INDIA UPDATEPublished by MAC on 2006-02-02
2nd February 200
Meet to highlight govt's violation of eco norms
by G JAGANNATH / News Today, Chennai
2nd February 2006
Community and tribal representatives from across the country held a public meeting today in the Perambalur constituency of Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest A Raja to make the public aware of the violation of environmental norms and human rights by both the Central and State governments while sanctioning industrial projects.
The meeting was organised by the Campaign for Environmental Justice in India (CEJ-I), a coalition of public interest organisations and individuals concerned, about the violations of environmental norms and human rights.
Community and tribal representatives from Orissa, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu addressed the public on 'Violations and Dilutions of Environmental Laws by Central and State Governments: Recommendations for a Justice-centred Policy', Nityanand Jayaraman, environmentalist, told News Today.
The campaign is opposed to the proposed National Environment Policy and the dilutions to the Environmental Impact Notification (EIA) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests because it limits public participation and had been revised solely to expedite industrial investments, he said.
On 14 November, 2005 about 200 representatives of the campaign staged a sit-in dharna in front of the office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi demanding the revocation of the proposed amendments to environmental laws, he noted.
At the meeting in Perambalur, the delegations narrated instances of State oppression of communities opposed to industrialisation around the country, including: the January 2 killing of more than 12 Adivasis opposed to the forcible takeover of their lands; the harassment of Adivasis and Dalit communities opposed to Jindal Steel's attempts to privatise a river in Chattisgarh; the arrest of community leaders opposed to the Polavaram Dam in Andhra Pradesh; the cases of Centre-State collusion with Corporations in condoning environmental violations in Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala.
'CEJ-I appealed to residents of Perambalur to hold their MP A Raja accountable and demand that he revoke the anti-people Environmental Policy and draft EIA Notification, and initiate a participatory process to strengthen environmental regulations in the country', Nityanand Jayaraman said.
Speakers from the various States included: Prafulla Samantra, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa; Lata Anantha, Chalakudy Puzha Samarakshana Samiti; Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group, Karnataka; Professor Fatima Babu of Veeranganai Women's Movement, Tuticorin; Rajesh Tripathy of Jan Chetana, Chattisgarh; and Maki Reddy of the Rythu Koolie Sewa Sangam, Andhra Pradesh; and Dr Channa Basavaiah of Jana Vignana Vedike, Andhra Pradesh; and Advocate T Mohan of Chennai.
The Kalinganagar Massacre, tribal land, industrialization and justice in Orissa
by Loka Shakti Abhijan, Press release at Chennai
2nd February 2006
Kalinganagar Massacre in which 12 tribals were shot and killed by the Orissa Police in cold blood with extreme brutality, was only the last in a series of repressive anti-tribal steps taken by the successive Governments of the State of Orissa. Considering that the tribals are a demographic and political minority in Orissa, such repeated repression and killings can only be viewed as systematic genocide and marginalization of a minority community for fulfilling the greed and coffers of rapacious corporate interests interested in getting at the resources present in tribal areas. Not only tribals, but even other marginalized sections of Orissa's society are at the receiving end of the repression of a state and a ruling class which has turned from a "public trustee" to a "corporate dalal".
Orissa's record in repression of its people, specially its marginalized sections is brutal and continuous. Recent events where people have been killed by Orissa State are
•the police firing on fishermen in Chilika in 1999, where five people were killed;
•the police shot dead eight tribals in Mandrabaju in Gajapati district in December 1999;
•In 2000 December the famous Maikanch firing led to death of three tribals protesting against the UAIL's bauxite mining and alumina factory in Kashipur;
•In 2001 October, five tribals were killed in two police firing incidents in Raighar area of Nowarangpur district in protests arising out of land disputes
•And finally on 2nd June, the police brutally murdered 12 tribals protesting the illegal and unethical acquisition of land for TATAs, and as tribals allege, chopped off hands, private parts and breasts of five people.
In all the above incidents the state and the police acted on behalf of powerful interests, including Multinationals and Indian corporate houses. Along with these extreme cases of state sponsored killings, tribal people live under constant threat of arrests and harassment, specially when they try to claim their rights over land and forests which customarily belongs to them. The extent of tribal marginalization can be guessed at by the fact that even in the districts notified as Scheduled areas in Orissa, where tribals have constitutional protection in land, tribals have rights and protection in land on only 16% of the area of these districts. A whopping 74% of the area of even the scheduled districts are owned by the State Government, and tribals have no rights over this three fourth of their lifescapes. Not that the rights of tribals even over their legally held lands is respected by the state, which uses Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to acquire even this land and farm it out to corporates.
The current indiscriminate mineral based industrialization in tribal areas based on extraction of natural resources is leading to more and more conflicts. Many of us have opposed the indiscriminate extractive industrialization model urged upon the state by financing institutions such as DFID, both on grounds of it being against national and Orissa's interest and its grim implications on the tribal minority of Orissa who live on the land and enjoy resources which is sought to be captured by a group of international and national Corporate Sector. Many of us have been persecuted for this opposition. Kalinganagar has been the latest and the most extreme effort by the State Government and the mining/industry mafia to silence the voice of legitimate protest of tribal communities. We strongly believe that the massacre of tribals was preplanned and deliberate, and the lack of action against the officers and politicians involved turns the current government into an illegitimate imposition on the people of the State.
