#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

 

#India- Costly push to mega projects


Author(s):
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-1-15

Cabinet Committee for Investment may dilute environmental and forest clearances

DESPITE concerns from civil society groups, the Union Cabinet gave in-principle nod for setting up a Cabinet Committee for Investment (CCI) on December 13. Introduced as the National Investment Board (NIB) by the Union finance ministry earlier this year, CCI is being set up for expediting clearances for mega projects with investment of above Rs 1,000 crore. CCI will be chaired by the prime minister and comprise members from various ministries as decided by him.

Setting up of the committee is in line with the recommendation of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), released in May this year, on augmentation of coal production. “There is a need to constitute an empowered group along the lines of Foreign Investment Promotion Board as a single-window mechanism with representatives of Central nodal ministries and state governments to grant the necessary clearances…,” the report says. The idea has been picked up by the finance ministry, which alleges green clearances are holding up the country’s infrastructure development and growth.

An analysis of clearances granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) during the 11th Five Year Plan shows the finance ministry’s allegations do not hold water. The analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that the ministry granted many times more environment clearances than planned for the 11th Five Year Plan in key sectors like thermal power, coal and non-coal mining, cement and iron and steel. About 200,000 hectares of forestland was diverted during the period for these sectors. “Where is the question of green clearances holding up growth? MoEF is granting way more clearances than required, disregarding environment and social issues. What is needed is institutional reform in MoEF to make  the clearance process stronger, transparent and accountable. Otherwise, more institutions like CCI will come up and further dilute the process,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of CSE.

JAYANTHI NATARAJAN An investment board will only promote investment, while MoEF has to protect the integrity of environment
JAYANTHI NATARAJAN,
UNION ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

In October, Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan wrote to the prime minister expressing concern over setting up of such a body. “When a minister…,” she wrote, “acting upon the expert advice of officers, takes a decision, there is absolutely no justification for an NIB (now CCI) to assume his/her authority, nor will the NIB have the competence to do so.” She also stated that no one has the right to set up a project just in the name of investment. Her concerns, as pointed out in the letter, stem from a fundamental difference between NIB and MoEF: the objective of an investment board will be to promote investment while that of MoEF is to protect the integrity of the environment and protect forests, wildlife and forest-dwellers.

During a discussion in the Lok Sabha in November, K P Dhanapalan, an MP from Kerala, also said that CCI may dilute clearance procedures. “This may aggravate environmental issues and hence needs to be carefully thought through,” he said. During the discussion, Finance Minister P Chidambaram clarified that CCI will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy. “The committee will monitor these projects and will advise the ministries concerned…,” he explained.

P  
CHIDAMBARAM Cabinet Committee for Investment will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy
P CHIDAMBARAM,
UNION FINANCE MINISTER

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has welcomed CII. “We hope the committee helps the industry get state clearances also in a faster and time-bound manner as maximum clearances are required at the state level,” FICCI president R V Kanoria said in a press release.

Meanwhile, civil society groups are opposing setting up of CCI. Greenpeace and Bengaluru-based non-profit Environment Support Group (ESG) have initiated online campaigns against it. “Setting up of CCI is undemocratic, dangerous and against the national interest,” says Leo Saldahna, coordinator at ESG. Shilpa Chohan, Supreme Court lawyer, says till the time CCI does not overrule the decision of a ministry and is just an administrative body to look into delays, it may prove to be a positive step by bringing together different departments on a single platform.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/costly-push-mega-projects

 

#India- Desperate for a dam, ready to displace 100,000 people


Author(s):
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-1-15

Government skews facts to plan a project in Rajasthan that will displace 100,000 people

Government says<br /><br />
the proposed dam is 150 metres upstream of a wildlife sanctuary, while<br /><br />
residents say the project falls inside it

Government says the proposed dam is 150 metres upstream of a wildlife sanctuary, while residents say the project falls inside it (Photo: Sugandh Juneja)

“We will die but not give our land.” This is the cry of residents of 50 villages in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar and Baran districts. They are at risk of being displaced by a dam planned in the area for irrigation and drinking purposes. The dam will be built 120 km from Kota town in Akawad village of Jhalawar on river Parwan. At an estimated cost of Rs 1,114 crore, the dam’s capacity is 490 million cubic metre (MCM). Of this, 300 MCM is reserved for irrigation and 50 MCM for drinking (for 862 villages). The dam also has provision for supplying 100 MCM to thermal power plants.

The dam is likely to submerge 10,000 hectares (ha), including more than 1,600 ha of forestland. The state government says the dam will completely submerge 17 villages and partially inundate 30 villages. Residents allege that the government’s definition of complete submergence is skewed. “The planned dam will submerge almost 50 villages, but the government does not recognise this,” says Hari Ballabh of Manpura village in Jhalawar.

