#India – Locked land of Posco #odisha


POSCO

 

 

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Gobindpur, Odisha, June 23, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an eight-year-long uneven battle between betel vines and a steel plant. And steel hasn’t won yet.

For, eight villages in coastal Odisha’s Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujanga gram panchayats in Jagatsingpur district, about 150 km east of state capital Bhubaneswar, have put up a stiff resistance against South Korean steel major Posco’s proposed Rs.52,000-crore project.

The reason: It will take away their traditional source of income — betel vines.

Posco signed a deal with the state government for acquiring 4,004 acres (one acre=43,560 square feet) for the project. But the site of the project — backed by the single-largest foreign investment in India — virtually has nothing except some prefabricated site offices in a hurriedly fenced-off piece of vacant land.

The telltale signs of the battle are strewn everywhere in the area earmarked for the project — felled trees, destroyed betel vines and hostile villagers, who have been fighting with the state to protect their vines.

Popular resistance and environmental clearance have made it difficult for the state to push through the 12-million-tonnes a year green-field project, which should have gone on stream by 2011.

Of the 4,004 acres, about 3,000 acres is forestland. And more than 5,000 betel vines dot the sandy landscape in this forestland, each generating an average assured income of R20,000 a month.

Two years ago, the administration had to suspend land acquisition after hundreds of women and children blocked the entry point to the vines near the Gobindpur-Nuagaon border in scorching summer.

In February this year, the administration took a step forward by resuming the process in Gobindpur. Though the state considers dismantling about 300 betel vines in three months to be some success, the drive seems to have lost steam by the end of May.

“They are coming like thieves in the wee hours and trying to dismantle vines before we wake up and protest. We have re-erected several vines dismantled by them,” said villager Tuna Baral.

But the administration is being careful. “Land acquisition continues peacefully. We are trying to convince people to part with their vines and accept compensation,” SK Mallick, collector of Jagatsinghpur, told HT.

The project has split the village community, with a group called the United Action Committee (UAC) — having some influence in Nuagaon — supporting Posco. But that has not helped matters. Today, Nuagaon is a picture of despair, with villagers having exhausted their compensation and are left with no means to sustain themselves.

Kabindra Rout, a betel farmer, said, “The administration dismantled my betel vine in 2011 and I got a compensation of R2.28 lakh. But now I am jobless.”

Many who earlier used to own betel vines and could employ others have now been reduced to daily wage-earners in the vines in Dhinkia, the stronghold of the anti-Posco movement, which the police have not been able to enter during the past eight years.

On June 7, after meeting chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Posco India chairman and managing director Young-Won Yoon said, “We are hopeful the land will be handed over to us soon.”

But ‘soon’ may prove to be far off — or even a delusion — as the 20,000-odd residents of the eight villages are showing no signs of retreating from their betel vines.

 

 

 

Odisha opposes construction of Polavaram dam in Andhra Pradesh


Odisha Government asks Planning Commission not to grant revised investment clearance to the controversial multi-purpose project

The site where the proposed dam will be built in Polavaram. File PhotoThe site where the proposed dam will be built in. File Photo

Bhubaneswar, Jun 1 (PTI): Strongly opposing construction of Polavaram dam in neighbouring  government today asked the Planning Commission of India not to grant revised investment clearance to the controversial multi-purpose project.

“As the matter is sub judice in the Apex Court, it will be prudent to wait till the judgement is given as the project parameter and estimates may change,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Stating that the Odisha government has filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s environmental clearance, Patnaik pointed out that the state administration also opposed to the R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) clearance accorded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA).

“The state government has prayed the apex court to declare both the clearance null and void,” the Chief Minister said.

Patnaik also said that no public hearing was conducted in the affected Malkangiri district of Odisha.

“Instead, the public hearing was conducted in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh,” he said adding that the environmental clearance granted by the MoEF in favour of Polavaram project was set aside by the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA).

The NEAA also directed to conduct public hearing in the affected areas of Odisha and Chhattishgarh, the Chief Minister said in the letter to to Planning Commission.

However, the orders of NEAA were challenged by the government of Andhra Pradesh in the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The AP High Court has issued an interim order on 31 December 2007 suspending the orders of the NEAA until further order.

