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Land losers of Tata Steel project stage dharana

Around 2,500 families in eight villages were affected due to the proposed project

BS Reporter  |  Berhampur 

February 5, 2014

The people displaced due to a steel mill originally planned by Tata Steel at Gopalpur, staged a dharana in front of the Ganjam collector’s office, demanding a special package for them.

The land losers of eight villages-Sindhigaon, Badapur, Patrapur, Paikapada, Kalipalli, Sindhu Nagara, Braja Nagara and Jyoti Nagara are on agitation since January 27 and threatened to continue their agitation till the demands were fulfilled.

Besides the special package based on the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy, the people also demand permanent job for at least one person of each displaced family. Around 2,500 families in eight villages were affected due to the proposed project.

About 2,800 acres of land was acquired in the mid-1990s for setting up of a mega steel plant by Tata Steel. The company later shelved the project and decided to set up an industrial park there. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the industrial park in August 2010. At the time of land acquisition, the company had promised to provide job to at least one member of each displaced family. But the company did not keep its promise, alleged Jagannath Reddy, one of the agitators.

“Even though the land acquisition has been completed over 15 years ago, neither the steel plant nor the industrial park has been set up in the area. The company has only constructed the boundary wall around the acquired land,” he said.

Local MLA (Gopalpur) Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi supported the agitation of the land losers.

“The people of the area had ceded their land with high expectations. The anger of the people is genuine since there is no project in sight in the area,” said Panigrahi, who also lost land for the Tata Steel project. “We have sent a proposal to the government for a special package for the land losers. The proposal is being discussed with the company officials,” he said.

A spokesperson of Tata Steel said, “The company is in dialogue with the state government. The company has also given some suggestions to the government in this regard.”

The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had accorded environment clearance to Tata Steel for 55,000 tonne per annum (tpa) high carbon ferro-chrome plant, 400,000 tpa rebar mill and desalination plant to be set up in the proposed industrial park last year.

As an anchor tenant of this park, the company would invest around Rs 800 crore on these projects, which would initially create employment for 1,000 people.

This will be the fourth ferroalloys plant of Tata Steel in Odisha. The company is currently operating three ferroalloys plants at Joda, Bamanipal and Athgarh (through its subsidiary Rawmet) with capacities of 50,000 tpa each.


Read more here–

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#India – Tata, Birla, SAIL among 70 companies violating green norms, says Shah panel

Large-scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisa since 1994-95

BS, New Delhi 

 Last Updated at 00:24 IST
Top companies — such as SAILTata Steel, the Aditya Birlagroup’s Essel Mining and Odisha Mining Corp — are among the 70 that have violated environment and forest laws, the M B Shah Commission on illegal mining in Odisha has held.

Large-scale violation of environment and forest laws have taken place in Odisha since 1994-95 and most of the mining lease holders violated these in some form or other, it said.

The Commission has estimated iron ore worth Rs 45,453 crore and manganese worth Rs 3,089 crore have been extracted by miners “illegally and without lawful authority” by violating conditions of Environment Clearance (EC) alone.

It added the value of illegal production would increase considerably if other factors, including consent to operate, production without mining plan/scheme, were considered.

Of the 192 mining leases of iron and manganese ores in the state, 94 do not have an EC. Of the 94 mines that do not have an EC, 78 extracted iron and manganese ores between 1994-95 and 2011-12, worth thousands of crores.

Moreover, 96 leases obtained delayed EC approval but carried out mining during the period.

“Totally 130 lessees are/were noted of doing production without lawful authority of iron and manganese ores (which includes 109 leases running under deemed extension also) in violation of Environment Impact Assessment notification, 1994 and 2006,” it said.

The Commission added: “All such production is to be considered as illegal and without lawful authority. The market value for iron and manganese ores is required to be recovered under the provisions of Section 21(5) of the MM(DR) Act, 1957.”
SAIL’s Bolani and Barsua iron ore mines; Tata Steel’s 7 mines — Joda East, Joda West, Manmora, Guruda-Tiring Pahar, Malda, Khandbandh and Bamebari; Jindal Steel and Power’s TRB mines and Adhunik Metaliks’ Kulum mine are among the list of 96 firms that obtained delayed EC while carried out production.
Essel Mining and Industries’ Unchabali mine is among the list of 94 mines which did not have EC but carried out iron ore extraction. Its 3 other mines — Kasia, Jilling-Longalota and Koira are in the list of obtaining delayed EC approval.
The Odisha government-owned Odisha Mining Corporation’s (OMC) 8 mines are also in the list of 94 mines, which did not have EC approval. Of this, 2 mines — Sakradihi and Balda- Palsa-Jajang carried out extraction without EC.
Moreover, OMC obtained delayed EC approval for 14 of its mines and most of them carried out mining during the period.
Orissa Mineral Development Corporation (now part of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam), Rungta Mines Group, BPMEL, Kalinga Mining Corporation, Sarda Mines, Tarini Minerals, B D Patnaik, Aryan Mining and Trading Corporation Pvt Ltd are also on the list of violating or not taking approvals.

