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Archive for May, 2011

People’s Power Vs Builder Shahi : More Join in Struggle from Across the Country

May 24, Mumbai : Someone once known as ‘one man demolition army’, G R Khairnar, who took cudgels against the land mafia and the builder lobby twenty years ago as Deputy Commissioner (Special – Demolitions) between 2000 – 02 today joined Ghar Bhachao Ghar Banao Andolan’s ongoing dharna in Ganesh Krupa Society, amidst the debris of broken houses by government authorities in collusion with Builder Lobby. He said, “the fight today led by Medha Patkar and this movement is an important fight. What he did as someone being in the authority is now being taken up by ‘people’s power’. This struggle needs support and everyone needs to join hand in this.” Even as people lent support and they resolved to fight for their rights demolitions continued in Powai, Mankhurd, Worli, and a couple of other places.

The resolve to fight was joined by other people’s organisations who visited the dharna and gave their solidarity messages and also sang songs of struggle against corruption and injustice. Republican Panthers, Ekveera Sez Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, Tata Dharan Grast Sangharsh Samiti, farmers from Malegaon, Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, Shramik Janta Sangh, India Against Corruption, Brihan Mumbai Niwas Abhiyan Samiti, SUCI, Lok Jagran Manch, Brihanmumbai Nivara Abhiyan Samiti, and may others. The dharna has become a meeting ground for many of the anti corruption activists not only from India Against Corruption, whose 15 members sat all day but also anti corruption activists like Bhagwan Das Ryani, Sharad Gayakwad and others.

Earlier in the day Deputy’s Collector’s office sent doctors and his representative requesting Medha ji to call off her fast, but Medha ji refused to be attended by them. Yesterday, the doctors who came to attend to her were the same ones who tried to influence people injured in the earlier demolitions on behalf of the Shivalik Builders. She is weak but her condition has been mostly stable today and continued to boost the morale of the people.

12 people arrested on May 19, released on bail

It brought cheer to the people present at the dharna site as they heard that the twelve of their comrades who were arrested while resisting demolition on May 19th are going to join them late in the evening after being released from the Arthur Road jail with the determination to save their houses at any cost.

Domestic Workers and Hawkers along with Anna Hazare and Swami Agnivesh join in support in Delhi

Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh, Arvind Kejriwal etc were at the Delhi Dharna in front of Maharshtra Sadan along with more than hundred others representing: NAPM, National Domestic Workers Union, Delhi Solidarity Group, Shahari Gharelu Kaamgar Union, SUCI, PUCL and others. On the request of Anna Hazare and Swami Agnivesh, Shri. Bhupendera Singh Rawat, National Convener, NAPM who was to start a solidarity hunger strike in Delhi, postponed it, subject to action from the state government. Anna Hazare said that he is in touch with Prithviraj Chauhan and Medha Patkar and is trying to resolve the issue. He added that he is concerned about the health of Medha ji and would like this situation to end soon. Swami Agnivesh, Arvind Kejariwal and others including Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor, BS Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, N D Pancholi, Vimalbhai, Preeti Sampat, Seela M Mahapatra, Jawahar lent their support to the ongoing struggle in Mumbai against evictions.

Aurangabad too Joins in

Aurangabad Social Forum, a coalition of different progressive organisations joined the struggled against evictions and demolitions in Mumbai today at 11 am and submitted a memorandum to the Divisional Commissioner. Similar to the eviction at Golibar region Mumbai, a large scale eviction of the poor inhabitants on the riverfront of Kham river has been started by the district administration and the Municipal Corporation at Aurangabad. This brutal eviction too was condemned by the gathering and they decided to continue their fight against the evictions.

Apart from Delhi and Aurangabad, demonstartions were also held in Thrissur and Calicut. Similar events are being planned in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and other places. Supporters have also started an online petition addressed to Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prime Minister and Smt. Sonia Gandhi, President INC. International support is also being mobilised and emails are being sent to the CM demanding for putting a moratorium to all demolitions until an independent enquiry is held in to the 3k clause related projects and SRA is completely reviewed.

Even as we write this, a citizens delegation is trying to meet the Chief Minister, Shri Prithvi Raj Chavan.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh
For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Simpreet Singh 9969363065

Facebook users can click on the link to see the Delhi action:

 
 
 

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PROTEST AGAINST EVICTIONS IN GOLIBAR, MUMBAI

PROTEST AT MAHARASHTRA SADAN, COPERNICUS MARG, NEAR MANDI HOUSE, NEW DELHI

24th MAY 2011 [TUESDAY]10.00 AM ONWARDS.

