#India -Tata Steel & the suicide of Charudatta Deshpande #CSR


2 July 2013, Sans Serif 

charu

The circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of journalist-turned-corporate communications expert Charudatta Deshpande in Bombay last weekend, has exposed the dark underbelly of one of India’s biggest corporates, and the stress, pressure and threats that hacks face when silence is no longer a conscionable option.

Deshpande, 57, had resigned in April as chief of corporate affairs and communications at Tata Steel, having held that job for a little less than a year; he was due to join the PR firm Ad Factors on July 1. He had previously served as general manager, ICICI Bank, and prior to that as senior general manager of Mahindra & Mahindra.

As a journalist, Deshpande had worked at The Daily, The Indian Express, The Economic Times, Business India TV, and theBusiness and Political Observer.

***

A group of nine friends and colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande (including the president of the Press Club of Bombay) has written to Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry and his predecessor Ratan Tata, urging them to institute a proper inquiry into the death.

In their letter, written in their individual capacities, Charu’s friends claim:

# Charu was being bullied into signing some documents/ bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.

# Charu was being blamed for “facilitating” a story (in picture, above) in Forbes India and was under enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.

# Charu was was under “house arrest” in Jamshedpur and that his cell phones were being tapped.

# Charu was being called and threatened by an unnamed mafia.

***

In his individual capacity, ICICI executive director Ram Kumar,a well known figure in HR circles, has also written to the Tatas on the “disgraceful” manner in which Deshpande’s services had been terminated, and the “untold pressure and threat at Jamshedpur” in the weeks preceding his death.

The Economic Times reports:

“Ramkumar’s letter, referring to the claims of the people who met Deshpande in the four weeks preceding his death, alleges that he was “confined” for over two weeks at Jamshedpur.”

Amazingly, or perhaps not, nobody from the House of Tatas, who routinely clamber on to the high moral horse, called on Deshpande’s family for three days after the alleged suicide and Ramkumar has alleged in his letter that a PR firm tried to “sully” Deshpande’s name after the death.

On the other hand, ICICI Bank, where Deshpande had worked earlier, has facilitated a job for his son Gaurav, who graduates in two week’s time.

***

Below is the full text of the letter sent by nine friends of Charudatta Deshpande to Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, on 30 June 2013:

Dear Mr Tata and Mr Mistry,

We write to you as the collective conscience of a group of friends and former colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande, a former Tata Steel employee, who committed suicide on Friday, June 28, 2013.

From whatever evidence we have gathered until now on the back of conversations with Charudatta in the weeks leading to his demise, and with those who knew him closely, Charu was placed under enormous stress and subjected to harassment by officials at Tata Steel.

Our understanding is it was this harassment that prompted him to commit suicide. This letter is an attempt to bring this episode to your attention and seek your intervention into instituting an urgent and independent inquiry into the matter.

Charu was head of corporate communications at Tata Steel. About a month ago, he resigned from the company. The events leading to his exit are relevant and we would like to place them before you for your consideration.

In April, a few months into his new assignment, Forbes India magazine ran a cover story“Remoulding Tata Steel”. The story is online here onhttp://forbesindia.com/article/boardroom/putting-the-shine-back-into-tata-steel/35049/0.

It attempted to chronicle the challenges facing Tata Steel at a time when a crucial CEO succession drama was unfolding.

The story was based on extensive and independent reporting that lasted more than five months. Soon after it appeared in print though, a distraught Charu got in touch with those of us at Forbes India and alleged officials at Tata Steel were placing the blame on him for “facilitating” a story they thought inimical to their interests.

He added he was subsequently grounded for more than two weeks; that for all practical purposes was “under house arrest” in Jamshedpur; that his phones were being tapped; and that he was being subjected to enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.

Many of us have worked in the past at various newsrooms including at the Economic Times where he was a senior editor. We have also known him professionally in his stints as head of corporate communications at organisations such as ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Steel.

We remember him as a thorough professional who placed a premium on the interests of the organizations he worked for. Each one of us can personally vouch that in his interactions with us, he has never behaved irresponsibly or tried to damage the reputation of the firms he represented.

Those of us who were at Forbes India when the story on Tata Steel was being researched are willing to testify on any forum that matters he conducted himself with integrity and responsibility.

What we also know of the events that preceded his death are outlined below.

1. He was in discussions with officials at Adfactors PR, with whom he was negotiating employment prospects. He told them he was being called and threatened repeatedly by a ‘mafia’ – a term he used constantly; and that his cell phone was being tapped.

