Resistance grows to India's rural invasionsPublished by MAC on 2008-01-02
Resistance grows to India's rural invasions
2nd January 2008
In a recent interview with India's Times News Network (TNN, 18 December 2007), Anil Agarwal of UK-based Vedanta Resources plc, delivered the crass judgment that "India is one vast construction site."
[see accompanying article this week: "Vedanta gets another rebuff".]
Much as India's most ruthless mining supremo might want the land of birth razed to the ground in favour of industry, acts of resistance to that prospect measuraby increased during 2007.
Last week saw the second anniversary of the January 5 2006 "Kalinganagar massacre", first reported internationally by this website
On that occasion, police murdered at least 12 tribes people (a policeman also died) when attempts were made to prevent the laying of a foundation stone for Tata's steel plant at a special economic zone (SEZ) on Orissa's coast.
Since then, many others have been killed or wounded as they confronted the attempted establishment of similar zones, plants and mines. International minerals companies, Posco, Mittal and Vedanta, have joined Tata in posing severe threats to farmers, indigenous communities and agricultural land.
At a gathering of between six and eight thousand people, held at Birabhumi ("the place of martyrs") on 2nd January 2008, various "anti-displacement" movements came together from across India, pledge not to allow any kind of displacement on their soil. The Tata company, with the help of the administration, had arranged a parallel memorial meeting in its Gobarghati colony but this was attended only by people living in the rehabilitation colony who did not have any choice.
Close on the heels of these assemblies, the central government in Delhi seemed to accept that the Goa government could scrap at least some of its previously-listed SEZs, if they were considered inappropriate.
And the Supreme Court has heard recommendations from its Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which - if implemented - could postpone even further Posco's implementation of its massive iron and steel project in Orissa.
[Additional reporting on the Birahjumi Assembly by Nachiketa, Environmental Protection Group, Orissa, 3 January 2007]
Anniversary pledge to fight land-grab
Statesman News Service, JAJPUR
2nd January 2007
The second anniversary of the ghastly Kalinga Nagar police firing which had killed 14 people turned into a show of strength of those leading peoples movement against displacement and acquisition of farm and forest land. Leaders of various organisations from different parts of the state as well as West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Bihar and elsewhere vowed to battle it out against such land grab by MNCs.
The anniversary was vastly different in the sense that for the first time a parallel meeting was also held at one of the rehabilitation colonies where those supporting the proposed Tata Steel plant highlighted the R&R policy and the economic benefits of industrialisation.
The Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch (VVJM) spearheading the anti-displacement movement in the area since two years held a rally from Champakoila to Ambagadia while the pro-industry group organised under the banner of Visthapita Parivar Unnayan Samiti held a meeting at the Tata funded rehabilitation colony.
While the local tribals were seen with their traditional weapons, activists from Nadigram, Singur, Jagatsinghpur, Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Balasore, Kalahandi and Sambalpur where the locals have been opposing land acquisition participated under their respective banners.
The star of the VVJM show was Sukra Munda, grandson of the lengendary tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
They expressed their solidarity with the VVJM which has been spearheading movement in the area since the massacre. The anniversary meeting was preceded by elaborate rituals at Champakoila, the firing spot and processions raising slogans against the policies of the state government.
Later speaking at the meeting all the leaders vowed not to support any policy that allows industries to exploit the locals.
The industrial houses like Posco, Tata and Mittal are coming to Orissa only to exploit locals as they get land and minerals cheap. Agro-based industries should be set up there," opined Aparna Sen, an anti-industrial activist from New Delhi.
Echoing the version, Sujen Chakraborty, vice-president of Krushi Raksha Samity, Singur said, "We won't tolerate any torture on farmers. There shouldn't be any industry at the cost of farmers and agriculture. Our fight against industrialisation will continue till the government changes its decision to set up the industries on farmland."
The organisations which were present at the meet declared not to allow an inch of cultivable land or forest land to be acquired for industrialisation. It announced that no displacement would be allowed and demanded that all agreements, including those for water and use of forest and farm land, be scrapped.
On the other hand the parallel meeting held at Maniapatala near Gobarghati Rehabilitation colony in support of Tata Company focused on the R&R policy and decried those who were trying to create hurdles in the path of progress and development
Led by Dhaneswar Soy, Sarat Chandra Tiyu, Binod Hembrum and others, the speakers at this meeting pointed out that those present were all locals and sons of the soil unlike those at the other meeting who were drawing support from outside the state.
