Research Paper

Development over Deadbodies

By Gladson Dungdung



The Adivasis are the Indigenous Peoples of India, Constitutionally known as the Scheduled Tribes, who have unique tradition, culture and identity. Their economy is based on agro-forestry. They do not rely on the natural resources merely for livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence depend on it. Though enough provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution and the government has also introduced several progressive laws for safeguarding the Adivasis including their land, rerritory and resources. Despite that their rights are grossly violated and they are being alienated, displaced and dispossessed from their land, territory and resources in the name of development, economic growth and national interest. The liberalisation of the India’s economic policy to exelarate the industrialisation processes have resulted in massive resource grab of the Adivasis. However, when they exercise their right to freedome of expression against the resource grab, their voices are suppressed with the mighy power of the state. Thus, the development and economic growth have become a nightmare for the Indigenous Peoples. However, the Indian State has been accelerating the processes of industrialisation in the 5th Scheduled Areas despite massive bloodbath. Therefore, this paper is an attempt to understand the Adivasis’ rights, the natural resources and development contradictions of the 5th Scheduled Areas.

Keywords: Adivasi, Identity, Livelihood, Scheduled Area, Rights, Resources Grab, Development, Displacement, Industrialisation, bloodbath.  


The ‘Adivasi’ literally means the aboriginal, original settler or first settler of the land[1]. Actually, the ‘Adivasis are the Indigenous People[2] of India. In the Indian Constitution, they are classified as the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and guaranteed certain rights and privileges. As many as ‘705 ethnic groups are identified as tribals across 30 states[3]. The number was 461 before 1990. Among them, 75 groups have been identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) from 17 states’[4]. The Indian Government had repeatedly declined about their existence in front of the United Nations’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations, nevertheless, on 5 January, 2011, the Apex Court of India while hearing on an appeal (the special leave petition (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra) said that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis) are the ‘descendants of the original inhabitants of India, but now constitute only about 8 percent of our total population, and as a group are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in India. The rest 92 percent of the population of India consists of descendants of immigrants[5]. The court clearly observed that ‘India is broadly a country of immigrants like North America[6]. Thus, the majority of the people living in India today are ‘descendants of immigrants or invedors, who came mainly from the North-West and to a lesser extent from the North-East[7].

However, the fact is the Adivasis are being discriminated, exploited, alienated, displaced and denied justice in their own country by the elite rulers, who are the descendents of immigrants or invedors, which is of course, a shameful. According to the census 2011, the Adivasis are 8.6 percent of the total population of India, which is 104 million. ‘About 85 percent of them live in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. About 12 percent live in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura[8]. The Adivasis live in or around the forests and their life cycle moves round the nature. Hence, ‘90 percent of them still live in or in close proximity to the forests[9] and merely10 percent of them have shifted to the cities. They do not merely depend on natural resources for their livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence are based on it.

In the ancient period, the Adivasis had their ownership rights over the natural resources and they judiciously used these resources for their survival. Consequently, they were living with autonomy, peace and prosperity. The situation changed after the Aryan invasion and became worst during the  British rule in India. On the one hand, the Aryans destroyed the Adivasi civilization, denied the indigenous identity and did not accept them as the fellow human beings, and the Britishers imposed violence on the Adivasis by grabbing their land, territory and resources and even named few of them as criminal tribes on the other[10]. Soon after the East India Company entered into the vicinity, the Britishers realized the enormous commercial potential of India’s natural resources and systematically went about acquiring control over the land, territory and resources by capturing power, introducing lagislations and using military power.

In response to the British rule, the Adivasis revolted against them. Adivasis used their traditional weapons against the Britishers. In 1779, the Adivasi legend Baba Tilika Manjhi dared to the Britishers by saying, “Our people have lived here since the dawn of creation. We have never been the lords of the earth. The earth is our mother. We are all her children. We are the trustees of this land. It is our responsibility to see that the land continues to sustain future generations that we have not even imagined. This is our heritage. Then how can you, British, an alien race, declare yourselves the lords and masters of the forests that sustain us and give us life? How can you deny us entrance to the only home we have ever known? We will die before we accept this rule.” (Dungdung, 2004). Perhaps, Baba Tilka Majhi was the first Adivasi leader who led an organized fight against the the British in 1779. ‘The Britishers surrounded the Tilapore forest from where he was operating the fight but he and his men held the enemy at bay for several weeks. When he was finally caught in 1784, he was tied to the tails of four horses and dragged all the way to the collector’s residence at Bhgalpur. There, his lacerated body was hung in a Banyan tree[11]. However, in 1793, the Britishers imposed the “Permanent Settlement Act” to get much revenue from the land, which affected the socio-economic and culture of the Adivasis, and their lands slipped into the hands of the landlords. Thus the community ownership on land was overshadowed by the Zamindari system.