2. He had informed a friend that he was being bullied into signing some documents/bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.

3. Immediately after the story appeared, he was in constant touch over the phone with Indrajit Gupta, the founding editor of Forbes India. He confided in Indrajit Gupta and spoke of being confined for over two weeks at Jamshedpur, being harassed after the story appeared in the magazine, was not allowed to travel without permission, and articulated his concerns about his cell phone being tapped. Despite being advised to escalate the matter to higher authorities, including the Tata Headquarters at Bombay House, Charu insisted it would be futile and make things worse for him.

Whatever be the circumstances behind his exit, most of us assumed he would put the setback behind him and move on. However, he alleged the threatening phone calls he got even after exiting he company was causing him a lot of stress.

What transpired after Charu passed away was even more despicable. Even as the news of his demise trickled in on Friday evening, there were concerted attempts made by Tata Steel officials and the PR agency to pass off his death as a heart attack, and not a suicide.

A senior PR official even insisted that he had visited Charu’s residence and confirmed the news of the heart attack, which turned out to be untrue. Some regional papers even hinted he had embezzled funds.

We believe this is an attempt to tarnish the reputation of a senior professional and take the focus away from the root cause behind his untimely death.

Discussions with Charu’s family have revealed he had no personal problems or disputes there. His brother-in-law Mahesh said Charu was extremely disturbed and depressed in the month before he finally quit Tata Steel. Mahesh also spoke of Charu confiding in the family he made a serious mistake in joining Tata Steel.

These apart, he also spoke of having been let down by the company on various counts and not being provided manpower and resources he was promised when he joined.

The Tata group has nurtured a long tradition of practising and upholding the highest standards of ethics and probity in public life. Nothing that we now do can redeem what has happened. But for the sake of justice, we would urge you to institute an inquiry into this matter.

If nothing, it will help bring closure to a traumatic episode for Charu’s family and his circle of friends. Equally importantly, an inquiry of this kind will go a long way to ensure episodes of this kind don’t occur again.

The all of us who have signed on this note would be willing to aid any inquiry process you choose to institute by providing evidence and witnesses with whom Charu had spoken to before his demise.

We trust the both of you will do what is right.

In anticipation,

On behalf of

Indrajit Gupta, Gurbir Singh, Charles Assisi, Prince Mathews Thomas, Dinesh KrishnanCuckoo Paul,T. SurendarDebojyoti ChatterjeeDinesh Narayanan

 

 

Press Release – #India – 5 activists accused by Tata Steel in fabricated cases acquitted #goodnews


Noamundi activist released
from Ieft are: Mosa Mundi, Rajaram Das, Xd, Indu Iaguri, John Barjo
 — atOut side Chaibasa District Court Singhbhum Jharkhand India
Xavier Dias
The Noamundi five have been acquittedon 29th June 2013 by the Chaibasa Court In 1991 eighteen of us were accused by TATA ST EEL in multiple fabricated criminal cases this particular case the Company got the Railways to fiIe an additional criminal case for damage to railway property too for which in NOvember Iast year 6 of us went to jaiI
The sixth Basu Deogam died in May from malnutrition and TB, I wish to remember the children and widows of the 13 of our comrades aII of who died early from curable diseases aII before the age of 45, yes we are now acquitted after 22 yrs of one of the countries biggest mining companies TATA STEEL failed strategy to harass Intimidate and defeat the resistance movement,
The struggle and resistance against Mining in the Saranda forest within which TATA STEEL and Noamundi comes continues and is now Ied by some of the children of our former comrades On 22 June a Pubic Hearing for a new mine could not be held as over 500 women men and children under the Leadership of Omon MahiIIIa Sanghatan drove them away This picture was taken out of the Court ,

.

 

#India – Everest Conquerors ,Mountaineers quietly rescuing people in Uttarakhand #mustead


A group of ace climbers, which includes Mt Everest conquerors Bachendri Pal and Premlata Agarwal, have quietly arrived in Uttarkashi from across India ” trekking up to villages where even the Army jawans haven’t reached, providing essential supplies to marooned villagers who have no food, water or power

June 30, 2013
MUMBAI
Dhiman Chattopadhyay, Mid Day

 

They have conquered the highest peaks in the world and maneuvered dangerous gorges, endured heavy snowfall and lack of oxygen. But all that pales in comparison to what they are doing now — helping thousands of stranded, starved and ill villagers of Uttarkashi with food and essential supplies in areas so remote that even the army jawans have failed to make their way to these places.


Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal and their group  managed to reach stranded villagers at Bidsari, Pilang, Jadau and some other places in Uttarakhand. Pics Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian and  Guneet Puri

A small group of ace climbers, led by two women who have conquered Mt Everest, arrived in Uttarkashi last week from all over India to help rescue operations in the flood-ravaged state. Till Saturday evening they had managed to climb up to six ‘unreachable’ villages around Maneri, where over 400 people are without home, food, water and medicine since June 16. On the way, they have also rescued, and guided dozens of dehydrated tourists, ordered to trek over 50 kilometres by jawans who were told to rescue women, children and the elderly first.

Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal
Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal

The group has now sought help from the Tata Relief Trust and several other NGOs to airdrop life-saving materials such as food, medicines, candles, matchboxes, blankets and tents, to these villagers. They are being led by the legendary Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest and Premlata Agarwal the first Indian woman to conquer the highest peaks of all seven continents. Others in the team include journalist and mountaineer Anusha Subramanian, and a team of climbers including Guneet Puri, Yashwant Panwar and Jay Panwar, who were all part of the Mt Thelu expedition.


People wait to be airlifted at Harsil on June 21. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri

Hanging on to life
“We have managed to reach stranded villagers at Didsari, Pilang, Jadau and a couple of other places. Most people here are without power, water or a roof over their head. The government has just airdropped packets of biscuits for them to eat. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea since they are not used to such food. We are trying to help them with food, medicines and some form of shelter,” says Anusha Subramanian, a Mumbai-based journalist and a trained mountaineer who rushed to Uttarkashi after receiving a call from her friends. Subramanian who trained at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering reached Uttarkashi soon.


Many locals in the region are without food, water and their homes. Pic Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian

While Everest conquerer Bachendri Pal, who heads the Tata Adventure Foundation, arrived in Uttarkashi as part of the Tata Relief Trust (TRF) team to spearhead relief operations, she was joined by her friend Premlata Agarwal who holds the twin distinction of being the oldest Indian woman to climb Everest and the first Indian woman to scale the tallest peaks in all seven continents. Subramanian who has several high-altitude treks to her credit, also flew down from Mumbai while mountaineers Puri, Panwar and Tanwar arrived from snow-capped peaks in the upper Himalayas.

Dharali town
A mudslide that ravaged parts of Dharali town. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri

Trekking every day for relief operations
According to Subramanian who spoke to SUNDAY MiD Day whenever she and her team were in a zone with mobile connectivity, they have been trekking to different villages every day, taking small supplies of food and medication, as they await choppers from the TRF to arrive with tents, foodgrain, candles and other supplies.


(L-R) Premlata Agarwal, Bachendri Pal, Guneet Puri and Anusha Subramanian along with other members of the group.

“Uttarkashi seems like a ghost town, so different from what I have experienced in the past. The tragedy has many ramifications for locals, the most important being loss of livelihood. Yesterday, we, along with some employees of the NGO Sri Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) and the TRF team, went to assess the situation in the upper reaches of Maneri. These villages have lost their homes and their land,” she said.

A rapid assessment by SBMA shows that Uttarkashi has 120 villages, which have been completely destroyed. There are no roads to connect them to mainland, no electricity and above all no ration to cook food. “This is the third monsoon disaster since 2010 in this region. After the first two disasters, the government identified 250 villages as dangerous but did not take action and relocate villagers,” said a member of the SBMA.

The ace mountaineers are now helping adopt six such villages of New Didsari, Didsari, Pilang, Jadaou, Bayana and Shyaba and provide relief to approximately 400 families. “Bachendri Pal is originally from Uttarakhand. She has personally surveyed some of these villages and along with all of us she is ensuring that relief reaches each and every villager,” says Subramanian.

Ground reality
The team recalled how they were shocked to see the condition at New Didsari, one of the villages they reached. “It has 55 families who have been displaced from their homes and lost everything they had. No medical aid has reached these villages yet. The villagers are sad, disappointed and angry. The bridge that connects their village with the world, has been washed away,” recalled Guneet Puri, who reached Uttarkashi on June 20 after a month in the upper Himalayas attempting to scale a 20,000 feet peak. The other villages, explains Pal, are even more remote. The only way to get to these villagers is through treacherous mountainous routes. Even a helicopter cannot land here and airdropping is the only option after all roads were destroyed. But these bravehearts are not giving up. They are staying put, till the villagers are back on their feet. At a time, when politicians are busy gaining political mileage from this human tragedy, heroes like these men and women are keeping the nation’s flag flying proudly.

