Skip to main content

Vedanta is out but corporate loot continues in Odisha: Local activists tell NAPM yatra

By Our Representative
Lok Shakti Abhiyan leader Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental (also known as Green Nobel) Prize in 2017, has regretted that though Sundergarh in Odisha, like other forest areas, is a fifth schedule area, where Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) is applicable, but these laws are being “outrightly violated to facilitate corporate loot.”
Talking with activists of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), participating the nationwide Samvidhan Samman Yatra reached Odisha, Samantara said, “Even after complete rejection to Vedanta in Niyamgiri hills and other areas, the state government is hell bent to favour corporates and consistently trying to appropriate people’s voices.”
The yatra, which began at Dandi in Gujarat on October 2, will end in Delhi on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Bhupendra Rawat of the Jan Sangharsh Vahini told yatra activists, “Odisha is one of the places abundant in terms of mineral resources and yet one of the most impoverished. We must question where the wealth is going? Adivasis are still deprived of it.”
Sipriori William Kiro of the Aadivasi Moolnivasi Adhikar Suraksha Samiti said, “Even after hundreds of memorandums, demonstrations and meetings with the district collector that no project must get approval without the consent of Gram Sabhas, things have not changed. We have even lodged FIR with criminal accusations against the district collector after legal provisions were violated to favour the projects.”
“There are 12,000 MW National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Reliance thermal power plants each in Sundergarh. There are plans to set up power plants of more than 70,000 MW capacity. The whole belt between Brahmani River and Mahanadi is rich in coal and then in iron ore in northern Odisha. The corporate and state nexus has eyes on all of this”, said Kalyan, a senior activist.
“The three already installed hydro power plants have become example of ecological destruction. They don’t have adequate water due to which only a fraction of power generation is possible, and the dam is also not able to irrigate lands as promised. When the reservoir doesn’t have water for irrigation, how are Jindal and Bhushan able to get uninterrupted water supply?”, he wondered.
“More than 26,000 acres of land have been acquired just for coal mining. There is a power plant with generation capacity of more than 8,000 MW in the area. People have been displaced because of the Hirakund dam. Pollution is becoming a major issue. Youth were promised employment, which is still a distant dream. Majority of the population is adivasi and is facing poverty, while the government is shamelessly claiming it to be one of the richest districts of Odisha”, Lingraj Behra, convener, Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanvya Samiti (POKSSS), said.
“The main issue is of sharing of water from the Hirakund dam in the region and demand of loan waiver”, he added.
At Balangir, yatra activists learned about struggle against Sahara India’s 1,320 MW Titalgarh thermal power plant since 2010, which is stayed as per Supreme Court directions. Lower Suktel Dam is another such issue where people are strongly against the land acquisition since 2000. Thirty villages are getting affected as a result of this project.
Here the Zindabad Sangathan has been struggling to get land entitlement for adivasis in Patnagarh and Titlagarh areas of Balangir district, the activists were told.
At Niyamgiri, Lado Sikaka, a leading activist and a resident, sharing the experiences from the struggle to save Niyamgiri from corporates, said, “If we protect our land, water, and forest, we protect our lives and families. Land, water, and forests are not merely a resource for us but our soul and we cannot let anybody else to take control of our lives.”
He added, “The entire struggle of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti has been peaceful but the government tried to label us as a violent struggle. We have fought from the village to the Supreme Court and asserted our rights through our Gram Sabhas.”
“We need to understand and declare the state violent, extremely violent. They don’t even know how to respect our culture and traditions. We are the ones, who have kept the forests alive, rivers alive, the environment breathable. But what we are receiving is the beatings in the jail, bribes to cheat our people and sell our lands to corporates”, Sikala said.
He added, “We have rejected all the corporates and fighting for our lives, our culture, our dignity. We appeal people of the country to expose the government and tell them to stop the violence meted out on the adivasis.”
Lingraj Azad, a key activist of the Niyamagiri Surakhya Samiti, and Samantara, talking with activists, said that the struggle of Dongaria Kondh adivasis has “made sure that Vedanta cannot mine our hills.” But they lamented, “They are still in Langigarh refinery, violating environmental norms. They are exploring bauxite mining in Koraput district. We need to stand united and throw them out from Odisha once and for all.”

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.