Thirteen years ago on January 2 of 2006, 14 innocent tribals, including three women, were brutally shot down by the police for protesting against the boundary construction at the Tata Steel Kalinga Nagar plant in Odisha. This was not the first tribal group to have had its land illegally and forcefully seized by industrialists. Many tribals in India have had to give up their land one way or the other for rapid industrialization and urbanization.
Prasant Paikray, spokesman of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), said there are 14 steel companies in Kalinga Nagar. The locals who lost their lands for industrialization don’t have any job. He expressed concerns over the authority’s apathy to check pollution in the area and to provide proper rehabilitation to the displaced persons.
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According to DowntoEarth, large number of people in villages around Kalinga Nagar has been forced to live amidst stench and filth with officials showing a strange reluctance to intervene. “Open drains, potholes, water-logging, air and water pollution in the rehabilitation colonies and nearby villages have only added to the residents’ misery,” says DowntoEarth.
Trolochan Mohant, a tribal leader said rampant industrialization and the unregulated use of water by the industries have caused river pollution and water shortages in the many villages near the Bramahani River.
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There are other tribes in India fighting the authority’s apathy. One such is the Dongria Kondh tribe, in Odisha, and it successfully resisted mining on their lands and continues to do so. According to tribal activists, there has been an alarming increase in arbitrary, politically motivated arrests of tribal people who are resisting mining operations or government policies which endanger their lands and communities. As per various media reports, the arrested are ‘accused of Maoist’ links. Research shows that industrialization in tribal land has made the tribal vulnerable. They have been displaced from their traditional livelihood and their self-sustaining subsistence system of production. Their lifestyle is affected. Furthermore, the rapid changes at the macro level that India has witnessed since the 90s has contributed towards the instability of the livelihood system of the tribal households.
According to the 2011 census, about 104 million people in India are members of Scheduled Tribes, which accounts for 8.6 % of India’s population.