#India- Activists step up demand for #Dayamani Barla’s release



RANCHI, October 27, 2012, The Hindu

Activists and supporters of Dayamani Barla, award-winning adivasi activist and journalist who was given bail but arrested soon after in a second case on October 19 in Ranchi, have prepared to intensify their demand for her release.

They will move court for her bail on November 29. The Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manchi (AMARM) has announced a protest in front of Raj Bhawan the same day.

“The government’s intention is clear. They want to intimidate Dayamani and break the movement of the Nagri villagers who are demanding the government build elite college campuses on non-agricultural land, instead of displacing them” said Father Stan Swamy, a Ranchi-based social activist.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Ranchi first sent a property warrant against Ms. Barla on September 23 this year in a 2006 case registered against her for leading a protest march demanding that villagers be given MNREGA job cards or given unemployment allowance in villages in Angada block in Ranchi district. At this time, Ms. Barla had led a successful protest against setting up of Arcelor Mittal’s steel plant over 11,000 acres of land in Gumla and Khunti citing Chotanagpur Tenancy Act which prohibits sale of tribal land to non-tribals.

“Two days after Dayamani surrendered before the Magistrate’s court in the 2006 case which the government raked up after six years, she was given bail only on the condition that a blood relation will have to be present. This is not often done and shows the government is trying to make things difficult for Dayamani,” said Faisal Anurag, a Ranchi-based independent journalist. “When we went to the jail to receive her, the jail superintendent said a second warrant has been issued against her in an August 15 case for obstructing government work citing the incident when she led Nagri villagers to plough land on which government had built boundary walls,” he said.

Since 2010, Ms. Barla has led a movement against Jharkhand government acquiring 227 acres of paddy farmers’ land in Nagri village, 15 kms from Ranchi, for the campuses of Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Information Technology and the National University of Study & Research in Law (NUSRL). The government claims it acquired the land from them in 1957-58 to build an extension to Birsa Agricultural University. However, Right to Information (RTI) applications filed by Ms. Barla revealed that of the 153 families to whom the government had offered a total compensation in 1957, only 25 families in Nagri took it and the rest had refused.

Speaking to The Hindu on October 1, Ms. Barla has challenged the Jharkhand government’s acquisition of this land using clause 17 (4) of the Land Acquisition Act, which is for situations of urgency such as building a railway line or an airport.

Mr Anurag said Ms. Barla was a diabetes patient and had made requests to be provided meals accordingly but the jail authorities had not cooperated.


#Brazil -Indian #Tribe threatens mass suicide if evicted from homeland – #GuaraniKaiowa

Members of Brazil’s indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe

About 170 members of the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul have threatened to commit mass suicide if they are evicted from their agricultural farm.

This week, a Brazilian court ordered members of the indigenous tribe to vacate the Cambar’s farm immediately, but some 100 adults and 70 children said they would kill themselves en masse before leaving the farm, Press TV correspondent Rony Curvelo reported on Tuesday.
The threat was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, in which the Indians also said they would not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region they call tekoha, which means ancestral cemetery.
According to the court’s decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) will have to pay a fine of approximately $250 per day.
“We Indians have the constitutional right to occupy our land. We will continue to fight,” Guarani tribal chief Vera Popygua told Press TV.
“We demand respect. Our people have been massacred; they have killed our leaders; and that is sad and unacceptable. We are an advanced society and living in the 21st century. This cannot happen and should not happen,” he stated.
According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, the suicide rate among members of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe has risen recently, to the point where one commits suicide approximately every six days because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.
In the letter sent to the court, the indigenous group demanded that the decision be overruled, saying they would not leave the land of their ancestors under any circumstances. They also asked the court to secure their right to be buried at the location, so that even in death, they would remain in their homeland.
Carolina Bellinger of the Pro-Indigenous Council of Sao Paulo said, “The rights of indigenous people of Brazil have been under fire for a long time.”
“And despite a series of laws that were created to guarantee their rights, the reality is something else. Brazil must obey international agreements and demarcate their land. Our Congress is slow, and Indians cannot survive until it decides,” she added.
(Source: Press TV)


#India #Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace #Tribal #Indigenous #aboriginal

Rogda (Chhattisgarh), October 24, 2012

In Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu , Oct 24,2012

  • The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
    The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
  • Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.
    Special Arrangement Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.

