC said that as many as 215 mines were operative for 10 to 20 years on deemed renewal status.
The major findings of the CEC are:
* In a large number of cases the forest areas approved under the FC Act are lesser than the total forest area included in the approved mining leases.
* There was lack of effective coordination and common understanding between the officials of the Mines Department and the Forest Department resulting in the ineffective enforcement of the statutory provisions.
* The “deemed extension” clause is primarily meant to deal with contingency situation and to ensuring that the mining operations do not come to an abrupt end because of administrative delays in deciding on the renewal applications. This provision is not meant to be availed of indefinitely. Moreover, continuing mining over a long period of time without renewal of the mining lease becomes a potential source for serious illegalities and irregularities.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Note the very last para - it quotes Vedanta as saying " “Even if they start exploring in other locations now, it will still take three more years before they can offer us mines. For that reason, Niyamgiri is a must for the refinery,” he said, adding that the company would force the state government “to fulfill the terms of the agreement they signed with us”.
They really think they rule the country.
Subhash Pattanayak has also posted some of pictures taken by the journalists on the Orissa Matters Blog
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Shri Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
Sub: Citizens Appeal on Kalinganagar Situation
April 7, 2010
With deep shock and disbelief we share the following quite avoidable tragic happenings in the proposed industrial city of
The aggrieved, anguished, humiliated and agitated villagers revealed to the team that:
1. It was the administration which initiated a dialogue with them on the common corridor issue on the 28th 0f March. They welcomed the district collector and shared with him their concerns and apprehensions in a clear language. The collector also promised to take up their issue with the state government particularly on the question of land for land compensation. He also assured the villagers which had been telecast on that day itself that no work will begin before the matter was resolved. But to the utter shock of the villagers the road work near Baligotha was started on 30th March, 2010 with heavy deployment of armed police. Under section 144 of CRPC entry to the construction site was declared unlawful but the goons supported by the ruling party and the Tata Company were allowed to dominate the scene. The firing started without any provocation and village Baligotha was attacked without any reason as the victims after the firing were rushing in to village to find a safe shelter. The village was deliberately looted and food and food grains stored in this tribal village which they had earned after hard labour was destroyed to force them vacate the place.
2. The villagers of Chandia, Baligotha, Garhpur and other hamlets have been subjected to continuous police repression and criminal intimidation at the hands of people sponsored by the Tata Company. So far 21 people have been arrested on false and fabricated cases. Even people fear to go out for emergency medical care. Pregnant women have been the worst sufferers and on 4th of April, 2010 Balema Goipai 65 of Gobarghati died because she could not get medical treatment as she was suffering from cerebral malaria.
3. According to villagers which sounded convincing no developmental work particularly on sectors such as health, education or drinking water is taking place in the villages in Kalinganagar. Even the elected Sarpanch of Chandia is not allowed to function as a Saprpanch.There seems to be a deliberate plan to force the people to migrate.
4. As people allege, all the lands in the area including the site for common corridor and industrial sites come under FRA 2006. No process has been initiated to settle claims of people over forest land. People in the area have been kept in dark about such an important act.
5. Tribals like Raju kalundia , the Saparpanch of Chandia claim that the land in common corridor site is patta land and his grand parents still have titles over those lands. Others too have similar claims but no one has been consulted about it.
The honorable Governor may please intervene and ensure that:
- The common corridor road must immediately be stopped, the demands of the tribal agitating under the banner of Vistapan Virodhi Janmanch taken seriously.
- The Hon’ble Governor may please visit the area personally and see the untold miseries of the people which have been caused to them by an irresponsible and dehumanized administration which is working hands in glove with the companies in the area.
- The right to life and livelihoods of the tribals guaranteed by the constitution must be ensured.
- The judicial commission enquiring in to the killings of 14 tribals on 2nd Januray 2006 must be expedited fast and the scope expanded to include the police and private atrocities on agitating tribals in the region after that incident till the firing of 30th March 2010.
- Section 144 imposed in controversial construction site be withdrawn along with withdrawal of armed police from the region which will create conditions for restoration of peace.
- All media persons, human rights activists and concerned citizens must be allowed free access to the conflict and firing site.