 

 

‘Will fight POSCO till last breath’



Author(s): 

Ashis Senapati
Issue Date:
2013-5-17

Kin of anti-POSCO leader killed in bomb explosion in Gobindapur village resolves to fight on

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/Jharana.jpg” width=”457″ height=”304″ align=”left” />Jharana, dressed in yellow, daughter of slain leader Narahari Sahoo, has no means of looking after and supporting her familyTwenty-three-year-old Jharana Sahoo is filled with feelings of revenge. She cannot forget the sight of the mangled body of her father who died in a bomb blast on March 2 [1]. Narahari Sahoo was a leader of the anti-POSCO[2] movement at Gobindapur village in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. He was killed along with three people in a blast when those promoting South Korean steel company POSCO’s steel project, hurled a crude bomb into the backyard of the house of a resident in Dhinkia gram panchayat. Dhinkia is the centre of the anti-POSCO movement.

“My father had paan (betel vine) farms. Last month, police destroyed them because he was a part of the movement,” she says. “He dreamt of making me an officer and spent Rs 2 lakh on my education at the Institute of Professional Studies and Research in Cuttack. Now, I have to shoulder the responsibility of my younger brother who is still in Class XII. My mother has taken ill after my father died. How will I arrange money for all these?”

“I will either kill the enemies or myself,” she says. Jharana has joined the Posco Pratirodhaka Sangram Samiti (PPSS) to drive the company out of the state. She blames the anti-people policies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for her family’s plight. “He is dancing to the tune of big industrialists and is least concerned about the common people. In the coming elections, we will teach him a lesson,” she says.

“My father sacrificed his life to protect our land from the avaricious eyes of POSCO and the government. I will not allow either POSCO or the government to acquire our land,” she says. “My heart still burns with anger and anguish. I will fight them till my last breath.”

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/Martyr.jpg” width=”457″ height=”304″ />Marty’s tower commemorates Tapan Mandal’s sacrifice. He died in a similar blast in 2008

The death of three anti-Posco leaders has not weakened the movement. In fact, they have strengthened PPSS because more and more people are joining it now, she says.

Families of other victims bemoan fate

Tarun Madal and Manas Jena, the two other leaders who died in the bomb attack on March 2 have also left behind families who have no one to look after them. Madal is survived by his 26-year-old wife and a two-year-old daughter. His father,  septuagenarian Narayan Mandal, lost his eldest son Tapan alias Dula Mandal in a bomb attack by pro-Posco people five years ago. On March 2, his younger son, Tarun, was also killed. “I have been spending sleepless nights for the past five years. Now fate has snatched my other son as well. Their untimely deaths haunt me all the time,” he says.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/Narayan.jpg” width=”457″ height=”344″ />Naran Mandal who lost both his sons, Tapan and Tarun, in bomb blasts allegedly carried out by pro-POSCO people, is a haunted man

Mandal’s sons were paan farmers. “On June 20, 2008, some pro-industry people of the village hurled bombs at the protesters. Many were injured and Tapan lost his life. To commemorate his sacrifice, people have built a martyr’s memorial in Gobindapur,” says Manorama Khatua, a PPSS leader. The martyr’s memorial is of little consolation to Tapan’s wife. “How will the industry help me and my family? If we have to leave the area where will we go with our children?” asks Sabita, Tapan’s widow.

Khema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her lossKhema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her loss

Khema Jena, 28, had married Manas Jena, also a paan farmer in Gobindapur, five years ago. Khema cries for her husband who will never return.

 

Protest the arrest of Anti Posco Leader Abhay Sahoo


abhaysahoo

We strongly condemn the arrest of our leader and president of PPSS Mr. Abhay Sahoo this morning i.e.  on 11thMay 2013. As you are all aware 50 cases had been filed against him at different stages of the movement and all the cases are blatantly false and fabricated. The district administration and police were after him as the movement instead of withering away under severe repression has gathered more momentum. Abhayji has been taken to Kujang jail in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We understand that this is part of a larger game plan to destabilize the movement and  force the project on our unwilling people. Earlier also Abhaya Sahoo was arrested in 2008 and was kept in jail for 14 months. Mr. Sahoo was again implicated in another false case leading to his incarceration from 25th November 2011 to 14th march 2012.

Every time when Abhayji was arrested the movement got further strengthened and our people threw up more leaders with solidarity from you all.