Legislative Assembly panel gives clean chit for transfer of Rogda reservoir land to private power company

While there is an outcry in Maharashtra over disappearing irrigation water, in Chhattisgarh, an entire reservoir — the lifeline of four villages — has vanished. The 131-acre rain-fed reservoir has been leased out by the government to a private power company.

However, an Assembly committee, recently constituted to investigate the ‘transfer’ of the reservoir, in its 3:2 majority report, did not find anything wrong with the deal. But a map by Google and the testimony of several villagers are evidence enough to prove that the reservoir was indeed located at Rogda, a small village on the southwestern side of Janjgir-Champa, the most irrigated district of Chhattisgarh, even a few years ago.

Rogda, like most other villages of Janjgir-Champa, produced two or more crops till recently with water obtained from the reservoir. The villagers of Rogda and adjoining Nariyera, Amora and Tarod used its water also for drinking and other household activities. In fact, the Assembly panel states the government acquired 130.54 acres of land from three villages to construct the reservoir in 1954 during the first Five-Year Plan. But the committee has concluded that the decision to transfer the Rogda reservoir by the Water Resources and Revenue Department was “correct”.

In 2008, more than 207 hectares of well irrigated government land, of which the reservoir was part, was allotted to the KSK Mahanadi Power Project for a little over Rs. 18 crore to build a 3,600-MW unit.

“We found out that Rogda water was not used for irrigation,” Dipak Kumar Patel, a BJP member on the committee, told The Hindu. Its report was based on district-level, fact-finding reports which indicated that Rogda land was “mostly fallow,” he said.

“It is ridiculous,” shouted 70-year-old Ramkhilaon of Rogda, who was employed in the 1950s as a daily wage worker to construct the reservoir. “Those who never used the reservoir or even saw it have decided its fate,” he lamented.

Soon after acquiring the land, KSK Mahanadi filled up the reservoir. In its place, now stand giant metal structures which are busy grinding stone chips.

“The committee could not locate any reservoir as KSK promptly filled it up,” said Md. Akbar, who along with the other Congress member, opposed the report’s findings. But the other three, all from the ruling BJP, ensured its passage.

In leasing out the main water source of several panchayats, the Chhattisgarh government has also flouted the Supreme Court verdict of 2011 that says community ponds cannot be used for commercial purposes. “The time has come when these malpractices must stop,” the judgment said.

This correspondent witnessed large tracts of land with paddy, not less than a few hundred acres, at Rogda turning brown for lack of water. Farmers have started migrating to other villages in search of cultivable land.

Meanwhile, the power company has planted several trees in the vicinity in order to create a ‘green belt’ in accordance with environmental guidelines.


#India -‘I have a problem with the makeover of tribal culture’ #Indigenous #aboriginal

October 24, 2012 , The Hindu

NIRANJAN MAHAWAR: ‘Market forces are also changing artefacts.’ Photo: Rupesh Yadav

NIRANJAN MAHAWAR: ‘Market forces are also changing artefacts.’ Photo: Rupesh Yadav

Niranjan Mahawar, 75, is a self-taught ethnologist of Chhattisgarh. He spent almost five decades in southern Chhattisgarh to study the life and art of the Bastar tribes. It was his family’s rice production business that first took Mahawar to southern Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the early 1960s. At that time, the family was not aware that Mahawar — a masters in Economics from Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh — had enrolled as a member of the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) of India in 1955. Later, while administering the rice mill, he started the CPI’s first district unit in Dhamtari of Chhattisgarh, eventually joining the CPI-M after the division. While the family finally managed to delink him from the Communist Party, Mahawar’s love for Bastar — especially tribal art and culture — kept growing. Today, Mahawar — who was made famous in a series of interviews by the writer Dom Moraes — is considered an authoritative voice on central Indian folk art, folklore, tribal myths and theatre. He spoke to Suvojit Bagchi extensively on his work. Excerpts.

It was difficult to find out your house in Raipur as nobody knows you here, not even your neighbour

Yes, that is a problem. A woman came from USIS in Mumbai once. She said the same thing.

But in the early 1980s, Dom Moraes wrote a lot on you and possibly you are known since then especially among people who are interested about Bastar art.

That’s correct. Dom came here with a friend as he was planning a visit to Bastar. That was in the early eighties. He came twice and we had a long chat over lunch.

He visited Bastar and wrote a book, Answered by Flutes: Reflections on Madhya Pradesh. It had two pages on me. He then wrote more on me. Well ….after that, the journalists started pouring in and a lot [has been] written on me in mainstream magazines.

