Mohan is a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent from District Ramgarh, Jharkhand. He belongs to a community that lives dangerously perched between the open coal mines of Tata, on one side and the Central Coalfields, on the other. He has made many powerful videos which chronicle the havoc wrecked by mining on nature and life. Mohan and 70 other families in his village Fakodhi and another 158 families of Agarva Tola and Dudmitya Tola villages of Jharkhand are in danger of being displaced within a month by the East Parej opencast mine run by Central Coalfields Ltd, India.
I urge you to extend your support and help the affected families.
Below is Mohan’s account of the situation and a list of demands that Raiyat Visthapit Morcha (RVM), a local movement of displaced families, of which Mohan is a member, is now protesting for.
“300mts to the west of my village are the blackened coal mines of Central Coalfields Limited. Less than 300mts to the east are mining pits belonging to the Tatas. When the mining companies first arrived in my village in 1984, they came with promises of water, education, health, work and development. But they fooled us into acquiring the land on which we had our homes and our fields. But because the compensation and rehabilitation were never given I and about 350 others in my village refused to move.
For the last 20 years, we have been living in the most miserable conditions. The mining has destroyed our farms and forests. Our ponds and fields have dried up and become unusable. The air is polluted with dust and ash. It is unfit for breathing. The companies couldn’t care less. They were mining crores of Rupees worth of coal from our land and gave us nothing in return. From a self-sufficient agricultural village, we have been pushed into destitution. But at least we have our homes.
In October, 2012, representatives from CCL arrived in my village. They ‘surveyed’ my house and the other 70 houses in the village.This is a sure sign that our homes will be bulldozed. Around 350 people in my village including children and women, will be forcibly displaced from our homes. Besides, about 950 more people will also be evicted from the neighboring two villages.
About 210 families have already been displaced since 2001 because of these mines. I have seen the places where these displaced families live. It is a no man’s land. There are no schools, no roads, no hospital, and no potable water. It is arid, dead and unlivable. The companies just tear a check, hand it to the people and ask us to leave. They had promised these people that they will train them in newer ways of livelihood but I have never heard of any such training takings place. They are left to their own our fates. You can see my video on their plight.
We are willing to vacate our homes but we are not willing to suffer the fate of the people who have already been displaced. We need alternate land to sustain our livelihoods. But so far there is no assurance that this will be provided.
We demand that our conditions listed below, as articulated by the Raiyat Visthapit Morcha, be met and arranged for, and only then must the process of land acquisition, relocation and rehabilitation be initiated. We demand that the Director (Personnel) of Central Coalfields India Ltd. Mr. R.R. Mishra to respect the humans rights norms and ensure that:
Raiyat Visthapit Morcha (RVM)’s demands to CCL are as follows:-
1. People, who have already lost land to prior acquisition and not received work, as promised to them, be given work at once.
2. That regular water supply be arranged for people who have already been displaced.
3. Guarantee livelihood to the displaced families.
4. The displaced families receive compensation for the land, as per current market rates.
5. That land for land agreements be made in consultation with the affected communities.
6. After mining has been completed, the land must be rehabilitated and returned to the people.
7. The predominantly tribal population relies on trees and shrubs for their livelihood. Adequate compensation be given to the people for their destruction.
8. Legal papers notifying domicile and right to land be given in the name of the displaced families. (without which admissions to school, access to rations is impossible)
9. Vocational training be given to the displaced to help orient them to alternate means of livelihood.
10. Compensation and transport be provided for process of relocation
11. People who have been living in the region and are landless be given 25 decimal land compensation for the displacement.
12. The displaced must have access to pasture land for cattle.
13. Instead of Rs. 3 lakhs promised under Rehabilitation and Relocation Act, a revised compensation amount of Rs. 10 lakh be given to displaced families.
14. The land where the displaced will be located to must have basic amenities like school, road, electricity, water, pucca gutters, a lake, community center, places of worship, hospital, pasture land, playgrounds.
15. All the above conditions be met and arranged and only then must the process of any land acquisition, relocation and rehabilitation, on similar lines, be initiated for the expansion of East Parej Opencast mine.
If you ask Video Volunteers’ Community Correspondent Bideshini Patel to rate her childhood on a scale of 1-10, she would probably give it a negative marking due to the neglect and abuse she faced. But if you ask her to evaluate her professional life as an impactful journalist, resolving basic...