Other big miners in the state that are on the list for violating norms include Indrani Patnaik, Serajuddin & Co, R P Sao, Patnaik Minerals and S N Mohanty.
An Essel Mining spokesperson said: “The issues raised by the Shah Commission are subjudice and therefore, it is inappropriate to comment at this stage.”
Comments from other companies could not be obtained.
The Commission has also flagged Environment Ministry and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), a multi-disciplinary body under the Mines Ministry, for giving approvals without any checks, and failing to protect environment and conserving the ores.
“The permission granted so far for the extraction of 154.263 million tonnes by IBM and MoEF, if taken into consideration and achieved, then the reserve would last only for 30 years in the state for good quality ore,” it said.
Talking about violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, the Commission said that out of 192 mining leases, 176 are in dense forest.
Ministry of Environment and Forest has not given approval to 98 leases for diversion of forest area and 47 mines, out of 98, are/were operating without forest clearance (FC), it said.
The Commission has recommended recovering market price from the mines, which are/were operating without obtaining FC.
“There is gross misuse of deemed refusal and deemed extension of both the provision of renewal of leases. This casual and negative approach has caused dearly to State exchequer in the form of hundreds of crores of stamp duty and others,” it said.
In all, 147 cases, renewal applications have not been decided. Of this, in 86 cases, the delays have been between 5- 20 years, it said, adding that “the sufferer is the government and such long delay breads corruption at all level”.
Talking about casual attitude of MoEF officials, it said that in 16 leases, where the forest area was involved, EC was granted without forest clearance.
Moreover, in 56 mining leases, EC was granted without stipulating any condition for wildlife.
Of 98 leases, 31 are adjacent to the elephant corridor in Sundergadh and Keonjhar districts and due to mining, there has been “vast destruction of standing corps, huts and human habitat by elephants”, the Commission said.
Criticising IBM, it said that the government agency modified mining plan twice or more for 41 leases and gave approval to 53 leases for modification with retrospective effect.

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Tribal villagers resist attempts to deny them their forest rights

Balumath (Jharkhand), January 7, 2014

Anumeha Yadav

Villagers protest against the land acquisition at Jala village, in Latehar on Monday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury
The Hindu Villagers protest against the land acquisition at Jala village, in Latehar on Monday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury

Coerced and threatened over the past year, they are fighting for their rights over forestland that is part of a coal-block allotted to Tata Steel

In Latehar district’s Jala village, a hamlet of 250 tribal villagers has refused to make way for coal mining by Tata Steel and Adhunik Power and Natural Resource Limited (APNRL) till their forest rights are settled first.


The villagers — predominantly Oraon tribal people — recounted that in the last 14 months, while they got little cooperation from local officials, they were threatened by the Tritiya Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TSPC), a left wing extremist group and the “company’s dalal [middlemen]” for opposing the mining project.


Representatives of both companies rubbished allegations that they pressurised the villagers and claimed that they got the villagers’ pending forest rights settled at a gram sabha the companies organised last March.


Jala forms nearly the entire site of the 237ha Ganeshpur coal-block, allotted jointly to Tata Steel and APNRL in 2009. “We got a gram sabha conducted on March 15, 2013 and submitted video footage, documents to district officials,” said APNRL vice president Sanjay Jain, adding that it is necessary for the coal block to get clearances before they can scale up their 540MW power plant in Saraikela to 1,000MW. “We conducted two gram sabhas. One [held] last March was for settling the villagers’ pending forest rights claims. We have submitted a no-objection document from the villagers to district officials,” said Tata Steel spokesperson Ashish Kumar.


The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), 2006 says that the gram sabha has the authority to initiate and determine forest rights claims. The District Collector chairs the district-level committee on forest rights. In Jala’s case, Latehar Collector Aradhana Patnaik was not even aware of the gram sabha conducted at the two companies’ behest. “I found out only later that the companies had initiated the gram sabha. I received complaints from a section of the villagers, though a few said they had agreed to the project by then and had not claimed forest rights. I suggested the villagers hold a gram sabha as it suited them and then submit a fresh resolution,” she said.


Last month, the Ministry of Environment (MoEF) proposed changes to the rules of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980. A circular issued in 2009 required the Collector to certify that all forest rights have been settled and that the gram sabha has consented to the project in the land on which they hold forest rights before forestlands are diverted to industry. The FRA, 2006 does not place any time-limit for completing the process of settling rights. But the fresh changes proposed to FCA include setting a deadline of up to 40 to 60 days for district officials to certify that all FRA claims have been extinguished in the area allotted to industry.