Sixteen platoon police was deployed and no untoward incident took place at both the meeting places said police sources here.
Kalinganagar tribals vow to continue stir against displacement
Special Correspondent, The Hindu
2nd January 2007
BHUBANESWAR: Thousands of tribals from Kalinganagar and those opposing various industries and mining in different parts of Orissa on Wednesday pledged to continue their agitation against project-induced displacement.
Participating in a Mahasamavesh organised by the Bisthapan Virodhi Jamnanch at Kalinganagar on the second anniversary of the police firing, they also vowed to continue their struggle to protect their land and livelihood sources.
The representatives of various organisations that were opposing POSCO steel plant and captive port projects in Jagatsinghpur district, Vedanta alumina refinery project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, Mittal steel project in Keonjhar and mining in Khandadhar region participated in the meeting.
The leaders of the farmers' movement against diversion of water from Hirakud reservoir also took part in the rally. The representatives of those opposing displacement at Nandigram and Singur in West Bengal also participated. SEZ Act opposed
The leaders, who addressed the rally, also strongly opposed the Special Economic Zone Act. They also expressed solidarity with the anti-POSCO agitation, and demanded that the State Government should stop facilitating the steel project of the Korean company over the land located in Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Nuagaon gram panchayats of Jagatsinghpur.
If the POSCO project was not shelved immediately, they threatened to launch a countrywide agitation against both the State government and the Centre.
They called upon the people to strengthen their resistance movements in every location where their land and livelihoods were being snatched away in the name of anti-people industrialisation, SEZs or any other project that was against the peoples' interests.
Earlier, the tribals came in a rally from the site where 13 tribals were killed in police firing while opposing construction of a boundary wall for the proposed Tata steel project on January 2, 2006.
MILITANT MASS RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS ARE THE ONLY OPTION WITH THE PEOPLE TO PROTECT THEIR LANDS AND LIVELIHOODS
Declaration Adopted On 2nd January 2008
At The All India "Mahasamabesh" At Veer Bhumi, Kalinganagar. In Memory of Kalinganagar Martyrs And Against 'Displacement, SEZs and Land Grabbing' Organised by Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda
We, the people who have gathered at Veer Bhumi, Kalinganagar on 2ndJanuary 2008 on the occasion of the All India "Mahasamabesh" resolve to adopt the following declaration:
1. *Salute To Martyrs:*
We salute the 14 tribals of Kalinganagar who laid down their lives as a consequence of the police firing on 2nd January 2006 while fighting to protect the lands and livelihoods of thousands of people of Kalinganagar. We also salute all the martyrs of the anti-displacement, anti-SEZ, and anti-land grabbing struggles of Kashipur, Nandigram, Chilika, Gangavaram, Singur and all other struggles across the country. We also express solidarity with all those who have been injured, raped and maimed. While condemning the Government, we express solidarity with those against whom false police cases have been foisted. In this regard it is very clear that the judiciary has shown that it is on the side of the Government and the corporates in this struggle against forcible displacement and is seen to be defending the cause of pro-imperialist policies. And such stand of the judiciary has been used by the government to cow down the struggling people.
2. *Demands of Kalinganagar Movement Have To be Fulfilled Without Delay:*
We understand that the Bistapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda which had clamped an economic blockade of the NH-200 from 2nd January 2006 for a historic 14 months period has lifted it since March 2007. But the Orissa Govt. is yet to fulfill the just demands of the Kalinganagar struggle that includes halting the process of displacement entirely, pay adequately to the families of Kalinganagar martyrs, pay adequate compensation to and carryout required treatment of the injured, punish those responsible for the firing on 2nd January 2006, give 5 Acres of agriculture land to those who have been displaced earlier, grant the right of development of the mines, land, water, forests and industries in tribal areas to tribals, etc.
Contrary to the claim of the Government it has not come forward for any meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the Kalinganagar movement. This exposes the Govt's empty talk of resolving issues in the so-called democratic manner. Further, the Orissa Govt. stands exposed as regards its claim of punishing the guilty after the report of the inquiry commission as the Govt. is itself responsible for closing the inquiry without any signs of restarting the same. We warn the Govt. to fulfill all the demands of Kalinganagar Movement without any further delay.
