MAC: Mines and Communities

Kalahandi Some Facts And Figures

Published by MAC on 2003-10-15

We continue to appeal to all of you for any financial support that you can muster. We are for instance producing 20,000 posters and facilitating the production of a few documentary films. Letter writing campaign to the Caretaker Government would be appreciated (see mock letter below).

Many thanks for those who have provided support and who are showing solidarity,

With warm regards,

Advocacy Unit, Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Kalahandi Some Facts and Figures

Below you will find some facts and figures of the gravity of the land alienation situation in the south-western state of Kalahandi.

It was found in the Bijaypur village public hearing, an area of Kalahandi (which has a large land base) that as many as 60% families are landless (national average in rural areas is about 30%) and that in the last 30 years people have not been able to get any of their rights regularized on the land.

In Belantha village public hearing a tribal family, that is Kamroli and Savithir Majhi said that they had no land on which to stay or to do their farming. For survival they collect some roots from the forest areas which are then later sold for Rs. 10 or rs.12. With the funds they then buy their native fruit mahua for Rs.2 and and with that they prepare a kanji for the whole family. This is a pitiful situation of indigenous people having no basic food security because of lack of land and lack of access to forest areas.

In village Muslan in Kalahandi, it was found that there was more than two thirds landlessness and as many as 60 families from this village have migrated to Kerala for the livelihood. This is about 2000 kilometers away.

In Sindhu bali village, Kalahandi district, there have been numerous forceful evictions from their land with no compensations.

Some of the issues that have come up in the yatra are as follows:

An Example of Land Grabbing: The Sterlite India Limited Company Lanjigarh

In the Niyamgiri area of Lanjigarh block, district Kalahandi Sterlite India Ltd Company has set up an aluminum refinery plant. This industry has effectively displaced two villages (Kappaguda and Kinari villages) and is in process of displacing eleven other nearby villages. This industry has planned to acquire a total of 1800 acres of land, of which around 300 acres falls into the category of reserved forest that has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. This is totally in contravention of the law of the land.

The owner of Sterlite India Limited Company, Mr. Anil Agarwal is a non-resident Indian living in London England, and he may not be aware of the degree of harm this has company has caused to the local communities. The Land First yatra has also been opposed by Sterlite workers. Ekta Parishad has responded with a peaceful protest and has also sent a letter to the London based owner alerting him of the local situation. It is of utmost importance that people come to know of the seriousness of the confrontation and the degree of violence to local citizens.

The actual event of confrontation needs to be recounted. On February 2nd, while the Land First yatra was traveling peacefully through Lanjigarh area, some men came along in a jeep and surrounded the protestors threatening them. Along with these Sterlite representatives were police officials. The villagers told Ekta Parishad that this harassment is a common occurrence. Sterlite workers are preventing any outside people from entering into the village area. Local people have virtually been silenced by the goondas of Sterlite India Ltd. This is not only a violation of the law of the land, but it is also a violation of basic human rights.

It is incumbent on the state and central governments of India to regulate industrial development in a manner that balances the public interest and special interest groups. When there is such a clear violation of human rights, no justification of economic development is sufficient to over-turn such an injustice. It is requested that all people write to the Caretaker government in Orissa demanding an immediate investigation into the false cases and accusations on villagers who have opposed these acts by the Sterlite company.

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