MAC: Mines and Communities

Satyagraha Yatra: Finished Yatra In Kalahandi Region In Orissa

Published by MAC on 2004-02-10

Satyagraha Yatra: Finished yatra in Kalahandi Region in Orissa

From: Ekta Parishad

Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 3:55 PM

Land First: 30th January to 7th February 2004 The First Nine days

Re: Satyagraha Yatra: Finished yatra in Kalahandi Region in Orissa

The yatra was completed today in the south-western region of Kalahandi, Orissa after nine days of interactions with the local people. Some notes on the peoples perceptions and problems are given below. At present the yatra is moving onto the next phase of its journey to the district of Ganjam. It will then work its way to the state capital of Bhubaneswar, with the final rally and public meeting on the 24th of February, 2004.

The Land First yatra has just rounded up its nine day satyagraha in a very poor area of the country. Kalahandi is well-known for starvation deaths that have come about largely due to land alienation of tribal people. Although this region is basically rich in natural resources, the state has not provided the necessary inputs for its development. The government has consistently favoured the vested interests of a few influential and powerful persons, while ignoring the larger public interest. Consequently through this yatra Ekta Parishad is mobilizing large numbers of people to put pressure on the state to take stock of the ground situation. Ekta Parishad has collected over 3000 land grievances to date, mainly of tribals, small and marginal farmers and landless communities. (See for the route chart and other details.)

As this yatra is going on, the state government has been dissolved because of the declared forthcoming elections. People are not convinced that by casting a vote that they will gain any land resources. Consequently the slogan has been coined by the people in Kalahandi is Give us land first, then we will give our vote! The people of this region are boldly taking the initiative of putting land at the forefront of the political agenda.

Below please find a few facts and figures sent from the field with a small write-up on the controversial Sterlite Factory. This is part of the ongoing series that will be produced during the yatra.

Communalism Combat. Human Rights Magazine, India (Issue No. 92 Special Report)

October 2003

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