SPECIAL REPORT Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Corporate and the Maoists nexus: A case study in Jharkhand



By - Gladson Dungdung

The development activities cannot run in the extremist affected areas without cleansing the Maoist menace’. [1] – thus argued Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram before launching the Operation Green Hunt against the Naxals in November 2009.

In a contradictory statement, on 1 April 2010, Chidambaram stated “Unless the State is able to provide them better security they will have to pay these rents to protect their investments” [2] while justifying extortion money being paid by the corporate.

If the corporate houses are indeed paying rent, they are abetting terrorism as provided under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, with the sanction of none other than the Home Minister of India. However, when the poor Adivasis and other local inhabitants are forced to feed and give shelter to the Maoists at gun
point, they are accused of supporting the Maoists and subjected to various human rights violations including rape and execution. India obviously applies the anti-terrorism Act differently!

Across the Naxalite affected areas covering approximately 40,000 square kilometers, many corporate houses are comfortably running their projects while the State has virtually lost its control.

Field visit to Latehar district

District profile

Latehar district was officially bifurcated from Palamu district on 4th April 2001 and located in the north–west corner of Jharkhand at a distance of 100 kilometers from Ranchi, the capital city. The district is situated in the border of Chhattisgarh surrounded by Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla, Palamau and Chatra districts of Jharkhand. The geographical area of the district is 3651.59 square kilometers divided into seven development blocks - Latehar, Chandwa, Balumath, Manika, Barwadih, Garu and Mahuadar.
The district is known for its rich natural beauty, forest and forest products. According to the geological reports the district is rich in mineral deposits with coal, bauxite, laterite, dolomite, graphite, granite, quartz, fireclay and felspar. The forests cover is about 2010.2245 square kilometer. About 45.17% of the total population of the district are Adivasis who are Adivasis are facing economic crisis due to alienation from the natural resources, exploitation of the natural resources and climate change.

Maoists and corporate nexus

Latehar district is considered as a stronghold of the banned CPI-Maoist. Whenever the Maoists call bandh (shut down), all the seven “development blocks” of the district are shut down and the administration becomes helpless in running even the district headquarter.

The roads connecting the district headquarter are in extremely pathetic conditions. The district administration reportedly claims that it cannot construct/repair roads in fear of the CPI-Maoists. Many development projects either could not be initiated or progressing at snail’s pace. The administration has failed to run schools, health centers and development projects properly.

However, the corporate houses like Abhijeet Group, Essar Power and Hindalco have been running their projects smoothly in the district.

Power Project at Chandwa 

The Corporate Power Limited (CPL), a unit of Kolkata based corporate house the Abhijeet Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd  has been building up an independent thermal power plant at Chakla village, which comes under Chandwa block of Latehar district in Jharkhand since January 2008.

The CPL signed an MoU with the Jharkhand government in 2007 for establishing a 1215 megawatt independent thermal power plant at Chakla village under Chandwa block in Latehar district with an estimated investment of Rs. 6080 crore. [3] The company has planned to start a 540-megawatt unit in the first phase and 675-megawatt in the second phase. The production is scheduled to start by December 2012. [4] The government has allotted captive coal block to the company at Chitarpur of Latehar district. Ironically, the company has also acquired the No Objection Certificate from the State Pollution Control Board without any public hearing. The company bought ‘400 acres of agriculture land from the local landholders [5] at the price of Rs. 60 thousand per acre, which was later increased to Rs. 80 thousand per acre. When the company faced more problems, it started paying Rs. 5 lakh per acres. The company also ‘promised to give one job in every 2 acres land. [6]

The company has assigned another Kolkata based firm called Simplex Infrastructures Limited for its major infrastructure development works, which has employed 4000 people including some former Maoists [7].  The major workforce were hired from West Bengal and Bihar. Though the company has promised to give job to the landowners but no one has been appointed in the plant yet.

Accelerating development with Maoists help

The Maoists have attacked the plants of the corporate houses whenever they failed to pay extortion money. The Maoists had also attacked Abhijeet Group’s power plant in April 2009 and killed 4 security guards [8] when the company refused to pay the levy.

Though there is no clear evidence of the Abhijeet Group paying money to the Maoists for their protection, local villagers near by the power plant told your author that the company has paid a huge amount of money to the Maoists. According to the secretary of the Rural Development, government of Jharkhand, Mr S.K. Satpathy, the Maoists have blocked 21 road construction projects sanctioned under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, when the contractors denied to pay them levy’ [9].

