Democracy, or Corporate Raj: do adivasis have a place in India?

Courtesy: Samarendra Das

“Go and complain to the District Collector that the company’s security officer has demolished houses… ” declares the security officer of Utkal Alumina with utter disdain. After running bulldozers over 40 houses of adivasis on Baplamali hills in dist. South Odisha, the security officer of Utkal Alumina (Aditya Birla group)is openly threatening the protesting adivasis, challenging them to produce proofs of their ownership over the land – as though the land is the company’s ancestral property.

Aditya Birla officials and goons

 

The fact is that many of these adivasis have got land deeds under FRA while claims of many others have been stalled without reasons. Also, these adivasis had got recognition of the land (in form of copper plaques) from the erstwhile king ensuring their community rights over the forests and hills. It was only last week that the CEC (Central Empowered Committee) had submitted a report clearly implicating the state government for unduly favouring Utkal Alumina for the project. The company has already devastated thousands of households by erecting a highly polluting refinery near Bagrijhola.