We are completely in solidarity with the demands of the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch and Kalinganagar Surakshya Samiti as indicated below and demand that these be acceded to:
i. A complete halt to the eviction drive and immediate withdrawal of all projects in Kalinga Nagar
ii. A complete fullstop to the aggressive industrialization initiated in Kalinganagar
iii Dismissal of the Collector and SP from service and initiation of criminal proceedings against them for the crimes committed by them on 2 nd January causing death of 12 tribals and critically injuring several others
iii. Criminal proceedings against all officials party to the crime
iv. Rs 20,00,000 as compensation to the next kin of the dead And Rs10,00,000 to the injured persons
v. Withdrawal of all cases against tribals
Furthermore, based on our long experience of working in the tribal areas we will like to articulate further demands as given below:
i. Immediate action to be taken to review all projects linked displacement and rehabilitate and resettle people who have been already displaced.Immediate cessation of all Land Acquisition in any area for any purpose till rehabilitation and resettlement of people who are already displaced by projects starting from Hirakud and Machkund is carried out to the satisfaction of civil society and tribal communities.
ii. The Governor may be asked to immediate suspend Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in Scheduled Areas of Orissa.
iii. All land acquisition in the Scheduled areas violates the spirit of the Schedule V of the constitution. Land acquisition carried out after 1997 violates the section 3(iii) of the Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property (by scheduled tribes) Regulation, 1956 as almost all the tribals so affected have been rendered landless. All triballand acquired after 1997 may be immediately resumed to the original scheduled tribe owners and the government officers, IDCOL and companies who have engaged in this illegality be persecuted under section 7 of the same law and section 3(iv and v) and Section 4 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. Restitution to the extent of 10 times the production value of the land should be provided to the tribals whose land has been so acquired.
iv. Tribal Land acquired before 1997 should be revalued as per their current value, and restitution in form of ten times this value be given to tribals along with minimum of five acres of unirrigated land or two acres of irrigated land.
v. Tribals own only 16% of the land in scheduled areas. Steps must be immediately taken to transfer the ownership of Revenue and Forest Land within the traditional boundary of the tribal villages (as defined in the PESA, 1996) in the Scheduled areas. The Panchayati Raj Act, 1964, must be immediately amended to transfer all control on their traditional and customary land to tribal communities.
vi. No lease or transfer of government land in scheduled areas to non-tribals must be permitted. The proposal to lease out land in tribal areas to private parties for Jatropha plantations or for carbon trading must be immediately withdrawn. The Government's plantation strategy must be redrawn keeping in view that the communities are the owners of all land within their village boundaries.
vii. The OSATIP Regulations, 1956, may be immediately amended in lines with the AP Regulation of 1970, which says that no land in the scheduled areas will be transferred to non-tribal. No land, including state owned land and private lands held by non-tribal in scheduled areas will be transferable to a non-tribal person. The term judicial person must include corporate and state.
viii. The section 3(b) of OSATIP Regulation, 1956, must be immediately put into practice, and the non-tribals who have acquired land through illegal means since 1956 be immediately identified and punished and the land restored to the tribals.
ix.All mining concessions in scheduled areas to private parties must be immediately withdrawn without any delay as they are illegal and violate Schedule V. Mining under OMC Ltd and other public sector Institutions must be suspended and placed under review by the civil society and tribal communities.
x. Some of the blocks and districts boundaries have been deliberately drawn to keep tribal majority areas out of scheduled areas. Blocks and districts boundaries must be redrawn to bring tribal majority areas under schedule V. Apart from this, all settlements where tribal are in a majority and which are located in non-scheduled areas be brought under schedule V protection.
We would like to make it clear to the authorities that STs in Orissa are facing a situation akin to slow and steady genocide and those successive administrations have followed anti-tribal policies in matter of land, forest and displacement. The instances of extreme injustices done to tribal communities in Orissa will fill volumes. The extreme poverty of the tribal and their complete political marginalization is a result of deliberate policies which have dispossessed them of their land, livelihoods and dignity.
We again reiterate that we stand in complete solidarity with the tribals of Kalinganagar and with other tribal communities and that we will struggle with them to achieve our demands,
Loka Shakti Abhijan
Patnaik: "We will strike a balance between environment and industrialisation"
Interview, Prafulla Das, The Hindu
2nd February 2006
Orissa Chief MinisterNaveen Patnaik faces the toughest challenge of his political career in handling the agitation in the wake of the death of 12 tribals in police firing at Kalinga Nagar on January 2. In an interview in Bhubaneswar, he spoke about the measures his Government was taking to get over the crisis and carry forward the process of industrialisation in the State. Excerpts:
Naveen Patnaik: "Rehabilitation of the displaced families will be given top priority."
Prafulla Das: Your Government is facing severe criticism in the wake of the Kalinga Nagar firing. What are you doing to control the damage?
