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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest : A space for social movements > Binayak Sen is a victim of resource conflicts in Chhattisgarh

Binayak Sen is a victim of resource conflicts in Chhattisgarh

by Sagar Dhara, 2 February 2011

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  • Chatisgarh is rich in natural resources: It has large coal, iron ore, limestone and bauxite deposits. Tin ore in India is found only in Chhattisgarh. Diamond, gold and corundum have been discovered.
  • These resources are mostly in forests: 44% of the state’s area is under forest cover (India-21%), half of which is commercially valuable sal and teak forests. The mineral wealth is mostly in forests.

Forest and Mineral Maps of Chhattisgarh

  • Forests are home to tribals: 33% of Chhattisgarh’s population is tribal (India-8%), who live mainly in the forests and for whom minerals are of no use.
  • Plans for increased industrialization and exclusive development: Since the Chhattisgarh’s formation 10 years ago, mineral wealth is being extracted at faster rates. Chhattisgarh Government now wants to hasten the pace of industrialization. New projects include over 60 coal-based power
    plants to generate 50,000 MW (state’s power consumption is about one-tenth that), over 40 new steel plants, large cement plants. As in the past, such projects will benefit corporates, traders, metropolises, professional classes and the Chhattisgarh and Union governments, but not quite the tribals.
  • Resource conflicts between corporates and tribals: About half of Chhattisgarh is notified tribal areas, ie, it is difficult for non-tribals to acquire property rights. This has become a hindrance for exploiting the state’s natural wealth; hence it is necessary to get the tribals out of the way. This has led to resource conflicts as exemplified by the recent one in Jagdalpur over the siting of Tata’s 5.5 MT steel plant. Corporates want access to minerals and the tribals want retain control over their land
    and way of life. Such conflicts have occurred recently in Sierra Leon, Angola, Congo, Solomon Islands, Borneo, etc, where mercenaries and paid vigilantes were used (as happened in Chhattisgarh).
  • Binayak Sens are perceived to be inconvenient: Binayak Sen, a friend of the tribals, is perceived to be inconvenient as he helps them fight for their rights. Hence the ham-handed attempt to fix him under false charges. More such fixing should be expected.

Author: Sagar Dhara for “Free Binayak Sen Campaign, Hyderabad” by its Coordinator, I. Mallikarjuna Sharma, Advocate, 6-3-1243/116, Hyderabad 500 082.

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