Dear Friends

In the wake of the brutal arrests, violence and forcible demolition of houses at Golibar (Khar), involving the involvement of the notorious Shivalik Ventures hand in glove with the administration, National Alliance of People’s Movements calls for an “immediate halt to slum demolitions” at Mumbai’s Golibar colony. Medha Patkar of NAPM has entered into her fourth day of fast along with with the displaced families who are on a relay hunger strike have been demanding to the government of Maharashtra to

– Issue urgent instructions to the district administration to stop these demolition and evivtion drives and instead institute an inquiry into the fraud and illegalities committed by Shivalik Ventures and take prompt legal action against it.

In solidarity with the demands put forward by the evicted families at Golibar and Medha Patkar, various peoples organizations and support groups in Delhi calls  for a protest meeting at the Maharashtra Sadan, Copernicus Marg Near Mandi House on 24th May 2011 at 11.30 am.
PROGRAMME FOR SOCIAL ACTION joins NAPM, SUCI Delhi, DSG, INSAF, Jan  Sangharsh Vahini, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union, Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union and others.

Contact : Rajendra Ravi : 9868200316, Shyamal :  9868573409, Bhupender Singh Rawat:01120506929, Anita Kapoor:9810787686, Anil Tharayath Varghese – 9971170738

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People’s Movements issue ultimatum to Jharkhand Government;
Demonstration at Delhi’s Jharkhand Bhawan demands immediate halt to ongoing evictions

New Delhi, 19th May 2011 – Mass organisations, Trade Unions and different city based activist groups today demonstrated outside the Jharkhand Bhawan, demanding immediate stopping of the inhuman evictions that are going on in different parts of Jharkhand. The groups were led by National Alliance of People’ Movements (NAPM), National Hawkers’ Federations, SUCI-Delhi, AISA, AICCTU, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), INSAF, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union and Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union.

Key Concerns raised: The demolition and eviction of slum dwellers, low income group colonies, hawkers and other such working poor populations in Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Giridih, Jamshedpur and other small and large places (urban to semi urban and  rural) from the public lands where they have been residing since birth or for more than three decades has brought in extreme deprivation or even death. In one stroke, the Jharkhand Government, on the basis of High Court orders, has made thousands of families shelter-less and a large number of people have lost access to livelihood as well as the basic services and amenities in life including education, water, sanitation, health facilities and even their belongings. The destructive and fast paced demolition drive began since early April and has been brutal. The state government literally unleashed police as well as special/rapid action force for the same. Notorious as they are, these forces have made inhuman attacks on hapless and unarmed people, including the women, children, young and the aged. The evicted people’s plight today is pathetic: lying in the open, under hot sun, with no relief from the state government or the agencies that usually perform relief actions.

Evictions, without providing constitutional rights – Without doubt, these evictions, performed under the HC orders, are the worst man-made calamity that has struck Jharkhand in many years. Where they could have made available provisions of law to protect the lives and livelihoods of large masses of urban poor (including by providing rehabilitation or alternate livelihood – prior to starting of “anti-encroacher drive”), the HC and the Government machinery, both opted to shut their eyes to the realities of these working people, which make them ‘encroachers’ in public lands. The evictions have been a total violation of the constitutional right  to shelter which is also the part and parcel of the right  to life under Article 21 and also the  United Nation’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development Based Evictions and Displacement including  the principles enshrined UN economic social and cultural rights.

Public Land vis-à-vis Government claims – The reality of Jharkhand and many parts of India is that landless people live and work on public lands, not owned by them under private property laws. The conflict in most places is between communities residing in such lands and a faceless government that claims these lands to be ‘governmental property’. In states like Jharkhand, these have been largely tribal owned, community lands and traditional commons. It is ridiculous that the government is making a claim over it, considering that the state itself was formed only a decade back.

Injustice to Adivasis as well as non-tribal poor populations; games by land mafia and government – It must be mentioned here that in some lands, the land mafia led by religious groups and vested interest politicians have used poor workers from outside the region as buffers to capture adivasis lands and convert them as markets or other livelihood sources. Some adivasis groups have also been demanding that such lands be now returned to the original owners, the tribal communities who were evicted or displaced from their ancestral lands. We consider this to be the time to correct mistakes of the past and rectify injustice done to any community or group in the past. It is also time for the working people to stand together against both the repressive state and the urban land mafia. Today, Jharkhand’s adivasis and rural poor are fighting for their lands with the corporations and the police led state and the urban workers are trying to protect their land and livelihood by resisting the police and an irresponsible state. It is time for these forces to come together and forge alliances. It is also the time to remove vested interest groups, political crooks and religious leadership from converting these battles for their benefits.