Jala villagersfirst submitted their community forest rights claims — to collect minor forest produce, to pastures, to fetch water from streams in the forest, and to two burial grounds — over the 456 hectares of forest in October 2011. The village passed a resolution against the mining project on August 18, 2012.


They heard back on their claims for the first time only in March 2013, when the companies held the gram sabha. Most of the tribal villagers, who had voted against the project, stayed away. The families who attended — a majority of whom are Yadavs from the nearby Barwa toil — agreed to settle for the one acre cremation ground in the village under their community rights. Soon after, the villagers alleged, they received threats from theTSPC., which split from the CPI (Maoist) 10 years back, allegedly over Yadav cadres dominating Dalits within the party. In recent years, it been reported to have supported the police in operations against the Maoists in Palamu, Chatra, and Latehar.


“We had erected a board in the village against both the companies. TSPC men in camouflage, armed with guns came and broke the board. They took me and around 30 women from our village into the forest and kept us hostage there a few hours,” recounted Lalmani Oraon.


SDO Abu Imran, who led the enquiry set up by Ms. Patnaik to look into their complaint, dismissed the allegations. “The police did not find any evidence of TSPC threatening villagers. Besides, only because a handful of villagers are opposed to it, can we delay a project sanctioned by the Central government?”


On June 16, those opposing the project petitioned the Jharkhand Governor, alleging that the gram sabha in March was held at the companies’ behest and thus violated rules. A month later, members of the Sub Divisonal Level Committee on forest rights visited Jala. It rejected the claims for community rights over the 456 hectares of forest, recognising only two burial grounds as community land. The same week, the Forest Department registered three FIRs against 13 persons for destroying forest and cutting trees, including two cases each against the gram pradhan Ramchandra Bhagat, Jala Forest Rights Committee (FRC) head Baldev Oraon, its secretary Baldev Oraon, and two FRC members. The villagers say they pooled in Rs. 50,000 to obtain bail for them.


The villagers submitted a fresh resolution on September 9 last year, reiterating their CFR claims. But for this too, they said, they faced intimidation when they tried to hold gram sabha on August 27 and 28. “On both days the company’s dalal tried to stop us saying the TSPC already warned you not to hold gram sabha,” said Parmeshwar Oraon, a FRC member named in the FIR

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#India -Tata Steel & the suicide of Charudatta Deshpande #CSR

2 July 2013, Sans Serif 


The circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of journalist-turned-corporate communications expert Charudatta Deshpande in Bombay last weekend, has exposed the dark underbelly of one of India’s biggest corporates, and the stress, pressure and threats that hacks face when silence is no longer a conscionable option.

Deshpande, 57, had resigned in April as chief of corporate affairs and communications at Tata Steel, having held that job for a little less than a year; he was due to join the PR firm Ad Factors on July 1. He had previously served as general manager, ICICI Bank, and prior to that as senior general manager of Mahindra & Mahindra.

As a journalist, Deshpande had worked at The Daily, The Indian Express, The Economic Times, Business India TV, and theBusiness and Political Observer.


A group of nine friends and colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande (including the president of the Press Club of Bombay) has written to Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry and his predecessor Ratan Tata, urging them to institute a proper inquiry into the death.

In their letter, written in their individual capacities, Charu’s friends claim:

# Charu was being bullied into signing some documents/ bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.

# Charu was being blamed for “facilitating” a story (in picture, above) in Forbes India and was under enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.

# Charu was was under “house arrest” in Jamshedpur and that his cell phones were being tapped.

# Charu was being called and threatened by an unnamed mafia.


In his individual capacity, ICICI executive director Ram Kumar,a well known figure in HR circles, has also written to the Tatas on the “disgraceful” manner in which Deshpande’s services had been terminated, and the “untold pressure and threat at Jamshedpur” in the weeks preceding his death.

The Economic Times reports:

“Ramkumar’s letter, referring to the claims of the people who met Deshpande in the four weeks preceding his death, alleges that he was “confined” for over two weeks at Jamshedpur.”

Amazingly, or perhaps not, nobody from the House of Tatas, who routinely clamber on to the high moral horse, called on Deshpande’s family for three days after the alleged suicide and Ramkumar has alleged in his letter that a PR firm tried to “sully” Deshpande’s name after the death.

On the other hand, ICICI Bank, where Deshpande had worked earlier, has facilitated a job for his son Gaurav, who graduates in two week’s time.


Below is the full text of the letter sent by nine friends of Charudatta Deshpande to Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, on 30 June 2013:

Dear Mr Tata and Mr Mistry,

We write to you as the collective conscience of a group of friends and former colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande, a former Tata Steel employee, who committed suicide on Friday, June 28, 2013.

From whatever evidence we have gathered until now on the back of conversations with Charudatta in the weeks leading to his demise, and with those who knew him closely, Charu was placed under enormous stress and subjected to harassment by officials at Tata Steel.

