ORISSA! MY MOTHER! LET ME SHARE YOUR TEARS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa! My Mother! On this your birthday, as I greet you, I know, your tears are rolling down in the eyes of your children who are being tortured by the Governments they have created. Let me share your tears, mother, if thereby a bit of relief manifests.

You have been in headlines, Mother, over an order of the National Green Tribunal in matter of a foreign firm – POSCO – to whom our government has pledged sovereignty on your sovereign soil in the name of SEZ.

This takes me to the year of 2004, Mother, when the State’s then Chief Secretary Subas Pani had vanished from the State along with three other Secretaries for several days, ignoring the Assembly in the last session of the year, even though they were required to remain present in the headquarters to assist the Minister(s) answer the House.

At the end of this mysterious absence, Mother, you must be remembering, they surfaced before the Press at New Delhi to announce that their secret journey was to a foreign country in interest of the State. They did not disclose who had sent them on the secret journey, which was their destination, what was their mission, who granted them the authority to use foreign exchange and why was it that the Government could not inform the House on query that they were on duty under its privilege, if they were on an assigned mission!

But, Mother, no action was taken against them, even though this child of yours, on January 1, 2005 had raised the issue specifically in the media. Pratisruti,Bhubaneswar has included the same write-up in Dura Adura, a compilation of a few of my articles, spanning pages 155 to 158, published in library edition,2009 .

It later transpired that Pani and his team had been to South Korea to POSCO headquarters, wherefrom a team had later picked up a group of Bhubaneswar based media persons for organizing their cooperation at the time of need and specifically for creation of a congenial media environment for what Pani and his team were to do subsequently.

From the POSCO side, Mother, it became clear, that it had conducted a secret search on wherefrom to acquire mines of the highest quality ores for its steel factories in massive scale at the lowest possible rate. And, had found your stocks of the ores most suitable to its purpose.

So, was it POSCO that had, through agents at Delhi, screened top functionaries of yours to find out who could be used by it and thus Pani, then a top functionary at the center, was approached and when found suitable for its purpose, his posting as Chief Secretary of the State was organized, so that it could be easy to get the way paved for its project?

And, is it, therefore, Pani, after becoming the Chief Secretary, organized his coterie, to whom he had taken to POSCO headquarters where they were tamed or trained to serve its purpose?

This could not be investigated into, Mother, as the Chief Minister did not take any action for unauthorized absence of this group of officers during the Assembly session and as the media mysteriously kept mum.

On the other hand, the Pani coterie emerged as the most powerful group in the State administration as the Chief Minister, without giving your children any opportunity to understand what was happening, dazzled them with a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with POSCO, projected as the largest foreign direct investment project in India.

Nobody can say, mother, sans specific in-depth official investigation, as to whether any payola had played the role in this matter. But the way your children are being oppressed by the Government and Rules are being broken and Lands are being given to this firm make it clear that the Government is monstrously motivated to please this foreign firm at the cost of indigenous masses.

Why this motivation, Mother, why?

To kill the people to better their condition?

Do not cry Mother, do not cry. You shall never know why is it happening, why!

The governments, Mother, both in the State and at the Center, have been acting as agents of POSCO that at any cost wants to grab your soil, to loot your resources, your natural and human assets, and, whatever, Mother, you should have liked to keep in store for use by your future children.

Your children who would be directly affected by this project have been continuously protesting. But the Chief Minister is more committed to POSCO than to the people.

Men are blocking the roads to obstruct POSCO.

Completely overcome with distress, women are prostrating on the soil.

Children, threatened by imminent danger to self-employed status of their parents are also holding protest meetings.

General public is demanding quashing of the POSCO deal.

But, instead of respecting the people, the government has been trying to suppress them with the police, to silent them with the bullets.

And, most devastatingly, the government is active in weakening the people through cleavage.

And, Mother, they have no qualms in organizing contravention of laws of the land to help the foreigners.

They do not care for the judicial orders of the High Court, so much blindly are the motivated for serving the design of the foreign firm.

The National Green Tribunal, Mother, has, on March 30, stripped layer by layer, how the government had organized rape of environment laws to help this foreign firm.

“The entire process was vitiated in the eyes of law”, the Tribunal has ruled, while suspending the environmental clearance given to steel-cum-captive power plant and captive minor port of POSCO on your Paradip coast. The Tribunal has marked “official bias” in this matter, Mother, “official bias”.

Mother, “official bias” as marked by the National Tribunal smacks of manipulation in generation of the environmental clearance for POSCO. And, who but POSCO could have caused the manipulation?

Manipulation established, the project, being of foreign interest, needs be dismissed in its entirety.

The Supreme Court’s order in Aravali matters needs be applied to mines that POSCO and the likes are determined to loot. Your this child had stressed upon it in these pages. But, the Court has yet to look at the issue in Aravali spirit.

The tribes who would be rendered destitute by destruction of their living environment as well as all of your children, who would be affected by destruction of the eco-systems, Mother, are being subjected to State terror as they oppose the evil design, when, like the proverbial blue colored jackal, packs of fellows who benefit by amassing illicit wealth in the environment of opportunism plutocracy has provided and packs of neo-elites who want to do everything that may distinguish them as brighter than the rest in society, are supporting the state-terror and are playing every nasty tricks to demoralize your children that are opposing the foreign firm.