‘We met people on the verge of death’
Guneet Puri is yet to come to terms with what has been the biggest mountaineering challenge of her life. The ace mountaineer and her teammates were on their way back from Mt Thelu when they encountered the disaster.
Her account:
We reached Harsil village on June 21. Over 4, 000 people were stranded there. They had all been forced to walk over 50 km since the Army was rescuing children, women and the disabled first. We met people on the verge of exhaustion or death. All of us were carrying between 23 to 30 kilos of equipment with us since we were returning from an expedition. But when we saw the plight of these tourists, we happily carried their luggage with us. In the end, we almost carried some of them, too. By the time we reached Gangani, all our toes has blisters. We could hardly walk. But things were about to get worse. From here to Uttarkashi, entire roads had vanished. We helped hundreds of tourists who had no energy to walk, let alone climb the huge boulders. We rushed a woman to the hospital in Maneri after she fainted. These are my people and we have to take care of them. We are doing what we can. But when I look at the magnitude of the disaster, our efforts seem to insignificant. Still, every drop counts.

 

SC asks cos including Vedanta, Adani, Tata and Essar Steel to pay 50% entry fee tax demand by Odisha


Samanwaya Rautray, ET Bureau Apr 10, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked a host of companies including VedantaAdani and Tata Steel and Essar Steel, to pay up 50% of the tax demanded by the state of Odisha by way of entry tax for now.

A bench, comprising Justices HL Dattu and JS Khehar, directed all the companies to pay 50% of the tax and interest amounts demanded/assessed by the state. But the penalty amount would be excluded from the amount, the court said.

Senior counsel Harish Salve argued the case for these companies. He was assisted by Tarun Gulati of Economic Laws Practice. Salve urged the court to restrict the deposit to 33% for now, but the court refused to do so, instead asking them to pay 50% of any demands made by the state.

Salve also urged that the penalty may be directed to be deposited as the case involves a constitutional challenge and that the assessees had already succeeded in the High Court in Reliance’s case.

The Bench agreed with Salve’s suggestion that the penalty amount should be excluded from the total deposits to be made by the companies.

But the bench noted the state was financially poor and that these companies were constrained to bring such goods from outside the state.

Odisha counsel Rakesh Dwivedi demanded that these companies deposit the whole of the tax liability which had arisen prior to filing of the petitions before the Orissa High Court. But Salve objected to this suggestion.

These taxes have been imposed on goods imported by them for their plants and services in Orissa between 2008 and 2012.

Odisha’s Entry Act, which allows levy of entry tax on imported goods, allows the state to levy a tax, not exceeding 12% of the purchase value, on entry of goods for consumption, use or sale in the state. The government levies different rates for different goods. Most states have similar Acts.

Petitions challenging them on the grounds of constitutional validity are now pending before the Supreme Court. Nineteen other companies including ACC and Hindalco Industries and Vedanta, have moved the top court against the Act. They claim that the power to impose a cross state levy only lies with the centre and states have no power to impose them.

 

Tata Steel to raise 13,000 cr in 6 mths for Kalinganagar project


13 Feb, 2013, 08.32PM IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Tata SteelBSE 0.47 % is going to raise up to Rs 13,000 crore within next six months for the first phase of its upcoming 6 million tonnes new steel mill in Odisha’s Kalinganagar, a top company official said today. 

“We are looking at closing our project financing for the Odisha project. It is an advanced stage… In phase-I, we will be funding around Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 13,000 crore on debt and then, after we complete (phase-I), we will take a call on (fund raising for) phase-II,” Tata Steel‘s group CFO Koushik Chatterjee said in a conference call.

The Kalinganagar project is the first integrated greenfield project for the company outside Jamshedpur in its over a century-old history.

The project has been divided into two equal phases of 3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) and is estimated to require an investment of about Rs 35,000 crore.

The first phase of the project is expected to go on strea by June-July, Chatterjee said.

“Work is going on in full swing (at Kalinganagar project). We have significantly mobilised resources on-site and expecting to ramp up the same before the onset of monsoon season, some time in June-July,” he said, adding that the project is being funded at 50:50 debt-equity ratio.

He also said in the immediate future, Tata Steel is looking at only rupee loans but may go for foreign borrowings at a later stage.

Tata Steel has deployed more than 25,000 workers for the construction of the plant, which is being developed to produce flat steel products only.

The company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha government in 2004 only but due to protests at the site few years ago, in which 13 tribals were killed, had delayed the project.

Tata Steel is in possession of only 1700 acres of the land at present against a total requirement of over 5,000 acres for the full 6 MTPA capacity.