3. *Pledge Against Displacement, SEZs and Anti-People Industrialisation:*
We pledge our support and solidarity to all the mass movements across the country against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialization, all land movements and all movements against pro-imperialist policies. We express our support and solidarity with the mass movements of Kalinganagar, Anti-Posco, Hirakud, Kashipur, Anti-TATA, Anti-Vedanta, Anti-Mittal, Anti-Bhusan, Anti-Sterlite, Anti-Reliance, Lower Sutkel, Anti-Vedanta Viswavidalaya, Nandigram, Singur, Haripur, Raigad, Goa, Dadri, Ludhiana, Barnala, Kakinada, Polavaram, Gangavaram, Chhatisgarh, and all such mass movements. We demand immediate repeal of the SEZ Act 2005 and all the state Acts on SEZ. We also demand the withdrawal of the SEZ status given to all industries with retrospective effect including that of Jindals in Kalinganagar. We also demand the immediate repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894
4. *Plight of the People In Industrial Zones: *
We understand that, of the people displaced in the Sukinda zone for establishment of various mining industries, by several companies including the TATAs, during the last 60 years, not more than 5% have got some engagement in mining operations.
From a peak employment of 40,000 in around 1976 it has fallen down to the level of 6-7,000 today and the majority of these mine workers are in abject poverty. Forced to work as cheap and casual labour lakhs of people displaced in Sukinda zone for mining and other industries are suffering the consequences of displacement. The people of the mining areas of Sukinda are beginning to get united to fight this historical injustice.
Ever since the Kalinganagar Movement raised its voice against anti-people industrialization increasingly people are coming forward against heavy pollution by the several industries which have come up in Kalinganagar. The people of adjoining villages have vowed not to allow the ash pond of Jindal steel and in the days ahead people of the adjoining areas will rise against the industries as heavy pollution has made living unbearable and has put their livelihoods into turmoil.
The recent massive uprising of the workers and the local people against management of the Bhusan Steels' Jaharsuguda plant as regards safety of the workers, rehabilitation of the displaced and illegal drawal of water from the Hirakud Dam has exposed claim of development of the displaced and all round development of the whole area.
5. *Expose and Isolate NGOs:*
We all understand from the experience of the Kalinganagar movement that while the Bitapan Birodhi Janmanch, Sukinda has been leading the people of Kalinganagar in the anti-displacement movement many NGOs and foreign funded organizations are seen to be mobilizing the people of the area with the interest of diverting them from the movement. Many methods are being employed by these organizations including the so-called micro-credit operations for giving the local people a false sense of development. We realize that these are forces of compromise and agents of imperialism; they play a very divisive role in the movements and must be exposed and isolated.
6. *Nandigram Model- A New Strategy of Repression:*
We understand that during the last one year the Kalinganagar Movement has been further strengthened, all efforts of the TATA company and the Govt. to enter into the area have been foiled, however, the Govt. and the TATAs have undertaken several activities to frighten and allure the people and conspire against the protesters. After the West Bengal Govt. attacked the peasants in Nandigram by using the police force behind the Goonda force the Govt. of Orissa is preparing to use the "Nandigram model" to silence the Kalinganagar movement. It has been proved on 29th November 2007 that the Orissa Govt. used the Nandigram model of repression against the anti-Posco agitators when armed Goondas were used by the Local MLA Damodar Rout in close connivance with the District Administration, the Police and the Posco company.
We understand that in the similar manner the Sukinda MLA Shri Prafulla Ghadei who is also the State Finance Minister in close connivance of the TATAs and the police is setting up an armed Goonda force aimed at silencing those who are opposed to the TATA project in Kalinganagar. While we realize that the people of Kalinganagar are well prepared to face any eventuality we warn the Govt. of Orissa of country-wide massive peoples' upsurge if such attempts are made.
7. *Solidarity With Anti-Posco Movement:*
We strongly condemn the Orissa Govt. and the central Govt. for going ahead in establishing the 12 million tonne per annum steel project SEZ at Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Nuagaon GPs of Ersama block of Jagatsinghpur district by the South Korean steel major Posco. We express our total support and solidarity with the Anti-Posco movement of the people of Ersama and urge upon the Govt. to cancel the project lock, stock and barrel. If the project is not shelved immediately we resolve to launch a country-wide agitation against both the Orissa Govt. and the central Govt. and take up appropriate agitational activities.