We have been informing you that our life has been severely disrupted since the state government signed the said project with POSCO. The police force has been using coercive measures to suppress our constitutional right to dissent. We have been peacefully resisting all types of criminal forces for more than eight  years, but ironically hundreds of cases are being lodged by the police against us. Our protesters have been murdered by bomb attacks, assaulted by hired goons and beaten by police-all done by at the behest of administration. Local authorities ignored our demands for recognition of our right to the land. Instead, armed forced were engaged to silence our voices.  Till now more than 200  false cases have been registered against our villagers by the government, 1500 warrants have issued out of which 340 are women.

Our people are unable to go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrests. None of the cases has any basis and all are fabricated by the police to keep our people inside jail for as many days as they think by doing this they could spoil our democratic movement. The government of Odisha has been clamping false cases against anyone trying to oppose POSCO, It is matter of regret that all the actions till date by the government of Odisha against us is totally unjustified as the entire projects stands on shaky ground.

We call for all the Jan Andolans, People’s organisations, Political parties, activists, intellectuals and people at large to condemn in strongest possible terms this cowardly and undemocratic act of the administration. We appeal you all to demonstrate and demand immediate release of Abahya Sahoo. Also please lodge your protest near the following authorities.

Let me assure that our people will put up a more determined resistance and what they all need is your continuous support and solidarity.

 

 

 

Kindly forward this mail widely.

 

Hoping for Solidarity.

 

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

You can call and write to the following :

1. Mr. Naveen Patnaik

Chief Minister,  Odishas

Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,

011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163

Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,

011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,

Fax No- (91)6742535100

E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2.  Dr. S. C. Zameer, Governor of Odisha,  Fax No-
(91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.<csori@ori.nic.in>

Phone no – 0674 – 2536700

0674 – 2534300

0674 – 2322196

Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

3. S.K. Mallick , District  Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Contact number
09437038401,   Fax no – : (91)6724220299

4. Superintendent of Police, Satyabrata Bhoi, Mobile no-09437575759, 0624-
220115,  dmjsp@ori.nic.in

5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Tel no-+9111-23016857

e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

6. Sonia Gandhi: Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656, Fax-
(91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

*7.* Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot
House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91
11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo

Minister of Tribal Affairs

Ministry of Tribal Affairs,

Room No. 400  ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan,

New Delhi- 110001

vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan

Minister of Environment & Forests

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Paryavaran Bhawan,

CGO Complex, Lodhi Road

New Delhi-110003

mosefgoi@nic.in

 

 

Vedanta nudges Odisha again for bauxite supply


Sadananda Mohapatra  April 13, 2013, BT

VAL has been persistently urging the state government to arrange bauxite supplies from alternative sources

 
 
 
 
 

Vedanta Aluminium, which has shut its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh due to bauxite unavailability, has written to the Odisha government once again for ensuring supply of the raw material.

“Thousands have become jobless. We shall be grateful if urgent action is taken for ensuring bauxite supply in line with the memorandum of understanding between Odisha government and VAL,” said Mukesh Kumar, president of the company.

The company had entered into a pact with state run miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) to source bauxite from the ecologically fragile Niyamgiri hills with deposits of around 70 million tonne.

Since its shutdown, VAL has been persistently urging the state government to arrange bauxite supplies from alternative sources as the pact ensured supply of 150 million tonne of the raw material to feed the company’s one million tonne refinery.

In February, VAL requested the inter ministerial group of the state government, constituted for raw material supply to state-based industries, to expedite processing of pending applications of OMC, especially those bauxite leases falling under non-forest areas.

These applications are either at PL (prospecting license) or ML (mining lease) stages.

The company had also approached the government to allow OMC or any private player to the excavate low grade bauxite deposits buried in exhausted iron ore mines of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Rungta Mines.

The state government has already conducted a hearing on the lease renewal of a bauxite mine of Rungta Sons, but nothing has moved since then.

“Further to the presentation made by us before the ministerial committee on February 15, we would like to bring your kind attention that the plant is still under temporary shut down as no arrangement for bauxite could be made,” Kumar said in the letter.

 

Orissa HC Rejects MLA Raghunath Mohanty’s Writ Petition in Dowry Harassment Case #Vaw


March 20, www.ibtimes.co.in/.

Orissa High Court rejected former law and urban development minister Raghunath Mohanty’s plea to overturn the FIR lodged by his daughter-in-law against him and his family.

Mohanty had filed a writ petition under section 482 of CrPC. The HC also did not grant immunity to Mohanty and his family and asserted that any police action in this case will be deemed proper.