‘The British introduced a centrally organized administration, a judiciary and a police system. The concept of private property was imposed on land as opposed to the traditional notion of collective usufructuary rights of the community. The community resources were considered as the ‘eminent domain’ and taken over. Thus forests and other individually unclaimed fallow lands were declared as the property of the state’ (Munda & Mullick, 2003). Gradually, the government enacted various forest policies, which induced the marginalization of the Adivasis. They were deprived from the natural resource merely for the government’s revenue yielding measures. Imposing revenue on land and duties on the forest produces crashed the “Adivasi economy”. The Britishers also brought the Land Acquisition Act in 1894, which helped them to strengthen their rule by destroying local people’s rights over the land. In 1984, the Act was amended but the principle of eminent domain remained the same.

However, after independence the status quo remains the same. The painful reality is that so far as the monopoly over the natural resources is concerned; the Indian rulers were not different from the Britishers. ‘The vested interest, the methods of oppression and the basic ideology remain the same’ (Arjum & Manthan, 2002: 4). The Adivasis rights over the natural resources were snatched away through the various legislations in the name of development, national interest and economic growth. In India around 50 million people have been displaced due to development projects in over 50 years[12]. Around 21.3 million development-induced IDPs include those displaced by dams (16.4 million), mines (2.55 million), industrial development (1.25 million) and wild life sanctuaries and national parks (0.6 million)[13]. The draft of the government’s National Policy for Rehabilitation states that a figure around 75% of the displaced people since 1951 is still awaiting rehabilitation[14]. Interestingly, 90 percent coal, 50 percent mines and 50 percent Dams are located in the Adivasi areas. Although the tribal population only makes up eight per cent of the total population but more than ‘40 per cent of the development induced displaced are tribal peoples in India[15]. As a result, the Adivasis’ discontent, anger and resistance manifested day by day.

Since, adoption of the liberal economic policy in 1991 in India, the national and multi-national corporations also became major key actors in the land grabbing of the Adivasis, which forced them to fighting against the state and non-state actors to protect their land, territory and resources. Finally, in 2006, the Indian government accepted through the Forest Rights Act 2006 about the historical injustice unleashed on the Adivasis but it did not bring appropriate mechanism to right the wrong instead the whole community was labeled as the ‘Naxalites’. A very interesting point to note is a few Adivasis used the violence to protect their land, territory and resources whereas the Britishers and Indian rulers adopted the violence for capturing the land, territory and resources of the Adivasis. 21st century became the worst for the Adivasis, precisely because the Indian state has been waging a war against them in the name of the national security, economic growth and development. However, the Adivasis have not given up therefore, their democratic struggle for protection of their land, territory and resources are ongoing. Kalinganagar is one of the worst examples of the corporate land grab in India. Today, it is one of the emerging industrial hubs located in Jajpur district of Orissa. Just two decades ago it was an area covered with paddy field and forest. On January 2, 2006, Kalinganagar had become a battlefield, where police fired on the Adivasis. Consequently, 19 of them lost their lives but finally the Tata Company could able to build its steel plant, which is called the symbol of modern development.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions for the Adivasis:

Since, the Adivasis were historically alienated, dispossessed, displaced, exploited and marginalized, therefore, the Constitutional and legal provisions were made for their safeguard. The Constitution of India, Article 366 (25) defines Schedule Tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of our groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Schedule Tribes (ST) for the purposes of this Constitution”[16]. According to the Article 342, procedure to be followed for specification of Scheduled Tribes is prescribed and the Article 19(5) to create exceptions for tribal areas under “Fundamental Right of free movement and residence to safeguard encroachment and their fragile habitat. The state government has been empowered to ‘impose reasonable restriction to protect the interest of the Scheduled Tribes’[17].

Similarly, the Article 244 is titled as ‘Administration of Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas’. Sub-clause (2) of article 244 {244(2)} provides applicability of sixth schedule to the administration of the tribal areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Sub-clause (1) of article 244 {244 (1)} provides applicability of the fifth schedule to the administration and control of the scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any other State. The basic feature of 5th and 6th Schedules of the Constitution is to remove these areas from the purview of the general law of the land and to make the Governor sole repository of legislative power and to act on the advice of the Tribal Advisory council; or to hand over the functioning of these areas to the autonomous districts and regions and to be governed by the provisions mentioned therein. The 5th Scheduled Areas fall in 9 states of India, where the Governor is fully authorized for protection of land, territory and resources of the Adivasis.

As far as the legal provisions for the Adivasis is concerned, there are many progressive laws introduced in India. Among those, the land related legislations are known as the best protective laws for the Adivasis. For instance, the section 46(b) of the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 prohibits the transfer[18] of the Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person, the section 71(a) provides an opportunity for restoration of the illegally transferred land and the section 71(b) has provision for penalty as imprisonment for three years in the cases of illegal transfer[19]. Similarly, the section 20 of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 bars the transfer of Adivasi’s land to the non-Adivasi and it also provides an opportunity for restoration of the illegally transferred land[20]. In the state of Chhattisgarh, the Section 170 (b) of the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, 1959, bars the sale of tribal agricultural land to non-tribals in order to protect their[21]. Similarly, in the state of Odisha, the Odissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation, 1956, which was amended in 2002 strongly, prohibits[22] the sale of an Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person.

