Loot of Indias coal deposits by domestic and foreign companies


Dear friendsBetween 1993 and June 2011, Govt. of India has allotted 195 coal blocks to 289 private companies in lieu of nominal royalty on 30 years lease. Through this allotment, countrys coal deposit of nearly 43346.357 million ton which today is valued at Rs 13003907.10 crores is being handed over for plunder to domestic and foreign companies which will make huge profit in 433463.57 crores per annum

Indias total coal deposits are estimated to be of 2,85,862.21 million tons, which at todays market price of coal are valued at Rs. 85,75,8663 crores. The government is doing this on the name of development. If coal mines are given in this way, than every year nearly Rs. 28,58,622 crores will be looted which is two times of governments national budget.

In Govt. allotted 289 coal blocks, 189 coal blocks has gone to private companies in 2004 to 2011, and some new coal blocks are still to be allotted. Till date, 1515 proposals from private companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are lying with the government on which final decision is yet to be taken.

Interim Report of CAG says that between 2004 to 2011, due to non-exploration of coal by the allottees, a loss of Rs. 10,67,000 crores to public exchequer is done. This fact proves above prospects of loot are correct. To give benefit to companies, not doing open bidding is a crime, but the question is not of doing open bidding, it is of more importance as who is the real owner of this coal? And whether the government has a right to give this largesse to companies for loot.

Companies are doing this loot in collusion with the government, which under their pressure has changed Coal Act, giving this loot a legal facade. Firstly, by doing amendments in Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, private captive mines are allotted coal blocks. After that the companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are also included in this list. A provision was further made to allot coal blocks for coal gasification and liquidation. Than removing the captive restriction, directly or through Public- Private Partnership (PPP), the coal mines were handed over to private companies. In this way a well planned scheme to make loot of coal deposits easy was prepared. This loot is being attempted by rejecting country’s people ownership over coal, by misguiding and forcibly displacing Adivasis and to ensure this loot, the government of India under pressure from private companies has changed the Coal Act. It is clear that these changes are made to bring benefits to them.

Therefore, the people themselves have to come forward now for saving this precious natural resource. On the one hand, inequality, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment are incrcasing continuously, and on the other countrys governments are handing over this huge wealth to the corporates for plunder. The governments are befooling the public by giving name of development to this plunder. The richness of some private companies is not the development. The true development lies in richness of all.

It is also not correct to give coal exploration free of cost to the public sector companies. In this way resources are again used for the benefit of rich. In a country where half of the population is homeless, where 40% people do not have electricity in their homes, where 70% people use only 1 unit of electricity daily, what kind of benefit they will get on this exploitation of coal and other resources in the name of development? This is bringing all kind of material consumption only to the rich. Private companies, beaurocracy and other elites and affluent sections of society, who consume natural resources in vast quantities, really get benefits. Those millions of people, who toil hard day and night for their livelihood, get nothing.

Azadi Bachao Andolan believes this handing over of resources to corporates after taking them away forcibly from farmers and adivasis is immoral and unconstitutional and oppose this. Andolan is already involved in mass movements for establishing people’s ownership over resources in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Andolan is now going to further spread this movement in the coal rich states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra. Through this movement, Andolan appeals to public that to stop this plunder, people should take resolve that community ownership over coal is ours, which we will claim through Gram Sabhas. For country’s need, we will mine coal ourselves, but we do not allow any company to mine this coal. Andolan is making appeal to people to take resolve by taking coal in their hand at public places. As thousand of people did in Karnapura area of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand on 10th April. Not only coal but other resources like forest, water, land and minerals are being allowed to plunder after taking them away from people. This plunder is many times bigger than what was done by Britishers in colonial India. Azadi Bachao Andolan appeals that now the time has come for local community to assert their ownership right over resources through their Gram Sabhas and be ready for further struggle. All natural resources belong to Gram Sabhas. In Indian democracy, constitution bestows a role of trusteeship on the government. Any trustee institution does not have the right to snatch away peoples rights and give them to companies for private gain. Companies could not have ownership over them.

Through this campaign to establish peoples ownership over resources, we appeal to the people in their larger interest to be ready for civil disobedience movement-

1.For establishing through Gram Sabhas peoples communities ownership over coal, countrys common men express their public resolve.

2.All mines given to private companies be taken back.

3.Name of Board Directors and name of Beneficiaries of Ownership of these companies, which are allotted coal blocks be made public.

4.Names of those companies and of their share holders which have come via Mauritus route be also made public.

Respectfully
Dr. Mithilesh Dangi, Vivekanand Mathane, Manoj Tyagi
Phone : 09235406243
e-mail : azadi.bachao.andolan@gmail.com
National Office : 21-B, Moti Lal Nehru Road,
Allahabad-211002

UN adopts historic ‘land grab’ guidelines


Man next to a pile of hay
In recent years large-scale acquisitions of farmland in developing countries have caused concern
11 May 2012 Last updated at 15:23 GMT,  BBC NEWS

The United Nations has adopted global guidelines for rich countries buying land in developing nations.

The voluntary rules call on governments to protect the rights of indigenous peoples who use the land.

It is estimated that 200m hectares, an area eight times the size of Britain, has been bought or leased over the past decade, much of it in Africa and Asia.

But aid agencies warn it will be very difficult to ensure the guidelines are implemented everywhere.

AFP quoted Clara Jamart from Oxfam as saying this was just a first step and urging caution.

“Governments have no obligation to apply these measures,” she said.

There has been growing concern about so-called land grabs, when foreign governments or companies buy large areas of land to farm.

In Africa countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone have all signed major land deals with foreign investors.

Responsible investment

It is hoped this new agreement will secure access to land, fisheries and forests for millions of poor people who have historically used the land.