Most of the residential areas in the two districts are on a hillock, while the agricultural land is at a lower altitude. “What is the point of declaring villages at a higher altitude partially submerged if their fields and roads are going to be fully inundated?” asks a resident of Bilendi village in Baran. As a result of the categorisation, the government has served a notice under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, only in the villages termed completely submerged. The Section 4 notice identifies the area that is to be acquired for public purpose or a company. Any person interested in the identified land can file an objection against the notice with the Collector within 30 days. Akawad village has not been served the notice. Residents of the villages that received the notice have filed their objections under the name of Parwan Doob Kshetra Hitkari evam Jungle Bachao Samiti (PDKHJBS). A people’s organisation, PDKHJBS is headed by Lokendra Singh, resident of Sarthal village in Baran. “Most people have small land holdings or are landless and till someone else’s land. Where will they all go?” he asks.

A resident of Bukhari village in Jhalawar points to another problem. “Nobody is interested in marrying the youngsters of our villages because they believe we will lose our land,” he says.

Is the dam really needed?

The land in the submergence area is extremely fertile with “black cotton soil”. The common crops grown are garlic, coriander and soy. “People in the region have government-licensed pattas (land titles) for the cultivation of opium and it is well known that opium grows in fertile soil,” says Chhattrasal Singh, member of PDKHJBS. But the residents say the government has categorised their land as barren or a single-crop land so that compensation amount decreases. “The government authorities have not yet informed us about the rehabilitation and resettlement package,” informs Bhanu Pratap of Maloni village in Baran district.

Road to the 8th century Kakoni temple<br /><br />
will get submerged if the dam is built

Road to the 8th century Kakoni temple will get submerged if the dam is built

As per the dam proposal, of the total area of 0.6 million ha in Jhalawar district, 0.3 million ha is under cultivation. Of this, 0.2 million ha is irrigated. About 80 per cent of this area is irrigated using groundwater or existing anicuts, while for the rest supply comes from reservoirs and canals. “Villages in the command area of the dam use groundwater for irrigation,” says Govind Singh of Maloni. “They will want this dam so that they can save money on the electricity spent on extracting water,” he adds. Narendar Singh of Aamli village, which falls in the command area, agrees, “We are using tubewells for irrigation, so a dam is important.”

The tubewells go 90 metres deep in the area and no rainwater harvesting is practised. His son says the decision of having a dam or not cannot be based on the present situation. “We will need it in the future since the water level is going to fall if we keep using groundwater,” he says, adding, “but people should be adequately compensated otherwise it will be injustice.” Durga Daan Singh of another village in the command area is unsure. “I do not know if it is fine to have development at the cost of others. We sometimes get water from the Shergarh weir (barrier across a river) but it is causing problems since the government is not maintaining it,” he says. The weir is 10 km downstream of the proposed dam. There is another issue that is bothering residents: the dam’s water allocation provision for thermal power plants. “Adani is setting up a plant in Kawai. If water is given to power plants, the purpose of the dam will be defeated,” says Narendar Singh. Similar concerns are voiced by those in the submergence area. “More than half the water from this dam will be given to power plants. Government would not give water for irrigation,” says a Bilendi resident.

Source: Irrigation department, Kota division. Map not<br /><br />
to scale

Source: Irrigation department, Kota division. Map not to scale

According to Shambhu Singh of Aamli, only villages under total submergence zone are at a loss. “In villages that are on the outskirts of the submergence area, like Sarthal, water will retreat for some time but it will make the land fertile and irrigated without any external help. People can at least grown one crop in these villages,” he says. But people in the submergence area are not convinced. “Why can’t the government build small anicuts instead of a dam?” they ask. “If the project comes up, there will be blood, not water, in the river,” says Ganim Boh of Bilendi.

What’s at stake?

Besides submerging villages, the project will affect religious places of heritage value. For example, Kakoni, the eighth century temple in Baran, which was declared protected by the state archaeological department in 1970. The temple priest says every time the department digs up some area around the temple, it discovers new statues. “A new page of our history unfolds here almost every day,” he says. Chhattrasal Singh of PDKHJBS informs the temple is on a hill. “It won’t be submerged but all access to it will go under water,” he says. Religious sentiments will be hurt along with loss of architectural heritage, says a resident of Bukhari village in Jhalawar. The Kalla Maharaj temple near Akawad village is under threat of submergence. People offer wall clocks in the temple when their wishes get fulfilled. Umrao Singh, superintendent for Kota from the Rajasthan archaeological department, explains the importance of the temples. “These are old temples. If they are lost, we will lose our history. I hope the government has a plan in mind about giving an approach road to the Kakoni temple,” he says.

When the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was contacted to check whether the project has been granted environment and forest clearances, it seemed confused. “We are carrying out a preliminary enquiry and it appears that ‘probably’ the expert appraisal committee considered the project and granted environment clearance in September last year,” says a senior MoEF official. When Down To Earth checked MoEF online records no information on the project was found.

The planned dam, which is yet to receive forest clearance, is likely to submerge some protected forest patches.

In September this year, the Forest Advisory Committee discussed the dam project and its requirement of diverting 1,835 ha of forestland. Pointing out that the project site is just 150 metres from the Shergarh wildlife sanctuary, home to crocodiles, panthers and nilgai, the committee formed a sub-committee to visit the site. T C Todaria, an independent member of the sub-committee, says the planned visit is yet to happen.