The illegally transfer of the Adivasi’s land to a non-Adivasi person is also a criminal offence under the section 3(iv) and (v) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (prevention) of Atrocity Act 1989. According to the provisions, wrongfully occupation or cultivation of any land owned by, or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to a member of a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred. And wrongfully dispossessing a member of Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interfering with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water are punishable offence[23].

In pursuance of the power given by the Parliament under article 243M (4) of the Constitution, ‘The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996’ (PESA) has been enacted extending the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas with some exceptions and modifications as provided under section 4 of the PESA. The major provisions are made under section 4(a), the State legislation on the Panchayats that may be made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources; (d) every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution; (i) the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-settling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level; (k) the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory prior to grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas; (l) the prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction; (m)(iii) the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawful alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe[24];

The power of Gram Sabha (village council) under the PESA 1996 and Forest Rights Act 2006 was legitimated by the Supreme Court of India through its judgment pronounced in a writ petition (civil) No. 180 of 2011 between the Orissa Mining Corporation Versus Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others regarding the case of Niyamgiri hill of Odisha. The Apex Court states that the ‘Gram Sabha’ is the competent authority to decide regarding the village affair. The Court said that the Act has been enacted, as already stated, to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas. Section 4(d) of the Act says that every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions, customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and community mode of dispute resolution. Therefore, Grama Sabha functioning under the Forest Rights Act read with Section 4(d) of PESA Act has an obligation to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the STs and other forest dwellers, their cultural identity, community resources etc., which they have to discharge following the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs vide its letter dated 12.7.2012. We are, therefore, of the view that the question whether STs and other TFDs, like Dongaria Kondh, Kutia Kandha and others, have got any religious rights i.e. rights of worship over the Niyamgiri hills, known as Nimagiri, near Hundaljali, which is the hill top known as Niyam-Raja, have to be considered by the Gram Sabha.

The forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers are integral to the very survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem. A great injustice has been done by not recognising their rights over their ancestral forest lands and their habitats either during the colonial period or in independent India. It was in order to undo the injustice that the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as the Forest Right Act was enacted. The Forest Rights Act envisages, the recognising, recording, and vesting the forest rights and occupation in forest land with the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers; it providing a framework for recording the forest rights so vested and the nature of evidence required for such recognition and vesting in respect of forest land; and Strengthening the conservation regime of the forests while ensuring livelihood and food security of the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.

The land acquisition was officially done for the development projects by the British Indian government after introduction of the ‘Land Acquisition Act 1894’, which has provisions for acquisition, compensation and also de-acquisition of the unutilized land. The sections – 4, 5, 6, 16 and 17 has provisions regarding the public notification for acquisition, public hearing and acquisition, the sections – 11, 32 and 34 contain the provision regarding compensation and section–48 (1) has provision for de-acquisition, which states that the ‘government shall be at liberty to withdraw from the acquisition of any land of which possession has not been taken’[25]. However, the said Act was repealed with the enforcement of the ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’ by the Indian Government. The Act contains additional provisions for the Scheduled Tribes. The section 41 (1) strongly advocates for avoiding acquisition in the Scheduled Areas. It states that as far as possible, no acquisition of land shall me made in the Scheduled Area[26]. However, in case of acquisition or alienation of any land in scheduled areas, the prior consent of the concerned Gram Sabha or the Gram Panchayats or the Autonomous District Councils in all case of land acquisition including urgency, at the appropriate level should be obtained. The affected families should be rehabilitated in preferably are with the compact block to retain ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity[27].

Land Grab in Kalinganagar:

Kalinganagar is one of the emerging industrial cities of India located under Sukinda and Danagadi development blocks of Jajpur district in the state of Orissa. It is about 100 kilometers far from the state capital, Bhubaneswar, and about 30-40 km from the district headquarter. Just two decades ago it was an area covered with paddy field and forest[28]. The region is also rich in iron ore mineral resource, which is center of attraction for the steel companies. Recently, because of high global demand for steel, Kalinganagar is becoming a major global hub in steel, Power and ancillary products. Presently, 15 steel projects are operational in the region. The Government claims that the City has been a main contributor to Odisha’s economy, human resource and fastest growing urbanization and industrialization. Kalinganagar is a major industrial center of Odisha. The Tata Steel Limited, NINL, Jindal, VISA and MESCO are the main key players in Kalinganagar. However, the history of industrialization in India also goes with the pathetic history of bloodshed of the Adivasis, and Kalinganagar is not different from them. On January 2, 2006, police fired on the Adivasis protesting against the forceful land acquisition by the Tata Steel Limited. Consequently, 19 Adivasis lost their lives but finally the Tata Company could able to build its steel plant, which is called the symbol of modern development in India.

