MAC: Mines and Communities

Outrage Against Displacement Spreads

Published by MAC on 2006-05-23
Source: Statesman News Service ()

Outrage against displacement spreads

Statesman News Service - BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA

23rd May 2006

Displacement and industrial activity-related protests continued to rock the state today. Anger voiced in different parts, spreading across the entire state, be it at Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Jharsuguda or Koraput districts had a common strain ~ against mindless mining, industrialisation and the consequent displacement.

SNS reports from Dhenkanal: Thousands of people of Sarpa, Raghunathpur, Nuagaon and Khadakprasad staged demonstrations raising a charter of 13 demands for the peripheral development works and raised slogans against Bhusan steel & Strips Ltd. They also protested against the firing and bombing incident of 20 May. The protesters locked up the plant and detained vehicles on the way to the company for several hours. Their demands include drinking water facility, construction of road, land in lieu of the grazing ground and cremation ground acquired by the company. They threatened to stop construction works and activities if their demands were not met immediately.

The agitation was called off after the officials of the company and authorities had promised to discuss their demands on 3 June. Four employees, who had been retrenched by the company, were asked to apply afresh and mention reasons through proper channel for their reinduction. Massive police deployment was made to avert any untoward incident. The district administration yesterday held parleys with the villagers and shared their concern over the failure of the company in fulfilling certain commitments relating to the periphery development work. Significantly, though there were allegations that two persons have been missing since the violence on 20 May, nobody has approached the police in this regard. Superintendent of police Mr Bhakta Ballav Das today confirmed that an FIR had been lodged against the industrialist, Mr Mahima Misra in connection with the incident on 20 May.

According to the district authorities, 1,526 affected families of Shivpur, Narendrapur, Nuagaon, Raghunathpur and Sarapa villages in Dhenkanal and 137 families of Talbahal and Ganthigadia villages in Angul have been divided into different categories. About 874 have been recently provided with photo identity cards by the authorities for proper identification of the affected persons.

In Jajpur, tribals leading the agitation since 2 January police firing in which 13 were killed today received a shot in their arm as several organisations from different districts joined a meeting held by women folk, SNS adds. Meanwhile, the administration has got a jolt when the agitating tribals refused to receive the severed palms today despite the fact that they had agreed to do so earlier. The tribals raised doubts over the palms and alleged that they were decomposed. In one of the most inhuman acts, palms of five tribals, who were gunned down by the police on 2 January, had been severed at the hospital during postmortem. The incident had outraged the world. Tribals have been demanding return of the palms. The administration, which is constantly negotiating with the tribals, was hopeful of brokering peace. It was expected that the tribals would take the palms and also lift the four- month-old road blockade. The tribals on their part did not oblige the administration.

Villagers, who had paralysed movement of coal for over one week in January this year, threatened to revive their economic blockade agitation alleging that their demands had not been fulfilled as yet, SNS adds from Jharsuguda. The villagers affected by the Belpahar open cast mines of MCL are demanding jobs to the displaced persons. Though MCL has given jobs , the villagers have been saying that at least 500 have been left out. They disrupted movement of coal today. Five platoons of police force have been deployed in the area.

Thousands of tribal men and women staged an armed demonstration at Semiliguda in Koraput district protesting against the permission given to Hindalco for starting mining activity in the bauxite rich region of Maliparvat, according to SNS. Men and women from the affected villages submitted a memorandum to the block development officer demanding the scrapping of the resolution of the palli sabha which allowed the company to begin its mining activities. They termed it as meaningless as, according to them, there was no involvement of the local people in the palli sabha. They also demanded a stay on the resolution of the zilla parishad , which had approved to allow the company to lift the soil from the mountain. People asked the administration to withdraw any leasing order in favour of the company in connection with Maliparvat. People for the first time came out on the roads with sickles and swords in their hands indicating the seriousness of the movement. The demonstration was brought out by Maliparvat Surakhya Samiti, in the presence of the president of Lokashakti Abhiyan, Prafulla Samantray and ex-MLA of Pottangi, Mr Ramchandra Kadam. Maliparvat, being the life line for many villages , carries much importance to the tribal people of the region, Mr Anand Kirsani, the president of the Surakhya Samiti claimed.

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