So what is there in those articles…or more precisely, what exactly do you mean by Bastar art? The bell metal artefacts…wrought iron ones…the wood carvings?

Well, everything. But first let me say, I won’t call it bell metal but bronze.

Why is it called bell metal?

Bells of temples were made of the metal which is pure bronze. And as you said, besides bronze artefacts, there are wooden carvings, wrought iron, masks, combs… I have about 200 combs. They are all Bastar art. They all tell a story.


Like this woman Tallur Muttai (shows a picture of a woman in bronze, embracing a child with her left hand and holding a stick with a funnel on top with her right). She, in tribal myth, lives in palmyra fruit trees. To the tribals, palmyra juice is the breast milk of Tallur Muttai. She, therefore, is the earth mother. But then there is the massive Hindu-isation of the tribal myth and the earth mother is made to sit on a tiger as Hindus prefer their goddesses on the tiger. I have a problem with this makeover. If the tribal gods are comfortable on the trees, let them be…why make them a Hindu? Besides, the market forces are also changing the artefacts.

So, in spite of the overlapping of the images of the icons, a tribal is in no way a Hindu?

P.N. Haksar, while heading a national committee on the tribals, once asked that. I said, tribals don’t believe in chatur-varna or the caste system that is the basis of Hindu society. Tribals lived with their native tradition and for over five thousand years refused to get dominated by Hindus. Hence they are not Hindus.

So, the difference with Hindus has been there for a long time?

Of course. In the Ramayana, you have the demon. Remember the woman, Tadoka, the demoness. The word Tar or palmyra is in her name too. I assume, she is the same Tallur Muthai and she, like other rakshas, got a snub-nose. The Gonds have a snub-nose. So while Ram represents the upper caste Hindus, the Aryans, Tadoka and her friends represent the tribal society, the Dravidians. This resistance against the outsiders was documented in modern times by the British gazetteers, anthropologists. They published how the locals resisted them. When the British tried to enter the region, one of the kings of the area, the Raja of Kanker, asked them to refrain. The kings, however, were small and while they also were outsiders, always avoided confrontation with the Bastar tribals.

You mean, Bastar almost always accepted the local rulers, but not the big imperialist forces?

Yes. They will not accept you easily. Even now, you would find tribals while talking among themselves would call you a ‘thug’ — a cheat. They don’t trust outsiders. Now, associate this thought with today’s mining. Bastar will resist mining and outsiders.

You mean the State and its mining policies will not be able to penetrate Bastar?

I cannot say that for sure. The Indian state is far more complex and powerful now.

Maybe this has helped the Maoists…

Of course. Maoists used this sentiment to their advantage. But I think they are extortionists and not Communists.

You yourself were a Communist. What or who really inspired you?

Yes. I joined the party in 1955. Initially I was influenced by writers like Premchand, Yashpal, Saratchandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore or Gorky. I had a science teacher, Surendra Bhatnagar, whom I met in school in Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, as we migrated from Alwar. He was a CPI sympathiser and influenced me. Soon I joined the family business and did two things in my factory. Paid women and men equally and asked the workers, who were paid peanuts, to organise themselves. This seriously unsettled my father and uncle (laughs). Eventually I went to study at Sagar University, Madhya Pradesh, and met Sudhir Mukherjee, the legendary CPI leader. I joined as a whole timer.

Anything that you did as a CPI activist in the 1950s?

Well….the usual party work. But we used to run a party unit among students in the university, which grew fast. We started the first party office in Dhamtari. See, it was a time, when we all thought that Communism is around the corner as the Korean War of 1950 was interpreted as Stalin’s victory. Stalin was a hero — even in these remote areas like Dhamtari (laughs).

But things changed…

Yes. It did. From the early sixties the debate within the CPI started distracting us. I was in the party class in Gwalior in 1960, where different groups, within the party, spoke in favour of and against Nehru. B.T. Ranadive, Homi Daji and Dr. Gangadhar Adhikari were there. I was not really aware of the developments but slowly came to terms with multiple opinions within the party. Finally the split took place, albeit for different reasons, and after some vacillation, I joined the CPI(M).

Eventually left the CPI(M)…?

Yes, but that was not necessarily because I was disillusioned with politics. My family was creating a lot of pressure on me…my father…he requested me to leave the Communist Party as it was bad for the business. I was upset, took a sabbatical and went to Kolkata. After a brief stay I came back to Chhattisgarh and started working in the rice mill.