“Since the ingredients of offence under section 498-A and 506 of IPC are made out prima facie against the petitioners, the prayer to quash the proceedings against the petitioners is not maintainable. Hence the writ petition is dismissed,” said Justice Raghuvir Dash in his verdict.

“Since the writ petition from which the miscellaneous case arises having been dismissed, this court is not inclined to give any direction (to the police) not to take any coercive action against the petitioner.”

After this verdict police may arrest Mohanty.

Over a week ago, Mohanty’s daughter-in-law Barsha Sony Mohanty alleged that she was tortured physically and mentally for dowry a few days into her marriage in June 2012. She claimed that ₹10 lakh worth of cash and jewellery were given as dowry, but her in-laws further demanded ₹25 lakh and a Scorpio car.

Following this, the BJD MLA submitted his resignation to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Barsha filed the case against Mohanty, his wife Pritilata, son Rajasree and other members of the family, at Balasore police station.

Mohanty is an MLA from Batsa constituency in Balasore district and is in his fifth consecutive term. He also held important ministerial posts for Parliamentart Affairs, Steel and Mines, and Industries departments.

To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

 

PRESS RELEASE- Mr Naveen Patnaik apologize to the Women of Govindpur, Patana and Dhinkia #Posco #Vaw


Mr. Naveen Patnaik we are surprised that you are not ashamed even after women’s day.

Dear Mr. Naveen Patnaik,

We are deeply anguished and disturbed by the recent turn of frightening and ugly incidents perpetrated by the Odisha government, POSCO management and their hired lumpen criminal elements on the POSCO payroll. They have unleashed extremely barbaric white terror in the anti-POSCO struggling villages of Jaghat Singh Pur, Odisha. On the eve of the women’s day we learnt that the women gave the most desperate threat to the district administration as a last ditch effort. “If the police forces are not withdrawn they will protest naked in front of the police”. This news sent a chill down our spines as this was a confirmation of your wanton behaviour in the area and continuing attempts at escalating completely unjustified violence against agitators.

You have proved that you are the biggest enemy of the women of Odisha. Instead of removing the police you charged women with indecent exposure and arrested them.

That shows the apocalyptic vision that women are the most worthless beings, have absolutely no hope in a state governed by you. And remember, all this was happening when your minions of women and child development department and the public relations department were flooding the newspapers and television with your great achievements on the gender front. Whereas in reality you have inflicted on the suffering women of Odisha extreme repression by security forces who rape them in custody, brutally repress them, forcibly evict them from land, habitat, livelihood, culture and undermine their dignity. The combing operations by your police and paramilitary forces have inflicted most bestial violence that has crossed all the limits of barbarism.

Last time one had seen such a protest taking place was in Manipur in July 2004. The situation, however, was a little different in that case. Assam Rifles had raped and murdered Manorama. Elderly women of Manipur aghast at that had decided for going that protest in sheer desperation. They were a people who had completely lost their faith in the nation that claimed to be their own but acted as an occupying force. Its security forces assaulted the men and raped the women at will and the state legitimised such dreadful practices by allowing the Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur to provide condoms as an integral part of the travel kit,to be used while on patrol duty. Having had enough of this, Manipuri women went to the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, disrobed and flung a banner reading “INDIAN ARMY RAPE US”.

Odisha is thousands of kilometers away from Manipur. The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) simply announced “Left with no other option, women from the village have decided to get naked before the Policemen tomorrow”. The pain and agony it would take to first decide for holding such a protest and then announcing it to the public was totally lost on you.

The women reached this decision because you as the Chief Minister have abandoned them for POSCO, the multinational company and as its lackey have been violating all rights of the residents with impunity. Anti-POSCO people have reached the decision after getting many of their near and dear ones killed by the hired goons of the company. They have reached the decision for the state government repeatedly sending in an armed-to-teeth police force for cracking down on the peaceful protesters and forcibly acquiring the lands even when the environmental clearance that is mandatory for such projects stand cancelled by the statutory authorities and the MoU with POSCO is defunct. You have destroyed their betel leave vines. You threaten to arrest them if they step out of the village and for years they have lived without even the minimal health services.

Mr. Patnaik,  your slavery and loyalty to the national and international corporations has made you so de-humanized and de-sensitized that you are busy serving their interest and are apathetic to the very people who have brought you into this office.

Your administration lies through its teeth and accuses anti-POSCO struggle of making bombs. Your police tries to run over their leader. Such is the rottenness of your rule that even fact finding teams are hounded by company goons who are getting more confident as they are literally getting away with murder.