Forestrights act 2006 must be implemented in Kalinganagar area with letter and spirit.
Justice Pratap Mishra ( retd)
Braja Kishore Tripathy ( Ex-MP)
Rabi Narayan Panigrahi( Ex-MLA)
Chita Mohanty Political Activist
Praffula Samatara, Activist and editor
Manoj Jena, Social activist
Saturday, March 27, 2010
This gave the manch no other alternative but to protest. But today 29 platoons of armed police with 60 officers and hundreds of BJD and Tata goons reached the place of dispute. They first denied media any entry to the place and the started attacking the peacful protesters. Many have been injured including women and children as indisciminate rubber bullet firing and lathi charge has taken place. They have entered the villages and unleashed a reign of terror. The villagers have tremendous patience and are still resisting peacefully. The area has become a war zone and more than a dozen people including women and children have been seriously injured.
This is being carried out under the supervision of IG Special Operations, Arun Sadangi. Despite Sec 144 being imposed in the area large number of Tata supporters, BJD cadre have assembled at the site and are giving instructions to the police. All people who have a conscience must act now as democracy in Kalinganagra is being butchered in the most vulgar manner and the political and bureaucratic leadership of the state have completely sold themselves to the Tatas. There has been absolutely not even a murmur of protest from any of the mainstream political party leaders which signifies the absolute power Tata wields over them. Just now reports reach us suggesting that firing has started in Baligootha village and where about of the leaders are not known.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I had written about a certain set of NROs earlier at http://epgorissa.blogspot.com/search/label/Non%20Resident%20Oriyas
Then recently a threat started on a listserve regarding operation greenhunt. One certain Mr. Manoj Padhi, whose heart apparently beats for Orissa and Oriyas had the following words to say about Orissa's tribals
""The answer to all these tribals is - " (tax) Money is not hanging in trees of tribal regions" so that the Government can pluck them and provide them all kinds of comfort."
Tribals have got two options.
Tribals have got two options.
· Maintain status quo and worship their god Niyamraja
· flow with science & technology wind and "earn" development with their own income/ sales tax money, instead of looking at Government, if they don't agree with Government's version of development (like mining Niyamagiri Hill)"
The brilliance of this comment illustrates the gap that exists between NROs who stay in USA, drive their SUVs and dip in their swimming pools in backyards and the tribal Oriya whose daily income, if any, is half a dollar. It also shows the utter alienations and disconnect between such NROs and common people of Orissa. Of course, part of it is that these NROs have been part of Orissa’s elite, used to a feudal-castebased system, where tribals and dalits are seen less than human – and therefore it is easy for them to graduate to the arrogance of a right-wing Americanism. Lets see what Mr. Padhi has to add to the above words of wisdom.
He goes on:
He goes on:
“Many of us buying a home stead land in BBSR, Delhi, Gurgaon, etc.
“Many of us buying a home stead land in BBSR, Delhi, Gurgaon, etc.
Why we don't buy land in a tribal area, where we can buy acres of land with in our budget?
For the same reason- why would any Businessman invest in tribal areas instead of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida ? Just to provide employment to tribals ? This is bad economics. Since you are against displacement of tribals, I guess, your vision of tribal development is - "Agriculture Only" === status quo
This was one of my choices. Tribals, if they don't want to be displaced, they have to live like that forever without expecting a share from the taxes of developed areas like BBSR, Berhampur or Rourkela.
Here is an analogy for Government vs Home owner Association. I live in a community, where the home owner association collects $300 per annum as HOA FEE. There are 1000 homes in the community and whatever they collect, would be spent for our community development such as swimming pool, club house, play areas, parks, walking trails.
There are other communities, with lesser homes - they collect $500 per annum for the same service. There are communities without swimming pools and they collect lesser amount. The point is - proportional service is offered by home owner associations, based on their income/fee collection.
Now apply this to tribals. They used to live in jungle by cutting woods, hunting animals - those are now illegal. Even Government has taken over "Kendu leaf" based income, which is used for "Beedi".
Now what's remaining for them ? Agriculture.