And started studying Bastar art?

I have been visiting Bastar and documenting tribal folk lore, tales, music, theatre and every other forms of art in the region even before I left Chhattisgarh briefly.

But you have not written any full scale book — other than monographs — until recently when you published Bastar Bronze. Why is that so?

Somehow it could not be organised but now I have several books and monographs in the pipeline. I did publish some translations of Verrier Elwin’s works.

After the formation of the new State of Chhattisgarh, the State government commissioned you to write two major books on the crafts and the performing arts of Bastar. You were paid a fee as well. I assume it was about a decade ago. Why did the government not publish the books, after commissioning?

I don’t want to talk about that.

Apparently the department of culture where you submitted the manuscripts, did not even want to return the manuscripts?

Let us not talk about that.

It was only after Governor Shekhar Dutt’s intervention that the manuscripts were returned …is that correct?

Yes, that is right. But let us not discuss that.

I have been told, that you refused to assume the post of the president of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) when they requested you recently, even though you were an active activist at one point.

That is because of my health, my kidneys are not fine, I told them.

Is life difficult in Chhattisgarh as an independent academic or human rights activist?

I don’t know. I avoid activities as I am not well.

Do you think your Communist identity and love for tribals prevented the government from acknowledging your work?

I don’t want to comment.

Maybe that is why you are not even known in your colony…

Thank you.

Thank you very much.


Dhinkia Gram Sabha Unanimously Resolves NOT to Divert Forest Land for #POSCO

Dear Friends,

On 18th of October 2012 , more than 2000 people participated in the Dhinkia Gram Sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) meeting and passed unanimous resolution stating their refusal to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO for its 12million steel plant covering 4004 acres of land under the rights provided to the Gam Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It may be recalled here that Gram Sabha happens to be most fundamental unit of decision making in India’s grass root democracy guaranteed by the constitution.

The resolution that was read and resolved contained the following:

“The Gram Sabha of Dhinkia panchayat in its meeting on dated 18th October 2012hereby decides and resolves on the following matters relating to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and its implementation the village. This has reference to the letter (No. TD 11 (FRA)-06/2011) issued by the ST & SC Development Department. on 7th September 2012 had instructing Collectors to ensure discussion and planning on the pending claims under the Forest Rights Act and to ensure consolidation of list of claims for further monitoring and disposal.

• The villages under this Panchayat have rights over forest lands and have initiated process of claims on rights under Forest Rights Act. Claims on the forest lands approved and recommended by the Palli Sabhas of villages (Dhinkia, Govindpur…) are still pending for recognition and no step has been taken to recognize and vest the rights. No information and training on Forest Rights Act have been provided to the villages, forms and necessary records have been supplied by the government to support claim making process, all contrary to its obligations under the Rules. In this regard the Gram Sabha directs the District Level Committee to ensure completion the process for recognition of individual and community rights as per claims submitted by the Forest Rights Committee/Palli Sabha of the concerned villages which are still pending. In this regard Gram Sabha asks the SDLC and DLC to provide the status of claims to the Palli Sabhas and FRCs of the villages.

• The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012 have been notified on 6th September 2012. As required under the amendment rules the Palli Sabha shall initiate the process for claiming community forest resources rights under Section 3 (1)(i) of the Forest Rights Act. In accordance with the amendment rules of the FRA, the Gram Sabha calls upon the District Level Committee to ensure recognition of the community forest resource rights in the villages coming under this Panchayat as required in the amendment Rule 12 (B)(3).

• The Gram Sabha calls upon the government and district administration to comply to decisions of the Palli Sabhas with regard to use and management of the community forest resources in accordance with Section 5 of the Forest Rights Act. The gram sabha reiterates the decision of the palli sabhas of Dhinkia and Govindpur to protect forests, biodiversity and all livelihood resources in the boundary of this panchayat.

• The Gram Sabha in particular endorses the resolution passed by Palli Sabha of village Dhinkia on 3rd October, 2012 and asks the SDLC and DLC to complete the process of recognition of rights under FRA and to desist from any proposed diversion of forest land as the recognition of rights is not complete and Palli Sabha of the village has not given consent. Any such diversion will be a criminal offence under section 7 of the FRA.