On your birthday, Mother, the same functionaries that are thus playing havoc upon the lives of your children are greeting each other and enjoying fireworks that tally with their laughter at the people pushed by them thus into predicament.

They have not spared anybody who is not gorgeous in position.

So severe is the savagery of state oppression, that the media despite being controlled by the neo-rich now mostly, is sometimes publishing pictures of oppression as above, with an aim, of course, to catch readership amongst the oppressed.

I will, Mother, place here some of those pictures, picked up from published pages, assuming that you permit me to do so.

Crores of rupees are shown as spent on primary education. But Mother, in your most undeveloped districts, schools are functioning without rooms or roofs and any of the students are forced to take up classes under any tree in the earmarked open spaces as teachers are engaged in other works. This is a picture from Rayagada:

You know, Mother, primary students, specifically kids in Anganvadies, have died by being forced to eat poisonous Khesari dal, that too moth eaten, as the contractors – blue eyed boys of the government – have preferred the same to fetch more profit, with no punishment against the crime. But, the Anganvadi and Ganashikshya teachers engaged in works that require their regular daily attendance are being forced to work sans the minimum wages, their protests not heeded to.

Who does not know how the lady health workers are perishing under hardship in absence of service conditions and minimum wages. But the government is more ready to suppress them than hearing their appeals.

The government, Mother, never bothers about promises and policies made in matters of family welfare, specifically in respect of green card holders. Their collective voice to press their grievances are being suppressed by police.

When the government is not getting required numbers of allopathy doctors to manage health care and engaging homeopaths, specifically in rural areas to tackle emergencies, the homeopathy colleges in different parts such as in Sambalpur are in dilapidated conditions. Yet, the advanced homeo college managed by the government in Bhubaneswar has scant provisions for proper study. The students, Mother, are battling in vain to gain attention of the government to their legitimate grievances.

Tortured and exploited low-paid employees, who despite in work of regular nature, continue without regularization of their service,rush to Bhubaneswar to demonstrate their legitimate grievances when the Assembly commences its session, in hope against hope that the House may wake up to prevail upon the government to give them their due. But days pass away. Assembly does not wake up. Government does not hear. Yet, in hope against hope, they retire to soothing lap of the goddess of sleep in their demonstration tents to rise in the early morning to continue their stir.

The Assembly does not wake up to the call of the Opposition. Government runs on the strength of numbers and a frustrated Opposition often resorts to physical stonewalling. The government does not bother.

Farmers are committing suicide in utter helpless condition as government apathy is flaming up draughts and non-maintenance of embankments and channels causing floods that wash away their crops. Unbearable price rise in essential commodities, lack of concern for the common man in every sector of life, has prompted the parties of working class interest demonstrate their protest time and again. But the government that is wedded to POSCO interest never bothers.

Corruption has so engulfed the State that question papers gushing out into black-markets has become norm of the day. Sudents are demonstrating their wrath against the mischief; but no action against top persons responsible for the grave dislocation in students lives are not punished.

Who will stand with you, Mother?

The media?

Supposedly.

But, Mother, whosoever of media is taking up the cause of the people and causing awareness against misrule, is being attacked through hired goons, harassed through the police, implicated in cooked up cases, some even charged for sedition. The journalists determined to protect freedom of Press have formed a front of theirs styled Media Unity for freedom of Press and have been collectively working for safety of the journalists. They had, Mother, after representing before the Chief Minister many times in vain, released a White Paper on atrocity on media person within your geographical limits, but the government is conspicuous by its nonchalance so far. Their demonstrations are never heeded to by the government.

Mother, when India was under the British yoke, as you had raised the first battle against them, you know, they had dismembered your body and appended your different parts to rival neighbors. The outsiders were grabbing your soil by treachery with the help of the British and rendering your children wretched. Your children rose up in demand for your restoration and even though the rival neighbors were creating every possible hindrance and heavyweights in British administration were too afraid of your “disposition” to allow union of your divided limbs, you became the first State of India to be formed on the basis of language. To our misfortune, Mother, we have a Chief Minister who does not belong to our language, who does not talk in your tongue, but in whose administration you have been reduced to grazing ground for non-Oriya land-grabbers. The phenomenon against which Buxi Jagabandhu had commanded your militia in the first battle of freedom that you had raised against the British, has returned in full strength, Mother, taking advantage of the present regime that has no concern for your toiling children.

Mother, to what extent your children are irritated and embarrassed over the hypocrisy in vogue in the name of administration can be judged from how they refused to respond to the government’s call to observe the death anniversary of Buxi Jagabandhu. In the heart of the citadel of power, at the State Information Center, arbitrarily renamed jayadev Bhawan, the people of Bhubaneswar deliberately stayed away from official function on Buxi. This was not for any disrespect for the great commander. But to your children, this government stands for everything that Buxi Jagabandhu had stood for. Recalling him in a function organized by the government run by the agents of POSCO and the likes was an affront to the sacred memories of Buxi. Therefore, Mother, as is captured in the picture below, the hall was empty. There was none in the audience except a 3/4 employees of the Information and Public Relations Department though the chairs on the podium were occupied by arranged speakers.

Mother, with these pictures, I offer my tears to you, in consanguinity with your tortured children and share yours, unable at the moment as am I to raise my arms to force quit the traitors.

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