Punish the guilty, save the victims – The deaths that occurred during firing in Ranchi, Dhanbad and firing that caused shock related death in Dhanbad are not yet enquired into. The people are not even being heard by the authorities nor are they provided even the basic relief amidst serious health and medical issues and threat of mass epidemics. Students in thousands have missed their examinations in March-April and the sick, aged are not being attended to.

Through a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister (through Resident Commissioner of Jharkhand Bhawan, Delhi), the activists demanded that:

1. Stop the ‘anti-encroachment’ drive immediately
2. Provide emergency and ‘war footing’ relief to all those impacted by the present set of evictions that have been happening
3. Provide rehabilitation (land, shelter with livelihood sources) to all those evicted from public and private lands in the state
4. Property rights to be given to all slum dwellers by legislation as prescribed by Rajiv Awas Yojana of Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
5. Enact a new law on Rehabilitation of slum dwellers as part of State Slum Act. Incorporate the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development based Evictions and Displacement in the State law.
6. Implement the National Policy for Street Vendors in the urban areas as directed by the Supreme Court in Gainda Ram & Ors. V. MCD and Ors. Ensure the legal space for hawkers in roads as per the policy. Compensation need to be given to all the hawkers whose goods were confiscated without taking into account the National Policy for Street Vendors.
7. Jharkhand Government immediately pass an ordinance to the above effect

For more information Contact : Rajendra Ravi : 9868200316, Shyamal : 9868573409, Kavita Krishnan : 9560756628

To see the photographs of the demolition in Jharkhand click : https://picasaweb.google.com/maju.varghese/DemolitionsInJharkhandApril2011#

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Dear All,

You all must have read about the ongoing demolitions in the various cities of Jharkhand from April onwards on account of the High Court order. Jharkhand Government has done done nothing to come to relief of the lakhs of people. Overall nearly 5,00,000 people are slated to be evicted or affected by these evictions in coming times. In this heat many of the people are forced to live out on the street. An attempt at challenging the verdict in Supreme Court has also failed and was referred back to High Court.

To protest the inaction by Jharkhand State Government and its complicity in carrying out the evictions in name of removing encroachment is highly condemnable.

To protest the inaction and lack of any relief to the already evicted people we propose to do a demonstration infront of the JHAKRKHAND BHAWAN on May 19th, Thursday, at 10:30 am. The address is :

Jharkhand Bhawan, Opposite Indian Airlines Colony, near PVR Priya, Kushmpur Pahari, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057

Please do join and spread the word around.

In Solidarity,
NAPM, SUCI Delhi, National Hawker Federation, AISA, AICCTU, DSG, INSAF, Jan  Sangharsh Vahini, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union, Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union and others.

To see the photographs of the demolition click : https://picasaweb.google.com/maju.varghese/DemolitionsInJharkhandApril2011#

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Complaint Raises Serious Concerns with the Project Funded by IFC’s Financial Intermediary

New Delhi: Three weeks after lodging a complaint, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), an independent audit body of the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), deemed the case eligible for investigation. The complaint raises social and environmental concerns by affected communities over the GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited (GKEL) project, a 1050 MW (stepped up with an additional 350 MW) coal-based thermal power plant located at Kamalanga village, Dhenkanal district, in Odisha. 
 
This is the first time a sub-project, financed under the financial intermediary (FI) lending instrument of the IFC, will come under formal inspection. This public scrutiny comes at a time when about half of all IFC financing is now channeled through FIs. In India, some of the key FIs accessing IFC money are the Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), India Infrastructure Fund and Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Trust, which in turn invest their borrowing in large, yet risky energy and infrastructure projects.
 
A ‘concealed’ lending operation
 
The IFC has an equity investment of $100 million to India Infrastructure Fund (IIF), a financial intermediary (FI), which then sub-lends the money to various companies engaged in energy generation, oil and gas pipelines, and other power infrastructure. GKEL is one of the companies identified to have accessed this loan to construct a thermal power project in one of the most polluted regions.
 
The challenge with this lending arrangement is that project development is done in an opaque, almost invisible and unregulated manner, which precludes information disclosure to affected communities, and accountability. Safeguards, check and risk mitigation, and accountability that apply to IFC’s direct investment loans are not required in FI loans.
 
“Inability to secure the most fundamental information about financial intermediary subprojects is not consistent with IFC’s supposed commitment to transparency. There are no basic minimum standards or guideline that needs to be met in case of FI subprojects. The Performance Standards which would apply in IFC’s direct lending are not applicable to FI projects. This would also be the case even if subproject is a high risk project according to categorization of IFC Projects,” cited Vijayan MJ of Delhi Forum who is one of the complainants.
 