• The Gram Sabha takes note of the disruption of the Palli Sabha meeting of village Govidnpur on 4th October, 2012 which was not allowed to pass resolution on the decisions taken on claims under FRA and on the diversion of forest land. Obstruction of the proceeding of the Palli Sabha amounts to obstruction of the process of recognition of rights and violation of the authority of Palli Sabha under Section 6 of FRA. This Gram Sabha considers this as violation of FRA and an offence under Section 7 of FRA and issues notice to the State Level Monitoring Committee to proceed against the DLC and officials involved. Gram Sabha also takes the decision to hold Palli Sabha again in village Govindpur and directs the authorities to provide necessary support.

• The Gram Sabha endorse decision taken by the Palli Sabhas to not give consent to the diversion of forest lands under its customary use and boundary for the purpose of the POSCO steel plant project, or for any other purpose, and directs the District Level Committee and the State government to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, the guideline issued by Ministry of Environment & Forests on 30.07.2009 and the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs on 12th July 2012 in this regard. Diversion of forest land without compliance to the Forest Rights Act and the above mentioned guidelines is a violation of the Forest Rights Act and a criminal offence.”

It may be recalled here that, on 3rd October 2012, the villagers of Dhinkia Gram Panchayat organized Palli sabha (Village level Assembly of adult persons) and Passed resolution not to divert the forest land to POSCO. Under the Forest Right Act 2006 , no forest land can be diverted until all the rights of the people in the area are recognised and their consent of the concerned gram sabha is obtained for the diversion. This is a statutory requirement under FRA, mandated further by a Ministry of Environment Ministry’s order of August 3, 2009.

The inhabitants of Govindpur village had organized Palli Sabha on 4th of October and passed a similar resolution stating their refusal to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO. However, sponsored goons of the company and the state agencies, created disruption and forcibly took away the resolution paper in a pre-planned startegy. Against this, the PPSS members held a one day protest at Erasama block office. In the end, villagers of Govindpur received their resolution copies.

People’s resolution sent a strong message to the Government that people are against illegal diversion of forest land for the project and gave a befitting reply to the recent declaration of Mr. Yong Won Yoon CMD of POSCO to start the project soon. This resolution has also exposed the government and POSCO’s earlier claim that people are in support of the POSCO project.

The POSCO and the state government are repeatedly announcing that there will be no forcible land acquisition. This Gram sabha resolution has given a strong message that majority of people are against the project. Hence they should respect the decision of people and cancel the POSCO project outright.

Kindly circulate this mail widely.

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


Land acquisition process withdrawn for Sterlite’s steel plant #goodnews #Vedanta

BHUBANESWAR, October 19, 2012

The MoU was signed with the State government in 2004

The State government has formally started withdrawal of land acquisition process taken up for setting up a steel plant by Sterlite Iron and Steel Company (SISC) in Keonjhar district.

Office of Revenue Divisional Commission (Northern Division) submitted withdrawal of land acquisition notification for land measuring nearly 1,800 acres from eight villages in Keonjhar.

SISC, a sister concern of Sterlite group, had signed memorandum of understanding with the State government in 2004, but the project never took off. It was always mired in controversy.

A majority of people in Palaspanga area in Keonjhar district were opposed to the project.

Villages where land acquisition process were withdrawn included Darnardanpur (242.32 acres), Gopinathpur (120.58 acres), Narsinghpur (54.24 acres), Singraisuan (123.67 acres), Tikarpada (612.64 acres), Mahadeijoda (270.37 acres), Kadagarh (380.08 acres) and Silisuan (67.07 acre).

As the project did not progress, Vedanta Group, of which Sterlite is a part, had tried to rope in on infrastructure major Larsen and Toubro.

In 2010 Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal had said the company was negotiating with L&T for setting up of a steel plant. Vedanta Group was supposed to invest Rs. 12,502 crore.

Sources in Steel and Mines department said since the land patches were irrigated land, the project was shelved at that place for the time being. Government is hopeful that the project would come up somewhere else.

This is the second industry of Vedanta Group after Vedanta Alumina Refinery at Lanjigarh of Odisha that had attracted trouble.

On its part the State government had already issued under section 6 (1) notification Land Acquisition Act.

