Thursday, April 29, 2010

CEC indicts Orissa government for rampant illegal mining

Please read on:

Orissa Mining Scam: Government at fault for allowing illegal Mining
Debabrata Mohanty
Financial Express, Wednesday, Apr 28

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

Kalinganagar: With Each Iron Eyes- a Short film by Pranab Aich

This is a beautiful short film which captures the tragedy of Kalinganagar.


Kalinganagar travails: Naveen remains the corporate lapdog

Please find the latest from Kalingangar and link to a TV newsreport 

Today morning Ghanshyam Kalundia of Baligotha village died succumbing to prolonged undiagnosed diseases. Just two days ago he had made it to newspaper headlines - "I want to live." Ghanshyam is the third person to die within a week for unavailability of medical support. Already Sikandar Kalundia and Balema Goipai have died in the last few days. The prevailing conditions in Kalinga Nagar do not allow anyone to go out to avail medical help neither doctors are allowed to go to the villages. For months the villages of Kalinga Nagar have been cut-off and cordoned off from the rest of the world by the police and Tata supporters who are forever on the lookout for them. Some 21 people have already been arrested under false charges when they stepped out of their villages. Some of them were arrested when police and Tata supporters raided the villages at midnight on two occasions. During these raids the villagers were shot at with rubber bullets and many women were severely beaten up with sticks.

At the same time today morning when Ghanshyam took his last breath, some 700 police force are said to have been deployed in the area especially near Gadapur village on the pretext that the few odd displaced families have to demolish their old houses. The people who are still staying in Gadapur have vacated the village in fear of violence by the police and large number of Tata goons who have assembled there. Preliminary reports from the area say that the demolition exercise is a more organized and seemingly innocuous version of the pillaging that took place by police and Tata goons in Baligotha village on 30 March '10.

The 30 March attack was the culmination of months of sporadic aggression by the Police and Tata goons. That day the Police simply did not try to maintain law and order, rather they first sprayed rubber bullets and plastic pelets upon the tribals, entered Baligotha village, set foodstocks afire, poured kerosene in the wells, killed cattle, vandalised the memorials of the martyrs of 2nd Jan 06 police shootout, looted valuables, stole livestock and destroyed all sorts of electronic machines like TVs, DVD players, Sewing machines, etc. Surprisingly this planned attack by some 27 platoons of armed security forces and 2 platoons of Operation Green Hunt forces along with a hundred odd crowd of Tata goons happened exactly two days after the District Magistrate met the villagers and assured them their grievances would be looked into. After the attack the DM did a volte-face and said to the media they would carry out construction of the Common Corridor Road (which the people are opposing) at any cost with the District SP adding that protestors would not be spared. Since 30 March the area has been out of bounds for the rest of the world with all roads leading to the devastated village being guarded by Tata goons, BJD cadre and the police. High profile politicians like Jual Oram of BJP and certain Congress members have been attacked and not allowed to visit Baligotha. In one of these attacks three journalists were beaten up, their cameras were snatched and their valuables were looted.

The Common Corridor road project is being espoused by the District Administration and IDCO as a harbinger of development to the area. But the locals point out that every factory in the area is well connected by road and has been functioning smoothly over the years. Moreover, the proposed 4-lane road project will cut through a 7-km stretch of tribal land including fertile farmland. The locals say that the rationale behind such a road project can only be to bring the much opposed Tata project as the Common Corridor will cut through the villages resisting the steel giant for the last 5 years. One of the natural advantages of the people opposing Tata has been that they have been able to assemble easily from across villages as the villages are next to each other. With a road cutting through they will be isolated and the police will gain easy access. After the police shootout on 2nd January '06 that claimed the lives of 14 men, women and children while opposing the construction of a wall for the proposed Tata project there were some half-hearted attempts made by the Govt. to resolve the issue through dialogue but were not pursued to a conclusive state. Rather another wave of repression was unleashed upon the people as on one side the leadership of the tribals was targeted by Tata goons and on the other key activists and leaders were framed under false charges. There were several murderous attacks on active leaders like Dabur Kalundia and Jogendra Jamunda. One such attack on Jogendra almost cost him his life when he was shot at from close range in front of the Kalinga Nagar police station while he was riding a bike with his mother. Dabur Kalundia was attacked by a Tata contractor Arbind Singh and his gang in front of the Rohit factory, Dabur survived but Amin Banara from his village succumbed to bullets in his chest. The tribal villages protesting against displacement in general and Tata in specific under the aegis of the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch

(People's Forum Against Displacement) located amidst ten steel factories by companies like Jindal, Mesco, Mathan, Nilachal, Rohit, Dinabandhu, etc. have been ghettoed from all sides now. It seems the Common Corridor project will now dissect the resistance into two parts and tackle it systematically with some sort of clinical precision. The tribals are considered encroachers though they have been living on that land for generations and their demands for land in lieu of land has not been taken seriously by the Govt. On the other hand they have been repeatedly portrayed as Maoists though not a single incident of Maoist violence has been reported in the area in the last 5 years. Rather a non-violent democratic movement is being suppressed by a Govt. that is evidently working like a private mercenary of Tata Steel.

The State capital looks shockingly calm. The opposition leaders seem to be holidaying with their ruling counterparts to escape the hot summer when forcibly displaced tribals from different regions of the state are struggling in this alien land to earn their bread for the day braving the day temperature which has remained above 44 for the last few days. Most of the media have succumbed to the pressures of Tata House. Even Tatas have invaded the space in internet by circulating the lies they manufacture in their Kalinganagar project. The bureaucracy in Orissa has been criminalized. The controversial IAS officer heading the infamous Bhubaneswar club who was stripped of his post by Nabin Pattnaik as his name appeared the equally infamous Biranchi murder case has been given the task of ensuring launching of the Tata/Posco projects at any cost by the same clean Chief Minister. After Mr. Priyabrata Pattnaik has taken over as the chief of IDCO-the official broker agency of the state to help the corporations, ruthless repression in areas opposing displacement has again become the major agenda of the state. It seems we are all paying the price of Tata salt which we consume every day, said a senior journalist. People in this state have started believing that there is no alternative to Nabin Pattnaik even if he has been sold to the corporations. There is no one in the opposition who appears to be genuinely concerned for the dying tribals. It is now the responsibility of smaller political out fits, sensitive individuals and suffering locals to resist or express dissent over the mindless industrialization happening in the state although they face the risk of being branded as “ Maoists”.

( Nachiketa from Independent Media with inputs from Rabi Rout, Neelamadhab Nayak and Raghu in Kalinganagar )

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Economic Times article on Vedanta and Niyamgiri

A long article in ET on the Vedanta Niyamgiri issue.

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.

Journalists manage to visit Kalinganagar

A number of journalists managed to break through the police and TATA goons cordon around the Kalinganagar movement villages and talk to the villagers. Prashant Pattanaik describes the trip in his article posted on Orissa Matters.

Subhash Pattanayak has also posted some of pictures taken by the journalists on the Orissa Matters Blog

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Petition on Kalinganagar submitted to the Governor

Shri Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare

Honourable Governor

Orissa State

Raj Bhawan, Bhubaneswar

Sub: Citizens Appeal on Kalinganagar Situation

April 7, 2010

Respected Rajyapalji,

With deep shock and disbelief we share the following quite avoidable tragic happenings in the proposed industrial city of Kalinganagar which witnessed killing of 14 tribals in a police firing on the 2nd January, 2006. On 30th March, 2010 the Jajpur police along with about 10 platoons of armed police force launched an attack on innocent tribals of the area at Baligotha who were opposed to the construction of common corridor which they believed was unnecessary and called it a design of the administration to divide the otherwise united anti-displacement movement. About 40 tribals including women and children sustained bullet injuries. Houses of the leaders of the movement were ransacked, property looted, motor bikes damaged, food grains destroyed, water sources intoxicated, cows and goats killed and finally some of the houses set on fire. A team led by retired Justice Sri Ch. Pratap Mishra could see all these in their own eyes when they visited the victims on the same day in the night and provided emergency medical aid.

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:

  1. The common corridor road must immediately be stopped, the demands of the tribal agitating under the banner of Vistapan Virodhi Janmanch taken seriously.
  2. 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.
  3. The right to life and livelihoods of the tribals guaranteed by the constitution must be ensured.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. All media persons, human rights activists and concerned citizens must be allowed free access to the conflict and firing site.
  7. Forest rights 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

Posters from the media protest meet

Media Persons of Orissa met outside Soochana Bhawan today to protest against the attacks on fellow journalists at Kalinganagar by BJD and Tata sponsored goons.About 50 media persons from leading media outfits ( print and electronic) took part in the protest. Some interesting posters from the event.

If you can't see the image, please go to