Table 1 – Land allotted to Companies

Sl. No. Name of the Companies Land (in acres)
1. Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited 2500
2. Tata Steel Limited 2400
3. Jindal 678
4. Mideast (MESCO) 530
5. Maharashtra Seamless 500
6. Uttam Gala 370
7. Orion 150
8. Maithan Ispat 100
9. VISA Industries 390
10. Dinbandhu 100
11. K.J. Ispat 50
Total 7768

Adivasi in Kalinganagar:

Once upon a time, Kalinganagar was dominated by the Adivasis, but after establishment of a public sector company ‘Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited’ (NINL), non-Adivasi population flooded in the region as they got job and business opportunity in the region. New hotels, restaurents, schools, hospitals and townships were built up. As a result, the Adivasis have lost their livelihood resources, impoverished and becoming minority day by day. According to the Census 2001, Sukinda and Danagadi blocks have Adivasi population of 36.06 per cent and 28.19 per cent respectively. The Adivasi population in the acquired area is much higher than the Block average. Out of the Adivasi population, the people belonging to Ho community constitute nearly 80% and rest of them come from Munda and Santal communities. The economy of the Adivasis is based largly on agriculture, forest produces and cattle rearing.

There is a very interesting oral history behind the Adivasi’s settlement in Kalinganagar region. Actually, the region is known as ‘Sukinda’ because it was undr the regime of the King of Sukinda. It is said that there was a very good friendship between the King of Sukinda and King of Porahat (Jharkhand). The King of Sukinda was lacking the manpower for protection of forest resources therefore, he requested the King of Porahat to send some people to Sukinda. The King of Porahat accepted the request and sent some Adivasis to Sukinda. This is how the Adivasis arrived in the region. After seeing the hard labour, dedication and commitment of the Adivasis, the King was impressed so he decided to settle them in the vicinity. He also gave them some patches of land to the Adivasis. The decedents of those Adivasis even today have land entitlement paper with them, which was given by the King.

Later, many Adivasis arrived in the region after migrating from Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Singhbhum districts in different phases and settled down in the vicinity after clearing forest and bushes. The Madox Settlement Report 1897 also indicates about their settlement. During the British rule, the first land settlement took place in 1928 but most of the land owners were left out. However, after passing the Orissa Estate Abolition Act in 1951, the Estate of King was vested with the government but tenancy rights were not conferred upon the local people who were in possession of land. Meanwhile, the Orissa Survey and Settlement Act of 1958 was enforced, despite the land settlement was not done in the region. Thus, the Adivasis have been fighting for ownership rights over the land because land is not merely livelihood resources for them but their sole identity, culture, history, heritage and existence depend on it.

Industrialisation at Kalinganagar

After the success of Asia’s first integrated steel plant set up by Tata Steel in the undivided Orissa-Bihar-Bengal in 1907, or the employment potential revealed by the Rourkela Steel Plant operated by the state-owned Steel Authority of India, the demand for another mega steel plant in Odisha was very strong in the power of corridor. Thus, the Odisha Government was hunting for the vicinity to development as industrial hub this is how the Kalinganagar came into light. The history of industrialisation of Kaliganagar began with the establishment of the ‘Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) in 1982, which envigages to build the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Complex’. Thus, the IDCO acquired the land from public, developed infrastructure and given it to various industries for setting up Steel Plants. The process has started from the early 1990s and the ex-CM, late Biju Patanaik, took the lead role in promoting the steel-hub. He had invited first, Swaraj Paul, a NRI British industrialist to set up a steel plant, which did not materialize.

Meanwhile, in 1991, India accepted the liberal economic policy, which accelerated the industrialization processes in the country, resulted in more and more land acquisition of the Adivasis in the name of economic growth and development. In 1992, the Odisha government started land acquisition process for building up ‘Kalinganagr Industrial Complex’. The land owners were offered an amount of from Rs. 15000 to Rs. 30,000 per acre but the Adivasis resisted against it. Meanwhile, some non-Adivasi land owners accepted the offer and surrendred their land. This was the entery poit for the government. Finally, the Government declared 13,000 acres of land mostly owned by the Adivasis as acquired land by using the provision of ‘emineant domain’ under the land acquisition Act 1894 but in reality, the land remained with the land owners. However, out of the acquired land, 6900 acres are declared as private land and rest of the land said to be ‘government land’ because nearly 70% landowners have no entitlement paper though the land is under their possession. Once the land was declared as ‘acquired land’, the bhumi pujan (inauguration) was also done but the project was not started due to massive protest. Meanwhile, the Bhushan Steel & Power Limited and Simlex Company also attempted to acquire but failed due to massive protest of the Adivasis.

Unleasing Brutalities:

In 1997, the Government’s undertaking company “Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited” (NINL) entered into the region. The company started land acquisition process for establishment of an iron & steel company with the proposed production capacity of 1.1 million ton per annum. The company approached the Adivasi for acquisition of 2500 acre of their land by promising them jobs and adequate compensation. When the Adivasi land owners were ready to accept the offer, the company captured the entire land by constructing the boundary wall without delay. Thereafter, 639 houses of Serengsai, Khodyampur, Sarampur, Dokagadiya and Sesakundi village were razed by the Bulldozars. And when the Adivasis protested against forceful land acquisition without compensation and rehabilitation, the police beat the protestors severely and 60 of them arrested. And those people, who were remaining in their houses were dumped into Gobarghati colony, but they were neither given jobs or compensation for seven years against of the promises made while land acquisition. Thus, more than 5000 Adivasis lost their livelihood resources, habitations and became landless. Meanwhile, the Mesco and Jindal established their steel plants by displacing the Land owners. The displaced people were dumped to Trijanga, where 10 decimal homestead land was allotted to each displaced family.