  • This is the second group of Vedanta which is in trouble
  • Government is hopeful that the project will come up somewhere else


#India- State ploy to silence a dissenting voice? #fabricated #arrests


Tribal activist Dayamani Barla’s surrender and arrest jolts the land rights movement in Jharkhand, reports Soumik Mukherjee, Oct 21,2012

Journalist-activist Barla is the most popular mass leader in the state

Photo: Rajesh Kumar Sen

THE LAND rights movement by the tribals in Jharkhand suffered a setback on 16 October when eminent tribal activist Dayamani Barla surrendered before the Jharkhand police. She was arrested in connection with a case that was filed against her in 2006 for blocking a road and agitating in front of a BDO’s office in Ranchi demanding fair distribution of MGNREGS job cards. Barla was granted bail two days later and the next hearing in the case is slated for 30 November.

The arrest should be seen in the backdrop of the Greater Ranchi Development Plan that has invited the ire of people, as it would cause large-scale eviction of tribal population. Barla, the convener of the Adivasi-Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, is believed to have been mobilising support against this project.

As an activist, and a selfmade journalist, who runs a tea stall to make ends meet, Barla is the most popular, non-political mass leader in Jharkhand. She was at the forefront of the agitation against ArcelorMittal’s proposed steel plant in the state. The $8.9 million project spread over 12,000 acres would have displaced almost 70,000 people from 45 villages. The steel plant was proposed in the same block that had seen three decades of agitation against the Koel Karo hydel project since 1973.

Barla claims that she is being intimidated by the State for her role in the land rights movement across Jharkhand. “They will not miss a single opportunity to arrest me,” she had said standing in front of the wall that was built around the land earmarked for an IIM and a national law university in Nagri, a tribal village on the outskirts of Ranchi, the state capital. When TEHELKA reported the Nagri movement in June (Nagri’s Last Harvest), Barla was camping with the villagers at the construction site.

“Had it not been for her, the land at Nagri would have been transferred and no one would have said a single word,” says Arun Pradhan, a local journalist.

TEHELKA had reported on the fiasco in Nagri where farms with standing crops were bulldozed to make way for the said institutions. Barla, who was leading the villagers of Nagri to save their farmlands, was critical of the State’s actions and had raised questions on its impropriety in the matter.

“The government is scared of her, more than any other social activist, because people listen to her. Her ability to mobilise the masses and lead a movement is unmatchable,” says one of Barla’s colleagues.

Locals believe that using an old case is a ploy to damage the Nagri movement. The villagers of Nagri continue to sit on a hunger strike after all their efforts to stop the construction on their farming land went in vain. “The police couldn’t arrest her in a case related to the land movement. It would have resulted in a bigger tribal movement. And they cannot afford to cause a flare up,” says Bandhu Tirkey, a tribal leader.

The arrest comes in the backdrop of the Greater Ranchi Development Plan, opposed by Barla

AFTER SHE was booked in the 2006 case, she was never notified or summoned,” claims Faisal Anurag, a human rights worker and friend of Barla. “She received a notice from the court only 10-15 days ago,” he adds.

Barla’s conscious efforts at maintaining a safe distance from the political class has often irked the politicians who would be only too willing to encash the sense of tribal victimhood.

“We wanted a separate state where the tribals will have their equal rights, but the new governments failed to give the tribal population their rights,” says Salkhan Murmu, leader of Jharkhand Disham Party. Activists believe that Barla’s arrest will adversely impact the land rights movements across Jharkhand. “As long as she does not work with a political outfit, her struggle wouldn’t be easy,” says a political leader from Jharkhand. But probably it’s her “lack of political sense” that has turned her into a crusader who the State fears.

Soumik Mukherjee is a Correspondent with Tehelka


#Vedanta to restart Odisha refinery from Monday #badnews

Plant was shut since last week on bauxite unavailability
Jayajit Dash / Bhubaneswar Oct 20, 2012, 18:33 IST

A week after going for a temporary shutdown of its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh (Odisha), Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) is gearing up to restart the plant from Monday, buoyed by bauxite supplies to the tune of around 40,000 tonne from Bharat Aluminum Company’s (Balco) Kawardah mines in Chhattisgarh.

As bauxite availability dried up, VAL was forced to shut down the refinery last Saturday.


“Nearly 40,000 tonne of bauxite have reached our refinery premises. We have sourced the raw material from Balco’s Kawardah mines. The bauxite stock will be enough to run our plant for 5-6 days if we operate it at 60-70% capacity, which represents the minimum threshold value of the plant”, a company source told Business Standard.
Balco has two captive bauxite mines in Chhattisgarh- Kawardah and Mainpat, with a combined production capacity of 1.9 million tonne per annum. The Mainpat mine is currently closed.

VAL needed 10,000 tonne of bauxite every day to run the plant at full capacity.

