Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Orissa has gained notoriety as a State where administration is more eager to give away massive masses of land to the non-Oriya minemongers like the TATAs or the POSCOs and non-Oriya land-grabbers like the Ravi Shankars or Anil Agrawals than saving its landless inhabitants from starvation deaths.
It has a government that presses police to kill people when they protest against taking away of their lands and looting of their natural resources by avaricious capitalists, mostly of non-Oriya origin. This is obviously because the deal clandestinely possible with non-Oriyas cannot be possible with the Oriyas. And hence Naveen Patnaik is keen to clear all obstacles from the path of non-Oriyas taking over Oriya lands.
When people of Orissa were massacred at Kalinganagar in 2006 to help the TATAs in grabbing their land, cultivators are threatened with dire consequences at Kujanga in 2007 so that POSCO can succeed in netting their agricultural lands into its industrial domain.
Now as the people of Kujang have declared to prefer bullets to parting with their soil, Naveen has contrived a new method of pressurization. He has offered 3500 Acres of government land to the foreign firm adjacent to the farm-lands of the threatened cultivators in order to compel them to sale away their rights to POSCO as otherwise they would be the worst sufferers, the productivity of their soil being bound to be adversely affected when the inclement industry in close proximity would start emitting wastes.
This most dangerous design against the people, if not promptly defeated, portends doom for Orissa.
So, let us see how justified is the allocation of 3500 acres of government land by Naveen Patnaik to POSCO.
Land Is The Property Of Posterity
Government land is not the fee simple for Naveen.
It belongs to the public; preserved by the ancestors for use by future generations of Oriyas in Kujang and in other places in vicinity of their homes.
Jomo Kenyatta, respected as the founder of Kenyan nation, whose work on affairs of K?k?y? tribal land gave birth to a new philosophy of management of natural resources, has spelt out the ethics of land preservation when he said, “A man is the owner of the land. x x x x x But in so far as there are other people of his own flesh and blood, who depend on that land for their daily bread, he is not the owner, but the partner, or at the most, a trustee for the others. Since the land is held in trust for the unborn as well as for the living, and since it represents his partnership in the common life of generations, he will not lightly take it upon himself to dispose of it”. (Information Green Paper No.1, UNEP, 1990).
The State being a legal man, every iota of land under its control called government land is a common land under partnership with the people and is held in trust by the State for the unborn and therefore a chief minister, in power for mere five years, cannot take it upon himself to dispose of it for all time to come.
On this matrix, handing over the Government land to POSCO by Naveen Patnaik is unjustified and illegal.
Breech of Trust
Had the erstwhile Rajah of Kujang wanted, he could have given these lands to any number of his subjects; but instead of dong that, he had preserved the lands as a trustee of the people for use by the future generations.
People are bound to raise families. Families are bound to raise progenies. Progenies are bound to generate new generations. But land never generates land. So a time is bound to come when future generations would need new habitations and for that purpose vacant lands would be needed. To fulfill that need, as and when that arises, erstwhile rulers had preserved lands that are now considered as government lands.
How can Naveen Patnaik gift away these government lands, preserved by our ancestors for the posterity, to a foreign firm like the POSCO?
Will the people of Kujang be debarred from getting progenies? Will growth of population stop in Kujang? Will there never be any need for land to provide habitation to future generations? Wherefrom the land shall come to meet the habitation-needs of the future generation if such a vast stretch of vacant land lying under the trusteeship of the State government is now mindlessly handed over to the foreign firm POSCO to be used as its own private domain?
Naveen must be asked these questions and made to answer them before he squanders away our soil. There should be no doubt on it that giving away the land preserved for posterity to private industries some of which belong even to foreigners by the present government is nothing but a criminal breech of trust.
Sycophants of Biju Patnaik, bereft of credibility but in politics out of avarice, had contrived a cover for their nefarious designs in the shape of Naveen Patnaik, who being a greenhorn was supposed to dance to their tune. But hardly they had imagined that when graduated into the realm of commissionism, the said greenhorn would surpass them all in subjecting native Oriyas to confidence tricks and in playing a mockery of democracy.
Now therefore the people must take it upon themselves to defeat the evil design of Naveen. Handing over government land to POSCO must be opposed; because our future generation would need it.
Is Security At Risk?
More than what meets the eye, the shenanigans concuss one to cogitate: is the country’s security system at risk?
It requires no documentary evidence to know that the US of America is keeping a prying eye on nuclear war weaponry of India. Orissa has the unique distinction of being the place of manufacture of missiles like the Agni and BrahMos in Balasore and the Naval Training Centre in Chilika with the most important aerial reconnaissance post of the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) in Eastrn India at Charbatia about 20 KMs away from Cuttack. And therefore the coastline of Orissa from Chandipur-on-Sea to Gopalpur-on-Sea has every possibility of attracting military espionage of USA.
POSCO insisting upon having its domain near Paradeep that constitutes the center of Orissa’s coastline with a private port of its own near DRDO’s ground station in between, is a matter of concern for all those who love their motherland.
The scenario looks bleak. In both sides of the POSCO site, there are such activities going on, that one cannot say for sure that from there no prying eye can ever be directed towards our defense preparedness.
Between Chandipur and Paradeep, an American has invested huge money and built up a Jagannth temple complex near Bhadrak with Naveen Patnaik looking mum. He says that as people from USA are not allowed by priests to enter into the Jagannath temple at Puri, notwithstanding they being devotees, he has built up the temple complex at Bhadrak so that his countrymen can have the ‘darshan’ of the Lord in His holy soil. If this is his real aim, why this American did not build up the temple complex in any place in the Puri town or anywhere on the way to Puri so that his countrymen, if any, denied entry into the temple proper, could have easily quenched their thirst for Jagannath darshan in that temple? Why Bhadrak? No convincing answer is available; but Naveen is nonchalant.