Finally, if you have any shame left, Mr. Patnaik, resign and apologise to the women of Dhinkia, Govindpur and Patana.

We speak on behalf of several women’s groups and well known activists who endorse our view. The complete list is attached to this letter.

Kaveri,  Kamayani, Kalpana

For Women against sexual violence and state repression

More than 100 people signed the letter sent to the CM endorsements Below

1
Asit Das-  Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Kalpana Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Indore
Kaveri Indira, Scientist, Bangalore
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist , Mumbai
Mamata Dash ,Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Chittraranjan singh National Secretary PUCL
Ashok choudhury NFFPFW
Dr.Sunilam Kissan Sangharsh Samiti
10  Kiran Shaheen Women against sexual violence and state expression(WSS)
11  Anand swarup verma Editor samkaleen tisri duniya
12  Prashant Pairikay, Posco pratirodh sangharsh samiti
13  K.K. Niyogi All India platform for labour rights
14  Manj mohan Hind mazdoor sabha
15  Roma NFFPFW
16  Anil chaudhury INSAF
17  Insha malik Research sholar JNU
18  Bhupen singh Research sholar JNU
19  Vijay pratap Socialist front
20  Madhuresh NAPM
21  Rajendra Ravi NAPM
22  Anna khandre Samajwadi party
23  Putul Yuva bharat
24  P.K. sundaram IndiaResists.com
25  Prakash kumar ray Editorbargad.org
26  Nayanjyoti Krantikari naujawan sabha
27  Vinod singh Samajwadi jan parishad
28  Rakhi Saiigal Labour activist
29  Gopal Krishna Toxic Watch
30  Shankar Gopalakrishnan
31  Saheli, Delhi
32  Devika Biswas, State convenor
33  Healthwatch Forum , Bihar, C/O BVHA PATNA BIHAR
34  Ruchi Shroff , Mumbai
35  Madhumita Dutta
36  ‘Suresh Bhat B, Concerned Citizen, Mangalore
37  Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.
38  Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
39  Nisha Biswas , Kolkata
40  Swatija, Mumbai
41  ‘Prabhakar Pandit from Mumbai Mobile Creches_
42  Rahul Yogi Deveshwar
43  Independent Voice , Shanti se Kranti
44  Nirja Bhatnagar, Mumbai
45  Himadri Sekhar Mistri, Research Scholar, Delhi School of Economics
46  Women’s Research and Action Group
47  Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad
48  Anjali sinha  Madhubala from Stree mukti sangathan
49  Madhubala, from Stree mukti sangathan
50  Sankara Narayanan_
51  Sharanya Humane, Koraput
52  Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore
53  Kaushiki Rao, Bangalore
54  K. Sajaya, Hyderabad
55  Uma V Chandru, WSS Activist, Bangalore
56  Aruna Chandrasekhar, Research and journalist
57  Shraddha Chickerur
58  Vivek Sundara, Socila Activist, Mumbai
59  Pushpa (Member, WSS-Karnataka)
60  Abha Bhaiya
61  Anuradha Pati
62  Kannamma Raman, University of Mumbai
63  Jeevika Shiv, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi
64  Kabi S., Bombay
65  Devaki Jain
66  Rina Mukherji
67  Soma KP
68  Aanchal Kapur
69  Trupti Shah, Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
70  K. Sajaya, Hyderabad
71  Iqbal Baig
72  Sudha.S. Bangalore
73  Sadhna, Delhi
74  Ratna, Law Student, Bangalore
75  Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, Bangalore
76  M. R. Prabhakar, Bangalore
77  Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
78  Gowru Chinnapa, Bangalore
79  Ayush Ranka, Bangalore
80  Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore
81  Sharanya, Humane, Koraput
82  Shakun.M, Bangalore
83  Soundarya Iyer, Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore
84  Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.
85  Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
86  Vasanth Kannabiran
87  Shyama K Narang
88  Anupriya, Delhi
89  Chhaya Datar
90  K. Lalita
91  Neha Dhingra
92  Rina, Kolkata
93  Sutapa Majumdar
94  Lalita Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag
95  Admiral L. Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag
96  Vinay Bhat, Management Consultant, Santa Clara, CA
97  Gopika Solanki
98  Uma Chakravarti
99  Mary E John
100  Suneeta Dhar
101  Arundhati Dhuru
102  Dr Veena R Poonacha, Director, Research Center for Women’s Studies & Project Director, Dr. Avabai Wadia Archives, SNDT Women’s University
103  Sharmila Rege
104  Veena Shatrugna
105  Gabriele Dietrich
106  Devangana Kalita
107  Tungshang Ningreichon, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights
108  Meera, Narmada Valley
109  Prem Verma, Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum, Ranchi, Jharkhand
110  Lakshmi Premkumar, Programme for Social Action (PSA), New Delhi
111  Priyanka Borpujari, independent journalist
112  Koyel Lahiri, MPhil student, CSSSC
113  K Babu Rao, NAPM, Hyderabad
114  Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sangathan
115  Gee Ameena Suleiman
116  Maitreyi, ALF, Bangalore
117  Prafulla Samantara, Convenor, NAPM
118  Kunal Rawat, New Delhi
119  Prasad Chacko, Social activist, Ahmedabad
120  Alaka Basu
121  Anita Ghai, Feminist and Disblity rights activist, Delhi
122  Parth J Dave, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
123  Pradeep Esteves, Context India, Bangalore
124  Nitesh Mohanty, The Root Mumbai
125 Jayati Lal, Visiting fellow, CSSS, JNU