The dam actually falls inside the sanctuary (see map). It is in Niharia block which is next to the Bilendi block. The line that demarcates Niharia from Bilendi is also the boundary of the sanctuary. People in the area and the government are at loggerheads over the dam location; while people say it is in Niharia block, the latter claims it is in Bilendi block. To resolve the issue, in June, the forest department called for a joint survey, involving the revenue and forest departments and the local community. PDKHJBS head, who participated in the survey, says the study started from Mokhampura village, walking on the Bilendi block boundary from east to west. After walking some distance, the boundary overlapped with the common line between Bilendi and Niharia blocks. The boundary of the sanctuary and the blocks was marked using the block files and pillars.

The land in<br /><br /><br /><br />
the submergence area of the dam is extremely fertile, but the government says<br /><br /><br /><br />
it is barrenThe land in the submergence area of the dam is extremely fertile, but the government says it is barren

On the next survey date, instead of starting from the place where they had left, the government officials started studying from Maloni village toward the north along the Parwan river. In their inspection report, the officials concluded that the dam site is 150 metres upstream of the boundary of the sanctuary. “The officials had a fair idea by the end of the second day that if they go according to the block file, the dam site would fall in the sanctuary in Niharia block,” says PDKHJBS head.

Residents produce a letter dated June 12 from the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) in Jaipur to the chief conservator of forests (CCF) at Kota. In the letter, the PCCF has asked the CCF to produce a report stating “the Parwan scheme does not fall in the Shergarh Sanctuary”. The CCF Kota passed similar orders to the district forest officer (DFO) at Baran on June 13. This was followed by the joint survey.

DFO Baran, P D Gupta, says the dam was initially designed to be at the boundary of the sanctuary. “At my intervention, it was shifted 150 metres away. According to their feasibility report, this was the maximum they could shift.” Mohan Lal Meena, chief conservator of forests (CCF), says the sanctuary boundary is the same as the boundary between Niharia and Bilendi blocks. He confirms:“The dam is 150 m away from the sanctuary.” Meena adds that he knows why people are against the dam. “The dam will submerge forests that have been encroached upon by people for residing or agriculture. These encroachers will not get any compensation if the project comes up,” he explains.

Chhattrasal of PDKHJBS, who was also a part of the joint survey team, says even if the project is 150 metres upstream of the sanctuary, it falls in an eco-sensitive area and needs to be dealt with accordingly. Asad Rehmani, a member of the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL), says there is a ruling by the Supreme Court that a 10-km buffer zone has to be maintained around all eco-sensitive areas, including sanctuaries and national parks. “No projects can be allowed within the zone,” he says, adding, “once NBWL receives the proposal, I will assess the impact and convey my opinion to the board which will take the final call.”


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/desperate-dam

 

London listed mining company #Vedanta caught before the Mountain of Law


by Samarendra Das on Monday, 10 December 2012 at 21:12 ·

The activities of  Vedanta Resources, a London listed FTSE-100  mining company outside the UK have had, and continue to have, adverse impacts on the ability of Indigenous Peoples to enjoy the rights recognised in the Convention and other relevant international human rights instruments, particularly the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (endorsed by the UK in 2007). The Dongira’s rights as an Indigenous People are being violated. Any future project affecting Niyamgiri would be subject by the Lenders’ Requirement to apply the Equator Principles and the IFC performance standards. This includes PF7, which states that the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples must be obtained. The Niyamgiri Hills form a mountainous area in the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa, in the eastern part of India. They are populated by the indigenous community of the Dongria Kond, Majhi Konds, and Jharnias who consider the Hills sacred, as their daily lives have depended on them for several centuries. In December 2008, the Indian government, more particularly its Ministry of Environment and Forests, approved a project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills. 

 

This project was proposed and will be conducted by a joint venture corporation, the South-West Orissa Bauxite Mining Corporation, involving two major corporations: Sterlite Industries India Limited, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc with 76% shares, and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation with 24% shares. 

 

The proposed project has faced a number of human rights and environmental objections, not the least important of which relates to the exercise of the right to water.These activities have occurred in the context of a regulatory framework that fails to ensure that the rights in the Convention are respected by companies subject to the jurisdiction of the UK. 

 

These include rights:-

 

(a) to security of person;

 

(b) to health;

 

( c ) to self-determination;

 

(d)  not to be subject to destruction of culture;

 

(e ) to own, use, develop and control traditional lands (as well as lands that have been otherwise acquired);

 

(f) not to be forcibly removed from lands or territories without free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)

 

(g) and the payment of just and fair compensation;

 

(h) to conservation of the environment and the productive capacity of territories and

resources;

 

(i) to be able to participate in, develop and pass on cultural and religious customs;

 

 

(j) to participate in decision-making in matters that would affect their rights.

 

 

———————————————————————————————–

 (A)The Convention, Article 5(b); UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by UNGA Resolution 61/295 on 13 September 2007 (“UNDRIP”), Article 7.