Our understanding is it was this harassment that prompted him to commit suicide. This letter is an attempt to bring this episode to your attention and seek your intervention into instituting an urgent and independent inquiry into the matter.

Charu was head of corporate communications at Tata Steel. About a month ago, he resigned from the company. The events leading to his exit are relevant and we would like to place them before you for your consideration.

In April, a few months into his new assignment, Forbes India magazine ran a cover story“Remoulding Tata Steel”. The story is online here on

It attempted to chronicle the challenges facing Tata Steel at a time when a crucial CEO succession drama was unfolding.

The story was based on extensive and independent reporting that lasted more than five months. Soon after it appeared in print though, a distraught Charu got in touch with those of us at Forbes India and alleged officials at Tata Steel were placing the blame on him for “facilitating” a story they thought inimical to their interests.

He added he was subsequently grounded for more than two weeks; that for all practical purposes was “under house arrest” in Jamshedpur; that his phones were being tapped; and that he was being subjected to enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.

Many of us have worked in the past at various newsrooms including at the Economic Times where he was a senior editor. We have also known him professionally in his stints as head of corporate communications at organisations such as ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Steel.

We remember him as a thorough professional who placed a premium on the interests of the organizations he worked for. Each one of us can personally vouch that in his interactions with us, he has never behaved irresponsibly or tried to damage the reputation of the firms he represented.

Those of us who were at Forbes India when the story on Tata Steel was being researched are willing to testify on any forum that matters he conducted himself with integrity and responsibility.

What we also know of the events that preceded his death are outlined below.

1. He was in discussions with officials at Adfactors PR, with whom he was negotiating employment prospects. He told them he was being called and threatened repeatedly by a ‘mafia’ – a term he used constantly; and that his cell phone was being tapped.

2. He had informed a friend that he was being bullied into signing some documents/bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.

3. Immediately after the story appeared, he was in constant touch over the phone with Indrajit Gupta, the founding editor of Forbes India. He confided in Indrajit Gupta and spoke of being confined for over two weeks at Jamshedpur, being harassed after the story appeared in the magazine, was not allowed to travel without permission, and articulated his concerns about his cell phone being tapped. Despite being advised to escalate the matter to higher authorities, including the Tata Headquarters at Bombay House, Charu insisted it would be futile and make things worse for him.

Whatever be the circumstances behind his exit, most of us assumed he would put the setback behind him and move on. However, he alleged the threatening phone calls he got even after exiting he company was causing him a lot of stress.

What transpired after Charu passed away was even more despicable. Even as the news of his demise trickled in on Friday evening, there were concerted attempts made by Tata Steel officials and the PR agency to pass off his death as a heart attack, and not a suicide.

A senior PR official even insisted that he had visited Charu’s residence and confirmed the news of the heart attack, which turned out to be untrue. Some regional papers even hinted he had embezzled funds.

We believe this is an attempt to tarnish the reputation of a senior professional and take the focus away from the root cause behind his untimely death.

Discussions with Charu’s family have revealed he had no personal problems or disputes there. His brother-in-law Mahesh said Charu was extremely disturbed and depressed in the month before he finally quit Tata Steel. Mahesh also spoke of Charu confiding in the family he made a serious mistake in joining Tata Steel.

These apart, he also spoke of having been let down by the company on various counts and not being provided manpower and resources he was promised when he joined.

The Tata group has nurtured a long tradition of practising and upholding the highest standards of ethics and probity in public life. Nothing that we now do can redeem what has happened. But for the sake of justice, we would urge you to institute an inquiry into this matter.

If nothing, it will help bring closure to a traumatic episode for Charu’s family and his circle of friends. Equally importantly, an inquiry of this kind will go a long way to ensure episodes of this kind don’t occur again.

The all of us who have signed on this note would be willing to aid any inquiry process you choose to institute by providing evidence and witnesses with whom Charu had spoken to before his demise.

We trust the both of you will do what is right.

In anticipation,

On behalf of

Indrajit Gupta, Gurbir Singh, Charles Assisi, Prince Mathews Thomas, Dinesh KrishnanCuckoo Paul,T. SurendarDebojyoti ChatterjeeDinesh Narayanan



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Press Release – #India – 5 activists accused by Tata Steel in fabricated cases acquitted #goodnews

