Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram stages Dharna in Bhubaneswar for Tribals

Press Release: Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram staged a dharna in Bhubaneswar protesting for the socio-economic upliftment and development of indigenous tribes in the remote tribal areas of Odisha. The activists have been demanding a provision of 26% profit sharing in all mines in the recent MMDR Amendment Bill 2011.

The protesters staged a demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan (Governor House) on Monday. Later, they handed over a memorandum on MMDR Amendment Bill 2011 (an amendment to the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act rules) to the Governor.

President Lachhaman Nayak, president of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram Odisha, demanded to have provision for 26% profit after Tax (PAT) sharing in all major minerals (including Coal) Sectors to the project affected persons to fulfill their aspiration of NMP 2008.

He dragged the media attention by talking on the key issues and problems that the tribal people of Odisha are facing. He pressed for the missing of Tribals displaced by the mining activities and demand 26% profit share. He said that mining activities in these areas affect Millions of tribals depriving them from ‘Land’ and ‘Forest’, which are the only source of their livelihood. The ineffective Rehabilitation and resettlement policy of the Centre has only settled 25% of the displaced tribals of the country, where as the Mine owners and corporate houses have earned millions of Rupees from these resources, without bothering the miseries of the affected persons of those areas, which give rise to the unrest in the tribal areas. To bring a change in those areas process has been started 3 years back to amend the MMDR Act 1957 after adoption of national mining policy. The proposal of profit sharing in this regards pursued by the Minister of Mines was discussed by the Group of Ministers on the Chairmanship of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who suggested sharing of 26% profit of after Tax to the project affected persons (PAP) and the bill was introduced in the parliament. Problem started after Dhindsa Patel was made minister of Mines. He suggested that the 26% profit sharing be made only for Coal mines. Now the bill introduced in the Parliament and with the parliamentary standing committee of mines for consideration. But it is learnt from the media that both planning commission and the minister are trying to reduce the 26% profit sharing even from coal mines. This is complete betrayal to the tribals and displaced persons by the Central Govt.

He was stick to the following demands:

1. Adhere with own proposal in this regards approved by GOM in MMDR Amendment Bill 2010.
2. Industries utilizing minerals from these mines be included in this policy or 26% profit sharing to PAPs.
3. Provision may be made to include reputed NGOs and representatives in the committees made for identification, rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected persons.
4. Provisions be made in the Bill for constitution of the National Mining Tribunal (NMT), its Circuit Benches, a State Mining Tribunal (SMTs) and Special Mining Courts (SMCs) at the District levels.
5. The Bill should be adequately amended to provide that a sitting judge of the Apex Court is appointed as the Chairperson in the NMT,  a sitting judge of the concerning High Court as Chairperson in all the SMTs and at least one SMC is established in every Mineral/tribal dominated district of the country for convenience of the aggrieved persons.

Along with Lachhaman Nayak, Jagdish Prasad Misra (Working President of the organisation), Panu Majhi (Vice President), Laxmikant Dash (General Secretary), Dhaneswar Mohanta (Secretary) were present and handed over a memorandum to the Governor yesterday.

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