After independent, tribals were one of the biggest land losers as per the post-independence revenue records. Government is trying to correct the wrong by distributing them land pattas. So, without (sic!) negligible income (tax collection) from their region, what kind of Vision is possible ? They have to be parasites - i.e. depend on a share of tax income of developed cities/districts. Does center is able to distribute funds proportionately to states. No. Mamta Banarjee is taking 80% projects to Bengal. Lalu did the same for Bihar. Karunanidhi is getting more projects than Odisha.
And, without their negligible tax base, why would tribals expect that, the Government will channel others’ tax money to their area only ? Hence, any Vision without local tax income wouldn't be feasible and will die theoretical death. It sounds good to listen but won't be possible. Activists hate companies but NRGEA money is the result of 35% tax provided by corporate houses.
So, in short, in the absence of local tax money (please recall - lower the HOA fee, no swimming pool), there will be promises only from the Government. No quality of services.
But, if Vedanta comes and starts mining - local tax money will be generated and spent locally by their Municipality or corporation etc. Now, if they don't want to destroy the environment and wish to live like Amazon tribes, they are very much welcome. I will fully support their desire to live in the green belt provided, they don't want any thing from the Government's exchequer because they are not contributing any thing substantially to the Government's treasury.
So, let us drive Vedanta out and start a conditional signature campaign - "Mr. CM, leave us in our state and we want to live as Amazon tribe with the blessings of Mountain God Niyam Raja and we don't expect any thing from you - we are happy".
I love the arrogance of this man- comparing the State of Orissa to his Housing Association in some suburban city of USofA- the country of drone wars and long distance asssinations. I suppose for him the Maoists are “Taliban” with the beards shaved off, to be killed without any due process of law. Unfortunately for him – they still remain Indian citizens- though that doesn’t stop the government from killing them.
For him common people of Orissa, including tribals are parasites, existing on taxes of middle class and the corporate houses. Does he know by what means the Government of India (sorry the imperial british) obtained “rights” over the mineral and forest resources of tribal India? Does he know about the wars of resistance fought by the tribal communities – whose lands and forests have been sought to be taken away? Does he know about enclosures of commons- not only in India’s hinterland but also in the Americas.
I have a question to ask the NROs- is Mr. Padhi and his ideas representative of standard NRO thinking? Are all of you so out of touch with the reality of Orissa- or is this person an aberration, and outlier, a statistical anamoly. Can anyone respond to this?
I am also copying a response to stuff like this which I posted on the said listserve. The post was in support of Prashant Patanaik, the veteran journalist from Orissa, who pointed out that people who were screaming hoarse about the employment corporate houses would provide are silent about the nearly one lakh vacant posts in government jobs.
This was my post
“the self-same intellectuals will than add - but government doesn't have the resources to employ one lakh people. Then you could point out that we are selling off our best quality iron ore, manganeses and bauxite for peanuts so that the miners and industrial houses can be subsidised - and that literally hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees have been siphoned off from the collective wealth of Orissa by the same companies and individuals who are being supported by the diaspora. You could also point out that inspite of the manyfold increase in mining output, the employment in mining sector has fallen over the years. And that the employment that these new industries would bring in is miniscule compared to the people they are displacing- and that this employment will go to the well educated people, mostly non-Oriyas. We could tell them that in the current situation, Orissa is being looted, legally and illegally, and that its only these movements who are trying to do something about it- and that almost everybody else with power and voice has sold out to outsiders.
In the larger picture, we could point out that zones of intense natural resource extraction have never benefitted from the same- maybe the example of Appalachia mountaintop mining or iron ore mines in Upper Peninsula of Michigan will help to convince Mr. Padhi. We could point out that such zones have almost always led to undemocratic governments and that in literature this affliction is called "resource curse" - countries like South Africa, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Bolivia, Peru, Iraq.”
We could point out the slums of Jamshedpur and Rourkela, where you can find the original "tribal" inhabitants of these areas- living in misery. We could point out that Rourkela, Jamshedpur, Koraput are outposts of internal colonisation.
