Community Correspondents

Mary Nisha Hansda

I am part of the Hasa Aur Bhasa Jagao Sangathan. We fight for our rights to Jal, Jangal and Jameen. My organisation is associated with the Adivasi Vikas Trust and with JOHAR in Dumka. My husband is a committee member in the Jharkhand Mines Area Co-ordination Committee. In 2013, our village came to be affected by a project led by the Jindal Company. There is a dam 65 kilometres away from my village, in another block. The company wanted to acquire land there to make the dam deeper and to acquire land in my block to set up a power plant that would make use of water diverted from that dam. 25,000 people were affected by this project. When President Pranab Mukhkerjee was to come for the inauguration of the project, we organised a major protest. The people of two block's gathered together for a massive meeting and dharna, 3 km from where the president was. We had many banners and posters with us. The president saw our protest, saw the depth of our opposition to the project with his own eyes. Today, the proposal to take water from the dam for the plant has been dropped. The date to set up the power plant has come and gone! The local media in my region is in the company's favour. In my sangathan, we understand very well that people who oppose the loot of land cannot depend on the media to support them. It is only through networking with other organisations that we could ensure that journalists – from Ranchi and Kolkata – came and documented our voice. Otherwise, the voice of the villager never carries beyond the village. I want to become a Community Correspondent and make many videos on land acquisition and displacement. I feel very strongly about this. In my community, we name our sons after their grandfathers. This is too keep continuity in the ownership of the land. This ties us to the land of our ancestors forever. The company wants to take the land that generations have lived on and give us a job for a year in exchange! Father Solomon of Johar told me about Video Volunteers a month ago. I had always told him that our struggle needs to appear on the tv and in the newspapers. People everywhere should know what is happening in our block and in our district, they should see our suffering as their own and give us strength for our movement. Even without the threat of the company taking away our land, it is not that my community is in a very fortunate situation. The Primary Health Centre in our Panchayat lies closed all the time. Like the electricity poles and wires, it lies useless most days of the year. Landless families are very badly off – surviving on selling forest produce and working as labourers. I want to work to make NREGA work better because my community suffers because of lack of available work. I believe that the most important thing is that my community should have the right to a dignified life. I have always understood the value of education. I used to be a teacher in the past. My husband is a para-teacher. We look after the upbringing of five children from very poor backgrounds – we feed them and pay for their education. We are not against progress. But progress should come without losing our identity, without losing the land to which our identity is tied.

Videos from Mary

Public Companies for Corporate Good

/ January 19, 2015

January 19; Godda, Jharkhand On September 7th of last year, residents of Lohandia village in Jharkhand sat on a strike near the familiar mining site of Eastern Coalfields Limited. The vibrations emanating from the blasts for coal extraction has cracked the walls of villagers’ houses. “A child was injured by...