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Goa's Dempo mining company faces wrath of Jharkhand Adivasis

Posted by sebydesiolim on Sat 23 of Sep, 2006 22:18 IST

September 24 2006

Without paying a heed to pouring rains 4000 strong group of people march to the block headquarters of Manoharpur Block in Jharkand's West Singhbhum district on September 22 to express their opposition to take over of their land by Goa's Dempo mining corporation. The leaders of the agitation then handed over the memorandum of protest to the Block development officer and addressed the public meting.

Dempos have been trying to establish their foothold to start mining after 50 years of painful bleeding of Goa people's economy, ecology and agriculture. The company attempted a survey of the land but were chased away by hostile Adivasis. Tatas and Mittals too were chased away by angry villagers.

It is learnt that Dempos got the access to Jharkhand mines after Goa Political party United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) won two assembly seats in Mandar, Ranchi. The place where Dempos are trying their luck is in the assembly constituency of Manoharpur in West Singhbhum represented by UGDP's Jhoba Manjhi.

Dempo mining is threatening to displace two tribal villages of Dinburlim and Kamarbeda consisting population of over 4000 villagers. And the neighbouring villages at the radious of 10 kms too are to face eviction threats once the mining begins.

Among those who came out with open support to the anti mining campaign includes Village 'Mundas' Amar Singh Cherwa, Prasad Cherwa, Manohar Angaria, ex-MLA Bahadur Oraon, CPI-ML leader Rajaram, BIRSA-Mines Monitoring Centre's Umesh Nazir, Lother Cherwa, Ashish Khededa, Somnath Sinku, ex-MLA Devenranath Champia and Sushil Barla of Jharkhandi Organisation for human Rights (JOHAR) and number of Village Republic Commitees.

Adivasis were shouting slogans asserting their ownership rights over the minerals, land, water and forest. They carried the traditional weapons of Bows and Arrows, Axes, Choppers, Sickles and Bamboo sticks. These weapons are symbols of Adivasi resistance to the Dempo plans in Jharkhand. They had set out to Manoharpur on foot from thier respective remote villages in the wee hours of the morning i.e. 4 am and reached the Manoharpur headquaters at 12 am in pouring rains.

It may be recalled that earstwhile Arjun Munda government has singned 44 memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with corporate houses from all over the world in November 2005. These includes Dempos, Tatas, Mittals, Jindals from India and De beers, South African diamond mining company. Jharkhand is gifted with India's largest stock of minerals and after liberalization policy mining has been opened up for public investments and to the ruin of Environment and people.

According to the Dinburlim villagers, Dempos have started pouring cash into the village in order to break the villagers unity. The villagers however have imposed 'janata curfew' on the corporates and have been petrolling round the clock to defend their lands. In one instance the corporate personel gone to the village for survey purpose was bashed up the agitated adivasis.

UGDP is supporting the new Jharkhand government headed by Ho tribal Madhu Koda and thier two MLAs Joba Manjhi and Bandhu Tirkey have been given ministerial berths today. In fact on the day of the swering -in ceremony of the new governmenet UGDP flags with two leaves were prominently displayed at the Birsa Munda Chowk. Two seats in Jharkhand's 80 member assembly is decisive twister that UGDP posseses.

Madhu Koda have already indiacted that those "unnecessary MoUs" singned by the earlier Arjun Munda government will be cancelled. The announcement have already sent shock wave to the corporate world seeking to invest in Jharkhand mining sector. However it is going to be tough decision as democracy and corporate interests does no go hand in hand.

In a world imperialist stage this a fight between assertive united Jharknad Adivasis and the corporate Dempos. The clash is clear call to each one of us to take sides. The choice of course is yours, the choice is mine, the choice is of each one of us and individuals, as communities. It is time of reckoning. It is time of decisive thinking, decisive acting.

Sebastian Rodrigues, Manoharpur, West Singhbhum, Jharkhand.

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