NP: The Kalinga Nagar firing was a tragic incident. The Government has taken immediate steps to tackle the situation, like treatment of the injured, payment of compensation, etc. We have kept our doors open for discussion with the affected persons. We are contemplating revising our resettlement and rehabilitation policy to make it more sympathetic and humane. We have set up a Group of Ministers to have a thorough look at the existing rehabilitation policy and suggest improvements. We have invited the members of the Opposition to come out with suggestions for improvement of our R&R policy. We intend to consult tribal leaders, leading NGOs, and professionals for their valuable suggestions.
PD: The agitation by the Kalinga Nagar tribals has been on since January 2. What measures are you taking to contain the tribal unrest that is now spreading to other areas?
NP: Tribal unrest is not spreading to other areas. We have initiated the peace process in Kalinga Nagar. The district administration is in constant touch with the displaced persons and persuading them to join the peace process. I have extended my invitation to them to talk to me for restoration of peace.
PD: The process of industrialisation has virtually come to a halt after the firing incident. What measures are being taken to put the process back on the rails?
NP: It is not a fact that industrialisation has come to a halt all over the State because of this incident. It is only at Kalinga Nagar that the agitators are blocking the road leading to Paradip. We are persuading the agitators to come for negotiations and I hope normalcy will be restored soon.
PD: NP: Opposition to POSCO's mega steel project is growing. Are you contemplating a review of the rehabilitation package?
As I have already indicated, the entire rehabilitation policy is being worked out by the Group of Ministers. This policy will also take into account the problems of persons displaced by the POSCO project.
PD: Forty-three MoUs have been signed in the steel sector alone. How many will really be implemented?
NP: As many as 17 projects are in different stages of construction. Many more have initiated steps for land acquisition.
PD: Do you think the State can bear the impact of such large-scale industrialisation and mining activity at one go?
NP: While emphasising on industrialisation, we are also concerned about our environment. No industrial activity will be allowed at the cost of the environment. A proper environmental impact analysis will be conducted before setting up any industry and adequate safeguards will be taken for protection of the environment. We will be able to strike a balance between environment and industrialisation.
PD: Is the government machinery now ready to ensure proper rehabilitation of project-affected people?
NP: Proper rehabilitation of the displaced families will be given top priority. There are Rehabilitation Advisory Committees for each project/group of projects in order to oversee implementation of the policy.
PD: Thousands of people displaced in the past are now demanding rehabilitation. How is your Government planning to cope?
NP: Displacement is not a new problem. Many families have been displaced by Central Government PSUs and Railways over several decades. I have already taken up the issue with the Prime Minister and the appropriate Central Government authorities to rehabilitate the displaced families. The matter is being pursued.
PD: What measures do you think would redress the tribals grievances?
NP: From deregulating the trade of minor forest produce, to lifting of cases against thousands of tribals involved in forest and minor offences, my Government has been pursuing a pro-tribal policy for the past six years. We have taken steps to restore land illegally occupied by non-tribals to tribals. The tribals have been involved in protection of forests. Infrastructure in tribal areas is being improved. These efforts are on.
PD: Why has the situation remained unchanged at the ground level despite your Government's tribal welfare programmes?
NP: The situation at the ground level has shown definite signs of improvement. The performance of tribal schools has been better than non-tribal schools. Irrigation projects and roads in tribal areas have vastly increased.
PD: Many companies that are not setting up any industry are still exporting iron ore from the State. Are you planning to impose any restrictions in this regard?
NP: Presently we are giving mining leases to those companies which are willing to set up industries inside the State. My Government has introduced the concept of value addition to minerals within the State. This will bring in additional resources to the State for developmental works and also create many jobs for our people. The State Government is, however, not competent to restrict export of ore under the MMDR Act [Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957].
PD: Will you blame the Centre for its current mineral policy that allows export of iron ore and other minerals?
NP: The mineral policy of the entire country is now being reviewed. I am of the firm view that maximum value addition to the minerals should take place within the country.
PD: The general perception is that development of agriculture has ceased to be a priority for your Government. How would you react?
NP: Development of agriculture continues to be top-most priority on our agenda. We are preparing a Master Plan to irrigate at least 35 per cent of arable land in each block. We have put in place innovative schemes such as Pani Panchayat and Biju Krushak Vikas Yojana to help our farmers to irrigate their land through participatory irrigation management. Taking advantage of the diverse agro-climatic zones in Orissa, we will assist our farmers in a big way through the Horticulture Mission to cultivate more vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other cash crops.
PD: With tribal unrest on the rise in the wake of the Kalinga Nagar incident, don't you think the naxalites will gain strength by capitalising on it? How will you tackle the menace?
NP: As I said, tribal unrest is not rising. If some extremists try and take undue advantage of the situation, I am sure, the people will see through their game.
PD: The Budget session of the Assembly begins on February 3. How would you handle the Opposition this time round?
NP: I hope the Opposition will come out with constructive suggestions for long-term development of the State. No one should sacrifice the interest of the State for short-term political ends.
India eyes US$10b in foreign investments
by Bloomberg News Service
31st January 2006
MUMBAI, Mon: India aims to attract US$10 billion (US$1 = RM3.75) of foreign investments this year, two-thirds more than in 2005, as it eases rules to attract overseas funds to accelerate economic growth, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said.
"We need to get more capital into mining, especially coal-mining, steel-making, ports and seaports," Chidambaram said in an interview at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. "The private sector is interested in telecommunications, power, sea ports - and some countries, even in roads."