 

#India-After 100 years , Odisha villagers get rights to harvest bamboo rights #agriculture


JAMGUDA, March 4, 2013

Prafulla Das, The Hindu

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is handing over the patta at Jamguda in Kalahandi district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh is handing over the patta at Jamguda in Kalahandi district on Sunday. Photo: Lingaraj

Tribal development must for curbing Naxal growth: Jairam

For the residents of this tiny non-descript village in Odisha’s Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region, it was a rare celebratory occasion on Sunday when they got back the rights that had been snatched away by the British rulers nearly a century ago.

The official transit passbook for cultivation and harvest of bamboo was handed over to the Jamguda Gram Sabha by Orissa forest officials. Union Rural Development and Tribal Affairs Ministers Jairam Ramesh and Kishore Chandra Deo and Odisha Revenue minister Surjya Narayan Patra attended a Tribal Rights festival organised by the Gram Sabha to mark the event.

Jamguda became the first village in Odisha to be provided community rights to harvest and sell bamboo under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Mendha Lekha in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra was the first village in the country to have been given bamboo transit passbooks in April 2011. A few more villages near Mendha Lekha obtained the rights subsequently.

Mr. Ramesh had earlier written to Orissa’s Naveen Patnaik and the Chief Ministers of five other Maoist-affected States to hand over full control of transit passbooks to the Gram Sabhas where community forest rights were recognised.

Addressing Jamguda villagers, Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Deo said the Centre would extend full cooperation in providing tribals and other traditional forest dwellers the right over minor forest produce such as bamboo, kendu leaf and mahula flower.

Mr. Ramesh underlined the need for ensuring development of the tribal people in order to check the growth of Maoists in the tribal regions. “We have to understand why the tribal people were feeling alienated and were unhappy that benefits of development had not reached them so far and their land was being taken away by non-tribal people for different projects.”

Hostile treatment

Tribal people had been treated as enemies by Forest Department officials since the British enforced the Forest Act in 1927 and all land in tribal areas was declared forest land, said Mr. Deo. Under the present laws, granting tribals land rights should be the main priority, he said.

 

#India- Police enters our village, beat women and children, arrested villagers and cut trees #mustshare


Dear Friends,

In the wee hours today (at around 4 am) the police has entered into our villages and beaten up women and children, arrested some of our villagers (number is yet to be known).

As we have intimated you earlier that the police force has been gradually swelling in our area amidst our continuing human chain and Dharana in the Balitikira-the boarder of Govindpur and Dhinkia villages of Jagatsingpur district, the police has deceptively entered to the villages with full force at 4 a.m. today. Our people sensed their possible move at around 2 o clock night and alerted the villagers by ringing bells. Gradually women, children, male members started getting accumulated at the Dharana place. At 4 a.m. the police entered and attacked the women and children first. The male police have ruthlessly beaten our women who were lying on a human chain. Some women have been severely inured. The Police have thrown our children like flowers, some of whom are injured. Some villagers have been arrested by the police and been taken to custody. At the moment we do not have exact numbers as the situation is too tensed on the spot. The police have started breaking our betel vines and cutting the trees forcefully. More and more numbers of our villagers have come to the spot and a war like situation has arisen. Our committed villagers are facing a mighty 12 platoons of police force.