 

#India – Mining scams -a decade of loot



Author(s):
Sayantan Bera
Issue Date:
2012-12-31

At more than Rs 65,000 crore, the mining scam in Odisha has surpassed that in Goa and Karnataka. The penalties, however, came too late

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/24_201212311.jpg” width=”457″ height=”234″ border=”0″ />Prodded by the Shah Commission, the Odisha government has started satellite mapping to check illegal mining (Photo: Sayantan Bera)

In December last year, days before an inquiry commission headed by justice M B Shah was slated to visit Koira and Joda mining circles in northern Odisha, piles of documents were burnt in the office of deputy director of mines in Koira. In November this year, just days before the commission’s third visit, the Odisha government slapped a fine of Rs 65,493 crore on 104 mine lessees for extracting more than the permitted quantity of iron ore, manganese and chromite between 2000 and 2010 (see ‘Who’s who among offenders’).

The commission was set up by the Centre in 2010 to probe illegal mining across India. It is expected to submit its report on Odisha by December end.

At present, of the 600 leases in the state, 388 have been either suspended or temporarily discontinued. The state environment minister recently told the Assembly that 111 mines have been listed for violating Environment Protection and Forest Conservation Acts. In October, the state government notified that second and subsequent renewal of mining leases will be restricted to captive users, that is, lessees without any industry of their own will not be eligible.

image

The Rs 65,493 crore fine has been recorded as royalty for overextraction and transit passes (given by the state to vehicles carrying minerals out of mines) issued. “But what about the mining beyond leasehold areas which include forestland?” asks Union minister and Congress MP from Odisha Srikant Kumar Jena who says the total loss from illegal mining in the state is Rs 4 lakh crore. Accusing the Odisha government of hoodwinking people, Jena says, “It has imposed the fine on mine lessees to put a brave face in front of the Shah Commission.”

Horror unfolds

The decade beginning 2000 witnessed a boom in iron ore prices. To reap benefits, miners in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts, which include Koira and Joda circles, started mining in excess of the limit approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines. They stretched operations beyond their lease areas and continued extracting even after their leases had expired. Mining was done without acquiring mandatory environment and forest clearances or the “consent to establish” from the state pollution control board.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/26_201212311.jpg” width=”457″ height=”302″ border=”0″ />The blank board at Koira block development office is an ironic reminder of the underdevelopment in the mining hot spot

Traders transported the overproduce by bribing through check posts. The iron ore was eventually exported to China. Thousands of trucks carrying ore moved daily on broken roads, says Satyabrata Panda, an economist based in Bhubaneswar, while recalling the day in 2005 when his car moved inch by inch in Sundargarh to cover four kilometres in eight hours. A 2008 report by the Auditor General found that many trucks in the Baripada mining circle in Mayurbhanj district were using number plates assigned to motorcycles. Of the eight circles reviewed, six did not have government check gates, says the report.

In 2009, a report by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha, provided evidence of mining in forestland, tampered boundary pillars, construction of roads inside reserve forest in Keonjhar and Sundargarh, and rampant illegal mining along the Jharkhand border (see ‘Pushing the pillars’). The same year, Rabi Das, senior journalist based in Bhubaneswar, filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging organised illegal mining with active support of the state government. Das argued that 155 leases were operating “without any valid authority… most of which include forest areas and by whom the mandatory clearances from the Central government has (sic) not been obtained ”.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/27_201212311.jpg” width=”457″ height=”546″ border=”0″ />Source: Inspection report by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests , Odisha, 2009

In response, the court appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which submitted its report in 2010. The report observed that of the 341 mines operating, 215 were working under the “deemed extension” clause of the mineral concession rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. “The deemed extension clause is primarily meant to deal with contingency situation and to ensure that mining operations do not come to an abrupt end… This provision is not meant to be availed of indefinitely. Continuing mining over a long period of time without renewal of the mining lease becomes a potential source for serious illegalities and irregularities,” notes the report.

It observed that mining activities were going on in a large number of mines without requisite approvals under the Forest Conservation Act and the Air and Water Acts. Despite the findings, many violators, especially big companies, got away without any hassle, says Panda. Tata Steel, for instance, renewed its mining lease and increased production capacity from six million tonnes to 12 million tonnes in a year even when the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Keonjhar had slammed the company for violating forest laws and illegal mining in 2011. Similarly, Rungta Mines renewed its lease despite violations. The DFO was transferred after he filed damning inspection reports.