 

(B) UNDRIP, Article 24(2), which refers to the right of Indigenous Peoples to equal enjoyment of “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. See also Article 29(3). See also the 1997 General Recommendation 23 (1997 General Recommendation), paragraph 4(c).

 

 ( C ) See the 1997 General Recommendation which calls on States parties to “recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources”, at paragraph See also UNDRIP, Articles 3, 4 and 5.

 

(D)1997 General Recommendation, paragraph 4(a); UNDRIP, Article 8, and see also Article 31 in

relation to preservation of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge.

 

(E) UNDRIP, Article 26 and Article 32(1).

 

(F) UNDRIP, Article 10 and Article 32(2). See also Articles 25 and 26 in relation to rights of access to traditionally-owned lands. See also 1997 General Recommendation, paragraph 4(d). See also UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“CESCR”), General Comment No. 21: Right of Everyone to Take Part in Cultural Life, 21 December 2009, paragraph 37.

 

(G) UNDRIP, Article 10, 11 and 28.

 

 

(H) UNDRIP, Article 29. See also Article 20 (right to security in the enjoyment of “means of subsistence  and development”).

 

(I) CERD, Article 5(e)(vi); UNDRIP, Articles 11, 12 and 13.

 

(J)  UNDRIP, Articles 18, 19 and Article 32(2); CERD, Article 5(c) (“political rights”)

 

 

 

Ref:

——- 

 

Cernic, Jernej Letnar (2011) : Corporate obligations under the human right to water, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy › Vol. 39 Nbr. 2.

 

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2004-10-06/news/27393483_1_bauxite-lanjigarh-alumina-project

 

http://orissa.gov.in/news/archive/2004/october/191004

 

“Govt. of Orissa decided in March, 1997 to develop the bauxite

deposits in Lanjigarh and Karlapat and a MoU with Sterlite Industries Ltd.

was executed during April, 1997 by OMC. After successful negotiation with

Sterlite for setting up an integrated aluminium project consisting of 1 million

tonne Alumina & 2.2 lakh tonne of Aluminium per year, the MoU was

converted into an agreement with M/s. Vedanta Alumina Ltd ( the arm of

M/s. Sterlite Industries for bauxite / Alumina Projects ) on October 5 , 2004

for the Lanjigarh deposit after obtaining due approvals. Govt. of India has

also approved the mining lease for the Lanjigarh bauxite deposits in favour

of OMC after being fully informed of the terms and conditions of the above

agreement.”

 

 

London Metal Exchange and Maikanch martyrs, Odisha, India

 

UK- acknowledges unethical practices of Indian-owned Vedanta Resources


English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from t...

English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from the Kutia Kondh tribal group in Orissa, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Vedanta Resources Plc

 

Posted in Parliament Early Day Motions

 

That this House notes the unethical practices of Indian-owned Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries, including the destruction of the homes, culture and livelihood of the Kond Adivasi tribal people and the devastating environmental impact of the companies’ activities;

 

Welcomes recently announced investigations by the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests and the Chief Secretary of the Indian state of Odisha into the rights of the Dongria Kondh affected by plans for a bauxite mine;

 

Recognises and supports the rights of indigenous peoples and tribal groups;

 

Welcomes the decision of Dutch pensions firm PGGM to sell its shares in the company because Vedanta has made `insufficient improvements with regard to human rights and the environment’;

 

Further notes that Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries are on the Norwegian government’s list of banned companies and that the Church of England, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Marlborough Ethical Fund and Millfield House Foundation have sold their shares in the company; and believes that plans for mining on sacred land should be ended forthwith.

 

 

 

#India-SC to seal fate of Vedanta Group’s Lanjigarh refinery on December 3


must warn readers that the scribe has given half the facts. no mention of notices from state pollution control board, complaints to nhrc, nc saxena, etc. rather makes the case for val . the times of india of course.

By , TNN | Nov 27, 2012, 04.49 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: The Supreme Court on Monday fixed December 3 as the final date of hearing in the Niyamgiri bauxite mining case. The verdict will seal the fate of Vedanta Group’s Lanjigarh refinery in Kalahandi district.

The Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) went to the Supreme Court in March 2011 after the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) rejected stage-2 forest diversion proposal for the Niyamgiri bauxite mine, having an estimated deposit of 78 million tons, from where the state government had promised raw materials to Vedanta’s refinery.

The Vedanta group is the only private industrial house having done tangible investments in the state during the present Naveen Patnaikregime.

The one mtpa capacity refinery, however, has been embroiled in a series of controversies ranging from environmental activists protesting that it would jeopardise the fragile ecosystem of the region to political parties, particularly the Congress, clamouring that mining on Niyamgiri hill would spell doom for the endangered Dongria Kondh tribes.

OMC had got the lease in 2004. But mining became impossible in the area in the face of PILs that raised questions on the future of biodiversity, water bodies and Dongria Kondhs.

