don't want development (Cover Story2)
Voices from the Adivasis of Sundargarh
Sundargarh district is a
Scheduled district located in the north-west of the state of
Orissa bordering Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. The Adivasi population
constitutes more than 50% of the total population in the District.
The Adivasis are managing their villages according to their
traditions, culture and customary mode of dispute resolution
according to the PESA Act 1996 in peaceful manner.
The Sponge Iron Factories
established by the Non-Adivasi industrialists with full
co-operation from the district administrators have created havoc
and unrest in the whole district. Since 1998, these Sponge Iron
Factories were erected like mushrooms here and there. Not a single
factory has been approved by the Pally Sabha / Gram Sasan and Gram
Sabha as minimum requirement for social and economic development
before such plans, programmes and projects are taken up for
implementation as mentioned in “The Orissa Grama Panchayats
(Amendment) Act 1997 (5). ”
There are 12 sponge iron
factories in and around Kuarmunda Block. The Adivasis of this area
have vehemently opposed the establishment of these sponge iron
factories from its very inception. But the powerful and
influential industrialists together with the district
administrators, suppressed all the appeals, protests, agitations
by means of police force, booking the agitators under different
sections of the Cr. P.Cs and IPCs. The sponge iron factories have
been established in the Adivasi villages.
In spite of several appeals and
agitations, neither the Pollution Control Board nor the district
administrators (Collector, A.D.M., Sub-collector, Tehsildar and
B.D.Os) have taken any action. Under the able leadership of Mr.
George Tirkey (Former M.L.A., Birmitrapur) there were several
rounds of talks and discussions to have amicable solution to these
problems, but these were ignored by the administration and
In Kuarmunda, the agitation
began again by the present M.L.A Mr. Nihar Surin in the month of
July 2005. Mr. George Tirkey also worked hard to solve the
problems. There were several agitations. On October 23rd
2005 there was a meeting to solve the long standing demands of the
Adivasis on Sponge iron and Pollution at Municipality Hall,
Birmitrapur, where the A.D.M, Sub- Collector, Tehsildars, B.D.Os,
factory owners together with other volunteers and villagers were
present. They had agreed upon to fulfil some of the demands. But
as usual none of the demands were carried out.
Under the leadership of Mr.
George Tirkey there were peaceful rallies, agitations, meetings.
“Anchalik Surakya Committee” was formed and through this
committee peaceful agitation was going on.
The Nepaz Factory Sponge
The Nepaz Sponge Factory has
been opposed since its inception. The administrators have allowed
the industrialist to construct the factory illegally and
unlawfully and issued notice to hold a Gram Sabha meeting on
25-08-2004 just to eye wash the public (Meanwhile half of the
construction was already over). The Collector Mr. Suresh Kumar
Vashisth IAS presided over the Gram Sabha, though such officials
are constitutionally not authorized to do so. In the meeting the
Sabha did not approve the plan.
Several appeals and protest
letters were being sent to different offices but no one would
listen to the Adivasis. Police would secretly find out the leaders
and book them under Cr.P.Cs stating that they were disturbing
Enormous amount of thick black
carbon deposits can easily be found in the water, air and land.
Already many animals and plants have died, the crop yield has
reduced below 50%, people are suffering from respiratory diseases,
skin diseases are common. The rivers, ponds and wells are
polluted. The administration is least bothered about these
problems. The Pollution department is a mere spectator, doing
24th March, 2006:
The Tussles between the Adivasis and the District Administrators
On 22nd March 2006
there was a meeting at Tehsildar office, Birmitrapur and the
administrators had suggested holding of the agitation in a
peaceful manner. Adivasis came together for their peaceful
agitation as scheduled on 24th March 2006 at about
11.30 a.m. Their demands were:
To stop the Pollution from the
factories and creation of a clear environment.
To employ local people /
To remove employees who are
from out side the state and disturbing the culture of local
To establish social security
for the Adivasis.
For peripheral development of
There were about 5000 agitators
near Chadri Hariharpur School. Some agitators also went to other
factories for displaying banners. There was a speech by George
Tirkey to march peacefully towards Nepaz factory and hold dharna
in a peaceful manner and that no one would do any harm etc., thus
all the agitators went and stood in front of the factory gate and
were putting forward their demands. Mr. George Tirkey together
with few leaders entered the factory to hand over their memorandum
to the factory authorities. Incidentally, as the security
personnel opened the factory gate, many of the agitators also got
inside the factory premises. Till then whole situation was
Meanwhile as they were going
inside the factory, the security personnel locked the gate and
started attacking the leaders.
In the presence of S.P. and
other district administrators (ADM, Sub-collector, Tehsilder,
O.ICs etc of Panposh Division) the security personnel of the Nepaz
Metalic (P) Ltd. fired 3 rounds at the gathering. Two men were
injured, this created more tension and panic.
At about 2:30 pm near a road
side hotel, outside the factory, an innocent Adivasi pregnant
woman was beaten up brutally. At about 7:30 pm, a policeman
removed the saree of a woman and outraged her modesty.
The police attacked the
gathering, arrested them and jailed about 250 of them, which
include about 50 minors.
Now the police is creating a
terror and horror in the neighbouring villages of Kuarmunda.
The district administration is
violating all constitutional provisions in the scheduled area,
unnecessarily harassing / suppressing the Adivasis, disturbing
peace, harmony and causing unrest among Adivasis. The
administration and police is openly favouring the Industrialists.
Adivasi land has been unlawfully and forcibly snatched away from
Adivasis and they are forced to become landless and live a
miserable life. Adivasis are at constant threat by the police and
the district administration. On the other side Industrialists are
looting our land by alluring our innocent Adivasi brothers with
drinks and miniscule monetary gains.
Adivasis Do Not Want
The Adivasis of Sundargarh do
not want any factory in the district. In the name of development
these factories are destroying our villages, culture, land,
agriculture, plants and environment. The so called development has
brought exploitative and suppressive system in the district.
If any agency wants development
for Adivasis, they should develop on Agriculture, Otherwise let
the Adivasis remain as they are. We do not want this type of
We appeal all of you to support
us and join us in our struggle for safeguarding our identity and
…..Nicholas Barla, Advocate
Rajgangpur, Sundargargh Dist., Orissa
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