Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

…more than courage it takes WILL to stand up against injustice !

Report: Bhunirvasitula Ikya Sanghatana

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Bhunirvasitula Ikya Sanghatana 1

Bhunirvasitula Ikya Sanghatana 1

The two day “Bhunirvasitula Ikya Sanghatana” is held successfully on 27 & 28th December, 2008 at Nallakunta Hyderabad. Meeting had representatives from several movements fighting forced displacement under varied projects in the state. Men and women and several adivasi and dalit activists made the movement inspiring and strengthening the resolve to fight against unjust development that’s making poor people homeless and hopeless. It was a meeting of people from the field sharing the experiences of struggles and clarifying the ideas on how to take forward the movement to safeguard their right to life and dignity and lands. The activists discussed how the mainstream political parties are looting and cheating the poorer sections or turning a blind eye with crocodile tears about exploitation by the ruling party.

The two-day meeting had representatives fighting SEZ, Dams and mining projects, metro rail and sanctuaries. It was possible to hold the meeting only due to the support and encouragement of several activists, friends and groups like Osmania University students’ organisations PDSU, TSO, Telangana Vidyarti Vedika, PDM, cultural organizations like Dharuvu, Praja Kala Mandali, Daruvu etc.

Print and electronic media covered the two day event, several groups and individuals who are concerned about the issue came and expressed their solidarity for the peoples movements, promised that they will be with the struggles in future. Memorable experiences of solidarity and hearty response to the struggle meeting include some farmers coming with rice bags to feed the participants. Thanks to Vageesh for relentlessly working on it. Many friends and activists could not join because of the resource crunch. There was a drop in numbers but still represented by a few representatives form every movement. It was a Herculean task to go ahead with the preparations without any assured contribution till the last moment.

Pallar project representatives Khan Saheb and Subramanyam came with two rice bags, 25 kg each, all the way to Kuppam, Chittore district traveling more than 15 hours journey. They are fighting for their land for last 45 years. When someone questioned why did they carry so much of weight they said – “pattedu annam pettadam pedda kashtam kadu“. This is the spirit that formed the strength of the meeting. Long live their struggles!

The heroic struggles, tales and ups and downs inspired many of us. Honest sharing of experiences was reinforcing and participants could relate to the struggles because they were hearing not theories or sweet lectures that politicians or intellectuals make so distant from people’s challenges and constraints and devoid of real issues of livelihoods and the struggle for survival of poor people in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh which is turned into the cruel lab of making billions out of growing number of villages turned into graveyards.

Balagopal, Chief Guest of the programme, told that this is most timely initiative of the people to come forward on their own and decide to fight for justice. He told there is no hope from the political parties and the PILs and other institutions growingly have become useless to protect the interest of the poor and the vulnerable sections in the state. It’s now a struggle of profit versus of the lives of the poor people in the country. A united struggle for justice only will help protect the people’s interests, he told.

Pasham Yadagiri (Telangana Ikya Karyacharana committee) informed that we can’t keep quite in the face of false development coupled with brutal use of force against the peaceful struggles of the vulnerable sections.

K. Vimala, chaired session on Chenchus said that, Telugu language got the status of ‘ancient language’ and given high priority today, the only primitive tribe who speaks Telugu were not even recognised as human beings.

Telangana Vidya vanthula Vedika,  Maddileti, Mahabubnagar also participated in this session and explained how mahabubnagar is cheated, water is been diverted and lakhs of migrant labour is increasing drastically, the number reached 14 lacks now.

Participants gained confidence from the support of senior activists like Balagopal, Rathnamala, U. Sambasiva Rao, Jyothi akka and several others who have dedicated their lives to the cause of people.

Kaki Devudamma

Kaki Devudamma

Meeting hall echoed with real stories from the field and an understanding that current development models will not only ruin them but also the environment, culture, water and other invaluable resources. Especially Kaki Devudamma, brave woman from Gadaba tribe (Bauxite mining vyathireka porata committee) from S.Kota, Vijayanagaram district, inspired the participants with her inimitable narration of heart pouring of the struggle against injustice. She had dwelled on many dimensions that form the core of the dilemmas and threats of people’s movements and deteriorating democratic space faced with devilish development schemes. Gadaba tribe once used to be afraid of so called ‘educated’ people, who wear pants and shirts, now she is waging war against Khaki dress, Revenue department and the sweet coated poisonous palliatives of the development intellectuals. The situation, struggle for existence taught everything to her now. At the end, she said as a woman and a mother it’s very difficult to fight. Her life and attention is torn between family and the struggle of her village and the community. There are also allegations that she was bought by some section or the other. Participants were in tears as she poured her heart.

Kheema, a Lambada youth from (Uranium Vyathireka Porata Commitee) Nalgonda, told that they did not even know what people are doing with their lives. They never knew what Uranium is before. He asked the govt and the development advocates that they be given first a school, an assured meal and the freedom to choose whether they like Uranium or not. “Don’t starve us and jail us and ask us whether uranium is good to the Lambadas”, Without education and vocational training what is the use of uranium project where they cannot work, even of the project is for good of the country, he stressed. He exposed the false promises of employment and development benefits to the affected people.