The document took three years to draw up and calls on governments to be transparent about land deals, consult local communities and defend women’s rights to own land.

It also emphasises the responsibility of businesses and multinational corporations to respect human rights when they move in to an area.

Problems can arise because in many parts of Africa local farmers, herders and gatherers do not have any formal documents for the land they use, which is often owned by the state.

Authorities often argue that big international deals bring investment and new technology to a region, benefiting local people.

But this is not always the reality and human rights organisations have highlighted cases where tens of thousands of people have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands to make way for foreign investors.

India: End Intimidation of Peaceful Protesters at Nuclear Site- HRW


Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюма...

Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Use of Sedition Law Undermines Free Expression

Human Righst Watch
May 11, 2012

(Delhi) – Indian authorities should drop sedition cases against peaceful protesters opposed to the construction of a nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state. At least 3,500 people are facing police investigations into allegations of sedition and “waging war” against the state for protesting against the plant in Kudankulam, according to a recent report by local activists.

Human Rights Watch urged the Indian parliament to repeal the colonial-era sedition law, which has frequently been used by authorities around the country to silence dissent.

“The Tamil Nadu protesters are simply speaking out on an issue of great public concern,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Filing police cases against peaceful protesters happens in China, but should never happen in a rights-respecting democracy.”

Local residents, most in fishing communities, had initially protested against the US$3.5 billion Kudankulam power plant, constructed with Russian assistance, because they feared that nuclear waste pollution could affect their livelihood. Other communities were also concerned about the plant’s adverse effects on health and their livelihoods.

Fresh protests erupted because many had experienced the 2006 Indian Ocean tsunami and worried about a situation like the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in 2011. The recent cases followed these 2011 protests that had delayed construction work at the plant. In March 2012, the Tamil Nadu government decided to resume construction. Activists conducted a hunger strike in the nearby village of Idinthakarai and villagers surrounded the protest site to prevent arrest of the activists.

The government deployed thousands of security forces around the village, creating an effective blockade that prevented the delivery of essential supplies to the villagers, in an apparent effort to compel S.P. Udaykumar, convener of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PANE), to turn himself in to the authorities. The hunger strike was called off on March 28 after the government agreed to address safety concerns and drop charges against the protesters.

PANE submitted a list of concerns to the national and state governments, but has complained that it has not received adequate assurances over safety and livelihood concerns. Activists recently threatened to resume protests because the government has not kept a promise to drop sedition and other charges against ordinary villagers.

A four-member fact-finding team representing the Chennai Solidarity Group for Kudankulam Struggle found during a visit to Idinthakaari, the center of the protest in March, that the police had filed criminal cases against over 50,000 people since October 2011. Apart from sedition, other charges range from waging or abetting war against the state to disrupting harmony to unlawful assembly. Nearly 200 people were arrested and later released. Two people remain in custody facing charges of sedition and waging war.

India’s sedition law, section 124A of the Penal Code, prohibits any words either spoken or written, or any signs or visible representation that can cause, “hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection,” toward the government. The Supreme Court, in 1962, ruled that unless the accused incited violence by their speech or action, it would no longer constitute sedition, as it would otherwise violate the right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

“Instead of addressing the concerns of protesters, the Tamil Nadu authorities are using sedition and trumped-up criminal charges against ordinary fisher-folk and farmers,” Ganguly said. “These arrests should be a warning sign to the Indian parliament to repeal the sedition law, which has become a tool of repression.”

Instead of discussing the merits of the nuclear plant with local communities, senior government officials have suggested that the protests have been instigated by Western groups. In February, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that nongovernmental organizations involved in such protests were funded by the United States and Scandinavian countries. “The atomic energy program has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate the need for our country to increase the energy supply,” he told Science magazine.

Officials appeared to exploit the prime minister’s remarks to investigate several nongovernmental organizations for possible violations of the draconian Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which allows the government to regulate foreign donations to non-profit groups. The act permits the government to close bank accounts and block foreign charitable donations, and includes criminal penalties for violations. Human Rights Watch has long called for the law to be amended so that it does not interfere with basic freedoms of expression and association and so that it cannot be misused to choke the protected activities of civil society organizations.

“Threats of prosecutions or the withdrawal of FCRA approval should not be used by the government to censor and intimidate organizations and activists,” Ganguly said. “By alleging that the protests are instigated from abroad, the government is suggesting that Indians are incapable of speaking out for their own concerns.”

Immediate Release- Evicting the Poor at EWS Quarters, Ejipura, Bangalore


Press Release

 

Evicting the Poor at EWS Quarters, Ejipura, Bangalore

 

PUCL-Bangalore strongly condemns the illegitimate move by BBMP to

forcefully evict residents of the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) slum in Ejipura, Koramangala by switching off their water supply, blocking their common toilet facilities and  not collecting garbage – which is now piling up there.

 

In a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Maverick Holdings Ltd, BBMP exchanged eight of the fifteen acres of the original EWS land, for construction of 1640 quarters for the community. What makes this deal unacceptable to the current residents is that these are for allotment only to the original residents of the BBMP quarters, which were razed to ground by the authorities when one of the buildings collapsed.

 

Most of the beneficiaries under the current scheme no longer reside in the EWS slums; the poorest and needy, who currently live there, do not qualify for any benefits from the state, even when evicted and their homes razed.


In the context of forceful evictions of slum dwellers, Supreme Court has ruled that right to shelter is a part of right to life, enshrined by Article 21 of our constitution. PUCL demands that state run organisations, like BBMP, not resort to draconian means to render our poorest shelter-less. PUCL further demands that BBMP exhibit some constitutional responsibility and make immediate provisions, within the current plan, to also house all those whom it desires it evict – namely, all the current dwellers of EWS quarters.

Arati Chokshi
General Secretary,
PUCL-BLR

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