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India: Police try to forcibly evict farmers in India: Further information

, رقم الوثيقة: ASA 20/028/2011

On 10 June 2011, police marched into Govindpur village, Jagatsinghpur district, Orissa state, India, intending to forcibly evict farmers from common land. After several hours of tense but peaceful protest by villagers, the police retreated, threatening to return soon to continue the eviction.

Further information on UA: 147/11 Index: ASA 20/028/2011 India Date: 10 June 2011
URGENT ACTION
POLICE TRY TO FORCIBLY EVICT FARMERS IN INDIA
On 10 June, police marched into Govindpur village, Jagatsinghpur district, Orissa state, India,
intending to forcibly evict farmers from common land. After several hours of tense but peaceful
protest by villagers, the police retreated, threatening to return soon to continue the eviction.
An estimated 4,000 families from four villages of Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa state, in India, are under threat of
being forcibly evicted from common land used for farming and cultivation. The farmers and their families are
dependent on this land for their livelihood and some families also live there.
On 10 June, about 1,000 police officials in riot gear, some of them armed, marched into Govindpur village in
Jagatsinghpur district, intending to begin the eviction. About 2,000 protestors demonstrated peacefully against the
police officials, leading to a tense situation for four hours. Due to intense afternoon heat, five demonstrators two
women and three children and two police officials fainted, following which the policemen retreated for the day,
after threatening the villagers that the forced evictions would be carried out soon.
On 18 May, about 150 policemen in riot gear, some of them armed, forcibly evicted at least 200 farmers from
Polong and Noliasahi villages and destroyed betel vines (an Asian plant whose leaves are often chewed in India) and
farming sheds on common land.
Orissa state authorities are carrying out the forced evictions as part of their plan to acquire 1,600 hectares in five
villages, the majority of which are common lands. This is to make way for the proposed US$12 billion steel plant
involving South Korean steel giant POSCO, the biggest foreign direct investment project in India. The authorities did
not consult with the local communities or the local bodies or issue notices to the farmers. The authorities contended
that there was no need to issue prior notice for acquiring common lands “as they belonged to the government.” They
also announced that the farmers would be eligible for maximum compensation which would be calculated for the
crops lost during the land acquisition process, but so far the families been provided with no compensation.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language:
Urging the authorities to stop all forced evictions in Jagatsinghpur district and to ensure that any evictions are
carried out in accordance with international human rights standards, including genuine consultation to identify
alternatives to evictions, due process safeguards and the provision of adequate compensation and adequate
alternative land for farming;
Urging them to provide all the families who were forcibly evicted with access to effective remedies;
Calling on them to put measures in place to ensure that the authorities carry out a comprehensive human rights
and environmental impact assessment of the POSCO project, in consultation with the local communities;
Asking them to ensure that no work begins on the project until these steps are taken and the communities’
human rights are protected
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 JULY TO:
Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister’s Office
152, South Block,
New Delhi 110 001, India
Email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Chief Minister of Orissa
Naveen Patnaik
Naveen Nivas
Aerodrome Road
Bhubaneswar 751001, India
Email: cmo@ori.nic.in
Salutation: Dear Chief Minister
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the first update of UA 147/11. Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA20/020/2011/en
Date: 10 June 2011
URGENT ACTION
POLICE TRY TO FORCIBLY EVICT FARMERS IN INDIA
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
“The authorities are going ahead with evictions at gunpoint. In the early hours of 18 May, 150 police officials entered Polonga
village and started destroying betel vines in the common forest lands on which at least 200 farmers are dependent; they want to
take over 1,600 hectares, the majority of which are common lands, in coastal Orissa for the biggest foreign investment project in
India, brushing aside our rightful claims.”
Abhay Sahoo, leader of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi, Dhinkia village, Orissa
As per India’s Forest Rights Act, 2008, common lands refers to village property which falls under the authority and sanction of
local bodies and is intended to be used by local communities. Local communities have filed claims over the lands under the Act.
The only public consultation done was in April 2007 when the above act had not come into effect.
Earlier this year, the Orissa state authorities failed to settle local communities’ claims over common lands despite two official
investigations, ordered by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, which raised serious concerns about the authorities’
attempts to acquire these common lands. These investigations also revealed that the proposed steel project had violated national
environmental laws and coastal regulations and that the potential negative impact on local community livelihoods had not been
adequately assessed. Despite these findings, the central authorities accepted the Orissa state authorities’ declaration that that no
local communities living in the area have rights to the common lands.
Since June 2005, local communities in Jagatsinghpur district have protested the possible displacement and potential threats to
their livelihoods from the POSCO project. Protestors have often erected barricades in the area and prevented officials from
entering these villages. In June 2008, one protestor, Dula Mandal, was killed by a bomb during a clash between critics and
supporters of the project. In May 2010 at least 20 protestors sustained gunshot wounds when police used excessive force against
them.
The steel project is scheduled to go ahead as soon as the authorities physically acquire the necessary land.
FU on UA: 147/11 Index: ASA 20/028/2011 Issue Date: 10 June 2011

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