India is simplifying its investment rules to attract more overseas investment and help close the gap with China, which began to open its economy in 1978, 13 years before India.
China got US$60 billion of foreign investment in 2005, or 10 times the amount India received. The US, Europe and Japan were among the biggest investors in India last year, Chidambaram said. - Bloomberg.
TATA STEEL MUST OWN RESPONSIBILITY FOR INDIA's CORPORATE "JALIANWALABAGH"
PRESS RELEASE: Bangalore:
30th January 2006
Public Interest Groups walk into Tata Steel office in Bangalore risking arrest and submit representation
Today, Jan 30th, is Martyrs' Day -- in memory of Gandhiji's sacrifice and all those who have laid down their lives to protect our freedom and our common future.
Tragically this year began for the tribal communities in Kalinganagar in Orissa, with the brutal killings of 12 of their own, simply because they disagreed with the Orissa Government's and Tata Steel's proposal to set up a massive steel plant on their land.For long communities displaced for mining and industrialisation have not been adequately compensated or rehabilitated, including by Tata Steel.Fearing their fate would be the same, the project affected communities of Kalinganagar wanted to be properly compensated first before being dispossessed.
Tata Steel Ltd (TSL), has been allotted 2400 acres in Kalinga Nagar for the construction of a six million tonne plant. The land that the government purchased at the rate of Rs. 37,000/- per acre in 1994 from some of the affected families (not all affected have been yet counted for project impact and rehabilitation), was sold to the Tata Co. for Rs. 3,35,000/- thus making for the State a net profit ofRs 715,200,000 and at the same time giving the Tata Company a savings of over Rs. 87,600,000 over the market price. The current market price ranges between Rs. 5,00,000 to 7,00,000 per acre.It was this dispute over compensation that was on the negotiation table till 2nd January and was the reason why the people had assembled to prevent the bull-dozers from destroying their houses and taking over their lands that fatal day.On the land-rights question the Adivasis were in possession of the land making any entry on their land illegal.They were in their right to question the operations of the Orissa Government and Tata Co. on their land on that day.
In this context when the tribals demanded of the Deputy Commissioner of the Jajpur district, the police and Tata company officials to stop building a wall around their land, they did not realise they were walking into a trap. All they wanted to do was reason with the administration against building the wall till such time they understood what this project was all about and accepted to give up their lands if in the wider public interest and on fair terms.The administration refused to negotiate.At this time, one of the tribals tripped on a string of a dynamite planted by Tata Steel in the football field where people had gathered.The dynamite went off destroying his leg and caused panic.As anger spread across those gathered against such terrible violence, the police started lobbying tear gas shells and also opening fire without warning.
Six people died on the spot.Several were innocent bystanders, including women and children.Most were shot through the back, clearly indicating they were retreating.Six more that were injured were removed by the police ostensibly to a hospital.But they never came out alive.Their bodies were returned later and horrifically found to be missing breasts (in the case of women) and genital organs in the case of men.This is in addition to all their hands being cut off.Orissa State, the police and the Tatas were sending an ominous message by this sexually perverted cold-blooded murder.
Tatas refuse to accept responsibility even morally:
In light of such a heinous crime, all that Tata Steel has done is to disown any responsibility in this crime.Sanjay Choudhry, a Tata spokesman has commented in an email: "..., at the risk of your thinking that we are trying to save our skins, thatTata Steel has been in discussions with the villagers for overa year and that has been our way since all time."Mr. Choudhry simply does not even understand the implications of how grave these violations are and proceeds to claim indifferently : ".industrialization is imminent andthe only way to improvethe standard of life of all the people of the area. The only issue is that of resettlement and rehablitation at mutually agreed terms."
Not only does this reflect very poorly on India's corporate leader, but it clearly send the message out that the Tatas too believe that corporate profit is prime, even over lives and livelihoods. Such tactics would put to shame even British Gen. Dyer who was responsible for the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre.
Such injustice as in Kalinganagar cannot be tolerated.It must be thoroughly investigated and the guilty arrested, be they amongst the police, Orissa state administration or the Tatas.
Simply stated Tata Steel must get out of Kalinganagar.Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, must own moral responsibility for the Kalinganagar massacre and brutal mutilation that followed.All demands made by the joint committee of the tribal and project affected communities in Kalinganagar must be adhered to.
Bangalore Groups protest Kalinganagar massacre by walking into Tata Steel's Bangalore office:
To ensure that Tata Steel which has so far been reticent and dismissive of such just demands, and to protest against their continued disowning of any responsibility for the brutal massacre, representatives of Environment Support Group, EQUATIONS, CIEDS Collective and various individuals walked into the Tata Steel office to submit a representation with the above demands (signed representation enclosed).
Three children aged 4, 5 and 8, nine women and five men walked into the Tata Steel office in Bangalore peacefully holding placards with messages such as: Tatas: Making Steel out of Blood; Tatas Benefit over Tribal Rights; Tata Steel: Strength over Justice; Tatas: Look your Hands are Bloody!; etc.The office was filled with over fifty men of Tata Steel who were shocked by this sudden presence and messages.Realising this was a statement of their guilt, they quickly proceeded to collectively accost this small number.
