MAC: Mines and Communities

Kalingnagar Update: Global Consensus On Project Oustees Ignored: Expert

Published by MAC on 2006-02-28
Source: UNI ()

KALINGNAGAR UPDATE: Global consensus on project oustees ignored: Expert

by UNI, Visakhapatnam

28th February 2006

Both Union and Orissa Governments had 'ignored' international consensus on obtaining consent from inhabitants before embarking on any project leading to the shocking killing of 12 tribals in Kalinganagar in Orissa recently, Former Union Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, B D Sharma said here today.

Dr Sharma, who is also Convener of Jan Andolan which was leading the agitation against the Orissa Government against the displacement of tribals, said ''in a democracy one should take such consent and cannot force an issue on the natives. The two governments had intentionally disregarded the international obligation to which the country is a signatory.

''The country's mining policy also acknowledges benefits should accrue to tribals where natural resources are exploited. It is based on terms of reasonable alternative economic ways provided to natives on the basis of equality.

''But today the locals have no role in the industries or mining projects that are coming up. By saying they were not skilled or educated, they are being treated shabbily.

''Why did the government fail to prepare these people and equip them with skills in advance as clearly stated by 1974 Government of India order drafted before launching of Malajkhand Copper Project in Orissa?'' he asked.

In an exclusive interview with UNI, he said the ownership of tribal lands was not negotiable and the state government cannot break the Provisions of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Community Act of 1996, which had been okayed by the Supreme Court in its Samata judgement.

Dr Sharma said there should not be a sell away of land and resources to outsiders without the locals getting equal benefits from it.

The locals should be equal partners in development. The Bhuria Committee which went into the problems faced by tribals due to development in scheduled areas, had suggested the community be given minimum 50 per cent of the shareholding in such project.

It also stipulated those who become labourers in such projects and lost their land for the project must be made partners. The persons who invest money in the project should not have more than 26 per cent stake.

He said there were other concerns. The governments were not worried about ecological implications either,he alleged

But today's investors were not concerned about any of these matters. They were also least bothered about employment to locals. Nowhere in the country, where the industries have come up or mining was taken up, the locals were given employment, he claimed. MORE UNI RS GM 1058

LIFE-AP-TRIBALS-PROJECTS TWO LAST VISAKHAPATNAM

''But today, governments believe in development at any cost. This concept should be opposed. In mining industry, the profits are more than 150 per cent which is nothing short of 'robbery.' The entrepreneur should agree to be a partner in development in which both are benefited,'' he said.

He regretted tribals were considered a burden by governments in India. The Kalinganagar issue shocked the nation and the tribal communities were immensely hurt by the mining project, he said.

Calling for a national consensus on the issue, Dr Sharma said the tribals have to fight for their rights with support from people in the plains.

The tribal areas in the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are rich in natural resources, were facing a capitalist onslaught which had to thwarted with support from the educated class, he added.

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