Murali, from Adilabad Open Cast mining area could successfully stop mining in their area because of the strong movement put up by the community. Mr. Jaganmohan Rao, Godavari khani, said that due to open cast mining nearly 4 lacs people are going to be displaced, he shared the dynamics involved in the movement and nasty tactics of Government and political parties.

Chenchu women from Mahbubnagar district spoke about their pathetic lives. It’s shocking to know that they are asked to move from one part of the forest to the other part or displace them frequently, many of their relatives do not know where they are living now? The Primitive Tribe Group, PTG as they are referred in the hundred crores of Chenchu development schemes funded by IFAD and several donor agencies, has nothing to do with Government & other people are paying price of their lives for the greed and deeds of a few people. Their population is drastically dwindling day by day. Stories from fishermen were heartbreaking from Gangavaram port., thousands of lives are at stake and many of them remained idle now without the fish catch and any means to feed their children.

Polepally people told the gathering “you all come to our village and demolish Aurabindo and Hetero drugs. This is the only request we have. Withdraw the devilish project that killed 44 villages so far. Don’t allow the Drugs SEZ to kill the remaining people”.

Dr. Madhavi (Human Rights Forum) U. Sambasiva Rao (Shramika Jana Maha Jana Samithi) Mr. Charles Wesley Meesa (National Alliance for Dalit Orgnisations) discussed the problems faced by the vulnerable sections which are targeting the poorest of the poor as a designed war against the poor in the country. He talked of the resistance movement of the affected sections and direction for future strategies.

Sujata and Madhu kagula explained the process, structure of the struggles and resolutions made by the two day meeting. The Structure of Bhunirvasita Vyathireka Ikya Sanghatana forum will be three tier comprising people who are working on the ground at the centre, solidarity organizations and individuals as second and third layers. The meeting adopted the Agenda to Fight against Destructive development policies. (Privatization, Corporate NGO’s like Satyam and Nandi Foundations, etc)

The two day meeting represents the voices of the people fighting against illegal and criminal development projects depriving right to life and livelihoods of the vulnerable people in the state. Lakhs of affected people in the state oppose the loot in the name of development that feeds some and kills large sections and destroy environment.

Meeting passed the following Resolutions:

  • Repeal SEZ Act,
  • Withdraw Polepally SEZ and other SEZ projects which have looted the land of the villagers illegally. Polepally SEZ is the classic example of genocide with 44 deaths in the past four years with every political party having the share in genocide.
  • Withdraw Polavaram Dam threatening to wipe out the Koya, konda reddy tribes and bringing irreversible devastation in the Eastern Ghats. Polavaram project is criminal and illegal. It does not have peoples consent and lacks consent of the affected states- Chattisgarh and Orissa. CPM party and TRS keeping quiet about the tribal genocide are partners with Congress and TDP initiating the project to support the contractors.
  • Condemn the lip sympathy of the development advocates and NGOs pacifying the dying the masses in Polavaram and other projects with Public Interest Litigations and occasional press statements
  • Stop illegal mining projects threatening the life of the adivasis and the ecology
  • Expose all anti-poor and anti-people political parties, and their supporters in the coming elections
  • Launch united struggle from January onwards in solidarity with all anti-displacement movements, groups and individuals in the state

Participants came from S.kota, Vijaya nagaram District, Kaki Devudamma and team (Zindal mining Vyatireka Porata committee), Open cast mining Mr. Anwar and team (Open cast mining Porata committee & Human Rights Forum), Karthik and team (Uranium Vyatireka Porata Committee), Panda Nagaraju Dora and team, from Khammam district, (Polavaram Vyatireka Porata Commitee), Venkateswarlu and team (Matsyakarula Ikya Sanghtana) from Gangavaram and Nellore Ports, Vizag. Kothapally Pulichintala project Vyatireka Porata Committee, Chukkamma and team (Polepally SEZ Vyatireka Ikya Sanghatana), Rajendra and Hema Venkat Rao (Kakinada SEZ Vyatireka Porata Committee), Rathnam (Coastal Corridor Vyatireka Porata Committee), Chikkudu Prabhaker (Praja Bhumi Commission), Sujan Das among others.

Chandranna, Hema Venkat Rao, Radha Reddy Chada, Laxman Rao, CCS, Gulf NRI Association Metta Ramesh Chandra, Venkatesh, Gopal Madiga, TDF India Ravi,  APCLC, Allagadapa Pandu Ranga Rao, Sajaya from Anveshi, Satyavati Kondaveeti, Silalolitha, Abburi Chaya Devi, also attended the meeting.

We thank every one who contributed from 10/- to 10,000/-. The total expenditure came to 2.50 lakhs towards this event. We are falling short of 75,000/- now. I request friends to contribute small or big amounts to repay the debts. Your support will keep the movement going and strengthen the people fighting all atrocities and repression in the villages faced with destructive development projects.

In Solidarity !
Sujatha Surepally.

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