Saturday, Mar 05, 2005
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By Our Staff Correspondent
NEW DELHI, MARCH 4. Several tribal groups, displaced due to development projects, and human rights activist have sought the intervention of the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in ending eviction of adivasis from forests in the name of "forest protection''.
To impress upon the President to intervene, more than 150 people from the "struggling'' groups in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh began a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar to demand cancellation of the MoUs with multinational companies in these three States. Also, they wanted stringent punishment for the industrialists responsible for the murder of trade union leader, Shankar Guha Niyogi, in 1991, but subsequently acquitted by the Supreme Court. The 17 Korku adivasi families "forcibly'' evicted in July 2004 from Bhandarpani village in Madhya Pradesh's Betul district be immediately resettled close to their original home, they said.
"Since Independence, millions of adivasis have been displaced from their traditional homelands by development projects such as dams and mining. According to conservative official records, adivasis and dalits account for 40 per cent of all the people displaced so far,'' representatives of Prakrutik Sampad Surakshaya Parishad, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha and Jan Sangharsh Morcha told reporters here today. It is also well known that in the absence of a humane resettlement and rehabilitation policy most of them have been reduced to paupers and labourers, their social and cultural fabric torn asunder irreparably, they pointed out.
Despite Constitutional guarantees and landmark Supreme Court judgements against official or corporate usurpation of adivasi lands, the liberalisation of the extractive industries in recent years has further jeopardised the existence of adivasis. As part of this liberalisation process, the present government has opened up the mining sector further as was evident from the budget speech of the Finance Minister, they said. "The ongoing State persecution of adivasi groups in Orissa resisting the acquisition of their bauxite-rich lands by various mining companies exemplifies this trend.''
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