Preliminary fact-finding report on Police firing in Pagar, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand

Incident of police firing in Pagar village, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand on 23 July 2013

Preliminary Report of the National Fact Finding Team

31st July – 1st August, 2013

1. Introduction

The recent incident of police firing in Pagar (Keredari Block, Hazaribagh district), an area that falls within the mining interest area of National Thermal Power Corporation, India’s biggest thermal power generating company, and a Public Sector Undertaking, has shocked all of us. Coming as it does as the latest link in a chain of violence, from physical attacks, intimidation and filing of false cases against local activists and communities including local MLAs, this incident is a cause of grave concern for us.

The decision to constitute a fact finding committee was taken after several rounds of discussions with concerned communities and movements. The fact finding team, coordinated by the National Alliance of People’s Movements and the Delhi Solidarity Group, brings together people from different movements and organisations.

Members

1. Adv Prakash Ambedkar, former MP (Akola, Maharashtra) and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy.

2. Dr Kalyani Menon Sen, independent researcher and member, Women Against State Repression and Sexual Violence, Delhi

3. Prof G. Arunima, Head, Department of Women’s Studies, JNU, Delhi

4. Jatin Desai, Writer and journalist, Mumbai, Maharashtra

5. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, Delhi

This team spent two days in travelling to the affected villages and meeting members of the community, injured people and their families, officials of the NTPC, and the medical team who is treating Shri Nanhu Mahato who has been admitted in the Ranchi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) with a bullet lodged near his spine.

The incident

The following summary is based on information gathered from local activists, as well as interviews and discussions with the affected parties.

· Police firing took place on 23rd July 2013 in Chatti Bariyatu (Keredari, Hazaribagh), which is a part of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)’s coal block.

· 50 year old Kesar Mahto was killed during this firing, and five others were seriously injured.

· The people of the Karanpura area have been protesting against the activities of NTPC ever since they entered this area in 1999. Approximately 2500 false cases have been filed against villagers and activists who are opposing mining projects.

Findings

1. NTPC has interests in four coal blocks in the Karanpura Valley, Hazaribagh. These are Pakri-Barwadi, Chhatti-Bariyathu (south), Chhatti-Bariyathu (north) and Keredari. The incident of 23rd July occurred in Pagar village, Chatti-Bariyathu (south). This coal block has two revenue villages Chatti-Bariyathu and Pagar. Until now, the NTPC has been able to acquire only 59 acres of land from some 169 families in these four coal blocks.

2. Pagar village is about 70 km west of the district headquarters Hazaribagh. This village is situated at the western end of the district, and is contiguous with Chhatra zila. Pagar village has approximately 2700 families, of whom more than 2000 families are opposed to giving their land to the NTPC.

3. At first glance, it may seem as if this incident was the result of a dispute between the contractor and the villagers, an interpretation that the NTPC is also actively promoting and disseminating. However, the fact-finding team notes that the contractor Dileep Singh derives his locus standi from his connection with the NTPC, which cannot therefore distance itself from this incident.

4. On 23rd July 2013, at 8:30 am, a group of villagers under the leadership of the village mukhia, Jharilal Mahato, attempted to stop the contractor Dileep Singh from beginning construction work on a piece of land previously owned by him and handed over to NTPC for construction of a site office. In the ongoing scuffle, Vikas Singh, contractor Dileep Singh’s son, attacked Kamalnath Mahto with a kudali (a sharp farm instrument), breaking his head open. Kamalnath Mahto was badly wounded, suffered severe blood loss, and fell unconscious. He was rushed to Keredari hospital by the mukhia other villagers, where he was treated and given 22 stitches to close the wound.

5. Meanwhile, Vikas Singh fled the worksite and ran towards the village, pursued by the other villagers. On reaching the village, he rushed into the nearest house (belonging to Bilsi Devi) and locked himself up into a room.

6. Hearing the commotion a large number of women and children joined the group gathered at Bilsi Devi’s house. The fact-finding team notes that this group that was entirely unarmed. In the words of one of the women present there, no one had even a ‘datun’ . The villagers informed the mukhia of the tense situation and urged him to rush back from the hospital in Keredari. They continued to wait peacefully for the mukhia to arrive so that the culprit Vikas Singh could be apprehended and handed over to the police.