 The Organized Response to the Situation

In 2004, the displaced Adivasis formed an organization called “Bistafan Virodhi JanaManch” (BVJM) (Forum against Displacement) and started protest against the Company. In October 2004 they sent an open letter to the Chief Minister, expressing about their pathetic condition caused by the Kalinganagar Industrial Complex. They also chocked out some major demands – i) stop further construction in agricultural land; ii) giving patta to the people settled before 1980 iii) land acquired, but unused, be returned to the original owners; iv) stop deliberate targeting of tribal/dalit villages for land acquisition; v) the homestead land to be raised to one acre per displaced family; vi) the parishad to have a say in rehabilitation matters; vii) one job per displaced family[29]. After seeing massive protest, the NINL began to provide employment and compensation to the land owners. Though 639 families have been displaced by NINL but merely 182 families have been directly employed in NINL and most of the land owners are still waiting for compensation.

Meanwhile, the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Mancha decided to resist all kinds of activitiesi of the Kalinganagar Industrial Complex ncluding land survey, bhumipuja, levelling and boundary wall construction. They organized protest meetings, demonstrations and rally in Kalinganagar. In April 2005, the government had issued notice to conduct the family survey, which they opposed. On 9th May, 2005 the People strongly opposed the bhumipooja for ‘Maharashtra Seamless’. After hearing about the protest, the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Jajpur rushed to the site for negotiating with the people. The local police was already present to provide security to the officials of Maharashtra Seamless. The people reiterated their demands to the ADM and did not move from the place. The ‘ADM, Shri Santanagopalan, in his enthusiasm, ordered lathi-charge and rushed towards the protestors, pushing some of the obstructing women to the ground. At this sudden action of his, which the people saw as a provocation, clashes ensued. People resorted to stone pelting and the vehicle of the ADM was damaged. The ADM was beaten up in the melee[30], and when the Officer-in-Charge of Kalinganagar Police Station tried to save the ADM he too was beaten up; both of them sustained injuries.

Seeing the people’s rage the police retreated from the scene that afternoon, to return later with more reinforcements. They entered the villages and went on a rampage. Fearing retaliation, most of the men folk had fled the villages and taken shelter in the surrounding hillocks. Therefore the brunt of the police fell on the women folk and children. They were roughed up and at least 25 women were arrested. Hearing of the police terror, people from nearby villages also fled their villages and took shelter in the nearby forest. It is alleged that the privations caused the death of two children. Also, an old man, who was severely beaten up by the police, died later.After the 9th May incident, the process of mutual distrust was completed. The tribals, led by the Jana Mancha, felt betrayed by the govt. and perceived the administration as friend of the companies and enemies of the tribal people; the administration, on its part, was taken aback by the vociferous opposition of the hitherto gullible and peaceable. Plausibly, they were planning ways of snuffing out the resistance.

The Bloodbath for Tata Project:

On 17 November, 2004 the government of Odisha and the Tata Steel Limited signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a Greenfield project with the yielding capacity of 6 million ton steel per annum with the investment of Rs.1540 millon. The company requires 6000 acres of land for the proposed project to be built up in two phases of 3-3 milllion ton each. The Odisha government sanctioned 3471.808 acres of land to the company, which was declared ‘acquired land’ for the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Complex’ in 1992. Out of 3471.808 acres of land, 2755.812 acres of land was said to be acquired from 1195 Adivasi families. The Tata Steel Limited claims that the Adivasi land owners were already compensated in 1992 under the section-34 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 but they were not displaced from the land. Hence, the Tata Company started land acquisition forcefully. In response to the company, the “Bistafan Virodhi Jana Manch” (Forum against Displacement) started mass people’s movement against the forceful land acquisition. Consequently, there was huge tension in the region.

Though the villagers had almost lost their hope of retaining their agricultural land as most of them had no patta (entitlement papers) of the land, therefore, they were ready to accept the compensation. However, there was huge disagreement on the issue of compensation as only those people were compensated, who had patta of the land. ‘This left a huge section of people uncompensated, as they had no patta over the land they possessed[31]. After acquiring the land from people, IDCO has been selling the land to different industries at a much higher price. The Adivasi land owners were angry, precisely, because, the IDCO had sold their land to the Tatas at the rate of Rs.3.5 lakhs per acre[32] and they were paid merely from 15000 to 30000. Most interesting poit to know is ‘taking advantage of non-settlement of land, many influential people had grabbed the Adivasis’ land, by hook or crook, after the area was marked for the industrial complex. According to the report, an ‘ex- Chief Secretary of the state had grabbed 160 acres of land in Kalinganagar through his influence’[33]with the clear intention to bag huge amount of money as compensation package.

