Raipur Rally against Displacement, Oct 6 2009

The rally was organised by “Chhattisgarh Visthapan Virodhi Manch” (Chhattisgarh Anti-Displacement Platform), which issued the following leaflet before the rally:

RALLY OF ANTI-DISPLACEMENT MOVEMENTS FROM ALL CHHATTISGARH IN RAIPUR ON 6TH OCTOBER.

The unrelenting loot of the abundant mineral resources of Chhattisgarh – iron ore, coal, limestone, bauxite, and even diamond and uranium has meant the total stranglehold of big corporates – foreign and Indian – over the State’s bureaucracy, polity, and even judiciary.

Multinationals Holcim and Lafarge have gobbled up the Indian cement companies and persist in earning super profits from the illegal exploitation of contract labour; Vedanta can get away with, and is in fact ably assisted by the State administration in, the criminal cover up of murder by negligence of nearly a hundred workers in a recent chimney collapse; Jindal and Monnet specialise in managing the pollution control department and so the Raigarh district, labouring under black clouds, drying water sources and disappearing forest cover, sees public hearing after public hearing where the public is never heard and clearances are granted, (Jairam Ramesh honestly called these environmental public hearings “match fixing” by the companies); a rash of sponge iron factories – mushroom in Raipur; Tata and Essar, with a little help from Collector Sahab, manipulate gram sabhas in the scheduled areas in gross violation of the PESA Act and employ every trick in the game to coerce people to accept compensations for land.

And in Bastar, where the huge ground clearing of 644 villages for “development by mining companies” is being resisted by lakhs of displaced adivasis, living in the jungles and therefore declared “outlawed”, who are struggling for their lands and livelihoods, the State is preparing to launch a full scale war ( now there is even talk of air strikes and American assistance) .

For the toiling people of Chhattisgarh, particularly the peasants and adivasis, this integration into the imperial loot machine that is called ‘development’, has meant displacement on an unimaginable scale. The whole of Raigarh district is dotted with heavily polluting sponge iron, steel and power plants, lorded over by Jindal. In at least half the cases the displaced have not even received the paltry compensations that have been declared their due. Many blocks of this district are notified scheduled areas and in the near vicinity of Reserve Forests, yet…

Not an inch of Jashpur district, from where human trafficking is reported on a large scale, will be left if the prospecting licenses applied by for by Jindal, MCP Kolkata and other companies are granted. Even though the law specifies that the consent of both owner and occupier are to be obtained and Jindal admits in writing that they have not obtained such consent, the entire machinery of the State Revenue department has been thrown into coercing people to grant such consent. Thousands and thousands of square kilometres have been applied for, covering 32 villages of Kunkuri block and 19 villages of Bagicha block, another 7 villages of Jashpur block and so on….

In Kawardha, Bilaspur and Dhamtari, the Reserve Forests to protect tigers, elephants and even snakes are going to be doing away with the poorest of poor of the tribal people including primitive tribes. Lofty promises of alternative land and compensation are meaningless when land rights are not ensured to the tribals before they are displaced as specifically laid down in the Forest Rights Act….

Not that the affluent peasantry are being excepted. 41 and subsequently more, leading to a total of 65 villages, of Raipur district are to be displaced for a glittering new capital region. Of course an international cricket stadium, convention centre, five star hotel complex, gems and jewelry and IT SEZ, and the bungalows of our Hon’ble MLAs (one fourth of whom are now “crorepatis”) are very much “public purpose” enough to justify this displacement. Touts of all colours are working overtime to persuade people to accept that monetary compensation, which may look attractive in a situation of failing agriculture but cannot last beyond a generation, as their fate.

The villages trapped within industrial areas are seeing their communal lands being illegally occupied by companies, and the bastis of the contract labourers who work in those factories are always under the shadow of the bulldozer, deprived of the basic amenities of water, sanitation and electricity. After long struggles these bastis have been included in the municipal bodies and the workers recognised as “citizens”. The villagers of village Chourenga which continuously resisted the setting up a sponge iron plant, are still rotting in jail on false murder charges.

In Rajnandgaon 7 villages are to be displaced for an airbase, presumably part of the State’s war preparations; and in the Raipur-Bilaspur belt, rich in limestone, a number of cement plants are to come up. The earlier bitter experiences of peasants of getting only temporary and contractual jobs during the construction period of plants and then in fact being pitted against outside workers has led to enormous tension with the unemployed rural youth. This is despite the State’s official rehabilitation policy which stipulates only permanent jobs as adequate compensation. Fertile and multi -cropped land is being acquired for the private profit of companies without even a thought of the social costs.

The Gandhian NGO Vanvasi Chetana Ashram which is trying to implement the recommendations of the NHRC to rehabilitate the villagers of 644 villages that have cleared out during the recent “salwa judum” campaign has faced demolition of their ashram, attacks and false cases on their karyakartas under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act.

In every corner of the State, people are struggling against displacement.

Over the last four months about 20 grass roots peoples organisations from many districts all over Chhattisgarh – Raigarh, Jashpur, Bilaspur, Raipur, Rajnandgaon, Dhamtari, Dharamjaygarh, Dantewada and Korba have joined hands to form a loose front, cutting across traditional party lines, called the “Chhattisgarh Visthapan Virodhi Manch”, which is still growing.

This “Manch” is holding a rally in the capital city Raipur on 6th October, against all odds – despite its constituent organisations being poorly off, and having to brave the use of money power and muscle power against them by the companies.

We also know that the companies will be trying to “manage” the media.

Please come and cover the event, and bring out the voice of the affected villagers from all over Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh Visthapan Virodhi Manch

Some Contacts:
Jameen Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Jashpur: Mamta Kujoor (09300312328), Bulu Bahan (09424188569);
Adivasi Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Sangathan, Raigarh: Dr. Harihar Patel (09302508974)
Jan Chetana, Raigarh: Ramesh Agrawal (09301011022)
Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, Dantewada: Himanshu Kumar (09425260031)
Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee): Ramakant Banjare (09926943917), Sudha Bharadwaj (09926603877)

Comments

  1. pratyush chandra says:

    Even some of the main organisers of the rally would not agree with the comment in the video that the maoists view tribals as “sarkari mukhbirs” (government informers).

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