Friday, July 1, 2016

Details on our Trip to Singrauli

 Dilip (Vidya Ashram), three students from BHU (Yudesh, Rohit, & ...) and myself went around different regions in Singrauli – from the region of displacement due to Rihand project down to the present impending one & the ones to be displaced in future- for nearly 21/2 days. We were accompanied by Sri Awadesh and Sri Dubey of Singrauli, both very well known and respected personalities over there. We were also joined by Sri Avirup, Sri Sohail and Awadesh’s son. The first two are law students and were in Singrauli for a project & were really good asset to the whole team in legal issues. The last one very promptly organized every program and did the required follow up.

23 – 06 – 2016:

On reaching Singrauli, we had a meeting in Awadesh’s house. Certain activities that had been discussed over phone and thru e-mails prior to our visit, their status was found as under:

1.       The objection to the notice under Section 4 had been filed in the Collector’s office and 26 other related offices. This had been done on the letter head of the organization run by Sri Awadesh & others. It was suggested to them that individual objections be also filed so that no body raises the question of ‘locus standi’. The process has begun & the letter of authority from the affected to the organization for taking up their cause was also in the process of being finalized.

2.       Under RTI act five applications have been filed by Avirup & others seeking certain interesting and relevant information concerning the issues at hand.

It was suggested to Sri Awadesh & his team that there was a need to go to the High Court for the affected ones because of breach of agreement between them and the parties who acquired their lands. It was also suggested to them that in addition to agitating on the ground the option of the court had to be exercised and in this all the ousted had to be included, if possible from the Rihand days.

For filing a court case the procedure to be adopted is to get application on breach of agreement from each and every affected one duly signed with address before displacement. Alongside of these applications, Sri Awadesh’s organization can also become a party to the case. The Agreement Document was traced during our stay and the same becomes the main issue for contention.

In this regard – court case- and also to obtain some more information on the issue, we met the then Sarpanch at his residence. We were 8 of us and had a good meeting with him. He informed us that one Sri Radhika Prasad – present Sarpanch- had filed a case in Jabalpur High Court and he gave us the Case No. and with the help of Avirup we could download the entire case history till now. The case was filed in May 2015 and next hearing is on 4th July 2016. One organization has also got added to this petition in the Court. Based on this information, we decided that the documents backing the case be obtained either from Radhika Prasad or their certified copies may be obtained from the Court. On perusal of these documents, it may be necessary to add some more concerns of the ousted and based on that a case could be filed in the same court stating that some issues have not been addressed in the existing petition and post admission it would be heard along with the existing one. Even otherwise it was prudent to file a case in the court independent of the existing one because if, for some reasons, Radhika Prasad withdraws our Advocate shall not and the case will remain alive.

Sri Avirup & Sohail were requested to be in touch with Sri Awadesh and help them in filing the court case, as they are to leave for Bombay by month end to pursue their studies. They too are running some social organization and hence are activists in their own way.

Prior to our meeting with the ex-Sarpanch we had met good number of the ousted and they had informed us that the then CM had addressed them in the now Sasan Complex and made a promise that jobs would be given to them. The ex Sarpanch confirmed it and agreed to file a signed statement in this regard which could be used in the court or elsewhere.

The thinking in the group that visited Singrauli is that Vidya Ashram may remain in touch with Sri Awadesh to expedite the filing of Suit in the Jabalpur High Court.


We availed this opportunity to talk to the people who are going to be displaced, the Adivasis, in groups-big and small, wherein their local leaders also participated. We also had good meeting with the market people who own shops and other establishments, fairly large participation. The entire tour was very nicely organized by Awadesh ji & Dubey ji.

Every assembly started with Yudesh singing folk songs on displacement with accompaniment of Dafli.

This is the region which is facing immediate threat of displacement & the objections to the notice under Section 4 have already been filed. We were accompanied by local Tribal leaders to each and every place in the region where we went. The unanimous and very spontaneous response of the prospective victims of impending displacement, both the tribals & the market populace was that they would not hand over their lands for some money because those who did that are left to beg on the roadside and that the agreements have been violated. The market community stated that the social relationships that they had cultivated over the last 40 years were indispensible and therefore would not be bargained for some cash in hand.