7. Meanwhile a posse of six policemen led by ASI M.N. Singh arrived on the spot around 10 am and ordered the villagers to disperse. The villagers explained the situation and appealed to the police to wait until the arrival of the mukhia. The police responded by threats and firing 2-3 rounds in the air. Despite this the villagers stayed firm, repeating their request that the police wait until the headman arrived before removing Vikas Singh from the village precincts. According to the villagers, the policemen were drunk and abusive.

8. At around 1030, the police entered Bilsi Devi’s home and brought Vikas Singh out, surrounding him protectively. Two of the constables, Ravinder Sharma and Rana Pratap Singh began firing indiscriminately at the villagers and ran through the village escorting the culprit Vikas Singh to safety.

9. Around 18-20 rounds were fired by the police. The villagers later retrieved eight bullet casings (cartridges), of which they gave four to the police. The rest are with them and were shown to the team.

10. As the villagers scattered and police ran through the village firing indiscriminately and randomly in all directions. Kesar Mahato who was sitting outside his house at the time, was shot in the abdomen. He was rushed to Keredari hospital by the villagers where he was declared dead.

11. Of the other five persons who were injured, one person (Nanhu Mahato) is admitted in RIMS hospital, Ranchi with a bullet lodged near his spine in the lumbar region. His condition is serious and the team was told that the surgery required is a high-risk one which cannot be undertaken in RIMS.

12. The team also met Makhan Verma who was hit on his knee, and Ramesh Mahto who was injured by a bullet that penetrated his cheek. Despite the gravity of their grave injuries, they were sent back home after some simple first aid at the Keredari hospital.

13. It is noteworthy that five out the six of the injured people had been shot above the waist, indicating that the police shot to kill. However, none of the policemen had received so much as a scratch on their body, proving conclusively that the firing was unprovoked and completely unnecessary. The incident is even more shocking because of the presence of large numbers of women and children in the crowd.

14. The team found the atmosphere in the village to be tense, with an apprehension of further violence. Several FIRs have already been filed against villagers. The police also continue to come to the village almost every day, and were present during the team’s visit.

15. The villagers too have now lodged a case against policeman MN Singh, and the NTPC officials.

16. The team visited the NTPC office in Hazaribagh. We were informed by SK Tiwari (AGM, Projects) that various CSR projects have been undertaken by them in Pagar village, including health camps, distribution of school uniforms, renovation of panchayat buildings and so on.

17. NTPC officials also informed the team that they will begin mining in the region by the end of this year.

Conclusion

After a preliminary analysis of the facts, the team has come to the following conclusions.

· It is clear that the CSR ‘benefits’ being offered by the NTPC are intended to persuade people to surrender their land and allow mining activities. Despite the compensation package, the NTPC approach violates the Adivasi’s right to livelihood, dignity and time-honoured practices of sustainability.

· The team wishes to underscore that people’s ongoing problems cannot be resolved via the means of CSR programmes. On the contrary, this has created a host of new problems. For instance, NTPC’s programme of giving Rs. 10,000 as a “gift” at the time of a daughter’s wedding is tantamount to flouting the Dowry Act. The team strongly condemns such interventions. The Adivasi people of the region are facing a crisis in livelihood, and welfarist programmes like those being promoted by NTPC are attempts to hide, rather than address, the problem.

· The filing of false cases against locals, culminating in this unwarranted and unnecessary firing in Pagar, has created fear and tension amongst the villagers. The threat of violence is palpable.

· The present model of “development” that is centred on promotion of mining and extractive industries is today creating new social, economic and political hierarchies and is threatening the lives, livelihood and culture of the people of Jharkhand, as well as the ecology of the entire country. This incident symbolizes the struggle of the people against this distorted notion of “development” needs to be situated within this wider context.

RECOMMENDATIONS

· Immediate action should be taken against the policemen responsible for the firing in Pagar village. Several FIRs have been filed by Shri Kamal Mahato, the family of Shri Kesar Mahato and the families of others injured in the firing – these should be acted upon with delay.

· Compensation should be paid to the injured, as well as to the family of Shri Kesar Mahato who was killed in the firing. The State government should meet all medical costs and arrange for immediate transfer of Shri Nanhu Mahato (who admitted in RIMS with a bullet lodged near his spine) to a facility where he can get appropriate treatment without delay.

· False cases filed against the people of Pagar village should be immediately withdrawn. Action should be initiated against the individuals who have filed these cases.

· The State government should not allow the acquisition of fertile agricultural lands for coal mining and extractive industries. Karanpura is a region where traditional agriculture is flourishing, and should provide lessons for an ecologically sustainable and people-centred alternate development model for the State.