The court battle went on for several years, during which at least three major agencies like the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, Central Mines Planning and Design Institute, Ranchi, and the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) examined the charges made by the petitioners.

The Supreme Court cleared the project in August 2008 followed by the MoEF issuing environment clearance and Stage-1 green signal for diversion of about 660 hectares of forest proposed by the state government for the mining project. The MoEF while issuing the stage-1 clearance had put 21 conditions which included deposit of Rs 125 crore for development of wildlife and the tribals.

But the refinery’s problem though was far from over. This time it was the Central government that put blocks on the project. As the time came for the MoEF to issue the stage-2 forest clearance, it started dithering.

MoEF soon appointed an expert committee to study the fulfillment of conditions it had imposed earlier. The state government on its part placed its view before the MoEF that the conditions had been fulfilled, but things still were not going the refinery’s way.

As the MoEF constituted more expert groups to examine the charges against the project, it withdrew the stage-1 forest clearance as well. By August-end the signal was loud and clear that the project was heading to face a raw deal in the hands of the MoEF. And it happened.

MoEF rejected the stage-2 forest diversion proposal for the mining project sent by the state government. As the Centre refused to budge from its stand despite repeated persuasions by the state government, the OMC went to the apex court challenging the MoEF order.

Amid this the net loser has since been the refinery, which has in the meanwhile completed nearly 70% works, though allegedly illegally, for increasing the refinery’s capacity from one mtpa to 6 mtpa.

“We put up the plant believing the state government. Little did we know that the investment would take us running from pillar to post. We have no raw material in hand. We have already lost over Rs 2500 crore,” said a senior Vedanta official.

 

Leases not renewed but deemed so, mining goes on


Debabrata Mohanty Posted online, Deccan Herald: Fri Nov 09 2012,
Bhubaneswar : As in Goa, where the deemed extension of mining leases was at the heart of a mining scam, in Orissa too such deemed extension gave leaseholders an open season while also putting them at the mercy of government officials.The deemed renewal of a lease allows the holder to continue extracting ore even after the expiry of the lease, while it waits for renewal. In September this year, the M B Shah Commissionpointed out how over 60 mines in Goa were on a “deemed extension” and led to illegal mining.In Orissa, where the steel and mines department has sent showcause notices to holders of 103 leases because of excess mining of iron ore and manganese to the tune of Rs 68,000 crore between 2000 and 2010, 215 mines are at present working on a “deemed renewal” basis. All the 103 leases involved in the showcause notice are deemed renewed, a senior official of the steel and mines department said.Deemed renewal is granted under rule 24A(6) of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. Under the rule, the miner’s application for renewal of his lease should be pending with the government before expiry. It is also necessary for miners to have all statutory clearances under the Forest Conservation Act, the Environment Protection Act, the Wildlife Protection Act, the Water Act and the Air Pollution Act when seeking and being granted a deemed extension.

A central empowered committee of the Supreme Court, which probed violations of several provisions of FC Act during its investigation into the Orissa mining scam in 2010, found that 215 mines had not got their leases renewed for 10 to 20 years and continued on a deemed renewal basis.

“Deemed renewal was an exigency provision in the MC Rules. The government should have either accepted or rejected the mining lease renewal applications within a reasonable period of six months to one year,” said the top executive of a mining company, unwilling to be named. “But instead they were kept pending, which helped government officials collude with some of the miners to allow them to mine beyond their limits.”

At the Orissa Mining Corporation’s Khandabandh iron ore mines in Keonjhar, spread over 294.53 acres, the lease expired in November 1993. Though the OMC filed its first renewal-of-lease application for a period of 20 years in November 1992, it is yet to be renewed and the mines have continued to run on “deemed renewal” for 19 years. None of the steel and mines officials The Indian Express spoke to was willing to comment why mines were being allowed to run on such extensions for years together.

The state forest and environment department too contributed to excess mining when the mines were on deemed renewal. In May 2011, the department recommended the diversion of 390 hectares of forest land in the Sarkunda iron and manganese mines of Sundargarh district for Feegrade & Co. Official documents show that the lease area contained 3.208 million tonnes of iron ore and 1.629 million tonnes of manganese ore, and the company was allowed to mine 0.98 million tones every year. The extraction would have exhausted the mine in just four years. The mining hardly helped locals as the company’s own application for forest clearance said it would give jobs to only 20 people.

The Orissa Pollution Control Board, which gives consent-to-operate (CTO) certificates under the Water and Air Pollution Control Acts for a period of five years, too granted such certificates to miners whose leases had been deemed renewed. Under the laws, no mine can operate if the CTO has not been obtained or not been renewed after its lapse. A CTO certificate is also a prerequisite for environment clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Usually, the CTO is issued for a specified period and is subject to compliance with various conditions imposed by the board. The OPCB in a letter dated February 4, 2011, said mining activities may not be stopped just for the want of a CTO certificate from the State Pollution Control Board. The letter, addressed to the Eastern Zone Mining Association, stated that consideration of consent to operate beyond May 31, 2011, would take some time but unless consent has specifically been refused, it may be assumed that the application for consent to operate was under active consideration.

