Nov 14, 2009

Tata's dark underbelly -- biggest land grab after Columbus

I think the eulogisation of Tata's has gone too far. Behind all the glamour, sobriety and humanitariasm that we read and hear about Tata's, there is a dark hidden side which is kept under wraps. It is time we look at the destructive role Tata's have played over the years in uprooting thousands of poor families, and the resulting destruction of livelihoods and the environment.

To overcome their guilt, and that too aimed at pacifying the liberal voices in the urban centres, I am sure Ratan Tata would be thinking of setting up schools and funding some NGO activities in the tribal lands as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

What a sophisticated way to cover your dark underbelly !

I was quite taken aback today to see a frontpage headline in The Hindustan Times: The biggest land grab after Columbus. As the blurb says: Government report criticises corporate exploitation of tribal lands; tribals turn to new friends: Maoist. And if you remember only a few days back, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had publicly accepted, and made a promise: "The systemic exploitation of our tribal communities can no longer be tolerated."

Do you think Manmohan Singh will do anything to stop this? You bet, he will simply push for more such projects that will eventually destroy the social fabric of these tribal lands. If you think I am wrong, let us take the land-grab in Bedanji, a remote rural expanse in Bastar in Chhatisgarh, as a test case. The Tata's plan to set up a Rs 19,500 crore steel plant for which ten villages have to be emtied.

Interestingly, a report of the PM-appointed Ministry of Rural Development committee on Land Reforms has succintly said: "This open declared war will go down as the biggest land grab ever, if it plays out as per the script." The Hindustan Times report quotes the just-released government report warning against the corporate takeover in the Bastar hinterland: "The biggest grab of tribal lands after Columbus."

You can read the full news report here: http://www.hindustantimes.com/The-biggest-land-grab-after-Columbus/H1-Article3-476125.aspx

I was reading another detailed field report from Pravin Patel, a human rights activist. It tells you how the State government is helping facilitate the process of the massive takeover of tribal lands. It tells you how the official machinery has actually been hand in glove with the industrial houses to ruthlessly exploit the tribals.

This is what he writes: In Chattisgarh the tribal district Batar, District administration has played in the hands of house of Tatas by way of stage managed public hearing bluntly violating the norms and set procedures as laid down in the Notification to grant Environmental Clearances.

By making mockey of the conditions of the Notification where Public Hearing is a mandatory requirement where consultation with the likely affected villagers are held. But to fulfill this mandatory requirements, public hearing was held at the campus of the district collector, which is at a distance of about 30 Kms from the project area. This was done with mischivious motives as it is known to all that the villagers are strongly opposing the setting up of any steel plant in their area.

The entire drama was enacted to show off that the mandatory public hearing is held. This has proved to be nothing less than a puppet show of the district administration where except the most of the tribals who are residents of the villages to be affected, all others were present whom the project proponent hired or managed with the help of District Administration to dance to the tunes of the project proponent house of Tatas.


You may like to read his full report. Please click on: http://mail.google.com/mail/?hl=en&shva=1#inbox/124f0af3377e6531

And finally, what does all this translate into. Well, you guessed it right. The tribals have no one else to seek solace and help from, except Maoists. What to talk of help, no one is willing to even listen to them except the Maoist. No wonder, Naxalism is growing.

As Gandhian Himanshu Kumar said the other day in an interview with the Times of India, (Nov 13, 2009) : Salwa Judum saw a 22-fold increase in Maoist numbers. Green Hunt will result in genocide of Adivasis. Those who survive will become Naxalites. (Read the interview: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Green-Hunt-will-result-in-genocide-of-Adivasis/articleshow/5223813.cms)

How true? But do you think anyone cares, least of all Manmohan Singh? Ha, he is more hinged to the GDP than the welfare of the human beings that he represents. With Tata's investing Rs 19,500-crore, which will add to the GDP, and that will be his government's report card.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please read page 160 of the report by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi. Here is the full text.

http://www.rd.ap.gov.in/IKPLand/MRD_Committee_Report_V_01_Mar_09.pdf

It is really unbelievable! The people of rest of India are kept under complete darkness.
The ministry of Industries, Ministry of mining and the Chhattisgarh government have completely ignored the recommendations of Ministry of Rural Development. In turn Chhattisgarh police are unleashing terror on the village people who are not ready to vacate their villages meant to be handed over to Tatas and Essar. The villages have turned to the Maoist party, as they cannot find anyone else to come for their rescue.

factfinder said...