· Mining and extractive industries cannot be allowed to destroy the economy, ecology and culture of the State – they must not be promoted as part of state policy.

· The State government should initiate a dialogue with communities, peoples’ movements and civil society groups to evolve a development vision for the State.
In solidarity,
Sanjeev Kumar
Coordinator
Delhi Forum
Address: F- 10/12, (Basement), Malviya Nagar,
New Delhi INDIA – 110017
Phones: 011-26680883 / 26680914 / +91-9958797409 (Mobile)
Email: sanjeev@delhiforum.net

 

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Mutts, Dharamshalas, religious bodies and Corporate foundations get biggest foreign funding

“Nearly 19 per cent Rs 1276.56 crore of the foreign funds are pumped into education sector and religious bodies.”We were told by the government that money to the tune of Rs 10,500 crore were entering India in this sector.”We have been asking for the details but it is only in the last two years that we have had the detailed report from them and it clearly reveals who is getting the major funding from abroad,” VANI CEO Harsh Jaitli said.”It is the religious bodies like mutts, dharamshalas, churches, religious foundations, corporate foundations, private schools hospitals etc, which are getting the major fund,” Jaitli claimed.

via Religious and education sectors get biggest foreign funding – The Economic Times.

India’s CAG’s audit report on Hydropower projects questioned

Press Statement on CAG Audit of Hydropower projects

Mon Sep 3, 2012 12:11 am (PDT) . Posted by:

“Himanshu Thakkar”

*PRESS STATEMENT
September 3, 2012*

*CAG Performance Audit of Hydropower Projects:*

*Extremely weak, inadequate non-audit?*

The CAG issued a press release on Aug 31, 2012 for its “Performance Audit Report No. 10 of 2012-13” of hydropower projects for the 11th 5-year plan ending on March 31, 2012. This CAG audit is an extremely weak and inadequate work of the CAG. In fact it does not really audit the performance of hydropower projects at all. The audit fails to raise many of the fundamental issues related to the hydropower projects. It does not draw strong enough conclusions that are warranted based on its audit. Its recommendations are even weaker and do not address the issues raised in the conclusions. It seems like more of a business as usual, status quoits effort that does not do justice to the formidable reputation that the CAG has attracted through some of its exemplary work over the years and recent past.

Firstly, the audit is not much of a performance audit of hydropower projects or hydropower companies. The basic purpose of hydropower projects is generation of electricity at stipulated annual, seasonal, daily and peaking hours. However, the CAG performance audit has not gone into this question at all at any stage. If it had gone into this, it would have found that 89% of India’s operating hydropower projects generate at below the sanctioned rates and half of them generate at below the 50% of design rate. It would have also realised that over the last two decades, generation of electricity per MW installed capacity has reduced by a huge 20%. The CAG would have also found out that no one is assessing how much of the power generation from hydro projects is during peak hours when generation of peaking power is supposed to be the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of these projects. Both storage-based and so called run of the river hydro projects involve huge social and environmental costs, apart from deforestation and displacement of people. They are justified on the ground that they meet the peak time demand for electricity. A performance audit that does not address these aspects is not only incomplete but also misleading.

One of the fundamental issues CAG has refrained from looking at is the social, economic, environmental, cultural, religious and other services a free flowing river provides to a large cross section of the society and how these services are destroyed when a hydropower project is built. Rivers are functioning service providers, unlike the case of bandwidth (2G licenses) and coal in the mines, issues on which CAG has rightly shown great concern recently. It is inexplicable as to why the CAG has refrained from considering this issue while assessing the efficacy of performance of hydropower projects.

Thirdly, it is welcome that CAG has noted that there has been lack of “due diligence” and proper “survey and investigation” before taking up of projects. However, the CAG has not held agencies like Central Electricity Authority (CEA) responsible for giving concurrence to the projects under Electricity Act without ensuring that the projects have done full and proper appraisal. For example, CAG has found in its audit that geological surprises have been one of the reasons for delays, and that the companies have not been doing necessary testing. But these are the issues that CEA is supposed to look into in collaboration with Central Water Commission and Geological Survey of India. It is clear from the audit that CEA has been routinely giving concurrences to the projects without ensuring that full appraisal and due diligence has been done and without any transparency or independent members on its panel. CAG should have held CEA, CWC and GSI responsible for such flawed concurrences and should have raised fundamental issues about the process followed by CEA  before giving concurrences. Similarly CAG should have raised questions about the fundamentally flawed process of environment impact appraisal followed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF) and MEF’s the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River valley projects, but has refrained from raising them. Why CAG has refrained from reaching such conclusions logically implied by its audit is surprising.