Noamundi activist released
from Ieft are: Mosa Mundi, Rajaram Das, Xd, Indu Iaguri, John Barjo
 — atOut side Chaibasa District Court Singhbhum Jharkhand India
Xavier Dias
The Noamundi five have been acquittedon 29th June 2013 by the Chaibasa Court In 1991 eighteen of us were accused by TATA ST EEL in multiple fabricated criminal cases this particular case the Company got the Railways to fiIe an additional criminal case for damage to railway property too for which in NOvember Iast year 6 of us went to jaiI
The sixth Basu Deogam died in May from malnutrition and TB, I wish to remember the children and widows of the 13 of our comrades aII of who died early from curable diseases aII before the age of 45, yes we are now acquitted after 22 yrs of one of the countries biggest mining companies TATA STEEL failed strategy to harass Intimidate and defeat the resistance movement,
The struggle and resistance against Mining in the Saranda forest within which TATA STEEL and Noamundi comes continues and is now Ied by some of the children of our former comrades On 22 June a Pubic Hearing for a new mine could not be held as over 500 women men and children under the Leadership of Omon MahiIIIa Sanghatan drove them away This picture was taken out of the Court ,


  • #India – More mines, fewer schools in former Maoist stronghold (


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#India – Everest Conquerors ,Mountaineers quietly rescuing people in Uttarakhand #mustead

A group of ace climbers, which includes Mt Everest conquerors Bachendri Pal and Premlata Agarwal, have quietly arrived in Uttarkashi from across India ” trekking up to villages where even the Army jawans haven’t reached, providing essential supplies to marooned villagers who have no food, water or power

June 30, 2013
Dhiman Chattopadhyay, Mid Day


They have conquered the highest peaks in the world and maneuvered dangerous gorges, endured heavy snowfall and lack of oxygen. But all that pales in comparison to what they are doing now — helping thousands of stranded, starved and ill villagers of Uttarkashi with food and essential supplies in areas so remote that even the army jawans have failed to make their way to these places.

Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal and their group  managed to reach stranded villagers at Bidsari, Pilang, Jadau and some other places in Uttarakhand. Pics Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian and  Guneet Puri

A small group of ace climbers, led by two women who have conquered Mt Everest, arrived in Uttarkashi last week from all over India to help rescue operations in the flood-ravaged state. Till Saturday evening they had managed to climb up to six ‘unreachable’ villages around Maneri, where over 400 people are without home, food, water and medicine since June 16. On the way, they have also rescued, and guided dozens of dehydrated tourists, ordered to trek over 50 kilometres by jawans who were told to rescue women, children and the elderly first.

Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal
Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal

The group has now sought help from the Tata Relief Trust and several other NGOs to airdrop life-saving materials such as food, medicines, candles, matchboxes, blankets and tents, to these villagers. They are being led by the legendary Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest and Premlata Agarwal the first Indian woman to conquer the highest peaks of all seven continents. Others in the team include journalist and mountaineer Anusha Subramanian, and a team of climbers including Guneet Puri, Yashwant Panwar and Jay Panwar, who were all part of the Mt Thelu expedition.

People wait to be airlifted at Harsil on June 21. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri

Hanging on to life
“We have managed to reach stranded villagers at Didsari, Pilang, Jadau and a couple of other places. Most people here are without power, water or a roof over their head. The government has just airdropped packets of biscuits for them to eat. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea since they are not used to such food. We are trying to help them with food, medicines and some form of shelter,” says Anusha Subramanian, a Mumbai-based journalist and a trained mountaineer who rushed to Uttarkashi after receiving a call from her friends. Subramanian who trained at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering reached Uttarkashi soon.

Many locals in the region are without food, water and their homes. Pic Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian

While Everest conquerer Bachendri Pal, who heads the Tata Adventure Foundation, arrived in Uttarkashi as part of the Tata Relief Trust (TRF) team to spearhead relief operations, she was joined by her friend Premlata Agarwal who holds the twin distinction of being the oldest Indian woman to climb Everest and the first Indian woman to scale the tallest peaks in all seven continents. Subramanian who has several high-altitude treks to her credit, also flew down from Mumbai while mountaineers Puri, Panwar and Tanwar arrived from snow-capped peaks in the upper Himalayas.

Dharali town
A mudslide that ravaged parts of Dharali town. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri

Trekking every day for relief operations
According to Subramanian who spoke to SUNDAY MiD Day whenever she and her team were in a zone with mobile connectivity, they have been trekking to different villages every day, taking small supplies of food and medication, as they await choppers from the TRF to arrive with tents, foodgrain, candles and other supplies.

(L-R) Premlata Agarwal, Bachendri Pal, Guneet Puri and Anusha Subramanian along with other members of the group.

“Uttarkashi seems like a ghost town, so different from what I have experienced in the past. The tragedy has many ramifications for locals, the most important being loss of livelihood. Yesterday, we, along with some employees of the NGO Sri Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) and the TRF team, went to assess the situation in the upper reaches of Maneri. These villages have lost their homes and their land,” she said.

A rapid assessment by SBMA shows that Uttarkashi has 120 villages, which have been completely destroyed. There are no roads to connect them to mainland, no electricity and above all no ration to cook food. “This is the third monsoon disaster since 2010 in this region. After the first two disasters, the government identified 250 villages as dangerous but did not take action and relocate villagers,” said a member of the SBMA.