Panda, who has been analysing the mining sector, points to another problem. “For the 80 million tonnes of iron ore produced in 2010-11, the environmental cost of handling overburden (waste produced while mining) would be Rs 26,000 crore. This is absurd since the market valuation of 80 million tonnes is less than Rs 10,000 crore,” he says.

Fine: a face-saver?

Referring to the Rs 65,493 crore fine, Supreme Court lawyer Jayant Das says the notice of fines given to mine lessees will not stand in the court of law. “The firms were not issued a show cause notice where they would have a chance of replying,” adds Das, who is fighting a case on illegal mining in the state.

Prafulla Samantara, a civil rights activist in Odisha, says the penalties were imposed as a face-saver ahead of the Shah Commission’s visit. “What was the state government doing for 10 long years while the loot was on?” he asks.

Two instances bring home the point. Earlier this year, the state had fined Raikela Iron Mines, leased to Geetarani Mohanty, Rs 40.37 crore for excess production of iron ore. The notice was issued after the Auditor General raised an objection in the 2011-12 audit. The mine lessee appealed to the revision authority in the Union Ministry of Mines and got a stay on the order to pay fine. Similarly, a fine of Rs 1,132 crore imposed on Indrani Pattnaik mines was stayed. “The state government is not serious about recovering the amount,” says lawyer Das.

Another hurdle to collect the fine is in the definition of illegal mining. A recent amendment to the mineral concession rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act defines illegal mining as any mining outside the leasehold area. Overextraction inside the leasehold area cannot be termed illegal and, therefore, the penalty will not be valid, mine lessees argue. Deepak Mohanty, state director of mines, says, “Fines were imposed under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Stay orders of the revision authorities are not the last word.”

Fifty years of mining have done little to improve people’s lives, says Kanhu Charan Mohanty, activist in the region from NGO Ekta Parishad. Despite overproduction of minerals, jobs are not easily available as most excavation work is done by machines. Beginning 2002, with the boom in mineral prices, people abandoned agriculture—everyone wanted a share of the booty, either by illegal mining or by transporting the iron ore. Most areas now lie barren. With streams dried up, people depend on tankers from mining companies for drinking water.

At the entrance to the Koira block development office is a signboard listing its success profile—from check dams and farm ponds to peripheral development. It’s telling: there are no numbers on the white board, only a coat of red iron ore dust.


 

Despite state pardon, J’khand activists sent to jail, get bail


Deepu Sebastian Edmond :  IEChaibasa, Thu Nov 29 2012

Six activists of the Jharkhand statehood movement, who were sent to jail on Saturday by a Railway Magistrate in a 1991 case, were on Monday bailed out from the Chaibasa jail. Xavier Dias, John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Lagur were released at 6.30 pm. Three of the nine accused in the case have died.

They were sent to jail despite a pardon granted by the state government in all cases originating out of the successful movement to carve out Jharkhand from Bihar.

State Home Secretary J B Tubid said this was because this particular case was out of the purview of the state government. “The (Union) Railway Ministry has to take a call in this. We had written to them a long time ago, asking for special consideration in cases relating to Jharkhand movement activists. There must be 20-25 such cases. There has been no response,” he said.

The case relates to a protest that was organised on March 15, 1991. Some workers of the Tata Iron and Steel Company had allegedly invaded upon the privacy of tribal women while celebrating Holi. “According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege,” wrote Xavier Dias in a widely-circulated note drafted before his arrest.

The accused, then members of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, organised the tribals of the area for the protest. According to the complaint by the Chief Security Officer of the TISCO’s Noamundi plant, which formed the basis of the FIR, the protesters “snatched the keys from the sepoy”, pushed him and “removed the fish-plates” of the railway track used for transportation.

The protest invited charges under Indian Penal Code sections 147, 148, 342, 448 and 427, along with sections 126 and 127 of the Indian Railways Act.

All accused have been on bail since 1991. Meanwhile, three accused — Kandey Laguri, John Tiria and Jeno Chatar — passed away.

The arrests took place as the accused had not been attending court proceedings for over a year. In response, the court cancelled their bail bonds and sent notices warning attachment of property, forcing the six to surrender before it.

 

Why are five Adivasis and Xavier Dias sent to Chaibasa Jail?



A note sent by Xavier Dias, before they surrendered, to let the world know the details of the case

and the story of the battle of the people of Noamundi against the TISCO…TISCO (Tata Iron & Steel Co.) presently know as TATA STEEL’s captive iron ore mine lies in Noamundi Jharkhand (India). It is one of their first mines operational since 1907 and supplying ore to its furnace in Jamshedpur. This is the homeland of the Adivasi people of India from whom resources were expropriated to convert the House of Tata’s from a opium trader to a full-fledged monopoly capitalist. One of the first in British India.

