Orissa Situation Worsening

June 2, 2010

by Surya Shankar Dash (Source : forestrights listserv)

June 2, 2010

The situation in Orissa is gradually worsening in every area where people have put up brave resistances against forcible land acquisition and mindless mining and industrialization at the cost of life and livelihoods of millions of people. It is very difficult to say if these movements can withstand the disaster which looks so imminent now for the following reasons.

1. Death of the political opposition to the ruling regimes as there exists an undeclared consensus on the approach to finance capital all over bringing tremendous financial benefits to individual political leaders and the ruling elites.

2. Political parties such as the CPI and CPI ( M) having pro-people images, have openly aligned with atrocious regimes such the Biju Janata Dal in one or the other pretext ( Price rise or communalism ); therefore reducing their ocasional opposition to certain incidents involving state power a big farce.

3.The media very openly, shamelessly and sometimes astutely takes the side that suits the smooth march of global financial capital as a result in a media dependent democracy the common people don’t get the opportunity to know the terrible tragedies happening in the name of installing mega projects. Thus it becomes extremely difficult even on the part of committed and right thinking political and social forces to build up public opinion against such state sponsored/supported brutalities.

4. Every single cultural or literary event in the state capital or district headquarters is sponsored by the mega industrial houses — thus the so called elites/intellectuals are conveniently co-opted by the corporations. The critical support that any people’s movement requires has not been allowed to grow barring a few individual dissenters.

5. The smaller political groups who are progressive, pro-people and sensitive to most of the issues affecting the ordinary mortals are yet to realize the historic necessity of coming together even at a time when the fear of extinction has almost knocked at their respective doors.

5. All these together have created an atmosphere of helplessness and hopelessness in the state.

Please see latest news from the ground.

Kalinga Nagar: Jajpur SP and DM turn priest for Tata’s ‘bhumi puja’

In Kalinga Nagar we are getting to see the real shape of the beast i.e. the corporatized police state. While Orissa High Court mulls over two PILs filed against the Police for the attrocities we have witnessed in the last few months, the Jajpur SP and DM turned priest for Tata’s ‘Bhumi Puja’ yesterday. Yesterday morning about 10 platoons of armed police forces arrived near Ambagadia village along with the SP, DM, ADM and several other officers. Under their cover a handful of pro-Tata people conducted the ‘bhumi puja’ and officially resumed the construction work that had stopped after the 2nd Jan 2006 massacre. Interestingly not a single Tata employee was present in the area and maybe they thought there was no need for it with the DM and SP being the most loyal servants of Tata. The farcical construction work was just a JCB earth moving vehicle supposedly doing some ground leveling work. This work was being done on land belonging to people opposing displacement and those who have not accepted the R & R package. A crowd of women stood in front of the JCB machine and protested till all Tata’s men including SP and DM left. Today they returned again and did the same thing. The only difference being that first the pro-Tata tribals were brought in a bus from the displacement colony and on facing stiff opposition they called for the police. Since the police is already being watched by the High Court for attrocities they are creating a situation where pro and anti Tata groups first clash within themselves. Their strategy worked and under police protection the JCB machine was used. This news appeared in most newspapers but was presented in a very clever and distorted way that ‘tribals did bhumi puja for Tata project’. None of these reporters had actually visited the area and its clear from reports in dailies like Anupam Bharat and Aromv that the Puja and the devious idea of pitting tribals vs tribals was hatched not in Tata’s office, but rather, either in Prafulla Ghadei’s or SP-DM’s.

Niyamgiri: Vedanta’s illegal expansions continues, investigators hoodwinked, goondas on the prowl

A certain regional conservator of forest had been to Lanjigarh to verify if Vedanta was carrying out illegal expansion works in forest land. He cut short his visit to one day instead of four (17-21 May) after the Maoists called for a bandh. The day he visited Lanjigarh the expansion works were simply halted and the conservator therefore concluded that no expansion was happening. It seems he has produced a report favoring Vedanta now. With Jairam Ramesh’s position getting shakier than ever the Vedanta camp has already started rejoicing that they will get clearance within a month. To deal with the dissent of the Dongria Kondh tribals they are busy distributing money in whatever Dongria villages they can reach out to. It is being heard that Vedanta is sponsoring some educated Dongira youth to conduct a meeting on 5 June to counter the Mango Festival and Protest Meeting organised by Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti. Making it easier for Vedanta are some rumour mongers claiming that the Mango Festival is a bogus meeting. Two days ago motorcycle borne goondas stopped Lingaraj Azad of NSS in front of the Lanjigarh refinery and tried to intimidate him. They punctured his motorcycle tyres and gave life threats. Azad repaired the puncture and resumed with his ride towards Rengopali but he had to go through the same intimidation and tyre puncturing two more times. Finally he had to return without being able to visit any of the villages he intended to. Also another team comprising of media persons and political leaders was hounded by Lanjigarh’s resident mafia don Chakra Pesnia who didn’t want villagers to open their mouth in front of this delegation. Chakra Pesnia is the same person who had manhandled activists, journalists and locals in last year’s public hearing to discuss Vedanta’s six fold expansion. Sources say Vedanta will be on the offensive for the next few days with active support from Govt. The Forest Dept is planning to demolish the shrine of Niyamraja installed a few months ago atop Niyamgiri.

Dhinkia: After lathi blows the Govt presents R&R package

After the savage and inhuman attack on peaceful protestors at Balitutha on 15 May there has been a series of announcements from the Govt but like Kalinga Nagar no medical aid from the Govt. The CM said Dhinkia will not be acquired, and that survey work will not be carried out without resolving the matter through talks with PPSS. But attempts were made to do the survey under police protection and when people vehemently opposed the survey was stopped. Then yesterday a five member delegation from the PPSS met the District Administration of Jagatsingpur to discuss the matter. During the talks the RDC made a presentation of POSCO’s R&R offers which was declined by the delegation. PPSS has repeatedly maintained its stance that they would not allow the POSCO project in their land. The Govt has refused to consider relocation of the project. The delegation provided adequate evidence that the DM had made fraudulent statements about the status of FRA and that people were indeed in possession of forest land for more than 75 years.