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Odisha- Kamanda Village Gram Sabha rejects mining

The community people of Kamanda Gram Sabha of Kalta G.P inKoidaTahasilhave differed land acquisition by IDCO for Rungta Mines in Sundargarh. Using the PESA Act 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006 a Gram Sabha was recently held on 23rd March 2016 in which the community people unanimously decided not to give their private land for the Rungta Mines. The Gram Sabha meeting was presided by the present Sarpanch Sabita Nayak in which around 400 members of the gram sabha participated.

Location and Demography of the village 

The village Kamand is surrounded by Harischandanpur revenue village in the East, Taldidi reserve forest in the West, Revenue village Kusmundi in the North and revenue village Kula in the South. As per 2011 Census, there are 233 households in the village Kamanda having 1081 population. While the total population of scheduled tribe is 681 mostly(Bhiuya and Munda),the population of scheduled caste is 88. As per the Record of Rights(RoR) of the village, there are in total 1015.59 acres of community land recorded as Government land available in the village out of which 758 acres are forest land. Besides, Taldidi RF is adjacent in the west side of the villages which comes under Community Forest Resource area recognised under FRA, 2006.

In its gram sabha resolution, the Kamanda Gram Sabha has disowned the gram sabha resolution of dated 13th Feb 2009 convened by the Government of Odisha(by notice No.1512 dated 11/12/2008) for land acquisition for Rungta Mines. They have alleged forging of Gram Sabha resolution by the district administration hands in glove with the Rungta Company(BhagbanSahu-Land Acquisition Officer),Bhawani Shankar Mishra(BDO-Koida) and Aswini Kumar Das(the Executive Officer of Rungta Company were present in that meeting). “while only 30 people of the village were present in that 13th Feb 2009 gram sabha meeting, the district administration along with the Rungta company had brought about 100 people from outside who signed in the gram Sabha resolution” said Binod Nayak, the present Nayab Sarpanch of village who was present in the 13th Feb 2009 gram sabha meeting. The Kamanda Gram Sabha has sought high level investigation over the forged gram sabha resolution.

The gram sabha has also protested illegal construction of wall by Rungta Mines over both private and community land in the village.

It is to be noted that based on the 13th Feb 2009 Gram Sabha resolution, Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (Idco) reported to have been acquired 75.40 hectare(186.34 acres) of private land in Kamanda village in Koida Tahasil of Sundargarh district and have allocated to Rungta Mines Ltd for expansion of its existing steel plant facility for a period of 90 years with a value of Rs.19.40 crore(Business Standard on Sept 2, 2014 has also reported Company in its application submitted on 18th August 2015 vide Letter No. RML/KSP 406-/98/15-16 for the extension of Environmental Clearance to the MoEF claims that the total plant area is 154.489 ha (381.740 Acres). Out of 154.489 ha of land, the Rungta Mines claims to have purchased 111.08 acres of private land directly, which is already under industrial usage. The Company also claims that 186.34 acres private land of village Kamanda has been already acquired through IDCO for the company. Besides, another 61.52 acres Government land has been acquired by IDCO and balance 22.80 acres government land is under process.

However, the Kamanda Gram Sabha has contended that the 186.34 acres of private land which the Rungta Company claims to have been acquired by IDCO is false. The gram sabha is of the view that these 186.340 acres of private lands from two villages(180.62 acres of Kamanda and 5.72 acres of Kusmundi) belong to 103 families of the village including 54 STs, 39 OBCs and 10 SCs community. And out of 103 land owners, only 24 families have so far received the compensation amount of Rs.8500/-per decimal and rest 81 families have not received the compensation till date and are protesting against land acquisition.
The Kamanda Gram Sabhahas also alleged the Rungta Mines too have fooled the villages in 2003-04 while purchasing 111.08 acres of private land which it purchased @25.000/- per acre and promised to provide jobs to the land losers. The villagers have also alleged community land grabbing by Rungta Mines. The Kamanda Gram Sabha have sent its 23rd March 2016 Resolutions to all the concerned State and district level officials.

They have also challenged the land acquisition in the High Court in 2012 and 2015 have requested the high Court to cancel the land acquisition by IDCO for the Rungta Sponge Iron Ltd. JualOram, the Tribal Affairs Minister, Govt. of India can be seen objecting land acquisition for Rungta Mines in Kamanda village in the link….

Basil Ekka, leader of the Aam Admi Party(APP) who supports the villagers said “the so called land acquisition by IDCO in the village Kamanda is in direct violation of Supreme Court’sSamata Judgment, 1997, Article 39 of the constitution, PESA, 1996. It is also violates the spirit of the 5th Scheduled of the Constitution”.

Ms.Bidesini Patel, Video volunteer of ‘India Unheard’ said “the Govt. of Odisha who claims to be champion of the tribal’s should adhere to the law of the land. PESA gram sabha should be organised properly and people consent should be given priority.”

According to Dr.Manohar Chauhan, member Campaign for Survival and Dignity who works for tribal rights in the State, “out of the 186.34 acres of private land said to have been acquired by IDCO from village Kamanda, 117.11 acres belongs to the 54 tribal families which is in direct violation of OSATIP 1956, Regulation-2 duly amended in 2002 and the Order of the Revenue Department, No.46008/Ag-49-2013 dated 3rd Dec, 2013 which supersedes all other laws. Quoting the circular he said “transfer of immovable property” as defined in Para-2 (f) of the Regulation 2 of 1956 has to be assigned a very wide meaning including any transaction or dealing with immovable property which would have the effect of extinguishing title, possession or right to possess such property in the tribal and vesting the same in a non-tribal. Hence, the consent given by the tribal to the mining lease to start mining operation over his land would deprive him the possession, use and enjoyment of the land though may be for temporary period vesting such rights in the lease. Thus, since transfer of surface rights is coming within the meaning of transfer of immovable property, as defined in clause (f) of Para -2 of Regulation of 1956, grant of surface right or giving consent for mining operation either by a tribal or acquired by IDCO for Rungta Mines (a non-tribal be null and void and the lease (IDCO or Rungta Mines Ltd) would be liable to eviction.” Thus, all the tribal lands being purchased by private companies or acquired by Govt. in scheduled 5th area is illegal as per the Revenue Dept. Circular, He said.

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