8. *Militant Mass Resistance Movements Are The Only Option:*
During the last one year the anti-displacement and anti-SEZ movements have gained significant ground across many states of the country. In Orissa the anti-Posco movement is moving forward to give a fitting reply to the largest FDI project in India. The farmers of Hirakud area have been able to raise a massive movement against allocation of water to industries from the Hirakud reservoir instead of supplying adequate water for irrigation and this movement has been able to create massive public opinion in Orissa against anti-people industrialization.
The Nandigram movement of West Bengal has shaken up the whole country. In Maharashtra a massive movement has emerged in Raigadh. It is now becoming clear before the people of the country that all the ruling parties of India are engaged in establishment of mega industries and SEZ projects in the interest of imperialist forces and after displacing the people from their lands and livelihoods are forcing them to lead a life of insecurity as cheap labour force. Those ruling parties which are out of power are only staging a well rehearsed drama of voicing their opposition but in reality they are also engaged in serving the interests of the pro-imperialist and capitalist forces.
It is to be noted that in spite of the strengthening of the peoples' movements the Govt. is fast moving forward to safeguard the interest of the imperialist forces. It is therefore clear that militant organised mass resistance movements are the only option before the people to protect their lands and livelihoods. While building mass resistance movements the people have to be watchful about the strategy of the ruling forces to divide the people on religious and other identities as has been attempted in Kandhamal district of Orissa recently.
9. *All India United Movement: *
Today across the country mass movements against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialization has gained strength. In June 26-27, 2007 with the joint initiative of Kalinganagar, Anti-Posco, Kashipur, Rayagadh and Dadri movements an All India Convention was held at Bhubaneswar and a declaration has been adopted which shows the path for united all-India movement against displacement and SEZs. The Kalinganagar movement is committed to play its rightful role in such a united struggle.
All of us who are against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialisation and those who believe in the slogan adopted here at Kalinganagar on 2nd January 2007 - "Save Agriculture, Save Livelihood, Do Not Give Any Land Fit for Agriculture and Forestry for Industry and Do not give any land for MNCs and SEZs" - pledge ourselves to unite to launch an effective all India movement against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialization. In this regard on the call of the Bhubaneswar declaration we shall take all steps to unite all the mass movements and political forces which are genuinely against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialization, all land movements and all movements against pro-imperialist policies and finalise a plan of country-wide joint action in the shortest possible time.
10. *Call To the People: *
We call upon the people of India, all mass movements and pro-people political forces to foil the plans of the state Govts and the central govt. to silence the mass movements against displacement, SEZs and anti-people industrialization. We call upon the people of India to rise to launch militant mass resistance movements in every location where their land and livelihoods are being snatched away in the name of anti-people industrialization, SEZs or any other project that is against the peoples' interests.
*Released to Press by Sri Rabi Jarika of Vistapan Virodhi Jan Manch,
2nd January 2008 at Kaliganagar
Kamal Nath lends Goa CM a ear: yes, can review all SEZs
D K Singh & Raju Nayak, Indian Express:
4th January 2008
New Delhi/PanAji, January 3: A day after his Secretary G K Pillai said that states don’t have the power to cancel notified Special Economic Zones since these are legal entities, Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said here today that there are “absolute provisions” in the SEZ law for everything — including review of the notified SEZs.
Minister Digambar Kamat who has been citing public protests to ask for cancellation of all 15 SEZs in the state — including the three notified ones — Nath said that the Centre could review all SEZs in Goa as it did not want “to thrust SEZs on the states.”
Four SEZs in Goa have got formal approval from the Centre while eight have received in-principle approval. The three notified ones are: Cipla (biotech), Rahejas (IT) and Peninsula Pharma (biotech).
Kamat said he would send a formal communication to the Centre “in the next two-three days” asking it to scrap all 15 SEZs including the three notified ones. “When I came to power, seven SEZs had been approved while eight were before the Board of Approval. On June 8, I said keep these eight on hold, we would like to review the SEZ policy. But then effort was made to topple my government by the BJP within two months after I came to power.”