Fourthly, CAG should also audit the process of allocation of hydropower projects to private developers. CAG has rightly raised the issue of competitive bidding in case of bandwidth (2G) and coal recently while allocating these “natural” resources to private developers, but for some unknown reason, has refrained from scrutinising the process of allocation of rivers to private developers for developing hydropower projects, which the private developers are using for their profiteering. The rivers are society’s resources and are the biggest natural resource, and it is high time all concerned including CAG look into these issues. Similarly, why is the CAG not auditing the accounts of private hydropower developers, when these developers are using these national natural public resource?

Fifthly, the CAG audit in question has very rightly raised the issue of failure of monitoring mechanisms and how conflict of interests prevail in the functioning of hydropower projects, with even an former power secretary (Mr P Abraham[1]<file:///E:/H/1Hydropower/2012/PR%20on%20Inadequate%20CAG%20performance%20audit%20of%20%20hydro%20projects%20Sept2012.doc#_ftn1>) simultaneously being on govt committee probing a hydropower project and also on the board of the company involved in the specific contract being probed. These issues prevail because there is absolute lack of transparency and lack of presence of independent credible members monitoring the functioning of these projects and companies. Unfortunately CAG has not found it necessary to make such recommendations even though they are clearly warranted from its own audit.

Lastly, CAG’s recommendations are peripheral and pedestrian. They have not addressed the systemic and institutional issues that are at the root of the problems covered in the audit, however weak it may be. These issues revolve around the professional capabilities, transparent and independent functioning of CEA, the role of MOEF and its EAC, the need to ensure that the composition of EAC and other monitoring and other committees are such that its members have no conflict of interest in appraising projects and how a few influential power developers have been able to corner most of the projects as a result of the non-transparent award procedures adopted. What are proposals to change the situation in any fundamental way? There are none.

We are therefore forced to reach the unfortunate conclusion that this CAG audit is highly inadequate, misleading and devoid of any attention to the basic issues. We would urge CAG to urgently look into the issues raised and redo the audit keeping these issues in mind.

*Himanshu Thakkar*,* *South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, 86-D, AD block, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi www.sandrp.in, ht.sandrp@gmail.com, 09968242798*

*E A S Sarma*, Former Secretary to Govt. of India, Visakhapattnam, 0986602646, eassarmagmail.com

*Bharat Jhunjhunwala*, former professor, IIM Bangalore, Dt Tehri, Uttarakhand bharatjj@gmail.com

*Ravindranath*, Rural volunteers Centre, Dist Dhemaji, Assam, ruralvolunteerscentre@yahoo.co.in

*Ms Malika Virdi*, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand (malika.virdi@gmail.com)

*E Theophilus*, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand (etheophilus@gmail.com)

*K. Ramnarayan*, Coordinator , Save The Rivers Campaign, Uttarakhand, (ramnarayan.k@gmail.com)

*Samir Mehta*, International Rivers, Mumbai, samir@internationalrivers.org

*Shripad Dharmadhikary*, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune,manthan.shripad@gmail.com* *

*10. Dr. Latha Anantha*, River Research Centre, Thrissur, Kerala.
rrckerala@gmail.com

 

 

 

Manipur’s fasting woman released She would be re-arrested in day or two.

Manipur’s fasting woman released. She would be re-arrested in day or two.

Courtesy: http://www.ucanindia.in

Imphal:
In an annual ritual, the iron lady of Manipur Irom Sharmila Chanu was released yesterday.Sharmila, who was produced before a court in Imphal, reiterated that she would continue her hunger strike. She would be re-arrested in day or two. (To Read More ….. click on this link)

Mumbai’s Maximum number of poor/below poverty line live in Andheri

GHAR  BACHAO  GHAR  BANAO  ANDOLAN

c/o NAPM, Room No 29-30, Ist Floor, A Wing, haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai 14

Press Release                                                                                                             5th March 2012

  • Maximum number of poor/below poverty line are in Andheri in Mumbai.
  • Dharavi has less poor than Andheri.
  • Development of Mumbai leaving behind and ignoring its poor.

