MAC: Mines and Communities

London Calling on the Gladson Dungdung "affair"

Published by MAC on 2016-05-14
Source: Indian Express, Telegraph, Counter Currents (2016-05-13)

De-planed, but hopefully not deterred

A prominent Adivasi forest rights activist from the Indian state of Jharkhand was, on 9 May, "de-planed" by the Indian authorities from  an Air India flight to England.

Gladson Dungdung was scheduled to address a conference organised by Sussex University's Centre for World Environmental History, following publication last July of his book Mission Saranda: A war for Natural Resources in India.

The work closely examines state and corporate appropriation of Indigenous people's territory in this densely forested region and lists atrocities committed against its inhabitants. It was launched by the author at London's School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) last November.

UK immigration authorities hadn't tried to stop Mr Dungdung from entering Britain - he held a valid visa for the purpose. His Indian passport (which was confiscated) was also in order (see first article below).

As of now, there's still some mystery as to why Gladson was "halted in his tracks" at this specific point in time.

But it certainly can't be put down to a mere administrative blunder.

The Vedanta factor

Just a few days before the government took this punitive step, Vedanta Resources plc signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Jharkhand government, allowing the London-listed conglomerate to build  a 1 million tonnes-per-year steel plant.

Back in the mid-2000's, the Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa was allotted a 700-plus hectares iron-rich tract of land in Saranda for possible exploitation.

The gambit was later rejected by the central government. But now, the Jharkhand state government has reportedly promised the company that - if and when the plant is ready - it will get a permit to mine the same forests.

Illegal?

It isn't the first time, since the Modi government came to power, that an Indian campaigner for forest peoples' rights has been dealt with in such a cavalier fashion.

In January 2015, Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India was also hauled off a flight to London, where she was due to address British parliamentarians on the spurious activities of London-listed Essar Energy in the coal fields of Madyha Pradesh.

The Delhi High Court later ruled the government's action to have been unlawful. (See: Attack on Greenpeace India is an attack on free speech).

Ms Pillai hasn't yet tried to return to the UK.

We're sure that Gladson won't be deterred from making another attempt to do so.

Already, India's Peoples Union for Democratic Rights has issued a strong statement in his support.

A Youtube video interview with Gladson relating to this week's incident is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbYNTVphtCo

[London Calling is published by Nostromo Research. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of any other person or group. Reproduction is welcomed under a Creative Commons Licence]

Ranchi activist Gladson Dungdung deplaned from flight to London

Prashant Pandey

The Indian Express

10 May 2016

Ranchi-based human rights activist Gladson Dungdung was Monday offloaded from a London-bound flight at the New Delhi aiport, allegedly because his passport was impounded in 2013 and required verification.

In a Facebook post, Dungdung said his passport had been released after being impounded in 2013. He claimed that the reason behind the offloading was his 2015 book Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India, which questioned the government’s stated intention of development, while allegedly harming tribal heritage and endangering the area’s fragile ecosystem.

Regional Passport Officer (Ranchi), Sanatan, said: “His passport was impounded in October 2013. The matter was referred to Jharkhand police, which verified the matter. After due procedure, Dungdung’s passport was released in July 2014,” he said.

Sanatan added that records clearly reveal that a communication mentioning that his passport was impounded was sent to all airports in 2013. “Then, in 2014, we again communicated to all concerned that it has been released,” he said. The possibility of any other injunctions like lookout notice by an investigating agency was not within his purview, Sanatan said, adding that he can’t say if the data of immigration officials concerned was updated or not. “As far as the passport office is concerned, we are sure that the communication saying Dungdung’s passport has been released was sent and received by all concerned,” he said.

Asked whether Ranchi police had issued any warrants or legal injunction against Dungdung, SSP Kuldeep Dwivedi said: “As of now, I am not aware of any such action. No official agency has contacted us for such details.”

A senior home ministry official said: “It is possible that he was on the blacklist with immigration authorities. However, we have not yet received any information about it.”

On Facebook, Dungdung narrated how he was offloaded from Air India flight AI-115 scheduled to leave for London around 4.25 am. He said: “I am sure that this is a clear impact of my book Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India.”


PUDR Condemns The Deplaning Of Gladson Dungdung

By People’s Union for Democratic Rights

Countercurrents.org

13 May 2016

 “I started travelling to the Red Corridor in order to collect evidence that this is not a war against terrorism, the so-called Naxalite insurgency by the CPI-Maoists but a war against the Adivasis. The hidden goal is to snatch their resources i.e. their lands, their forests, their water and hills. I believe that my mission to Saranda Forest proves this to be the case. I have taken great care in my researches and I am convinced that the war is actually, fundamentally, a war for control over mineral resource and that it threatens the security of all the common people in the Red Corridor and is wrecking their peaceful existence, their good governance, development and prosperity.