The article “The biggest land grab after Columbus” by Neelesh Mishra published in ‘Hindustan Times’ about the land accusation by Tata Steel is based on draft report of ‘Committee on Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reform’ which by itself is not providing the complete information about the MOU signed between Tata Steel and Chhattisgarh government.

According to me Tata Steel is a company which is fully committed to the well being of the communities it operates in, especially the tribal people with whom they are working with. They have a hundred year old history of engagement and sharing of the wealth generated by the enterprise in Jamshedpur.

Being a frequent visitor of Jamshedpur I have experienced how their community development initiatives have ensured a qualitative improvement in the standard of living of the people of the operational & project areas be it in education, health services, development of sports activities, increase in income, Entrepreneurship development, Women empowerment, Preservation of tribal culture and much more. This is a well known fact and there is evidence of this in over 800 villages they are working in, which the members of the committee have ignored during the survey.

It is ridiculous to believe the report which accuses Tata Steel as the supporter and the first financier of Salwa Judum, the so called anti-Naxalite movement of the people of the area. It is a well known fact that the first movement against the Naxalites was the 'Jan Jagran Abhiyan', started in 1991 by Mahendra Karma. That was mostly led by local traders and businessmen. It later collapsed, and the leaders had to seek police protection to survive. In 2005 it was renamed Salwa Judum (meaning "Purification Hunt" in Gondi language) and it is reported that civilians were armed to supposedly fight the Naxalites in the region. And In mid-2008, the movement's front liner, Mahender Karma announced that Salwa Judum will soon cease to exist.

factfinder said...

For the displaced families of Kalinganagar (Orissa), Tata Steel has gone beyond the stipulations of R&R poli¬cy to give long-term assurance for better quality of life and this has led to the formation of concept of 'Tata Steel Parivar' - Tata Steel's own R&R programme. Tata Steel is the only company to have imple¬mented such a benevolent initiative for the rehabilitation of the displaced villagers. This unique initiative, apart from ensuring improvement in quality of life, is also giving importance to the cultural and emotional re¬quirements of the displaced tribals. Till date, nearly 900 families have been rehabilitated and their progress is mon¬itored closely. They are going to implement ‘Tata Steel Parivar’ at greenfield projects of Chattisgarh.

factfinder said...

For the displaced families of Kalinganagar (Orissa), Tata Steel has gone beyond the stipulations of R&R poli¬cy to give long-term assurance for better quality of life and this has led to the formation of concept of 'Tata Steel Parivar' - Tata Steel's own R&R programme. Tata Steel is the only company to have imple¬mented such a benevolent initiative for the rehabilitation of the displaced villagers. This unique initiative, apart from ensuring improvement in quality of life, is also giving importance to the cultural and emotional re¬quirements of the displaced tribals. Till date, nearly 900 families have been rehabilitated and their progress is mon¬itored closely. They are going to implement ‘Tata Steel Parivar’ at greenfield projects of Chattisgarh.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely incorrect to accuse Tata Steel as a supporter or financer of Salwa Judum. Tata Steel has been given land in that area by Chattishgarh govt. for overall development of the area.

Anonymous said...

Tata Steel is a company whose community development initiatives are well known. Its initiatives for qualitative improvement in the standard of living of the people of the operational & project areas be it in education, health services, development of sports activities, increase in income, Entrepreneurship development, Women empowerment, Preservation of tribal culture etc. are highly appreciable.
Tata Steel’s project at Chattishgarh is going to act like a miracle tool for the development of the tribal people of the region. For the detail view
http://thebiggestlandgrabaftercolumbus.blogspot.com/2010/03/biggest-land-grab-after-columbus.html#comment-form