The Tata Steel men started surrounded this group, shouting violently at the women and children, even pushing them around and using bad language.The protestors informed them that they were well aware that they are breaking "the Law", but doing it for a just cause.Tata Steel was reminded that they were well within their rights to
call the police if they wished to, but had no business to shout at the small gathering at all, especially when almost all of Tata Steel employees were men, some quite brazen in their behaviour. Soon this crowd began to threaten dire action and even pushed out several women.Two women, three children, and four men were left inside and locked in.One of the Tata Steel employees also attempted to grab a camera which was with the protestors.
Tata Steel employees were repeatedly told that the purpose of this willing entry into their office was to submit a representation in protest against the Kalinganagar killings.That once a key representative came forward and accepted this representation, the protestors would leave.Without heeding to this plea, Tata Steel called in the police, who initially were only men. Eventually an Inspector arrived to arrest the protestors, and he was informed that he could not arrest unless there were women police, as the protestors included women and children.Women police were called in eventually, about an hour after the protestors had been locked inside.
The police demanded of Tata Steel to lodge a complaint so that the arrest could be executed.But for reasons best known to them key executive of Tata Steel who were in constant touch with their Headquarters did not want to lodge an official complaint to execute the arrest.As a result the protestors were allowed to go.
It is a sad statement of Tata Steel's corporate culture that they had to use aggressive behaviour against peaceful protestors who merely wanted them to remember the Kalinganagar victims were victims of crime by a corporate-state nexus for profit at any cost.The Bangalore action was but a symbolic peaceful protest in memory of the
12 killed in Kalinganagar, for their people now proclaim:"We will not allow OUR habitat - land, water and forest-that supports our life to be overrun by industrialists or the State"
Leo F. Saldanha, Subbu Sastry, Mallesh K. R., Priya, Rohan D'souza, Malavika, Arathi, Shubra of Environment Support Group
Vidya Rangan, Aditi Chanchani, and Kavita Kanan of Equations
Altaf Ahmed of CIEDS Collective
Vidhi Parthasarathy of Vikasana School
Lakshmi Nilakantan and children, especially Prahlad (8) who understands why he came for the protest.
Environment Support Group ®
S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens,
Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560041. INDIA
Telefax: 91-80-26341977/26531339/26534364 Telefax: 91-80-51179912
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Web: www.esgindia.org
Tribals to continue road blockade
by Statesman News Service, JAJPUR
30th January 2006
Contrary to all expectations, tribals of Kalinga Nagar decided to continue with their 28-day-old road blockade instead of lifting it and also flagged off a "rath" carrying ashes of the 12 persons who were killed in police firing on 2 January. The chariot carrying the urns was full of pictures of the mass cremation that had taken place, the chopped palms of the dead and the ongoing agitation.
Thousands of tribals, majority from neighbouring states of Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and West Bengal as well as extreme Left leaders from Andhra Pradesh congregated at the Indira Gandhi ground, three km from the mass cremation site, to hold an impressive "Sahid Divas" today.
Distancing themselves from mainstream political parties, the tribal leaders declared their intent of carrying forward their movement against the anti-tribal policies of the government. They denounced the Naveen Patnaik regime and rejected his invitation for peace talks.
Sensing that the general public was irked over the long drawn road blockade, some of the tribal leaders appealed to one and all to bear with them till the seven-point charter of demands were fulfilled. "We shall not lift the road blockade till our demands are met by the government," they said.
Rejecting the invitation for talks with the chief minister, they claimed that the peace and normalcy was destroyed by the government not by tribals and hence there was no question of any such talks. "First let the local minister Mr Prafulla Ghadei resign and the other demands including criminal cases against those responsible for the police firing be registered," they said.
Mr Sarat Rout, a Congress leader and former MLA of the area was isolated in his appeal to lift the road blockade.
Mr George Tirkey who had quit the ruling BJD recently after leading the tribal agitation in Rourkela, was most critical of the government.
The "rath" will move around the state and drum up public opinion against the government and its anti-tribal policies he said. Significantly, as many as 24 outfits including several from outside the state were represented at today's meeting. The entire area was spruced with leaflets of these organisations.
Twenty six platoon of police was there on guard but from only a great distance lest they irk the tribals.
Prominent among those who addressed the meeting which began after a procession was carried out from the mass cremation site, were DS Bhuria, DV Rao, Dandapani Mohanty, B Kanungo, Dr Prem Pati, Arun Majhi, Sivaji Patnaik and BD Sharma.
The tribals refused to be displaced and reaffirmed that they would not allow industrialisation at the expense of tribal property and livelihood.
Officials who were present and watching the entire proceedings with grave concern said that such a stand may now result in a backlash from the non-tribals. They also felt that tribals from outside the state had outnumbered the locals at the meeting venue today. A strong suspicion of extreme Left Maoists hijacking the show was also gathering ground.
BJD justifies Kalinga Nagar firing
by Statesman News Service, BHUBANESWAR
29th January 2006
Clearly unnerved by the beating it has taken on the Kalinga Nagar police firing incident, BJD leaders virtually went wild in essaying a counter reply today. Some of the bewildering statements ranged from - "those killed were not local tribals, they were goons from neighbouring Jharkhand" to the oft repeated charge that the incident itself was designed by the Opposition.