The tribal leaders and Sri Awadesh and Sri Dubey have excellent rapport and mutual regard for each other.


We met a large cross section of the ousted ones and informed them how they had a strong legal case against the establishment and how they could come together to fight for their cause.
It was emphasized to one and all, that is the ousted ones and the ones for whom displacement is imminent and those on whom the axe was to fall in future, to come together for the cause and chalk out the activities on the ground for highlighting their opposition to the displacement and for demanding implementation of the Agreement in Toto.

Lok Swaraj Darshan:

All the meetings that we attended the concept of Lokavidhya was sought to be communicated to them and which was received with great curiosity followed with question / answer session. It was done basically to infuse self confidence in them to face the Babus who treat them with contempt as uneducated and ignorant people. So that, as and when they are confronted by the Babus, they feel confident enough to question them on their concept of development. 

It was realized by the entire visiting team and the team of Sri Awadesh that this fight cannot be just restricted to monetary compensation and honouring of the Agreement between the parties, it had to transcend that legal framework and question the very definition of ‘Development’; its ethics, its economy and its consequences on the lives of thousands of families and the Prakrati. On the ground, certain ways of the establishment in the name of ‘Development’ had to be questioned in an uninhibited manner to question the uncivilized methods of the powers that be which have the audacity to put a price tag on the life of a human being and his/her generations to come as if they are for sale.