We could claim that those who speak against Green Hunt and have approached the SC against Salwa Judum are not supporting Maoists - that in fact the naxalites, when they come to power (an impossibility), would be as vicious and cruel as the current dispensation, with their belief in a static ideology. That probably the first people that the armed revolution will target are the same "intellectuals" that one of the poster called "agents of China" for speaking out for the human and democratic rights of the poor.
We could point out that the process of creative destruction of capitalism implies that surplus populations sitting on resources needed by the powerful will be extinguished - and that development no longer means the development of everyone in India and Orissa- but the development of a vocal, powerful minority of Indians. That this planet doesn't have the resources to support a billion Indians to live in the same lifestyle that Mr. Padhi enjoys - and that his swimming pools and manicured lawns are "unprecedented" in human history - and that these are sustained by resource exploitation on a totally unsustainable and extractive basis. That the modern systems of wealth have been built on the destroyed lives of hundreds of people and unprecendented resource grabbing; and that what we see in Orissa is the continuation of the same processes. We can also point out that we are fast running out of resources that fuel his consumption life style.We may point out that the same processes which sustain his swimming pool and american lifestyle are also destroying our livelihood support systems, including our atmosphere.
However, all these would fall on deaf ears of those in the diaspora who are the multiple beneficiaries of the which grinds our people to dust. They were privileged when they were in Orissa- fattened by the cheap labor and cheap resources of their fellow citizens. And then they are privileged by the same processes of global circulations and extractions which allows them to maintain their swimming pools and SUVs in the US of A. They have transitioned smoothly from the privileges of feudal-caste society of Orissa to the capitalist societies of the west.
And then they have the gumption to advise people and their movements here- at the receiving end of all these processes - to support the same anti-democratic and anti-people entities to rape and ravage our land, treating our people as so much filth to be kicked out from their lands and livelihoods.As Satyasagar pointed out, Indian elite, unlike the western elite, doesn't consider the three fourth population of our country as human- and therefore denies their basic human rights. How can the diaspora (though with many exceptions), which has spawned from the same elite, be expected to think of the majority of Oriyas, including tribals, as human beings having certain basic rights. They dream of a glorious, utopian Orissa- yet this dream is an upper class/caste/diasporic nightmare/dream, where the poor don't exist- not because they have been "uplifted", but because they have been decimated or made invisible.
Let us stop paying attention to them - those who dream of Vedanta Universities and the shining metro of BBSR, built on the bleached lives, destroyed livelihoods and extracted labor of our people. The struggles of people for their rights and justice is too important to waste time with these long distance advisors.”
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Vedanta flouted forest conservation norms, says report
Vedanta Aluminium has violated forest conservation guidelines and has failed to follow the Forest Rights Act in letter and spirit at a proposed bauxite mine project in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa, according to a report submitted by a three-member team to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
After receiving allegations about the project earlier this year, the Ministry constituted the team – with a forestry official, a former government wildlife official and an independent sociology expert - to inspect the site and speak to all stakeholders. The team's report was considered by the Forest Advisory Committee of the Ministry on Friday, and the Orissa government was asked to provide an explanation for the violations, according to Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests.
The company has built an incomplete mine access road passing through both forest and non-forest areas and has constructed 47 pillars for a conveyor corridor before receiving clearances, in violation of the Forest Conservation Act guidelines, according to a site inspection by J.K. Tewari, Chief Conservator of Forests. So far as wildlife was concerned, Vinod Rishi, former Additional Director General of the Wildlife Institute of India, has said that if no further diversion of forest land for mining is allowed, the Niyamgiri ecosystem would be able to recover.
It is the report of Usha Ramanathan from the Centre for Study of Developing Society, which is the most damning. She says that the Forest Rights Act has yet to be implemented in the area. The local Dongria Kond tribals have not been made fully aware of their land rights, nor have they been consulted about the mining project, because under the strict definition, they are not displaced people.
However, Dr. Ramanathan notes that “the disruption of their habitat and way of life…may lead to the destruction of the Dongria Konds as a Primitive Tribal Group.” She also documents cases of repression of public opinion and dissent by both the company and local authorities and reports of pollution by Vedanta's nearby refinery. In fact, she says that Vedanta Aluminium's involvement in the project may itself violate a Supreme Court order.