-Gladson Dungdung cited in Felix Padal’s review of Mission Saranda: A War for Natural Resources in India

PUDR strongly condemns the deplaning of Ranchi based human rights activist, journalist and writer Gladson Dungdung from his flight to London on 10th May, when he was travelling to participate in a workshop on environmental politics and history of South Asia at the University of Sussex's Centre for World Environmental History. Dungdung’s views couldn’t be clearer; nor the motive behind his deplaning more transparent, than from the passage cited above.

Gladson Dungdung has for a long time been a very vocal critic of the government’s development and land acquisition policies in Jharkhand, of multinational corporations, and the attack on Adivasi peoples’ rights. He was actively involved in the struggles against Arcelor Mittal, and the Nagri (Jharkhand) protest movement against acquisition of agricultural land in a fifth schedule area for a law University and IIM, in connection with which Dayamani Barla too had been arrested.

It should therefore come as no surprise that this is not the first time that Gladson has attracted the ire of the government. His passport had been impounded in January 2014 as well, after he had spoken against the government’s land acquisition policy in tribal areas, at conferences in Germany and Thailand in 2013. The airport authorities have cited the 2013 withdrawal of his passport as the reason behind the deplaning, which is absurd as he has travelled to Denmark and London in 2014 and 2015, the last to release his book Mission Saranda. His passport had been returned in July 2014.

The restrictions on travel are clearly directed at preventing the exposing at international fora, the ugly side of the Indian government’s mining policies, and its genocidal war against Adivasis in the name of fighting Maoism, especially at a time when India Inc is going all out to attract foreign capital. The present instance is of a piece with Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai’s offloading in January 2015 when she was going to address British legislators about rights violations in the coal producing area of Mahan in MP.

The present incident assumes added significance in the immediate context where the government has been advocating the watering down of the Forest Rights Act in tribal areas, with the Chattisgarh government having already summarily set aside some of its provisions. The restriction on travel in Gladson’s case is part and parcel of preventing the dissemination of uncomfortable truths through restrictions on freedoms of speech expression and movement, and must be resisted at all costs.

Moushumi Basu, Deepika Tandon

Secretaries, PUDR


Vedanta inks steel plant pact

Seraikela-Kharsawan unit to start production by 2021

Amit Gupta

The Telegraph (Calcutta)

6 May 2016

Ranchi: Mining conglomerate Vedanta today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government to set up a 1 MTPA (million tonne per annum) capacity integrated steel plant in Seraikela-Kharsawan, one of Jharkhand's most industrialised districts.

The MoU was signed today at the office of Udai Pratap Singh, additional chief secretary in-charge of state industries and mining department, where chief executive officer (iron ore) of Vedanta group R. Kishore Kumar and state industries director K. Ravikumar had come.

The MoU papers were signed by Singh and Kishore Kumar, representing the state and Vedanta.

Vedanta has promised to invest around Rs 5,000 crore in the state. For now, an industry department source said the group wants to set up an iron pipe manufacturing unit in the state.

After the pact was signed, state industries director Ravikumar said Vedanta would start work in next seven-eight months to commission the steel plant.

"They have already identified the land for the purpose. The company has already entered into an agreement with villagers to directly purchase between 360 and 390 acres," Ravikumar told The Telegraph .

Vedanta group CEO Kumar said that the company would invest around Rs 1,700 crore in the first phase in the steel plant. "We will now go for the project's feasibility report," Kumar said, adding they aim to start production by 2021.

As far as the group's requirement for iron ore is concerned, it is likely to get a Saranda mine earlier allotted to Sesa Goa, a company which had signed a MoU with the state in the mid-2000s to set up a 0.5 MTPA steel plant in the state. The company's proposed steel plant in Jharkhand never took off and it also merged with Vedanta.

When Sesa Goa's pact with the state was on, the company was allotted an iron ore block in West Singhbhum to prospect iron ore in over 700 hectares of forestland in Dhobil Ankua reserved forest, Saranda division. In 2008, the central government rejected the prospecting proposal.

It is now learnt state government has assured Vedanta that if it begins the process of setting up a steel mill in Jharkhand to ensure value-addition of minerals in the state, the government would allot it iron ore. Today's MoU is a step forward for Vedanta to get iron ore reserves in Jharkhand.

An industry department source said Vedanta's proposal to sign a new MoU was discussed with state government authorities this February during the Make in India Week in Mumbai in which chief minister Raghubar Das and senior bureaucrats from the state took part.

 

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