Noamundi prior to the arrival of mining was a 100% ‘Ho’ Adivasi territory. Today Tatas have a large township with massive mechanised mining including processing plants.

In 1991 on the festival of Holi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi) a rowdy group of TISCO employees molested a team of Adivasi women labourers on the construction site of the Companies Sports Stadium. The women had joined their hands and told these drunken workers that as their Baa Parob (festival of spring) was not yet performed in their village they cannot join them in the Holi celebrations. According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege. The TISCO workers forced themselves on the women and by applying colour on their breast and genitals molested them.

They all came from Noamundi Basti the original village from where Noamundi gets its name. When the late Gagan Suren, the Munda (Adivasi village chief), of the village came to know of it, he approached the TISCO management and demanded that a case be registered against the workers. TISCO refused and as the Police too come under their control, the Police station refused to accept the FIR (First Information Report) of the Munda.

One of the sub colonies of Noamundi Township, JoJo Hatting comes under the jurisdiction of the Mundi of Noamundi Basti in this case Gagan Suren. Under the power the Munda had then he ask all the workers and their families to quit Jojo Hatting. TISCO found itself saddled with about a hundred refugee families at their door step. TISCO soon relented and asked the Police to file a case. Immediately the TISCO sponsored union affiliated to the central trade union of the Congress Party (INTUC) threatened that if a case is filed, they would go on strike. It should be noted here that this was the first time in the history of this union that they gave such an ultimatum to the management.

In the meanwhile, anger spread among the Ho people. At that time the All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU) was strong in that area. AJSU supported the demands of the Munda.

On the other side of Noamundi in a different area lies the TISCO Palletising Plant or P Plant as known locally. It was constructed on grabbed lands of the surrounding villages, the main one being Moodhi village. The sacred graves and sacred groves till today rest within the walls of the P Plant and ever since the villagers have been demanding compensation. Seeing their relatives of Noamundi basti under attack and agitating, the villagers of Moodhi village decided to support them by opening another agitation front against TISCO. They locked the P Plant with the workers in and refused entry to the next shift of workers. Hundreds surrounded the P Plant and kept its gates locked for days.

TISCO was hereby being challenged by Adivasis who they consider as sheep to be slaughtered. They could not take it. Their security men (private security force) opened fire on the Adivasis at the P Plant. This act itself let to a big problem for TISCO as they cannot open fire on a crowd. So they got the Police to issue a statement that it was the Police who fired the shots.

As usual in those times the Police issued different criminal cases against the villagers and AJSU activist. As the P Plant gate is adjacent to the railway line TISCO got the Railways to file their case against the same accused.

This group of accused, about fifteen in number, is today reduced to seven persons. The rest all have died much before their time. They are today the unsung heroes of Jharkhand. Their wives and children are till date suffering due to the sacrifice of their breadwinners.

Since 1991, all the accused activists have been on bail (after surrendering and going to jail then!) and they have been attending all court dates for the last two decades.

In 2010 the lawyer handling the case gives up practice to join the Abhijeet Steel Company. He abandoned the case without handing it over to another lawyer. As a result the court has issued an arrest warrant against all the surviving activists. As we were not informed of this warrant, the court converted it into a ‘Kudkhi’ warrant or seizure of properties of the accused.

I am writing this note a day before we all surrender before the Magistrate. In accordance with fair judicial procedure, he should revive our bail. But we are apprehending that he will send us all into judicial custody or jail in order to harass us and threaten the ongoing agitation against the TATA STEEL expansion of their mines in Noamundi. This is the best way the Jharkhand state can appease Tatas at this stage. In the past we have experienced that such repression only goes to strengthen our resolve and movement. Thanks to TATA STEEL

Written by Xavier Dias on 22nd November 2012
(along with the surviving accused including: John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Laguri)

When excess mining got a legal seal #Odisha


pic courtesy, Reuters

Debabrata Mohanty : Bhubaneswar, Mon Nov 12 2012, 01:22 hrs

A key mining regulator, The Indian Bureau of Mines, allowed excess mining to carry on in Orissa by raising the permissible limit of those responsible, says the state government, which recently slapped a penalty on several leaseholders.

The IBM, however, says that excess mining is not illegal as long as the companies involved pay the royalty for what they have extracted. In fact, because of an amendment to mining rules, the state and the Centre continue to debate what constitutes illegal mining.