Taking the opportunity of a meeting organised by its farmers wing, most of the ruling BJD leaders touched upon the Kalinga Nagar police firing of 2 January in which 12 tribals and a policeman were killed.
Mr Prasanna Patsani, the BJD MP, went off in a tangent saying those killed were goons from Jharkhand.
He said the incident had taken place after one policeman was killed. It was natural for the police to react when they saw their colleague being murdered, he observed referring to the firing that followed.
Each of the speakers blamed the Congress and recalled the instances of police firing that had taken place during the Congress rule in the state.
But agriculture minister Mr Surendranath Nayak sought to draw an interestingly division within the Congress and the BJP. The Congress leadership and state BJP president are voicing demands which are rejected by their own Central leaders, he said. Mr Juel Oram, the state BJP president, has taken a stand on the Kalinga Nagar issue whereas all others including his ministers in the government and national president Mr Rajnath Singh have different views.
Similarly, Mr JB Patnaik is demanding resignation of chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik while Mrs Sonia Gandhi refused to do so when she visited Kalinga Nagar, he added.
Several BJD leaders questioned the logic of demanding the resignation of the chief minister and the finance minister. "How can they be held responsible, did they go there and fire upon the people," asked finance minister Mr Prafulla Ghadei.
The district magistrate and SP have been transferred and a judicial probe ordered, said Mr Ghadei to drive home the point that the government had taken necessary action after the incident.
The BJD leaders then went on to accuse the Opposition of having instigated tribals and caused the trouble because they were scared of the popularity of Mr Naveen Patnaik and his pro-tribal image.
"Economic prosperity and progress cannot be achieved if we shy away from industrialisation," they said before adding that it had to go hand-in-hand with agricultural development.
Orissa ranks lowest among aggregated human development indices, accordingto India's first Social Development Report. Almost half the population of the state"lives" below the official poverty line.
260 million Indians still below poverty line
A LARGE proportion26 per cent or about 260 million (193 million in rural areas and 67 million in urban areas)of Indians are still below the poverty line, according to India's first Social Development
Report released in New Delhi on Friday (January 27 2006).
The spatial map and social base of poverty have significantly changed
over time and poverty is increasingly concentrated in a few geographical locations and among specific social groups. Among the States, Punjab has the lowest incidence of poverty (6.16 per cent as per1999-2000 figures), followed by Haryana with 8.74 per cent, and Kerala with 12.72 per cent. Orissa has the highest number of people living below the poverty line(47.15 per cent), followed by Bihar (42.60 per cent), and Assam (36.09 per cent). While poverty levels have shown a decline, there is huge disparity among the social classes with the percentage of the poor among the Scheduled Tribes being 43.8 per cent, Scheduled Castes 36.2 per cent, and Other Backward Classes 21 per cent.
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, which account for 45 per cent of the country's population, also account for two-thirds of the infant mortality rate in the country (26 per cent in Uttar Pradesh alone), and two-thirds of the maternal mortality rate. Less than 25 per cent of the children in these States are immunised.
Rural Kerala tops the States in social indicators followed by Himachal Pradesh. Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Haryana figure among the best-performing States while Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa are at the bottom. The 21 indicators taken into account while grading the States included demography, health care, education, unemployment, poverty and social deprivation.
In the urban scenario, Kerala has been pushed to the third rank. Himachal Pradesh tops the list followed by Punjab, Karnataka, and Assam. At the bottom are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa.
The report, brought out by the Council for Social Development and Oxford, says Kerala has the lowest infant mortality rate of 11 deaths per1,000 births, followed by Mizoram and Goa at 16. Orissa has the highest IMR of 83 deaths per 1,000 births, Madhya Pradesh has 82, and Uttar Pradesh 76.
Among the disadvantaged classes, the IMR is higher among Scheduled Castes (83). It is 85.2 among the Scheduled Tribes, and 76 among the other disadvantaged classes compared to the rate of 61.8 among the rest of the population. A similar trend is witnessed with regard to the mortality rate of children under five, underweight children, children and women with anaemia.
The report brings out the need to harness the nation's social energy to ensure a fair and equitable process of development, identifies key concerns, and proposes possible intervention measures.
Kerala has the highest literacy rate of 90.92 per cent, followed by Mizoram at 88.49 per cent, and Goa at 82.32 per cent. Bihar has the lowest literacy rate of 47.53 per cent, Jharkhand 54.13 per cent, and Jammu and Kashmir 54.46. However, Mizoram tops the States with the lowest gender gap in literacy with a difference of only 4.56
In Meghalaya it is 5.73 percentage points and 6.34 percentage points in Kerala. Rajasthan has shown a large gap in gender literacy of 32.12 percentage points, Jharkhand 28.56 percentage points, and U.P. 27.25 percentage points.
Ironic as it may sound, Punjab ranks high in the urban social indicators but has the lowest child sex ratio of 798 girls to 1,000 boys. Haryana is slightly better at 819 and Gujarat is at 883. The traditional societies, including tribal communities, have an impressive sex ratio of 975 girls to 1,000 boys (Chhattisgarh), 973 (Meghalaya), and 966 in Tripuramuch higher than the national figure of 906.