VAL will first start its captive co-generating plant (CPP) to generate steam, necessary for running the refinery. It may be noted that along with shut down of the refinery, VAL had also closed its CPP last Saturday as there was no consumption of steam.

Meanwhile, VAL is eyeing bauxite supplies from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) after bagging the contract from the state PSU.

“The first bauxite shipment has been loaded by GMDC. We hope to get it within a few days. In all, we will get 90,000 tonne of bauxite from GMDC”, said the source.

The company is also in talks with private firms of Gujarat and Maharashtra that are currently engaged in bauxite exports.

VAL had approached both Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci), seeking ban on bauxite exports. While VAL was struggling to keep its refinery operations afloat for want of bauxite, the raw material continued to be exported by private miners in Gujarat and Maharashtra due to better price realisations.

VAL has not been alloted any mining lease in Odisha and fully depends on externally sourced bauxite to run its refinery. It had entered into a pact with state controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for supply of bauxite from Niyamgiri hills.

However, attempts to mine bauxite at the ecologically sensitive hills were red flagged by the Union environment ministry that had scrapped the Stage-II forest clearance on August 24, 2010.

Around 6,500 people, including 550 employed directly, 5,000 engaged indirectly and 1,000 self-employed in and around the plant depended on VAL refinery for their livelihood. The company claimed to have spent Rs 150 crore on the development of the local area and community.


Tribal woman in #Chhattisgarh gangraped #VAW

Raipur, Sept 28(PTI) A tribal woman in Narayanpur district has claimed that she was gangraped by four unidentified armed men wearing uniforms.

Narayanpur SP Mayank Srivastava said that a case has been registered in this regard.

According to the woman, she was raped in the forest between Turtha and Karepal by four armed men on 18th of this month.

The 45-year old victim initially did not file police complaint on the advice by her family members.

Indian tribal women demand their reproductive rights #mustshare


Anumeha Yadav

20 September 2012

Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) living in Chattisgarh, India, struggle to provide for their families and are forced to lie about their identity to overcome the sterilisation restriction owing to a three decade old order of the Madhya Pradesh government that restricted PTGs from being targeted during the sterilisation drives of the time.

Sarguja: A three decade-old Madhya Pradesh government order has several adivasi families in Chattisgarh in a quandary. They struggle to provide for themselves but are turned away by government officials if they try to restrict their family size.

“I do not want more children but the ‘mitanin’ (village health worker) says she cannot take me or anyone from my community to the clinic for an operation,” says Phool Sundari Pahari Korva from Jhamjhor village, located in the forests of Sarguja district in north Chhattisgarh. She has five children – her oldest is 18 and the youngest, a daughter, is six months. All of Sundari’s four younger children have frail limbs and bellies swollen by malnutrition; the skin on her younger son’s chest has peeled off due to an infection.

Sabutri Bai Korva says the nurse who helped her get sterilisation done was going to be suspended/ Photo credit: Anumeha Yadav/WFS

The reason that Phool Sundari, a Pahari Korva adivasi, was denied sterilisation at a local government clinic: A 1970s order of the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government that restricted Pahari, or Hill, Korvas and four other Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) living in Chattisgarh from being targeted during the sterilisation drives of the time.

The original intent was to protect the PTGs, a term recently amended to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, from ‘extinction’. The PTGs were adivasi groups dependent on pre-agricultural technologies that had stagnant or declining populations. But 30 years on, the Chhattisgarh government has continued to enforce this anachronistic order adding to the economic burden of these families.

Sabutri Bai, Sundari’s neighbour, recounts that she got sterilisation done after giving birth to her sixth child three years back but was surprised at what followed. “When the staff at the Lakhanpur clinic found out I am a Pahari Korva, they were going to dismiss the nurse who allowed me to get operated,” she says. “It makes no sense. We have 1.5 acres land. How do they expect us to provide for more and more children?” asks her husband, Phool Chand Ram, who used to work under the rural employment guarantee act, MNREGA, two years back but gave it up when he got wages only a year later. Their eight-member family survives by selling firewood, earning Rs 100 (US$1=Rs 55) for every two-day trip they make into the depleting forest.

Over 50 kilometres away, in the villages of Batauli block, the situation is similar. Pahari Korvas struggle to provide for their families and are forced to lie about their identity to overcome the sterilisation restriction. “I stopped producing nursing milk after I gave birth to my fourth child. I could only give my babies rice-water. When I wanted to get the operation done, the malaria link worker (a government health worker) said I should give my caste as Majhwar or else the Shantipada hospital would not do it,” says Mangli Bai Korva of Govindpur village.