The Intelligence Bureau officials alleged that Jharkhand based corporate houses like ‘Rungta Mines, Usha Martin, Torian Iron & Steel have paid Rs.2.5 million each to the Maoists in 2007-08. [10] Similarly, the Birla Boxite Company based in Palamu district paid Rs.8 million and Balumath (Latehar) based company Tetaria Mines paid Rs. 2 lakh to the Maoists in 2007-08. [11] The list of the contractors paying huge amount of money every year to the Maoists for the construction of roads, bridges and government buildings is long.

Given such a situation, the  claims of the CEO of Abhijit Group, Mr Arun Kumar Gupta that “Our ideology of providing development among the underprivileged perhaps matches the Maoists’ ideology. That’s why they are not disturbing our project” [12] ought to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Police profit from Naxalite operations

The Jharkhand Police also turned Maoists extremism a huge profit making business. The reports of the Jharkhand Accountant General in 2005-06 and 2007-08 revealed that the then ‘Director General of Police Vishnu Dayal Ram and the Additional Director General of Police Rajiv Kumar had withdrawn Rs 8 crore from the secret service fund and did not submit statements of expenditure. [13] A police informer ‘Sanichar Pandit was asked to sign in vouchers as Amitabh Bachchan and was paid merely Rs 10,000 whereas Rs. 21 lakh [14] was released in his name for providing information to the police regarding the Maoists.

Similarly, the government officials, teachers and health workers abstain from their duties blaming the Maoists but enjoy the full salary and other benefits. The contractors swallow the full amount of money sanctioned for the construction of roads, bridges and government buildings. The activities are completed only on paper.

Conclusion

According to the secret service reports of the government of India, the iron ore, mines and crusher units of Jharkhand contribute Rs.500 crore to the Maoists. [15] Obviously, corporate houses are playing a key role in empowering the Maoists - who pose the biggest internal security threat. [16]

Ironically, the State is blindly supporting the illegal acts of the corporate houses rather than taking action against them even after knowing the corporate and Maoists link. The State in a way has been accelerating the development activities with the support of the Maoists as no one can protest once the Maoists agree. In this circus, it is only the common men who have to undergo the harsh ordeal.

The Indian State is going in an extremely wrong direction, which needs to be corrected without delay. The State must uphold the Constitution rather than promoting illegal business interest in the name of economic growth and development.

[Gladson Dungdung is a human rights activist and writer based in Ranchi, Jharkhand. The views expressed are of the author.]

Endnotes:
1. A report published by the Prabhat Khabar on October 15, 2009
2. A report published by the Economic Times on July 2, 2010 entitled ‘if someone can do the job better, I would be the happiest person: PC’.
3. A report entitled ‘Abhijeet envisions its Vision 5000’ published on November 5, 2007 by the Abhijeet Group in its website www.abhijeet.in
4. Ibid
5. A report entitled ‘Power plant sets 2011 deadline’ published in The Telegraph on September 9, 2009.
6. The statements made by the land owners in a meeting held at Chakla village on August 29, 2010.
7. A report published by the Hindustan Times on September 17, 2010 entitled Chandwa town doesn’t sleep at 6 anymore.
8. A report published by the Economic Times on August 20, 2010 entitled as ‘Maoist Violence hits Latehar Projects’.
9. A report published by the Dainik Bhashkar on October 26, 2010 explains how the Maoists have blocked the road construction projects in Jharkhand for levy.
10. An analytical report with the list of the Intelligence Bureau entitled as ‘Naxal Funding Channel’ published by Delhi based Hindi Weekly “Naye Duniya” in its issue of August 1st, 2010.
11. Ibid
12. A report published by the Hindustan Times on September 17, 2010 entitled Chandwa town doesn’t sleep at 6 anymore.
13. A report published by the Hindustan Times on August 25, 2010 entitled as ‘Amitabh Bachchan is J’khand police informer’, which explains that how the Secret Service Fund was misused by the Top cops of Jharkhand.
14. Ibid
15. A report published by the Hindustan Times on August 23, 2010 entitled as J’khand:Maoists’ mine of gold’.
16. A report published by the Asia Times on October 16, 2009 entitled as ‘India takes off against ‘Red’.
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