The ace mountaineers are now helping adopt six such villages of New Didsari, Didsari, Pilang, Jadaou, Bayana and Shyaba and provide relief to approximately 400 families. “Bachendri Pal is originally from Uttarakhand. She has personally surveyed some of these villages and along with all of us she is ensuring that relief reaches each and every villager,” says Subramanian.

Ground reality
The team recalled how they were shocked to see the condition at New Didsari, one of the villages they reached. “It has 55 families who have been displaced from their homes and lost everything they had. No medical aid has reached these villages yet. The villagers are sad, disappointed and angry. The bridge that connects their village with the world, has been washed away,” recalled Guneet Puri, who reached Uttarkashi on June 20 after a month in the upper Himalayas attempting to scale a 20,000 feet peak. The other villages, explains Pal, are even more remote. The only way to get to these villagers is through treacherous mountainous routes. Even a helicopter cannot land here and airdropping is the only option after all roads were destroyed. But these bravehearts are not giving up. They are staying put, till the villagers are back on their feet. At a time, when politicians are busy gaining political mileage from this human tragedy, heroes like these men and women are keeping the nation’s flag flying proudly.

‘We met people on the verge of death’
Guneet Puri is yet to come to terms with what has been the biggest mountaineering challenge of her life. The ace mountaineer and her teammates were on their way back from Mt Thelu when they encountered the disaster.
Her account:
We reached Harsil village on June 21. Over 4, 000 people were stranded there. They had all been forced to walk over 50 km since the Army was rescuing children, women and the disabled first. We met people on the verge of exhaustion or death. All of us were carrying between 23 to 30 kilos of equipment with us since we were returning from an expedition. But when we saw the plight of these tourists, we happily carried their luggage with us. In the end, we almost carried some of them, too. By the time we reached Gangani, all our toes has blisters. We could hardly walk. But things were about to get worse. From here to Uttarkashi, entire roads had vanished. We helped hundreds of tourists who had no energy to walk, let alone climb the huge boulders. We rushed a woman to the hospital in Maneri after she fainted. These are my people and we have to take care of them. We are doing what we can. But when I look at the magnitude of the disaster, our efforts seem to insignificant. Still, every drop counts.


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SC asks cos including Vedanta, Adani, Tata and Essar Steel to pay 50% entry fee tax demand by Odisha

Samanwaya Rautray, ET Bureau Apr 10, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked a host of companies including VedantaAdani and Tata Steel and Essar Steel, to pay up 50% of the tax demanded by the state of Odisha by way of entry tax for now.

A bench, comprising Justices HL Dattu and JS Khehar, directed all the companies to pay 50% of the tax and interest amounts demanded/assessed by the state. But the penalty amount would be excluded from the amount, the court said.

Senior counsel Harish Salve argued the case for these companies. He was assisted by Tarun Gulati of Economic Laws Practice. Salve urged the court to restrict the deposit to 33% for now, but the court refused to do so, instead asking them to pay 50% of any demands made by the state.

Salve also urged that the penalty may be directed to be deposited as the case involves a constitutional challenge and that the assessees had already succeeded in the High Court in Reliance’s case.

The Bench agreed with Salve’s suggestion that the penalty amount should be excluded from the total deposits to be made by the companies.

But the bench noted the state was financially poor and that these companies were constrained to bring such goods from outside the state.

Odisha counsel Rakesh Dwivedi demanded that these companies deposit the whole of the tax liability which had arisen prior to filing of the petitions before the Orissa High Court. But Salve objected to this suggestion.

These taxes have been imposed on goods imported by them for their plants and services in Orissa between 2008 and 2012.

Odisha’s Entry Act, which allows levy of entry tax on imported goods, allows the state to levy a tax, not exceeding 12% of the purchase value, on entry of goods for consumption, use or sale in the state. The government levies different rates for different goods. Most states have similar Acts.

Petitions challenging them on the grounds of constitutional validity are now pending before the Supreme Court. Nineteen other companies including ACC and Hindalco Industries and Vedanta, have moved the top court against the Act. They claim that the power to impose a cross state levy only lies with the centre and states have no power to impose them.


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Tata Steel to raise 13,000 cr in 6 mths for Kalinganagar project

13 Feb, 2013, 08.32PM IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Tata SteelBSE 0.47 % is going to raise up to Rs 13,000 crore within next six months for the first phase of its upcoming 6 million tonnes new steel mill in Odisha’s Kalinganagar, a top company official said today. 

“We are looking at closing our project financing for the Odisha project. It is an advanced stage… In phase-I, we will be funding around Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 13,000 crore on debt and then, after we complete (phase-I), we will take a call on (fund raising for) phase-II,” Tata Steel‘s group CFO Koushik Chatterjee said in a conference call.