The original order, passed on December 13, 1979, identifies PTGs, including Pahari Korvas, Baigas, Abujhmaria, Birhor and Kamar tribes, in 26 blocks in MP to be excluded from sterilisation but allows them access to contraceptives. “You have been given district-wise targets for sterilisation. An exception should be made for tribal communities whose population is stagnant or decreasing… they should have access to other contraceptives if they require. …Everyone except these communities will be encouraged to get sterilised…,” reads the two-page order.

Adivasi families in Sarguja, however, say they have never heard of temporary or permanent contraceptive methods such as birth control pills, condoms, or the copper-T, an intrauterine device. Further, while the order permits PTG families to go in for sterilisations after procuring a certificate from the Block Development Officer, neither health workers nor tribals are aware of this provision and most have no direct access to block officials.

A discussion among Pahari Korvas in Batauli, on whether or not the government should allow the operation, generated diverse reactions. While the youngsters burst into giggles, Shri Ram Korva, who has six children, wonders loudly with faultless logic, “If the thought is to preserve our population, then that is good. But if we are forced to say we are Majhwar or Oraon at the clinic, won’t we stop being Korvas anyway?” Jhoolmati Korva, a village elder, has the final word, “If the couple wants it, they should be able to get the operation even after giving their correct name.”

Sarguja has over 4,500 Pahari Korva families. Since 1996, they have been the focus of several development schemes, which promote agriculture, animal husbandry and horticulture, executed through the Pahari Korva Development Agency. But despite good intentions and adequate resources – last year, the agency had a budget of Rs 3.72 crore – district officials admit not much has changed. “Schemes do not get implemented properly because there is little coordination among various departments. We are now trying to involve the Pahari Korva Mahapanchayat in planning the use of funds,” says R. Prasanna, the District Collector. “Maybe if the Mahapanchayat made a collective appeal, the government will reconsider the sterilisation order,” he adds.

In the three decades since the order has been in force, the PTG population has increased but their access to health and nutrition has stayed as uncertain as ever and it is this fact that is central to the debate over the restriction. National Family Health Survey-3 data shows that compared to the national average of 46 per cent of underweight children, 70 per cent children born in PTG families are underweight. Malaria and diarrhoea epidemics are frequent every monsoon. In the instance of Pahari Korvas, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is 166 deaths per 1000 live births, more than double the national average, says a 2007 study by researcher Sandeep Sharma. The study also records the crude death rate as well as birth rate among these adivasis – more children are born, but many more die.

So, is the government hiding dismal malnutrition and high mortality numbers with a sterilisation ban? “Independent surveys show the government undercounts the level of malnutrition. For three years between 2007 and 2010 the state reported zero deaths from malaria and diarrhoea to the central Ministry for Health and Family Welfare,” says Sulakshana Nandi, a public health activist based in Raipur. “Block and district clinics in Raipur and Mahasamund were out of stock of contraceptives when we visited this January. PTGs are in a bind because they neither get adequate nutrition nor access to contraceptives,” she adds.

The ban has been a matter of public debate in the state since an investigation by journalists in Kawardha district last year traced how dalals (middlemen) from MP were luring Baiga tribals across the border for sterilisation for Rs 1,000, ironically as part of MP government’s continued sterilisation drives. Since then PTG communities such as Kamars in Gariaband district and the Baigas in Kawardha have organised public meetings demanding that the government remove the ban and focus instead on improving access to public services. “Baigas want to restrict their family size for their well-being, not because of Rs 200-300 that we could earn as incentive for sterilisation in clinics in MP,” asserted Bhaigla Singh Baiga, a community leader while addressing the Baiga Mahapanchayat meeting in Taregaon in May 2012.

Government officials have taken notice of these demands. “I agree that the demographic situation has changed and that informed choice should be available to everyone. It is, however, incorrect to blame high mortality on the failure of state services; ‘anganwadis’ can provide only supplementary nutrition, substantive nutrition has to come from the household,” says Kamalpreet Singh Dhillon, Director-Health Services in Raipur.

But nutritious food continues to be elusive for the Pahari Korvas living deep inside the Mainpat and Khirkhiri hills. Today, they wait for both their right to food and their freedom to decide family size.

SOURCE: Women’s Feature Service


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