The IBM, with its headquarters in Nagpur, approves the mining plans of each company for a period of five years with predetermined annual limits under section 5(2)(b) of the Mines & Minerals (Regulation & Development) Act, 1957 and other rules such as Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, and Mineral Conservation & Development Rules, 1988. A lease period of 20 or 30 years is, therefore, divided into four or six mining plans. After the state government gets the IBM-approved mining plan, it grants or renews a lease.

When the first signs of excess mining in Keonjhar and Sundargarh showed in 2003, IBM officials on the ground spotted it. Official sources said that under the MC&D Rules, 1988, IBM officials are empowered to cancel the lease or impose penalties. It instead revised the mining plan, the sources said.

Documents with the steel and mines department show that in Khandabandh mines in Keonjhar, the IBM had approved extraction of 3.60 lakh tonnes by Tata Steel in 2006-07. The company raised 7.64 lakh tonnes, and again 7.42 lakh tonnes in 2007-08. The next year, the IBM raised the limit to 7.06 lakh tonnes without imposing penalties. In 2002-03, when the limit was 24 lakh tonnes at Joda East mines, the Tatas mined 30.5 lakh tonnes. The next year, the IBM raised the limit to 40.1 lakh tonnes.

“The mining plan/scheme is an instrument to systematically conserve the ores and not finish them overnight. Once a mining plan is given for five years, it should not be revised midway, but that’s what the IBM did,” said Orissa director of mines Deepak Kumar Mohanty. “They didn’t levy any penalty on over-mining and instead set new limits the next year. If you are going to condone illegalities, why have a mining plan/scheme at all?”

IBM officials say excess extraction is not illegal as long as the miner pays the royalty. “Once royalty is paid on excess production of ore, it can’t be called illegal mining. This was more like irregular operations,” said M Biswas, regional controller of mines with the IBM.

Biswas rejected the state’s allegation that the IBM failed to detect irregularities in mining. “We have done our duty and the state government is doing its job,” he said. “The IBM should not be blamed for the wrongs. It has taken action against certain mines by suspending their operations.”

Chief secretary B K Patnaik had written to the Union Mines Ministry about the IBM’s inaction, and the mines secretary wrote back to say that 20 per cent excess mining for a given year is condonable. This July, the ministry amended the MC Rules, 1960, saying mining outside the lease area is illegal but excess mining inside the lease area is not. The state government finds this difficult to accept. “Where is the rule in the MMDR Act that says 20 per cent excess mining can be allowed?” says the state director of mines.

Jayant Das, president of the Orissa High Court Bar Association and a lawyer on mineral matters, said, “The IBM had all the information to be able to crack down on illegal mining. But companies continued to over-extract from mines which had a deemed renewal status. This is not possible without a quid pro quo arrangement.”

Environmental activist Biswajit Mohanty, who has filed a PIL in the Orissa High Court demanding a CBI probe into the scam, said, “If deemed renewal by the state steel and mines department was the main cause of excess mining, the IBM’s negligence or condoning gave the miners the licence to loot.”

 

Tata Steel to make representation to Orissa


The company has received notices for a sum of Rs.6,000-7,000 cr as a fine for excessive production
Ruchira Singh Mail Me, livemint.com

First Published: Tue, Nov 06 2012. 12 24 AM IST

http://www.livemint.com/rf/Image-621×414/LiveMint/Period1/2012/11/06/Photos/Tata%20Steel_3C–621×414.jpg” />
A file photo of Tata Steel’s Jamshedpur plant.
Updated: Tue, Nov 06 2012. 12 26 AM IST
New Delhi: Tata Steel Ltd will make a representation to Orissa to ask for cancelling a fine demanded by the state government for the company’s iron ore mining in the state, an industry official said on Monday, as the state tightened its mining rules in the wake of continuing scrutiny on illegal mining.
Tata Steel, which has mines in Joda, Sukinda and Khondbond in Orissa all of which supply iron ore to its Jamshedpur steel plant, has received notices issued from Joda asking for a sum of Rs.6,000-7,000 crore as a fine for excessive production, the official said.
An official statement from the company said it had not broken any law.
“Tata Steel has received notice from the government and we will revert to the government with our submission. We reiterate our contention that we have always undertaken mining in Orissa and also in other states where we operate with strict conformity with the existing laws,” the official statement from the company said. “Government of India has recently brought out a notification defining irregularity in mining operations and illegal mining. This distinction is an important aspect of the whole issue of the demand put forth by the state government.”
Orissa’s director of mines Deepak Kumar Mohanty did not answer his phone when called for comments.

First Published: Tue, Nov 06 2012. 12 24 AM IST