As per the Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey conducted by BMC, Andheri has the maximum number of BPL-poor people in Mumbai. According to the survey the number of BPL families in Andheri is more than one lakh which is even more than Mankhurd which has the lowest Human Developemnt Index (HDI) for Mumbai. The BPL no for Andheri is even more than the no of BPL families in Dharavi. G North ward under which Dharavi falls has only 30,000 BPL.

The BPL list were declared by the MCGM after a Public Interest Litigation (27 of 2011) was filed at Bombay High Court by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan and slum activists Jammela Begum & Durgavati, BMC has now declared the result of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey carried out in the year 2005-06. According to the survey, around 4,94,000 families have been declared as BPL, meaning around 25 lakh people in Mumbai are below poverty line. For Mumbai the below poverty line has been defined as a daily income of Rs 20 per day per person. This means that in Mumbai there are around 25 lakh people who are not even able to earn Rs 20 every day and thus they live on as low as this an amount every day.

A high increase in the number of BPL families in Mumbai proves beyond doubt that the policies and the plans of the government is leading to further deterioration in the condition of the people. Rather than any improvement in the status of the poor, rather more and more families are being pushed in the poverty trap which is just a manifestation of the growing inequality for which the policies of the government are responsible. The growing threat on the lives, livelihoods and houses of the working class is directly leading to growing number of families that are poor.

A band-aid solution of poverty alleviation programmes and plans is not going to be of any use, until and unless the state and the civil society revisits and revises its development paradigm, which today is anti-people while favouring the corporate and the private developers.

Simpreet Singh Sumit Wajale     Jameela Begum

8976252804

 

WARD AREA No of Families declared BPL HDI Index
A Ward Fort 797 13
B Ward Masjid 2757 5
C Ward Girgaon 1000 2
D Ward Nanachowki 3047 1
E Ward Byculla 26198 14
F North Matunga 1360 21
F south Parel 259 8
G South Elphinstone 21210 11
G North Dadar 30464 18
H West Bandra 8271 7
H East Santa Cruz 20823 20
K East Andheri East 79107 9
K West Andheri West 38517 10
L Ward Kurla 43476 23
M East Ward Mankhurd 65051 24
M West Chembur 15052 22
N Ward Ghatkopar 19742 16
P South Goregaon 7471 12
P North Malad 29580 19
R South Kandivali 23179 15
R Central Borivali 15874 3
R North Dahisar 1248 6
S Ward Bhandup 14283 17
T Ward Mulund 3000 4
    4,93,855  

 

GRAIN releases data set with over 400 global land grabs

GRAIN releases data set with over 400 global land grabs

Today GRAIN is making available a new data set documenting 416 recent, large-scale land grabs by foreign investors for the production of food crops. The cases cover nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries.

This is not an exhaustive list of all land deals. We only focus on those deals that:

  • were initiated after 2006,
  • have not been cancelled,
  • involve large areas of land,
  • are led by foreign investors, and
  • are for the production of food crops.

Deals for sugar cane and palm oil production were included but not those for crops like jatropha or cotton.

The collection of deals provides a stark snapshot of how agribusiness has been rapidly expanding across the globe since the food and financial crises of 2008 and how this is taking food production out of the hands of farmers and local communities.

It confirms that Africa is the primary target of the land grabs, but it also underlines the importance of Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, demonstrating that this is a global phenomenon.

The data set also paints a clear picture of who the land grabbers are. While most of the 298 land grabbers documented are from the agribusiness sector, financial companies and sovereign wealth funds are responsible for about a third of the deals. And on many occasions there is overlap. For instance, the data set shows how Cargill, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, has been acquiring hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland through its hedge fund Black River Asset Management.

European and Asian based investors account for about two thirds of the land grabs within the data set. China and India are major sources of land grabbers, as are the UK and Germany. But the UK, much like Singapore and Mauritius, serves as a tax haven for land grabbers, and often the true operating bases of the companies reside elsewhere. Other major centres of land grabbers are the US, which tops the list at 41 cases, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia with 39 combined.

Most of the data was collected from the website farmlandgrab.org. Complete references can be made available upon request.

The data set is available in XLS and PDF formats here: http://www.grain.org/e/4479

French and Spanish versions will be available shortly.

Other recent GRAIN data sets on land grabbing are available here: http://www.grain.org/e/4479

For further information, please contact:

Devlin Kuyek in Montreal, Canada
devlin@grain.org
+1 514 571 7702

Renée Vellvé in Paris, France
renee@grain.org
+33 6 75073468

Carlos Vicente in Marcos Paz, Argentina
carlos@grain.org
+549 11 63088809