The other center of shenanigans stands near Puri but between Paradeep and Chilika. It is an 8000 acres of landmass given to Anil Agrawal by Naveen Patnaik to run a design in the name of Vedanta University. I have quoted elsewhere in these pages earlier the operator source that in the guise of a university Anil’s avowed aim is to use it as a business hub. Naveen has accepted his demand for total autonomy and has reemployed a retired IAS officer to draft a Law to ensure that the government at no point of time would enter into and/or intervene in the affairs of this so-called world-class-university where foreigners under any guise would enjoy complete freedom in their pursuits.
Should we have no reason to look at it askance, even when it is no more a secret that USA military intelligence is in habit of developing and operating surveillance centers in other countries?
It is quite disturbing to note that thinking minds of Orissa are too scared to look at this angle and to say no to Naveen when he transfers such massive masses of their land to non-Oriya and non-Indian profit-fetchers though the same land inherited from the past was preserved for the posterity.
It is grueling again to note that elite Oriyas, specifically most of the educated Oriyas living in foreign lands to whom we call NROs and who usually e-campaign for Orissa’s betterment, are agog at the allocation of lands to POSCO and Vedanta and the likes. They say that by thus doing, Naveen is ushering in an era of industrialization to Orissa, which, they emphasize, is the sure way to development.
But according to Ivan Illich, considered one of the most radical political and social thinkers in the second half of the twentieth century whose analysis on the institutional structures of industrialized society has helped the world with a set of alternative concepts, in his book ‘Shadow Work’ has established, “Each major sector of economy produces its own unique and paradoxical contradictions. x x x x x x As a result, slowly, the full impact of industrialization on the environment becomes visible: while some forms of growth threaten the biosphere, all economic growth threaten the ‘commons’. All economic growth inevitably degrades the utilization value of the environment”.
NROs and domestic elites, whose praise for Naveen over his swift allocation of Orissa’s lands to outside industrialists like the POSCO, TATA and Vedant etc knows no bound as to them through massive industrialization Orissa can develop, may get a backgrounder to estimate as to what unfathomable extent Orissa will be damaged instead of getting developed if they go by a case study of environmental economy in a micro level by Dr. M.Mishra, conducted under the head, “Health Cost of Industrial Pollution in Angul-Talcher Industrial Area in Orissa, India”.
Maintaining that economy forces change on the environment, which in turn reacts back forcing unforeseen changes on the economy, Dr. Mishra, in this masterly study has determined that the people of Angul-Talcher sustained a total health damage of Rs.1775.48 millions, per annum on an average. Obviously the industrial bosses of this area have not suffered any health damage; sufferers are only the poor inhabitants of the area. If this is the volume of annual loss suffered by the people of a small area on health sector only, leave apart the damages done to the food-productivity, to the soil, air and water, imagine what would be the volume of loss Orissa shall have to shoulder when all the industries, Naveen has granted lands to, become functional.
Deceptive Slogan Of Sustainable Development
The slogan of sustainable development that Naveen and his elite supporters have been trading is more aimed at hoodwinking the people than serving the State. Sustainable development is dovetailed with devising project portfolios according to ‘carrying capacity’ of the region. Carrying capacity, in turn, comprises of the ‘supporting capacity’ (capacity to provide resources without serious depletion) and the ‘assimilating capacity’ (capacity to absorb the waste at an acceptable level of risk) of the environment, observes former President of Orissa State Pollution Control Board, Prof. R.C.Das under the caption, ‘The Philosophy of Exploitation of Nature’ (Environment and Sustainable Development, Orissa Environmental Society, 1990) His opinion is unambiguously clear. “Ad-hocism based on short term gains, monopolization of gains by vested interests, sectoral instead of integrated approach to development have no place in such projects”. What Naveen has done and is doing is just the opposite of this philosophy.
The victims, i.e. the people of Orissa have no chance of support from the Opposition, specifically as the Congress cannot go against Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, who stands with POSCO and the likes.
So the people of Orissa have neither the State nor the Union leadership by their side. Media men, who felt no qualms in becoming freeloaders of POSCO and bureaucrats, who act like factotums of politicians in power have no guts to stand with the people against industrial empires.
The only avenue from which the people may expect help is judiciary.
May We Remind The Supreme Court?
In a landmark judgment the Supreme Court of India, reported at AIR 2001 SC 184, has declared that the Court should ensure that no activities which would ultimately lead to unscientific and unsustainable development and ecological destruction at all be allowed and the courts must scrupulously try to protect the ecology and environment.
So, the Supreme Court on its own accord has taken it up to itself to scrupulously try to protect the ecology and environment.
May we remind the Supreme Court of its aforesaid verdict in the given circumstances when Orissa’s ecology and environment is severely threatened by Naveen’s MOUs and hobnobbing with land-grabbers and mines-mongers?
If The Last Hope Is Lost
If the Supreme Court slough over its own decision and the last hope is lost, I will not be surprised if helpless people of Orissa rise en masse in revolt and if that becomes violent.
Before it is too late, let it be understood by the incumbent CM that Orissa is no fee simple for him and he cannot squander away its soil. The people who obliterated the empire where the Sun was not setting can rise again to obliterate every factor that poses a danger to their existence. The sooner it is understood the better.