We fail to understand the decision of the state to acquire land when the National Green Tribunal has already suspended the environment clearance to the proposed POSCO project in our area. Naveen Patnaik is behaving like an agent of the POSCO company.

As the situation is too alarming, we appeal all our friends to protest against the barbarism and call/write/fax to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Odisha and Chief Secretary of Odisha, Home Minsitry, Odisha appealing to immediately stop the police brutality and withdrawal of the force from our area. Please call to your respective MPs and MLAs and raise your protest against them urging them to oppose the illegal move. Write to NHRC also.

We request our media friends to rush to our villages and see the situation in their own eyes and report.

We will intimate further developments soon.

Please widely circulate this mail.

In Solidarity,
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Mobile no-09437571547
E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com

The contact address of the authorities

 

#India-Union Tribal Affairs & Panchayati Raj minister, May your tribe increase #tribalrights


From a soft-spoken, easygoing politician, KCS Deo has emerged as a combative, ‘activist’ minister for tribal affairs.
Bhavdeep Kang

January 17, 2013, Issue 4 Volume 10

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

VYRICHERLA KISHORE Chandra Suryanarayana Deo — Kishore to his friends — has upset many during his tenure as Union Tribal Affairs & Panchayati Raj minister. For those who dismissed the soft-spoken, easygoing political middleweight as a “sweet nothing”, the “activist” minister’s relentless crusade for tribal rights and trenchant (albeit politely worded) criticism of party and Cabinet colleagues comes as a surprise.

On tribal rights, Kishore has taken on his own government, countering repeated attempts to dilute the Forest Rights Act (FRA) with a volley of letters to Cabinet colleagues, chief ministers and governors. His role has been crucial at a time when various government agencies have been seeking to set aside the provisions of the Act, which demand consent of the tribal dwellers before diverting forestland for infrastructure or industry.

Given his seniority — he is 65 and a sixterm MP — he might have expected highprofile portfolios. Panchayati Raj is regarded as second string and Tribal Affairs is a relatively new ministry; earlier clubbed with Home, then Welfare, then Social Justice, it was given independent status in 1999. Kishore is the fourth minister to hold the portfolio and the first to give it teeth.

Kishore implicitly believes mining in tribal areas is the biggest challenge faced by forest dwellers and the root cause of Naxal insurgency. “All of us are talking about left-wing extremism. The PM has described it as a threat to national security. People must wake up and realise that this is due to the neglect and extreme exploitation of forest dwellers,” he says.

Forest Activism
7 April 2012
Writes to AP governor on ‘illegal’ mining leases
24 May
Writes to CMs on FRA, also to governors on special powers
28 June
Writes to Naveen Patnaik on Kalahandi
August
Amends rules to give FRA teeth
29 September
Cancels AP mining leases, writes to AP CM
Octobe
States objection to NIB overruling FRA/PESA
19 November & 7 December
Writes to Jayanthi Natarajan on FRA
January 2013
Sets up board to fix fair price for forest produce

Kishore is not opposed to mining, per se, but firmly believes that forest dwellers ought to have a share in the proceeds of mining, a decisive say in the pace and manner of mining and a right to forest produce. What he does not say on record (but conveys in his letters to the Minister of Environment and Forests) is that the Forest Department is the biggest hurdle in securing justice for tribals.

He fired his first salvo on behalf of forest dwellers last April, in a letter to Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, demanding that leases granted to the AP Mining Development Corporation (APMDC) in violation of the FRA be cancelled. When he did not receive a response, he shot off a letter to CM Kiran Kumar Reddy cancelling the leases in exercise of his constitutional powers as Tribal Affairs minister — a first.

In his letter to Narasimhan, he points out that Vishakapatnam district, where APMDC has been granted mining leases, has become a hotbed of Maoist activity. The killings by extremists, he adds, have to do with the bauxite mining lobbies.

Kishore did his homework before taking on the AP government. First, he secured the Attorney General’s opinion on whether the governor had the power to cancel the leases granted by the state government. The AG concluded he did. Despite the legal go-ahead, Narasimhan chose not to take on the government. Kishore waited five months, then sent off a letter cancelling the leases: “By virtue of the powers vested in GoI vide Clause 3 of Vth Schedule of the Constitution… hereby directs the AP government to cancel the mining leases to APMDC immediately and report compliance.”