The Kalinganagar project is the first integrated greenfield project for the company outside Jamshedpur in its over a century-old history.

The project has been divided into two equal phases of 3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) and is estimated to require an investment of about Rs 35,000 crore.

The first phase of the project is expected to go on strea by June-July, Chatterjee said.

“Work is going on in full swing (at Kalinganagar project). We have significantly mobilised resources on-site and expecting to ramp up the same before the onset of monsoon season, some time in June-July,” he said, adding that the project is being funded at 50:50 debt-equity ratio.

He also said in the immediate future, Tata Steel is looking at only rupee loans but may go for foreign borrowings at a later stage.

Tata Steel has deployed more than 25,000 workers for the construction of the plant, which is being developed to produce flat steel products only.

The company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha government in 2004 only but due to protests at the site few years ago, in which 13 tribals were killed, had delayed the project.

Tata Steel is in possession of only 1700 acres of the land at present against a total requirement of over 5,000 acres for the full 6 MTPA capacity.


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#India – Mining scams -a decade of loot

Sayantan Bera
Issue Date:

At more than Rs 65,000 crore, the mining scam in Odisha has surpassed that in Goa and Karnataka. The penalties, however, came too late

Prodded by the Shah Commission, the Odisha government has started<br />
satellite mapping to check illegal miningProdded by the Shah Commission, the Odisha government has started satellite mapping to check illegal mining (Photo: Sayantan Bera)

In December last year, days before an inquiry commission headed by justice M B Shah was slated to visit Koira and Joda mining circles in northern Odisha, piles of documents were burnt in the office of deputy director of mines in Koira. In November this year, just days before the commission’s third visit, the Odisha government slapped a fine of Rs 65,493 crore on 104 mine lessees for extracting more than the permitted quantity of iron ore, manganese and chromite between 2000 and 2010 (see ‘Who’s who among offenders’).

The commission was set up by the Centre in 2010 to probe illegal mining across India. It is expected to submit its report on Odisha by December end.

At present, of the 600 leases in the state, 388 have been either suspended or temporarily discontinued. The state environment minister recently told the Assembly that 111 mines have been listed for violating Environment Protection and Forest Conservation Acts. In October, the state government notified that second and subsequent renewal of mining leases will be restricted to captive users, that is, lessees without any industry of their own will not be eligible.


The Rs 65,493 crore fine has been recorded as royalty for overextraction and transit passes (given by the state to vehicles carrying minerals out of mines) issued. “But what about the mining beyond leasehold areas which include forestland?” asks Union minister and Congress MP from Odisha Srikant Kumar Jena who says the total loss from illegal mining in the state is Rs 4 lakh crore. Accusing the Odisha government of hoodwinking people, Jena says, “It has imposed the fine on mine lessees to put a brave face in front of the Shah Commission.”

Horror unfolds

The decade beginning 2000 witnessed a boom in iron ore prices. To reap benefits, miners in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts, which include Koira and Joda circles, started mining in excess of the limit approved by the Indian Bureau of Mines. They stretched operations beyond their lease areas and continued extracting even after their leases had expired. Mining was done without acquiring mandatory environment and forest clearances or the “consent to establish” from the state pollution control board.

The blank board at Koira block development office is an ironic reminder<br />
of the underdevelopment in the mining hot spotThe blank board at Koira block development office is an ironic reminder of the underdevelopment in the mining hot spot

Traders transported the overproduce by bribing through check posts. The iron ore was eventually exported to China. Thousands of trucks carrying ore moved daily on broken roads, says Satyabrata Panda, an economist based in Bhubaneswar, while recalling the day in 2005 when his car moved inch by inch in Sundargarh to cover four kilometres in eight hours. A 2008 report by the Auditor General found that many trucks in the Baripada mining circle in Mayurbhanj district were using number plates assigned to motorcycles. Of the eight circles reviewed, six did not have government check gates, says the report.

In 2009, a report by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha, provided evidence of mining in forestland, tampered boundary pillars, construction of roads inside reserve forest in Keonjhar and Sundargarh, and rampant illegal mining along the Jharkhand border (see ‘Pushing the pillars’). The same year, Rabi Das, senior journalist based in Bhubaneswar, filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging organised illegal mining with active support of the state government. Das argued that 155 leases were operating “without any valid authority… most of which include forest areas and by whom the mandatory clearances from the Central government has (sic) not been obtained ”.

imageSource: Inspection report by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests , Odisha, 2009

In response, the court appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which submitted its report in 2010. The report observed that of the 341 mines operating, 215 were working under the “deemed extension” clause of the mineral concession rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. “The deemed extension clause is primarily meant to deal with contingency situation and to ensure that mining operations do not come to an abrupt end… This provision is not meant to be availed of indefinitely. Continuing mining over a long period of time without renewal of the mining lease becomes a potential source for serious illegalities and irregularities,” notes the report.