Sambad: The forest feeds us, we won't allow its destruction
24th January 2006
"The forest feeds us. Forest is our life." The people of Raijharan have strongly protested against the proposed destruction of forests which they have been protecting since 30 years for coal mining. Kalinga Coal Mines had organized a public hearing in Dhobamali village of Raijharan. In this meeting the officials of the Govt, Kalinga Coal Mines and the Orissa Pollution Control Board had participated. More than 500 men and women of various villages strongly emphasized that they would at no cost allow the destruction of the dense sal forest. The women said they had been protecting the forest for more than 30 years. The forest has provided them with all basic needs and is an important source of livelihood for them. They are not only making sal plates and cups but are also being able to extract lac, resin, amla, harida, bahada and other forest produce which they are able to sell in the market. The women questioned the government and company officers that how can they live after the destruction of the forest which has been providing them with food year after year.
The Kalinga Coal Company, for mining purpose, is planning to acquire 385 acres of forest land, 335 acres of private land and 50 acres of grazing land. The purposed mining area affects the Singada river and the Raijharan dam. The Singada River can be termed as the life line of this area. If the proposed mining plan is allowed, the people feared there will severe shortage of water since both these water sources would turn dry.
After 30 years of protection the forests have become quite dense and they abound in wild animals. The villagers questioned whetherit is ethical to destroy this beautiful forest. In this public hearing the sarapanch, ex-sarapanch, ward members of Raijharan, Dhobamalia, Nandichod, Gopibalhabapur and Similisai had participated.
Endemic to Development: Police Killings in Kalinga Nagar
EPW (Economic and Political Weekly,India)
21st January 2006
The recent killing of 12 adivasis and one policeman in police firing in Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district of Orissa must be viewed against the background of the expansive and at times explosive process of capitalist development. Be it Gandhamardhan, Baliapal, Gopalpur, Chilika, Kashipur, Niyamagiri, Lower Sukhtel, and now Kalinga Nagar, the process of bringing "industrialisation" and "development" to Orissa has met with stiff resistance by the people.
Ranjana Padhi, Nagraj Adve
On the morning of January 2, 12 adivasis and one policeman were killed in police firing in Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district, Orissa.
Over a thousand people had gathered in village Nuagaon to protest against the construction of the boundary wall of a proposed Tata steel plant. The land had been bought in the early 1990s by the Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa (IDCO) at Rs 35,000 per acre and later sold to the Tatas at Rs 3.5 lakh per acre. The government had agreed to increase the compensation by Rs 25,000 per acre.
On that day, the assembled protestors were willing to dialogue with the district collector and superintendent of police (SP), who were present on the spot along with over 12 platoons of policemen. Even as a four-member delegation from the local adivasis went to meet these officials, the police launched an unprovoked attack on the
gathering. Tear gas was followed by indiscriminate firing, which continued for several minutes. Those trying to flee were shot in the back. Others have been shot in the face and on the chest. About 30-35 injured people were admitted to three different hospitals. In the middle of last week the condition of three persons was still critical. Four policemen were injured. Five of the dead bodies returned to the people had their palms chopped off from the wrists.
The cremations took place in the midst of continuous protest and condemnation of the state violence across Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other parts of the country.
The resistance in Kalinga Nagar had been brewing for many months. In May 2005, adivasis of the area had clashed with the administration on the issue of compensation when a ‘bhoomi puja’ was performed for Maharashtra Seamless, a private company. A police jeep was damaged.
In retaliation, the police beat up the villagers and arrested one man and 25 women. Fearing police terror, hundreds of villagers ran away into the forest areas and hid for many days. During this time, two babies died for want of food. The National Human Rights Commission asked the special rapporteur to report on the case. But no action has been taken so far. Prior to this incident, people had protested against the Jindals, another steel unit in the area. Plunder of Natural Resources
Bhoomi puja has become a euphemism in Orissa for the plundering of people’s land, forests, and other natural resources by the expansive and at times explosive process of capitalist development that is assuming alarming dimensions today. But be it Gandhamardhan, Baliapal, Gopalpur, Chilika, Kashipur, Niyamagiri, Lower Sukhtel, and Kalinga Nagar among many others, the process of bringing industrialisation and development to Orissa has always met with stiff resistance by the people.
Besides the huge displacement and dstruction of livelihoods from projects directly, there is other project activity that people are opposing: for instance, displacement by the building of dams for these projects or the diversion of dam water from agricultural to industrial use. Clearly, there is something terribly amiss in the present “development” paradigm that the people of one of the poorest and most backward states of the country are saying no to this form of industrialisation.
As a consequence of government policy of opening up people’s natural resources to foreign capital in the mid-1990s, and with greater privatisation of mining companies, there are a huge number of large Indian and foreign transnational corporations (TNCs) trying to tap natural resources in Orissa and in the region. In the last five years, the Orissa government has signed 43 memorandums of understanding (MoUs), while the Jharkhand government has inked 42 MoUs, and the Chhattisgarh government has entered into 48 MoUs.