Shifting sands: A fishing village lost to sea


By Nityanand Jayaraman at  http://tnlabour.in/, a bilingual blog site dedicated to discussing issues related to labour in Tamil Nadu. This site is set up and run by a small group of volunteers.

A photo taken in June 2011. As of 6 November, 2012, the building is in ruins, and the beach has disappeared into sea

P. Jagan is a kattumaram fisherman, a trade that has changed little in centuries. Early most mornings, Jagan launches his boat through the pounding surf and paddles his way to the fishing grounds of his choice. The sea, it appears, has been kind to him.

His house, situated in a row of identical concrete houses closest to the sea, is well-lit and spacious. A washing machine, refrigerator, wide-screen TV and other assets suggest that Jagan has not done too badly for himself with just the kattumaram. As boats go, the kattumaram — with its five logs hewn from the wood of the Albizzia tree, and lashed together — is an efficient and light surf-riding, beach landing vessel. Jagan has been facing one problem, though. The beach outside his home is shrinking.

“The sea has come in,” he says. Looking east from his house, the proof of his claim is visible. A 2-metre high wall of granite boulders lines the village. Unlike many of the other fishing villages on the East Coast Road, Jagan’s village — Sulerikattukuppam or Kattukuppam for short — has no beach. On the Northern edge of the village, near the temple where the line of rocks end, there is a small beach. But this too is rapidly shrinking, as the boulders divert the waves northwards. With every pounding wave and its backwash, a valuable piece of Kattukuppam is lost to the sea.

“We had 47 fibre boats, and 17 kattumarams in our village before the Thane cyclone (2011),” Jagan says. “The cyclone damaged the boats, and many didn’t feel it was worth replacing the boats. Now, there are only 24 boats and 14 kattumarams. There is no place to park our boats. The ocean trade (kadal thozhil) is finished. That’s all sir,” he says.

The cause of Kattukuppam’s misery is a 100 million litres per day desalination plant being constructed at the southern edge of the village by VA Tech Wabag for the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Beaches are dynamic formations, waxing and waning with changing seasons. India’s east coast is influenced by two monsoons – the Northeast and the Southwest. For nine months, including during the southwest monsoon, ocean currents move sand northwards feeding the beaches along the way. Briefly, for three months during the Northeast, the silt is transported from south to North. It is a known fact that any hard engineering structure constructed on India’s eastern coastline will cause erosion of the beaches north of the structure.

Such erosion, they said, would not only expose them to the fury of storms but also cost them precious beach space. Besides being the space for storing craft and mending gear, beaches are also used for fishing. Kattukuppam has eight shoreseine nets. These nets are dragged into sea by a boat, with one end held on to by 10 to 15 fishermen standing on the beach. The boat then makes a loop and returns to the beach encircling the target shoal of fish. The other end of the net is handed over to a second team of 10 to 15 able-bodied men, who then drag back the heavy net, hopefully made heavier by a healthy catch of anchovies or shrimp. Shoreseines are communal nets that are deployed when the sea is flat as glass, usually in the late and post-monsoon months of December, January and February. But these nets require vast amounts of beach space, wide enough to accommodate 15 men standing 2-3 metre apart and long enough to allow for the net to encircle a 100 metre-wide shoal of fish in the nearshore waters. On a lucky day, a shoreseine can haul in several lakhs worth of fish.

Jagan is rueful. “This year, it looks like the shoreseine will not touch water even once. We even lost one net last month. We had kept it on the beach. The sea took it,” he said simply. “We have moved the remaining into the casuarina grove. They are very expensive. Each net costs more than Rs. 2 lakhs.”

Even when it was coming up, fisherfolk protested. They complained that the highly saline rejects from the desalination plant will poison the sea near their village, and harm fishing livelihoods. More importantly, they worried that the structures built in sea for sucking in seawater or discharging wastewater will trigger sea erosion.

In typical fashion, the wisdom behind the fisherfolk’s protests was brushed aside. Protestors were brutalised by the police; a few contracts were given to a handful of big people in the village. The collector assured the villagers of jobs in the water factory.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board issued a Consent to Establish in August 2009. Experts nominated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests claimed to have studied engineering and environmental impact assessment reports and granted CRZ clearance to the project. Scientists averred that there would be no detrimental or unmanageable environmental consequences. The drone of the institutionalised expert drowned the rustic wisdom of the subaltern.

“What can a small fishing village do against these giants?” asks Jagan, looking towards Metro Water’s massive water tanks that can be seen towering over the village.

Construction at the plant began in 2010 with a row of pilings driven into sea. In June 2011, when the author visited the village, erosion was already at an advanced stage. Sandbags had been thrown at the waterline – a puny attempt to thwart the sea. The fall from the beach to the water was already very steep. The foundations of a community hall, used by the fisherfolk to mend nets, stood exposed and eroded. Storm surges had already taken a toll on the building, and cracks were evident.