It observed that mining activities were going on in a large number of mines without requisite approvals under the Forest Conservation Act and the Air and Water Acts. Despite the findings, many violators, especially big companies, got away without any hassle, says Panda. Tata Steel, for instance, renewed its mining lease and increased production capacity from six million tonnes to 12 million tonnes in a year even when the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Keonjhar had slammed the company for violating forest laws and illegal mining in 2011. Similarly, Rungta Mines renewed its lease despite violations. The DFO was transferred after he filed damning inspection reports.

Panda, who has been analysing the mining sector, points to another problem. “For the 80 million tonnes of iron ore produced in 2010-11, the environmental cost of handling overburden (waste produced while mining) would be Rs 26,000 crore. This is absurd since the market valuation of 80 million tonnes is less than Rs 10,000 crore,” he says.

Fine: a face-saver?

Referring to the Rs 65,493 crore fine, Supreme Court lawyer Jayant Das says the notice of fines given to mine lessees will not stand in the court of law. “The firms were not issued a show cause notice where they would have a chance of replying,” adds Das, who is fighting a case on illegal mining in the state.

Prafulla Samantara, a civil rights activist in Odisha, says the penalties were imposed as a face-saver ahead of the Shah Commission’s visit. “What was the state government doing for 10 long years while the loot was on?” he asks.

Two instances bring home the point. Earlier this year, the state had fined Raikela Iron Mines, leased to Geetarani Mohanty, Rs 40.37 crore for excess production of iron ore. The notice was issued after the Auditor General raised an objection in the 2011-12 audit. The mine lessee appealed to the revision authority in the Union Ministry of Mines and got a stay on the order to pay fine. Similarly, a fine of Rs 1,132 crore imposed on Indrani Pattnaik mines was stayed. “The state government is not serious about recovering the amount,” says lawyer Das.

Another hurdle to collect the fine is in the definition of illegal mining. A recent amendment to the mineral concession rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act defines illegal mining as any mining outside the leasehold area. Overextraction inside the leasehold area cannot be termed illegal and, therefore, the penalty will not be valid, mine lessees argue. Deepak Mohanty, state director of mines, says, “Fines were imposed under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Stay orders of the revision authorities are not the last word.”

Fifty years of mining have done little to improve people’s lives, says Kanhu Charan Mohanty, activist in the region from NGO Ekta Parishad. Despite overproduction of minerals, jobs are not easily available as most excavation work is done by machines. Beginning 2002, with the boom in mineral prices, people abandoned agriculture—everyone wanted a share of the booty, either by illegal mining or by transporting the iron ore. Most areas now lie barren. With streams dried up, people depend on tankers from mining companies for drinking water.

At the entrance to the Koira block development office is a signboard listing its success profile—from check dams and farm ponds to peripheral development. It’s telling: there are no numbers on the white board, only a coat of red iron ore dust.


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Despite state pardon, J’khand activists sent to jail, get bail

Deepu Sebastian Edmond :  IEChaibasa, Thu Nov 29 2012

Six activists of the Jharkhand statehood movement, who were sent to jail on Saturday by a Railway Magistrate in a 1991 case, were on Monday bailed out from the Chaibasa jail. Xavier Dias, John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Lagur were released at 6.30 pm. Three of the nine accused in the case have died.

They were sent to jail despite a pardon granted by the state government in all cases originating out of the successful movement to carve out Jharkhand from Bihar.

State Home Secretary J B Tubid said this was because this particular case was out of the purview of the state government. “The (Union) Railway Ministry has to take a call in this. We had written to them a long time ago, asking for special consideration in cases relating to Jharkhand movement activists. There must be 20-25 such cases. There has been no response,” he said.

The case relates to a protest that was organised on March 15, 1991. Some workers of the Tata Iron and Steel Company had allegedly invaded upon the privacy of tribal women while celebrating Holi. “According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege,” wrote Xavier Dias in a widely-circulated note drafted before his arrest.

The accused, then members of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, organised the tribals of the area for the protest. According to the complaint by the Chief Security Officer of the TISCO’s Noamundi plant, which formed the basis of the FIR, the protesters “snatched the keys from the sepoy”, pushed him and “removed the fish-plates” of the railway track used for transportation.

The protest invited charges under Indian Penal Code sections 147, 148, 342, 448 and 427, along with sections 126 and 127 of the Indian Railways Act.

All accused have been on bail since 1991. Meanwhile, three accused — Kandey Laguri, John Tiria and Jeno Chatar — passed away.

The arrests took place as the accused had not been attending court proceedings for over a year. In response, the court cancelled their bail bonds and sent notices warning attachment of property, forcing the six to surrender before it.


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