Bhubaneswar, March 22, 2010: The Lok Shakti Abhiyan( LSA), Orissa which has consistently brought out all kinds of violations of established laws of the land by Vedanta Alumina in Lanjigarh for the last 4-5 years and the Samajvadi Jan Parishad (SJP) together have condemned the undemocratic, unconstitutional, anti-tribal and anti-nature attitude of the Nabin Pattnaik government which continues to cover up crimes committed by Vedanta despite the facts that government appointed teams have brought out serious allegations against the erring company. Sri Prafulla Samantara, President,LSA and Sri Lingaraj, National Secretary, SJP have called for immediate action against all those involved in the crimes committed by Vedanta. It was Sri Samantara’s petition which had brought the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Apex Court’s Forest Bench to investigate into allegations of violations by Vedanta in which the administration was party to the crime at all levels starting from the office of the district collector to that of the Chief Minister. The irregularities and violations of Vedanta had been clearly brought to the light by the CEC teams which no Court under the sun would have ignored. But Vedanta proved to be far above all institutions of democracy in India. In 2007 and 2008, when the Apex Court ignored all facts and gave a verdict in favour of Vedanta, Sri Samantara had expressed his concerns over the process of trial and justice delivery system in the Supreme Court. Now, The Hindustan Times of 21st march 2010 reports Sri Jairam Ramesh’s statement in the following words: “To my mind, there does not appear to be any other case where the court had overruled the CEC report”.
The CEC in its report had suggested that Niyamgiri should not be allowed for mining activities because of its rich biodiversity, the two major rivers (Bansadhara and Nagabali) of South Orissa which originate from it, the primitive Dongaria tribes who live in and on the mountain. The CEC did also mention its displeasure over the manner in which the Vedanta project had been handled by the State government which was in hurry to see that no hurdles came on the way of Vedanta. It even accused the MOEF for separating the plant from the mining project and allowing the plant to come up in Lanjigarh though there was no clearance given to the company for mining Niyamgiri. The Apex Court ignored the recommendations of its own experts it had appointed to provide them with all necessary wisdom to deliver justice in forest related cases.
Vedanta has always behaved as if the Chief Minister of the state is his servant and would follow all the dictates of Anil Agrawal. The CM or his deputies or his advisors have never negated this impression directly or indirectly. This allowed Vedanta to unleash a reign of terror in Niyamgiri and Lanjigarh region. The SP, Collector, and Conservator all have become party to the violations done by Vedanta. They have even suggested how to escape after committing such violations. Vanshdhara has been polluted causing immense miseries for people sourcing water from it, villagers around Lanjigarh are suffering badly because of air pollution and many deaths have been reported. Those who raise voice are arrested on false charges. Recently 5 dalit women with their dependent children were arrested on robbery charges. Sri Samantara and others have been physically assaulted by Vedanta goons. It was primarily because of the Forest Rights Act of 2006 and visit undertaken by Dr.Usha Ramnathan who could not be bought over; the whole world could come to know that what Vedanta is mining in Orissa is not happiness but miseries for the common men though a section of the ruling party politicians and city elites in the state continue to benefit a lot from it in the name of preserving art, sports and culture.
In the light of the recent developments, starting from the CEC report to that of the withdrawal of Norwegian Pension fund and Church of England’s investment in Vedanta, followed by a couple of withdrawals from the company by reputed investors accusing Vedanta of gross human rights violations doubly confirmed by Amnesty International’s fact based report to that of the final stroke made by Dr.Usha Ramnathan confirming all the allegations made against Vedanta as true, Sri Samantara and Sri Lingaraj have made the following appeals to state and central governments, leaders of all political parties, leaders of all mass movements, intellectuals and media chiefs to ensure:
1. Immediate halt to all projects undertaken by Vedanta in Orissa.
2. Dismissal and arrest of all administrative, forest, revenue and police officials who have been influenced by Vedanta to manufacture reports and statements in favour of Vedanta and all those who have suppressed information in any pretext.
3. Action against State Pollution Control Board officials for cooperating with Vedanta in wrongful activities.
4. On March 10, the collectors of Rayagada and Kalahandi have manufactured a clear lie and shared the same with MOEF through the state government that no forest rights claims have been filed by the people in the area, but reports suggest that (I) wherever tribals have filed forest rights claims their claims have been rejected without conveying them the reasons for doing so, (ii)and in most cases as reported by Dr.Usha Ramntathan the illiterate tribals even don’t know that such a rights exists. Both collectors have acted under influence which needs to be investigated in to and exemplary punishment be given to prevent subversion of laws of the land under corporate influence.
5. The conduct of the Chief Minister and the election funding of Biju Janata Dal must be investigated in to by CBI or credible person of the highest judiciary to find out the facts preventing the party and its chief from taking any action against Vedanta.
6. All reports against Vedanta should be published in simpler Oriya and Dongria language and widely circulated in the affected region to enable people know the real nature of the government and if it is really serving the interests of the people.
All those involved in the Vedanta cases supporting its wrongful and unconstitutional activities must be punished in order to convince the people that democratic institutions can’t be subverted for making private profit the sole aim, asserted both the leaders..
Prafulla Samantara and Lingaraj
A/3, Unit-9, Kharavela Nagar, Bhubaneswar-751022, 9437259005/9437056029
Courtasy: Digambara , Kalahandia