These buildings were built by the Rotary Clubs of Chennai and Mumbai after the tsunami. They wanted to develop Sulerikattukuppam as a model fishing village. “At that time, the sea was far away,” said Jagan. “All that was beach,” he said with a sweep of his hands covering a 20 to 50 metre expanse of water.

Between June 2011 and now, two cyclones – Thane and Nilam – have battered the coast. “Had the sea been where it had, with the beach separating us, we would have been fine.” A row of community structures – the net mending hall, a community gathering hall, a wall-less hall with a roof supported on pillars – that once defined the eastern edge of the village now lie in ruins.

Advancing steadily northwards, the erosion is now eating into the beaches of Nemmelikuppam, nearly 1.5 km away. According to Jagan, those villagers too have now sent a letter of complaint to the authorities. A mapping study done using a handheld GPS meter and Google Earth images suggests that anywhere between 2.5 acres to 12 acres of beach may have already been lost to erosion.

“The Collector tells us that the pilings will be removed by February, after which there will be no problem. But we know that is not true. They have dumped huge concrete boulders – each weighing hundreds of tons – to anchor down the pipes for taking in seawater and letting out effluents. These boulders form a submarine wall that will prevent the sand from moving north,” he says. “Will they remove this too?”

Jagan’s wife brings out a bottle of “ice-water” for us. That water is from a hand-pump near his house. Almost anticipating my next question, she tells me with a laugh that even this water will turn salty now that the sea has moved closer to the village. It is ironic that a desalination plant set up to turn salt water into fresh water ends up turning fresh water saline.

From nuclear plants to desalination plants, the standard response to protests is police action and the banal promise of employment. About 160 people work as daily labour on and off in the water factory. “Their job is to wash pebbles,” says 30-year old housewife S. Kavitha. Men get about Rs. 300 a day, and women about Rs. 200. “My husband goes there for some extra income if he has free time. But washing pebbles isn’t exactly a livelihood,” Kavitha says with a smile.

The Government seems none too bothered by the plight of the 217 families in this village. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa plans to inaugurate the desalination plant early next year. Another plant, four times this size, is proposed at an as-yet undisclosed location in Kanchipuram district.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands Immediate release of farmers, and activists in Chhindwada


JAN SANGARSH MORCHA

Madhya Pradesh

 Press release : 5/11/2012 / Bhopal

 

Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands Immediate release of farmers, and activists in Chhindwada arrested for protesting forcible eviction for Adani Pench Power Project.

 

Condemns displacement at gunpoint and demands transparency and due legal process for private investment in the so called development projects.

 

The arrest in Chhindwada on Sunday night, of Medha Patkar and 23 others reveals the ugly face of MP government’s hype on the recent Global Investors’ Meet and the strident solicitation of private sector investments. Investment at gunpoint, forcible displacement by the police, unlawful diversion of land, forest and water to industry, jailing of peacefully protesting activists is the truth behind the government’s investment programme.

 

Medha Patkar and others were arrested from the home of advocate Aradhana Bhargava a day after she herself was arrested. Medha and others had gone to Chhindwada following reports of heavy police build up in villages protesting Pench Water Diversion Project and threats that villagers would be forcibly evicted from the 4th of November. They were however not allowed to proceed to the affected areas and were forcibly detained in Chhindwada town, and were jailed last night. Adv Aradhana Bhargava, who was arrested on who has been active in a peaceful movement, ongoing since 2004, against forcible displacement and diversion of water by the Pench Diversion Project, and the Adani Pench Power Project. The Pench project alone will displace more than 31 villages and over 56,000 families, and villagers have been protesting that no proper rehabilitation has been offered to them. In addition to the diversion of village water resources to corporate concerns ,forest land and commons are also being handed over to Adani and other corporate houses without any due legal process.

 

The Pench Diversion Project does not even have environmental clearance from the MoEF, and its 1986clearance has lapsed.

Medha Patkar has begun an indefinite hunger strike in jail to protest these unlawful arrests.

 

Jan Sangarsh Morcha (MP) condemns the attempts by the MP government to sacrifice precious natural resources to corporate profits and the forcible eviction of farmers at gunpoint . The reality behind the MP govt.’s much –hyped development through private investment is that corporate loot is being facilitated without any due legal process, while the interests of farmers and other common citizens are being sacrificed .

The Jan Sangarsh Morcha calls upon the state govt. to protect the development interests of the people of the state instead of sacrificing their interest at the altar of corporate profits.

 

Narmada Bachao Andolan,Samajvadi Jan Parishad,Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangathan,Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangathan,Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahilla Sangathan,M.P. Mahilla Manch,Shramik Adivasi Sangathan

 

 

Contact: Madhuri 09179753640

 

Immediate Release-Medha Patkar and Activists Detained in Chindwada, Start Satyagraha


Kisan Sangharsh Samiti Intensifies Agitation; Support Pours in From Across Country

Chindwada, November 4 : The situation in Chindwada continues to remain tense with heavy police presence deployed to intimidate the farmers, labourers and adivasis protesting illegal commencement of work on the Pench Water Diversion Project.