Meanwhile, a notice was served to the land owners for the Public Hearing on Tata Steel plant, which was supposed to be held at Jajpur Road on 27th July, 2005. However, on 23rd July 2005, the Tata Company was performing the bhoomipooja in the presence of the District Collector and the Suprintendent of Police[34], which was strongly, protested by 3000 people. Consequently, the bhoomipooja was cancelled and the District Administration responded by lodging cases against some people and their leaders. On 7th October, 2005, the chairman of the Tata Company, Ratan Tata visited to the project site, accompanied by police and district administration for bhoomipooja but the people protested against it.

On 25th October, Rabindra Jarika, one of the leaders of the Jana Mancha, was arrested by the Jajpur police from Bhubaneswar, when he was attending a conference, which was organized by the Adivasi organizations. The manner in which Jarika was arrested had raised serious questions at that time and many organizations, had protested against police highhandedness in this case and the policy of the government to repress all democratic struggles by use of police force. On 27th October people gheraoed the Kalinganagar police station protesting against the arrest of Rabindra Jarika. After protest, the police attempted to arrest the other leaders of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch but failed to do so.

Meanwhile, another steel company ‘Maharashtra Seamless’ also started construction work at its proposed project site. On 17th November, 2005, the people stopped the construction work the Maharashtra Seamless, which had ripple impact in the region. The people’s movement was gaining the momentum and the mood of the people was unbeatable. However, the District Administration didn’t give up and had been trying to take over the land for the Tata Company. On 23rd December, 2005, rumors started flying across the villages that the district administration and the company may try to take over the land soon. Therefore, the VVJM conveyed the message to the district administration again that such a move of the administration would force them to resist until death.

 Massive Bloodbath for Development:

On January 1st, 2006, the Adivasis came to know through a ‘leak in the administration that the Tata Company would initiate boundary wall construction on 2nd January, 2006 without taking the consent[35] of the land owners, which fuelled the anger. Hence, they decided to oppose the attempt and spread the information across the region. Since, the Tata Company was well planned to start the construction work, therefore, the district administration had deployed heavy security in the proposed project site at Champakoil Nuaugaon in Kalinga Nagar industrial area. On 2nd January, 2006, the district administration of Jajpur district including the ‘District Magistrate and the Suprintendent of Police, and TATA Steel officials reached to the site with the earthleveling machines, and started the land leveling and construction of the boundary wall[36]. The team was escorted by 12 platoons of armed police armed with sophisticated weapons.

As per the plan, the Adivasis gathered near the project site carrying their traditional weapon i.e. bows, arrows and axes. After seeing the construction work, the Adivasis got angry. However, they formed a delegation of four members, who went to meet the district administration and rest of them were waiting at a distance. When the district administration denied hearing their plea, they went to stop the construction work.  As soon as they reached near the foundation trench of the boundary wall, a police man blew the whistle and there was an explosion without warning from the police. Thereafter, tear gas, firing of rubber bullet and actual firing started simultaneously. ‘Chaos ensued, with people running helter and skelter. Even the unarmed local policemen panicked at the firing and the explosions, and people say that in this panic one or two policemen fell into the boundary wall ditch and were injured by the tribals in the heat of the moment.

On hearing the sound of explosions and firing, more tribals from the nearby settlements rushed to the site and started stone pelting and firing arrows inspite of the continuos firing by the police[37]. Consequently, 12 protestors including 2 women and one 14-year boy died at the spot and 37 people got sever injuries. The police brutality didn’t end here; the dead bodies were also chopped off. Finally, the police took the dead bodies for postmortem and when the deadbodies were handed over to the Adivasis, they found that the breast of women and ‘palms of five persons were chopped off[38], which fueled the anger of the protestors. They strongly protested against the police brutality. On 4th January, 2006, mass cremation was held at Ambagadia village and they declared the place as “Veer Bhoomi” (land of martyres).

Table 2 – List of Adivasis died in Police Firing

Sl. No. Name Village Age Sex
1. Landu Jarika Bamiagotha 29 Male
2. Ramachandra Jamuda Bamiagotha 35 Male
3. Junga Jarika Bamiagotha 25 Male
4. Gobinda Laguri Bamiagotha 14 Male
5. Rama Gagarai Gadapur 35 Male
6. Bana Badra Gadapur 35 Male
7. Mukta Bankira Chandia 40 Female
8. Rangalal Mundei Baligotha 40 Male
9. Ati Jamuda Chandia 32 Male
10. Deogi Tiria Champakoila 35 Female
11. Sudam Barla Belhudi 25 Male
12. Bhagaban Soy Gobarghati 25 Male

The police firing intensified the mass movement against the Tata Company. Since, the media gave huge coverage to the indicent therefore, just after 5 days of this shocking incident a State-wide shutdown (Orissa Bandh) was observed on 7th January 2006 with an exemplary success, with firm solidarity shown through token Bandhs in the tribal pockets of neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. The National-level leaders from all political parties, right, left or centrist including the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Supremo Mr.Shibu Soren visited the site at Gobar Ghati called by then Bir Bhoomi (the land of heroes), where the victims of police firing had been cremated and conveyed their sympathies to the local community. A storm of protest swept across the region and country.