Pitfalls of FI lending
 
After months of independent research and connecting the dots, complainants discovered a can of worms that IFC and its client are concealing.
 
One, IFC does not want the public to know that its FI investment is located in a Revenue Block that the Ministry of the Environment classifies as 7th of the 88 most polluted hot spots in the country.[1] The project site is highly uninhabitable as industrial wastes that run into the water streams contain high deadly fluorine. In 2010, the Environmental Ministry issued a moratorium for constructing new projects in the area[2].
 
Had this been a direct IFC investment, safeguards, check and risk mitigation such as environmental impact assessment, pollution abatement and community health and safety, should have applied. But by concealing the basic information from the public, IFC is seen to be perpetuating the disasters now engulfing the agricultural and water resources of tribal, dalit and poor farming communities.
 
Amulya Nayak, Convenor of the Odisha Chas Parivesh Surekhsa Parishad (Parishad) and complainant to CAO revealed: “The company never shows any regard for community health. It ignores villagers’ requests to not dump its garbage to adjacent agricultural lands. GKEL employs dynamite blasting at the project site, which causes cracks in nearby houses and primary school building. Project also extracts huge water volume and we witness in our bore wells the depleting water level, which is the main source of drinking, cooking and washing for thousands of families.”
 
Two, the IFC holds back facts about the economic displacement resulting from this FI loan. Although public hearing is legally mandated for any kind of land acquisition process in India, the company did not comply with it prior to constructing the plant. GKEL acquired 1200 acres of mostly prime agricultural land irrigated by the Rengali Canal System.
 
The 900 acres private land acquired used to feed and employ nearly 1,300 families in 4 villages. With no livelihood restoration plan in place and with many affect families getting no proper land compensation until today, hundreds have lost their land, crops, trees and other properties. Those economically displaced include the agricultural laborers and share croppers, the Khaira tribe and the dalits.
 
Company, in collusion with the administration, uses force and other tactics to intimidate people. Women and men are randomly arrested and implicated in false cases.  Some were beaten, tortured and intimidated by the police before their release. A climate of fear now engulfs the community as Police continues with its random arrest, threats and high-handedness.
 
Asks Bhakta Bandhu Behera, a project affected person from Manibeda village and member of Parishad, “are these the types of information the IFC does not want to share with us and the greater public because it will jeopardize the interest of its client? Will the World Bank Group remain mum to safeguard its borrower? What about the real dangers we now face?” 
 
Risks are risks
 
The clear and present dangers uncovered demonstrate the major flaws of IFC’s assumption that by protecting its client companies from public scrutiny and transferring responsibility to borrowers do their due diligence, development objectives will be met.
 
“Quite the contrary,” counters Vijayan. “In fact, isolating the project information from public eye creates more havoc than solution, because there are no strong disclosure and safeguards standards that the company is bound to follow. It then spares the company from any accountability and engenders more livelihood, precipitates insecurities and violence.”
 
The complaint signifies that there could possibly be similar risks in other FI sub-projects in India, which now constitutes about a third of its current and proposed lending portfolio. Risks in direct investments are no different from risks in FI loans.
 
While some of the previous experiences of communities in India with CAO have not been promising, we expect the CAO to be impartial and forthright with the investigations and the conclusion in this case. This complaint pertains to the financing of the project. We will continue with our struggle with the company and the State on all other issues, as in the past.

Contacts:
Amulya Nayak: +91.9861409290
Vijayan M.J.: +91.9868165471
 
Odisha Chas Parivesh Surekhsa Parishad (Odisha Agriculture and Environment Protection Council) is a grassroots organization, which deals with the social and environmental issues of people affected by industrial projects in the Dhenkanal and Angul districts of Odisha state. Parishad works on environmental sustainability, farmers’ and agricultural security and development project issues through peoples’ organizing and public education. Since 2007, Parishad has been working with the people affected by the GMR project. 
 
Delhi Forum (DF) is an advocacy, research, media, networking and documentation support organization based in New Delhi. DF work with people’s movements across the country and provides strategic and analytical services to local organizations combating the social and environmental problems with sectorial polices, and the human rights violations engendered by industrial projects, including coal based thermal power projects. The mission is to reinforce peoples’ organizations’ struggles to protect their rights.

[1] Comprehensive Environmental Assessment of Industrial Clusters (2009) Central Pollution Control Board Pg 24
[2] Office Memorandum J-110113/5/2010-IA.II(I), Ministry of Environment and Forests; dated 13th January, 2010

 

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