With the above in mind, the following points were put to the audience in all the meetings that we had for 21/2 days:
  • You are not ignorant, uneducated people. You have your own knowledge base by the dint of which you have been contributing to the economy of our country and your contribution to the GDP is 60 % and that your communities provide jobs to 90 % of the people from among your cross section of people. Whereas the big business share in the GDP is a mere 15 % and creation of jobs involves investing a fortune.
  • The establishment, the government, the Planning Commission, etc. do not incur any expenditure on you for acquiring the knowledge that you acquire to earn your livelihoods; much less being a burden on anyone you are the creators of wealth. Your knowledge is such that you do not hanker after jobs but you create jobs.
  • On the other hand, those who are educated in schools, colleges, and universities and which requires thousands of crores of investment in creating necessary infrastructure, hanker after jobs because they are not capable of earning livelihoods, on their own, based on their knowledge base.
  • That despite investments to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees in institutions like technical education universities, the IITs, the other engineering colleges, the research and development laboratories, the institutions for pursuing pure sciences, etc the fact remains that even today right from the pen that we use for writing , the stapler we use for attaching papers, to the defense and medical care equipments and machinery including their technology and engineering designs are purchased outright from abroad or under some collaborative agreement(s) between the foreign and the Indian company. Nothing demonstrates the failure of the modern age Indian scientists, engineers, and technologists than the sordid fact that when P.M. Modi talks of ‘Make In India’ initiative, he simultaneously talks of ‘Skill Development Program’ thereby implying that the engineers, the technologists, and scientists that are churned out every year by lacs do not have any skills to be a part of ‘Make In India’ initiative. So the net output for the investments summing up to thousands of crores of rupees is the birth of an educated class which has proved incapable of putting India on the world map of science & technology. For this movement against displacement, it is imperative to challenge the parasitical nature of the so called educated class.
  • It is necessary to question why a productive class was being continuously uprooted and disengaged from their professions based on their knowledge base for the sake of providing jobs and modern amenities to a parasitical class.
  • The governments and their affiliated political parties have been praising the leadership that ushered in ‘open market economy’ & ‘free market economy’ in our country since 1990. They seem not to understand that since ages (thousands of years) the tribals, the artisans, the hawkers, the shopkeepers, the farmers, etc of this land have been and continue to be players in open & free market economies. For example, a vegetable vendor who purchases, from his own money, the vegetables from wholesale market and sells them in a retail market where many other vendors sell the same; this vendor is obviously put to competition by the market forces and in that environment sells his goods to make profit at the end of the day. How much this vendor earns per day is not important, but what is important is that this vendor lives his/her life in a dignified way without harming or hurting anybody else’s interests. Same is true for a carpenter, a potter, a blacksmith, a goldsmith, a weaver, etc. This participation is without any FDI, without being a burden on the banks or financial institutions. Whereas the big business houses have been and continue to be guilty of defaulting on payments related to liquidation of bank loans and that in itself sums up to thousands of crores of rupees; the black money generation being the other trait of this well protected community.
  • The Constitution of India guarantees  ‘Right to Livelihood’; which means that every citizen of this country has this right to earn his/her livelihood based on his/her skill sets that are derived from his/her knowledge base. Thus the very act of bringing in projects that externalize people from their professions is in violation of the ‘Right to Livelihood’ Act of the Constitution.
  • The jobs that are promised to the ousted through an agreement are the biggest kind of fraud that is played on the unsuspecting minds. For the reason(s) that like a dentist cannot cure heart patient, a cardiologist cannot cure stomach ulcers, an engineer cannot do a doctor’s job and a doctor cannot do an engineer’s job; similarly a farmer can do only agriculture be it productions of grains, fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. A farmer cannot work in an industry because he/she is not equipped to do so, likewise an artisan, a hawker, a shopkeeper cannot and therefore this job inducement is an act of deceit by the governments and their partners sought to be perpetuated on the unsuspecting minds. At best one can become a labourer and that too only a few are required in modern day industry. The bigger question is: how can any development effort in a civilized society become the instrument for transforming knowledgeable people in to a community of labourers! It is this question that this movement needs to ask. 
  • The premise that the government owns all forest lands and all other lands in the plains needs to be questioned because this is major source for exploitation and inhuman ways of so called development. How can anyone own something that he/she has neither created nor produced? Like a women can say that this boy and that girl are her children because she has given birth to them; a father cannot say that because fatherhood is a matter of faith, likewise a farmer can say that this produce belongs to him because he has produced it; an artisan can say that so and so products belong to him. The Prakrati has neither been created or produced by the government and so how can it lay the claim of ownership on it, needs to be asked.
  • What scientific methods are being used by environmental scientists to conclude that devouring of thousands and thousands of hectares of forests is not going to disturb the ecological balance; the people need to know.
  • That which you did not create how you arrogated this right to annihilate it onto yourself!
  • The artificial hills that have been created using excavated soil and boulders while extracting coal, what studies have been done to show that they are non polluting and are not a threat to life in its surroundings.
  • The ‘Right to Property’ in the Constitution has been through an amendment changed to just ‘Legal Right’. We are told that we live in a democracy & in it the will of the people is supreme. This amendment has given the government of the day unlimited powers to grab any land/property they think are required for the development. It has been quite obvious that through this amendment the government of the day has been acting in a partisan way to help a certain cross section of the Indian Society. Since this amendment is going to be the instrument for devouring Prakrati and displacing people from their social and professional base, the ‘Lokmat’ is that this ‘legal right’ be reversed to original act ‘Right to Property’. This demand needs to be put across for justice to prevail.
  • The amendment was followed by ‘Land Acquisition Act 2013’. We totally and unconditionally reject this Act because it puts a price tag on the life of a human being and his yet to be born generations and measures everything- be it social, economical, religious- in terms of money which is not only irrational thought but also uncivilized. No matter what the compensation amount – from Rs. 5 to Rs. 5000 Crores- we outright reject this philosophy of development because it aims at extinguishing unorganized methods of acquiring most useful and productive knowledge base and a whole community of learned people is dumped in to abysmal darkness.
  • We reject this method of development because it devours Nature and natural resources. We are products of Nature and if the Nature is annihilated how can any life survive on this planet.
  • In International meetings/conferences on ‘how to reduce pollution’ our leaders say that ‘we are committed to start a process that shall see reduction in pollution by opting for clean technologies’ and on the other hand the same very people destroy jungles and externalize the people from their habitats to install Thermal Power Plants which are highly polluting. Electricity is required for development and this can always be produced by employing solar and wind energy. This would entail no displacement, no devouring of forests, and no skilled person would be transformed in to an unskilled labourer.
  • The technologies related to wind and solar power will have to be imported as is also true for thermal power plants & therefore no dent in the dignity of the so called scientific, engineering, and technologists (in India) would be caused.
  • The coal available in India is of a very low grade and therefore not at all efficient fuel for thermal power generation. It may advisable to import better quality coal to improve efficiency of power generating plants.
  • The MLA and the MP elected by the people of the region do not show up for taking up the cause of those who elected them. They are dictated by their party’s interests and therefore do not represent the people. The case needs to be made for the change from party politics to people’s politics that would enable them to choose their true leaders. The debate on the very definition of people’s representative need be raised through this movement against displacement.
  • That this was not the struggle against the unjust and inadequacy of the signed Agreements, but against the very concept of development and the societies that allow it under the dispensation called democracy. 
    During the meetings few more points may have been mentioned on what shape this struggle should be given and what kind of concerns it should address to. Unable to recollect all of them, but the guiding principle while addressing the gatherings was to make an attempt to imbibe in them this thought that their movement should not address to the inadequacies of compensation, which they have already decided not to accept, but question the very basis of contemporary development strategies that dehumanize a large cross section of the people, that is which divests them of individuality and deprives them of human qualities and attributes.