“There were lots of representations saying that SEZs are not conducive to Goa taking into consideration its tourism, scarcity of land and various ground realities,” Kamat said. “We will not take any decision against the sentiments of the people.”
Asked about the legal implications if the three notified SEZs were scrapped, Kamat said, “I don’t see any ramifications. Let’s see. Which company would like to go against the wishes of the people?”
Kamat’s predecessor and party colleague Pratapsinh Rane was a strong advocate for SEZs saying they would generate employment and stop migration of youth from Goa.
According to Congress sources, Kamat’s opposition also stems from his political rivalry with Rane under whose regime the proposal for the 15 SEZs was moved. Kamat had tripped Rane and Ravi Naik to take charge.
“It is not true. There is no political rivalry whatsoever. Rane is supporting SEZs because it had happened during his regime. There is nothing beyond it,” Congress MP Shantaram Laxman Naik, who accompanied Kamat to the Congress headquarters, told The Indian Express.
The current controversy comes almost a year after Congress President Sonia Gandhi had written to Kamal Nath on October 19, 2006: “While SEZs should be given a fair trial, there should be strict monitoring of the condition now stipulated for the acquisition of agricultural land. There should also be the greatest vigilance exercised to ensure that the SEZs don’t end up as just real estate projects.”
Kamal Nath replied a week later: “We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that not only the land that is acquired meets the condition stipulated but that adequate compensation, relief and rehabilitation for the displaced farmers is put in place.” He sent a detailed account of jobs created under SEZs.
Although Sonia stressed on rehabilitation issues, never did she question the idea of SEZs as is being done by the her party’s government in Goa.
Posco: SC panel says take stock of ecological impact
Times of India
4th January 2008
NEW DELHI: The SC-appointed panel has said that Korean steel giant Posco's entire plan - comprising a steel plant with captive mines and a port - should be reviewed as one single project for its "ecological significance" and rehabilitation plans.
With the lease for the mining site nowhere in sight and a dispute on between government-owned Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd and Posco over the mining area, if the apex court [Supreme Court] accepts the recommendations, the Korean giant's plans could run into rough weather. Forest clearance processes for mining areas begin only after the project developers have secured the lease and prepared a mining development plan. The Central Empowered Committee's recommendation therefore hinges on the mandatory forest clearance of the port and the plant on Posco first obtaining mining lease, which sources said could be as far as two years away.
The committee says in its report to the SC that "instead of piecemeal diversion of forest land for the project, it would be appropriate that the total forest land required for the project including for mining is assessed and a decision for diversion of forest land is taken for the entire forest land". It has recommended that the decision be taken only after "considering the ecological importance of the area, number of trees required to be felled, adequacy and effectiveness of the rehabilitation and resettlement plan for the project affected persons and benefits accruing to the state". It has told the court that "diversion of forest land for the plant, without taking a decision for linked uses, particularly the mining project, may not be in order".
The Korean multinational had earlier contested linking the various components of the mega project. It had claimed in court that the port, steel plant and mines were not a continuous project on ground therefore should be delinked for clearance purposes. Company executives declined comment saying the matter was sub judice.
This is the latest spanner in Posco's plans which first faced criticism over iron ore mining rights as it was feared that high-grade ore would be shipped out of India, which the Korean company denied. It has also faced problems with land acquisition leading to a delay in securing SEZ status. Recently, some of its top executives had to face public ire at the project site. Besides, mining rights are still pending. On their part, the Centre and the Orissa government are according top priority to the project, fearing flight of capital and a dent to India's image if Posco walked out.
To ensure that the investment stayed in India, the government has lined up railway, road and other infrastructure. While these may be imperative for the project to take off, the usual process undertaken by developers is to apply separately for the mandatory environmental and forest clearances. The steel plant alone is to come up by diverting 1,253 hectares of forest land and will require felling of 2.8 lakh trees.
Usually, the environment ministry, on the basis of the report of its Forest Advisory Committee, grants clearances. But in another ongoing case before the SC, the CEC had recently been empowered to review the forest clearances given by the ministry.
The CEC reporting to the apex court on the ministry clearance has recommended that, because the steel plant and the port alone require such a large forest patch to be diverted, an independent expert committee including NGO representatives should undertake a site visit in order to assess the impact of the cutting of such large number of trees. They have pointed out in the report that this independent assessment is required as a large part of local population depends on these forests for livelihood.