Medha Patkar, National Convener, NAPM who travelled from Indore and Chindwada and reached in the wee hours today was stopped and checked at virtually every station by the police and also surrounded by 50 police men at the Chindwada station, where the Tehsildar and other officials tried to restrain her from proceeding further, insisting that she must go to the Circuit House.

She was told that Sec 144 has been imposed in Chindwada and the entry of people in three tehsils of Chhindwada, Amarwada and Chouri has been prohibited from October 30th – orders have been issued. When asked for the copy of the same she was denied that. This is baseless and illegal, since on Novembr 3rdShri Sartaj Singh, Forest Minister, GoMP held a public programme distributing tendu patta bonus, same day BJP Kisan Morcha also held a convention in Chourai. At the same time Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mela was organised as well as adventure sports programme was organised too in Tamiya. “Is the Section 144 for only for activists going to Bamanwara?” asked Medha Patkar.

A huge police force has gheraoed the house of Adv. Aradhana Bhargava, leader of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, who was arrested on false charges under Sec 151 IPC on November 3rd itself and has been sent to judicial custody. Today police also arrestedBrajkishore Chaurasia, Yuva Kranti Dal and Dr. Rajkumar Sanodia of KSS.

The farmers and people are not being allowed to meet Medha Patkar and others by the police. Protesting the high handedness of the district administration Medha Patkar along with Mukesh Bagoria, Rahul Yadav of Narmada Bachao AndolanAdvocate Sushma Prajapati, Akhil Bhartiya Gondwana Kisan Mahapanchayat, National Vice President; Devaki Marawi and Rajesh Tiwari of Bargi and Bheemgarh Bandh Visthapit Sangh; Jameel Khan of KSS and other representatives of the Pench Project and Adani Power Project affected families have sat on Satyagraha, until they are allowed to proceed to the villages.

It needs to be noted that for past few days police has been spreading canards and terrorizing them too. Even then villagers have been protesting at Vamanwada, 3 kms away from Machagora and have been on a peaceful sit in. More than a thousand police men are surrounding the dharna site. The agitation will continue until the forceful and illegal eviction and acquisition of land is stopped.

NAPM has decided to extend complete support to the struggle and in absence of Dr. Sunilam and Aradhana Bhargava, (both are NAPM Conveners) Medha Patkar and others will lead the struggle in Chindwara and Multai and fight for the rights of farmers and farm workers.

Support has been pouring in from different movements across the country. Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat, State Advocate D K Prajapati,Madhya Pradesh Pensioners Association, State Secretary T M R Naidu, Samta Party State President Suresh Sharma, Akhil Bhartiya Gondwana Kisan Mahapanchayat President Shri Chand Chauriya, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Chindwara J L Mishra, Ashok Choudhary and Roma from NFFPFW, Anurag Modi of Jan Sangharsh Morcha, Madhya Pradesh and others have condemned the incidence and lent their support to the movement.

Background : It needs to be noted that agitation against these two project Pench Water Diversion Project (PWDP) and Adani Pench Power Project (APPP), Chindwara has been ongoing in a peaceful manner since 2004. PWDP involves construction of a 51 meter dam on Pench river, submerging 5600 Hectares of land of 31 villages. The project planned in 80s got a one page clearance from Department of Environment in 1984 (MoEF was not there then) for irrigation purposes. The clearance is no longer valid and requires a fresh clearance under Environment Protection Act 1986 and also under EIA notifications. Acquisition process was started back then, some farmers were given throw away compensation but acquisition process was never completed since the work didn’t start. Till today farmers continue to cultivate and grow 2-3 crops in a year from the fertile land.

After the agitation, the compensation was increased to nearly a lakh rupee an acre but 90 percent of the farmers have refused to accept it and are not willing to part their land. In 2011, May Dr,. Sunilam and Adv Aradhana Bhargava were attacked by the goons which they survived but the administration failed to take any action. Many of the farmers in fact along with Aradhana Bhargava spent more than a week in jail on false charges of arson, loot and obstructing public officials.

PWDP today is to be constructed for supplying water to the APPP, diverting water meant for the farmers. Last year KSS along with NAPM met Environment Minister, Ms. Jayanti Natarajan , who informed the delegation that no clearance has been granted to the PWDP and under the law they are supposed to have prior Environment Clearance. The PWDP is going to threaten the forests of Pench National Park and Tiger Project too. So, in all senses it makes no sense to be constructing this but even then MoEF has not taken any actionMr. Kamal Nath, MP and Union Minister from Chindwara has been personally involved in ensuring that the project goes on and been supporting the APPP as well. Madhya Pradesh Government on the other hand has been in complete hand in glove with Mr. Kamal Nath. It is no wonder that Dr. Sunilam and other activists of KSS got life sentence in a case where 24 farmers were killed by police on January 12, 1998. None of the police officers have been punished till date, not a single FIR has been filed in that case. It is a clear case of conspiracy and collusion between BJP and Congress in the interest of Adani.

 

For details call NAPM : 9818905316 or 9179617513

 

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