Formation of Committees:

During the meeting with market people, it was resolved that committees for various regions in the entire area be formed led by their respective leaderships and that these committees would interact with each other to chalk out various ways for the ensuing struggle against this inhuman ways of development. The tribal leaders were also present in the meeting and consent was spontaneously obtained from every quarter. It was also decided that the apex committee would communicate to the establishment that all the issues- related to the displaced ones, the ones this displacement is looming large, and the ones to be displaced in future- should be discussed with the apex committee and any deal(s) struck by the establishment with individuals would not be acceptable to the leadership. The formation of such committees was under way when we left Singrauli.

The Kurukshetra / Karm-Bhoomi:

 The MKN initiative that evolved through decades of intellectual activity in to Vidya Ashram that gave birth to a totally new philosophical thought, Lokavidhya & Lokavidhya Swaraj, for organization of Indian societies; for such a group Singrauli offers a historical opportunity to intervene in the dynamics of the real world and raise various issues related to social, economical, political, and religious domains of Indian societies; to make a statement that uncivilized ways of organizing societies has to be stopped and avenues created for human enterprise to flourish. Questions may be raised about the nascent stage that this thought is in, but that cannot be a deterrent because most of the questions are bound to get answered by the process of interacting with the dynamics of the real world. Gandhi ji tested every thought process of his on the anvil of the real world and did not shy away from answering questions that challenged his thought process and even accepted that he could be a bundle of contradictions in his search for Truth.

For the team which visited Singrauli, the LJA has this singular opportunity to take up leadership in to its hands for those tribals and others who are willing to receive new ideas and have decided to fight till the end for their cause. This opportunity is indispensible.

The Handicap:

For all the respect and affection the people of Singrauli have for Sri Awadesh and Sri Dubey, they do not have the resources to go around and conduct meetings to organize protests. Therefore their hands need to be strengthened with volunteers from Vidya Ashram. The students from BHU have evinced keen interest in participating in the struggle and Sri Dilip will further talk to them on this. In the meeting held at Vidya Ashram on 26-06-2016 three names were suggested who were capable and competent to steer the movement in Singrauli against the demon of development. The three names are:

1.       Sri Sanjeev Kirtane: The kind of organizing capabilities he has shown since 2010 and the kind of innovative programs he has organized for spreading the Lokavidhya thought makes him the obvious choice for active participation in Singrauli movement.

2.       Sri Dilip: He has participated in many struggles of farmers and has led some of those as a BKU member. He being a farmer, I could see, struck an immediate rapport with the tribals who essentially live on agriculture. Hence his name.

3.       Dr. B. Krishnamrajulu:   One of the very best articulators of Lokavidhya thought, associated with farmers movement that demanded organizational work too is a very natural choice to be one of the members. He can take more or less any question on Lokavidhya thought and would thus be an asset to the team.

The team could visit for a week or so every month or more/less to lead the movement and harness the goodwill created by Sri Awadesh & Sri Dubey. The economics of such an endeavour can be worked and friends can play significant role in that. In any case of the 4 members (one student) even if not all participate every time still it should work out. Dilip ji has shown his willingness to be in Singrauli as & when required. 

Lalit K Kaul

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