At the time of writing, compliance has yet to be received. The PM may well have to arbitrate between the minister and the CM and the results of that exercise would have immense significance. The PM is said to have reservations about Kishore’s leftof- centre leanings.

Meanwhile, Kishore busied himself with drawing Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s attention to the fact that her ministry made it a “practice of ignoring the FRA when diverting forestland for large projects”. He wrote: “I’m anguished to find that even five years after its enactment, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) continues to ignore this law’s existence.” The prior, informed consent of the gram sabhas is a mandatory requirement for diversion of forestland under the FRA and this provision is being blatantly flouted by governments.

He referred in particular to the clearance given by the MOEF to the Lara Thermal Power Project in Raigarh of Chhattisgarh, even while acknowledging that the mandatory gram sabha certificates had not been obtained! “Why is it (FAC) misleading the public into believing that these projects are in compliance with the law when they often are not?” he asks.

In a follow-up letter to Natarajan last month, he referred to the Niyamgiri case: “Proceedings are pending in the SC in regard to the proposed mine by Vedanta in Niyamgiri where people are seeking to argue that they can bypass, ignore or undermine the FRA in the name of advancing a project.” It behoves the government to take a clear stand that upholds the law and the rights of the people, he maintains.

Kishore has been urging state governments to take the FRA seriously. In a letter to all the CMs, he pointed out that community rights to pastures, water bodies and minor forest produce were not being given recognition; that tribals who sought to claim land rights were being given a fraction of the area to which they were entitled and claims were being rejected without assigning a reason. “As a result, forest dwellers are facing eviction or harassment by the authorities,” he wrote.

No issue is too small for Kishore to take up. Earlier in 2012, he wrote to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on Jamguda, a small tribal village in Kalahandi. The gram sabha had decided to harvest flowering bamboo, which (having flowered) would otherwise be destroyed. They proposed to sell it at 30 a pole and so earn about 1 lakh but the forest authorities refused to allow them to transport the bamboo. This random abuse of power, he said, “goes against our professed adherence to rule of law”.

Far more than his activism on tribal rights, his alleged description of AP Pradesh Congress Committee chief Botsa Satyanarayana as a “land, liquor and mining don”, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi, made a big stir. Kishore denied having written a letter. Correct, but only technically, sources say. It was an 11-page report, not a letter. And it severely criticised the functioning of the state government in general and the CM (and Botsa) in particular.

Kishore’s view on Kiran Reddy and Botsa are well-known, so the leak did not come as a surprise. It did, however, leave many wondering how this blunt, outspoken man had managed to fly below the radar for most of his four-decade-long political career. Given his distaste for lobbying, it was perhaps not surprising that he made it to the Cabinet only in 2011.

Last June, he took on the then home minister P Chidambaram over the massacre of 17 civilians in Chhattisgarh, saying his acceptance of the state government’s version that they were Maoists was “illinformed”. “By killing 17 innocent tribals, you are creating 1,700 Maoists,” he warned.

He was to take on Chidambaram as finance minister as well, when he opposed the National Investment Board’s reported attempt to bypass the FRA. While he didn’t do so directly, he said he would insist on the implementation of the FRA and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act. The UPA stood for inclusive growth and so, no development project could be more important than the livelihood of millions. If the two laws that offer protection to tribals were an obstacle to development, then the Tribal Affairs ministry could well be wound up.

One of his first initiatives after taking over was to amend the FRA rules, because some of them, he says “were against the spirit of the Act”. Manoeuvring the amendments through the bureaucracy took him a year. Currently, his big project is setting a minimum procurement price for minor or non-timber forest produce, so that tribals don’t get shortchanged on their bamboo, herbs, etc.

Like his Cabinet colleague from AP, S Jaipal Reddy, he enjoys a reputation for probity. Both come from privileged backgrounds; Kishore is from the royal family of Kurupam. Apart from that, they are at polar ends of state politics, coming from different regions. Neither has ever openly expressed an opinion, but it is widely accepted that while Reddy, who hails from Telangana, sees little alternative to bifurcation of AP, Kishore is opposed to it.

Nor does he have a soft corner for Jaganmohan Reddy. In fact, in his letter to the governor, he even took on the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, duly deified by the state Congress (even as the Centre claps his son in jail), for having betrayed “our commitment to the cause of the STs” in granting the mining leases, which was “a flagrant violation of our Constitution”. When it comes to tribal rights, Kishore doesn’t believe in holding back.

letters@tehelka.com