Meanwhile, the Visthapan Virodhi Jana Manch called off an economic blockade on Daitary-Paradip National Highway was put up and maintained right from the day of incident 2nd January 06 till 9th March, 2007, that is to say, for more than 14 months at a stretch, by far the longest of its kind. The Jana Manch lifted the blockade only after the Orissa High Court intervened and the State Chief Minister showed a conciliatory response to the set of demands that the Visthapan Birodhi Jana Manch had put forth. As a condition for lifting the 14 months long road blockade the VVJM had demanded that the administration won’t use force under any pretext to evict them from their land; that the Tatas must not start construction work without their consent; and that a dialogue to explore an alternative to displacement ought to continue. The Chief Minister formally agreed to their demands in writing on March 8, 2007, and the letter was read out to the protestors and their leaders in Kalinganagar. It was only then that the people decided to withdraw the blockade with the declaration that if the government reneged on its promises the blockade would be back on track again.

Tricks of Trade:

However, after few months when the situation was normalized, the Tata Company started listing out of unemployed Adivasi youth and lured them with money. The Agents of the Company started visiting to the villages and convincing the Youth. And when they were able to trap some Adivasis youth, they intensified their work to convince the villagers to surrender their land for the project. The best example to judge is one can find latest vehicles i.e. Bolero, Pazero, Scorpio, etc parked in front of the house of many Adivasi youth who work for the Tata company. Meanwhile, the Tata Company also got huge support from the district police and administration. The Police opened a local police post near the project spot to facilitate the land acquisition. The police started coercive action against the protestors. Firstly, the police threatened the protestors to stop opposing the project or face dire consequences. When the protestors denied obeying the Police’s order, a case with the charge of murder was filed against 8 leaders of the Movement and they were arrested. Secondly, another case was filed against five leaers of being the members of the Naxal organization the CPI-Maoist and they were also arrested. The police also started threatening to all the protestors. They were arrested from Market, Homes or ponds. Thus, 120 protestors were put behind the bars. The police told the protestors that if they stop opposing the project, the cases would be lifted from them and they would be released. The leaders of the political parties were also used to convince the people for surrendering their land.

The District Magistrat, Suprintendent of Police and Deputy Suprintendent of Police of Jajpur district were also visiting to the vicinity frequently to convince the protestors. They also used to threaten them. The leader of the Movement Chakdhar Haibrue was asked to visit guest house many times and told that he should stop the movment otherwise he would be taught a lesion and when he was not ready to accept it, he was put behind the bars. The district police and administration unleased the brutalities. Consequently, the villagers became helpless as most of their leaders were put behind the bars. Finally, they had no option than to surrender their land. Thus, 5000 Adivasis of Sanchandiya, Baiburu, Champakoya -1, Kalamati, Chandia, Baligotha, Gobarghati, Bamiagotha, Champakoya-2, Ambagadia, Sasogotha, Gadapur and Bandgadia village were displaced. Their villages were razed by Bulldozars and the Adivasis were dumped in the transit colonies. However, the company claims that the Adivasis voluntarily surrendered their land and became the member of the Tata family. Later on 7 injured protestors also died. Thus, 19 Adivasi protestors lost their lives while protesting against the Tata Company.

Impact of the Project:

The impact of the mega steel projects can be seen in the lives of the displaced Adivasis.  Those families, who were displaced by the NINL rehabilitated in the Gobarghati colony. It would be very interesting to know that merely 120 families out of 639 displaced families of Khandiapusi, Madhapur and Sarangpur villages were  rehabilitated in the colony and about 70 per cent of those, who have not come to settle in the colony have opted for Rs. 50,000/- as cash compensation instead of  10 decimal homestead land at rehabilitation colony. A large section of the displaced families chose not to come to the resettled colony because of lack of livelihood in the vicinity. The people, who are staying in the colony, only 25 families have got employment in NINL. The remaining families go to work in the stone crushers located at a distance of 15 kilometers as daily wage labourer and earning meager amount of Rs. 40-50/- per day. These displaced families, although living as daily wage earners, have not been considered as BPL families. 5 tube wells have been installed and two of them not working. Inside the colony, roads are also of murram and get washed away in the rainy season. There is one primary school in the colony. Electricity connection has been provided up to the colony but people are not in a position to afford for it. There is no Primary Health Centre in the colony and nearest PHC is located at about 20 Kilometers. The displaced families, although resettled since 1997, have not been provided with patta for their homestead land. The families, who surrendered their land for the Tata project, also became daily wage labourers. The women and children adopted selling of liquor. There, are nearly 200 liquor shops near the Tata steel plant.