These corporate giants include POSCO (Korea), Vedanta Alumina (UK), Rio Tinto (UK), BHP Billiton (UK-Australia), Alcan (Canada), Hindalco, Jindal, Larsen & Toubro and Bhushan. Overall, mining projects worth Rs 30,000 crore have already begun in Orissa and projects worth a further Rs 1,10,000 crore are in the pipeline.
The Orissa government, like all other state governments in India’s liberalisation, has also been bending over backwards to make Orissa attractive for private capital. This it is doing in three ways: one, by giving all manner of sops, duty exemptions, cheap land, electricity, water, etc. Two, by promising capital that labour will be controlled. Consequently, Orissa’s Industrial Policy states that export-oriented units, those in special economic zones, IT and biotechnology will be exempt from working hours limitations of the Factories Act. In short, these companies are free to exploit.
Suppressing People’s Resistance
The third, and fundamental way, that the state makes matters easier for capital is by suppressing resistance to these projects.
Repression is the other face of globalisation as these policies are solely in the interest of private profit by claiming community resources. In earlier phases of the spread of capitalism, imperial armies would carry out that repressive role. Across India, and currently in Orissa, state police and special forces play that role for transnational capital, both Indian and foreign. And it’s not just in Orissa: we are increasingly hearing about greater repression in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other states as those states too open their huge mineral wealth to private players. The luring of foreign capital along with the use of repressive state machinery to facilitate the same has become the most distinguishing feature of pushing in these policies because they clearly lack people’s consent.
In December 2000, three people fell to police firing at Maikunch in Rayagada district where both Alcan and Hindalco plan bauxite mining. Police repression and arbitrary arrests of local adivasis intensified again from December 2004. The situation in Kashipur remained volatile throughout the year with heavy police and army presence. On May 11, 2005, in Lower Sukhtel of Bolangir district, villagers opposed the bhoomi puja of a proposed dam and met heavy police violence.
Following their protest that day, the police entered the houses indiscriminately and picked up 42 people including nine women. The operations in the Lanjigada district of
the Niyamagiri hills by Vedanta Alumina is accompanied by the hiring of goons to terrify people into leaving their land. In May 2005, a vehicle ran over Sukru Majhi, a tribal activist of the Niyamagiri Surakshya Parishad, mysteriously. The police did not file any FIR.
Mirage of Employment
The ushering in of development and industrialisation accompanied by such sustained, systematised state repression necessitates the packaging of the development agenda. The mirage of employment is one such sop offered. In such hugely capital-intensive industries such as the Tata plant in Kalinga Nagar, the jobs tend to be few in comparison to the colossal loss of livelihoods. The government has asserted that the Tata project would create employment opportunities for the displaced.
But in the case of four other plants that have already been set up in Kalinga Nagar, less than one in ten displaced families have got employment. In the proposed UAIL project in Kashipur, there are a few temporary, low-paid jobs for locals in road construction, and a conveyer belt, for Rs 40-60 a day, which they get for 10-12 days a month. Again, according to the MoU with Vedanta Alumina, the project will employ 250 people and another 500 through indirect employment: that’s a total of 750 for a project that will displace thousands.
Therefore, the argument that “development” is required in “backward” areas turns the reality of the development process, at least in these regions of tribal Orissa, and indeed many parts of rural India, on its head. In reality, these regions have been kept underdeveloped for over 50 years – with few schools, PHCs, and little help for an extremely tough agriculture – and now capital, and capitalism, is entering such areas in a way it never has in its long history. The destructive nature of this capitalist invasion is evident in the short and intense nature of mining that will denude these regions forever. It is estimated that nearly 41 per cent of unexploited bauxite, 68 per cent of chromite, 26 per cent of iron ore reserves and 20 per cent of manganese in Orissa will be consumed in merely 25 years.
For instance, Vedanta Alumina and UAIL themselves claim that their projects will end in 23 and 25 years, respectively. What we are witnessing is the relentless exploitation of vast natural resources bereft of any vision of the preservation of non-renewable resources for the future. Generations of adivasis, dalits and OBCs who have nurtured these lands and forests with their hard labour are today having no alternative but to build up resistance against this form of industrialisation, which is plainly plunder of natural resources and destruction of people’s livelihoods.
Repression Provokes Further Resistance
The situation in Kalinga Nagar continues to be volatile. The government merely transferred the SP and the district collector, pledged compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed and announced a judicial enquiry. People are demanding instead the criminal prosecution of the two officials. Judicial enquiries – whether it is the 1984 killings in Delhi or the firing in Maikunch – are typically used to defuse the immediate situation. The chopping of palms, the more recent accounts of the cutting of breasts and mutilation of the genitals of some of the dead bodies, the question whether some of the tribals were also tortured before being killed, the post-mortems and, most importantly, the firing itself demand nothing short of an independent central enquiry.
Meanwhile, the resistance continues to spread. Adivasis and other local people have blocked the main roads in the area for over 15 days demanding the withdrawal of all industrial projects from Kalinga Nagar. Today they are not willing to yield even a single inch of land and are asking for a complete ban on industries in tribal areas. The events unfolding currently in Kalinga Nagar and other parts of India are extremely significant as these movements are fundamentally questioning the very trajectory of “industrialisation” and “development” in India.