 The vision against People:

The Odisha state government has vision to extend the ‘Kalinganagar Industrial Area (KIA) to 177 square kilometers by 2025[39] with the investment of Rs. 6613 million. In this connection, Lea Associates of South Asia in association with the School of Planning and Architect, New Delhi and the Centre for Environment and Planning (CEPT) presented a vision document to the Chief Minister of Odisha for the development of Kalinganagar Industrial Area. The Odisha government believes that the Kalinganagar Industrial complex has been a true realization of the socio-economic dream that would lead the State into a new era of prosperity. A draft of the Comprehensive Development Plan of Kalinga Nagar Development Plan Area would include 161 nos of village i.e. 20 villages of Vyasanagar Municipality, 41 villages of Sukinda Tahasil, 65 villages of Danagadi Tahasil, 29 villages of Vyasanagar Tahasil and 6 villages of Rasulpur Tahasil covering an area of 458.78 kilometeres[40]. Consequetnly, there would be huge displacement of the Adivasis and other local land owners.


The Adivasis are the Indigenous People of India, who have unique tradition, culture and identity. However, the Indian goverment did not recognize their indigenous status, neglected them in terms of development and denied their rights.The Adivasis are constitutionally known as the Scheduled Tribes, whose economy is completely based on agro-forestry. They do not rely on the natural resources merely for their livelihood, but their sole identity, culture, history, autonomy and existence depend on it. Though enough provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution and the government has also introduced several progressive laws for safeguarding the Adivasis including their land, territory and resources. Despite that their rights are grossly violated and they are being alienated, displaced and dispossessed from their land, territory and resources in the name of development, economic growth and interest of the Nation. The Adivasis’ territory is under unrest.

Today, the meaning of development and economic growth in India is as simple as handing over the natural resources into the hands of corporate sharks. And the governments of those states, who are rapidilty doing it are called the emerging state. For instance, the state of Chhattisgarh and Odisha are at the first and second position in the list and these states are being called the emerging states, where the resource grab is rampant. The liberalisation of the India’s economic policy to exelarate the industrialisation processes have resulted in massive resource grab of the Adivasis. However, when they exercise their right to freedom of expression to protect their land, territory and resources, their voices are suppressed with the mighy power of the state. Thus, the development and economic growth of the Nation have become a nightmare for the Indigenous Peoples of India instead of prosperity.

The modern development projects have impoverished disempowered and marginalized the Adivasis. However, the Indian State has been accelerating the processes of industrialisation in the 5th Scheduled Areas despite massive bloodbath and Kalinganagar is a witness to it. The former President of India, Dr. K.R. Narayana, while addressing to the Nation on the eve of the 52nd Republic Day of India on 26th January, 2001, strontly warned the nation saying, “The developmental path we have adopted is hurting them and threatening their very existence. Let it not be said of India that this great Republic in a hurry to develop itself is devastating the green mother earth and uprooting our tribal populations.” Unfortunately, India seems to be in so hurry to build its development mansion, even if it has to be built over the deadbodies of the Adivasis.

Bibliography & Reference:

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[1] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it Anyway? Adivaaani:Kolkata.

[2] Dungdung, Gladson. 2010. Adivasis struggle against displacement in Jharkhand in a book entitled Adivasis at the Crossroads in India edited by Topio Tamminen published by the Swallows of Finland.

[3] Recommentations for High Level Committee on the status of Tribal in India published by the Actionaid, India 2014.

[4] Ibid.

[5] [5] The Supreme Court order on the SLP (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra.

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Joshi, Sopan. 2003. Defunct Democracy. Down to Earth (Mumbai) July 31. pp. 26.

[9] Prabhu, Pradeep. 2004. Tribal Interface-Logic of survival. Combat Law (Mumbai) Dec-Jan. pp. 6.

[10] Dungdung, Gladson. 2013. Whose Country is it anyway? Adivaani:Kolkata.

[11] a portal for Santals Freedom Struggle

[12] Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Development Projects vs. Internally Displaced Populations in India:

A Literature Based Appraisal, February 2011, p. 6

[13] Idid.

[14] “NAC’s seven-point test for land acquisition bill”. The Hindu (Chennai, India). 10 June 2011

[15] Ibid.

[16] The Constitution of India published in 2007 by the Ministry of Law and Justice (Government of India).

[17] Ibid.

[18] The Chhotanagpur Land Tenancy Act, 1908.

[19] The Bihar Scheduled Areas Regulation Act, 1969.

[20] The Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949.

[21] The Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, 1959.

[22] The Odisha Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation, 1956

[23] The Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (prevention) of Atrocity Act 1989.

[24] ‘The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.

[25] The Land Acquisition Act 1894 published in the Gazette of India.

[26] The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Dummett, Mark. 2006. Battle over Indian steel mills. Kalinga Nagar:BBC News.

[29] ‘Police Firing at Kalinganagar’ a report prepared by the People’s Union for Civil Liverties, Odisha.

[30] Ibid.

[31] ‘Police Firing at Kalinganagar’ a report prepared by the People’s Union for Civil Liverties, Odisha.

[32] Ibid.

[33] ‘Ibid.

[34] Ibid.


[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Patnaik, Lalmohan. 2012. Twist to Kalinganagar firing row. Telegraph:Bhubneshwar, June 30.


[40] Ibid.

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