Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

AVESH TIWARI@PatrikaNews | 7 June 2016

Have you heard of the Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt? This region at the cusp of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is billed by many as India’s energy capital. What nobody talks of is how this belt is on the brink of a disaster that can match the Bhopal disaster.Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

The methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal led to India’s biggest industrial disaster on 2 December, 1984. Such was the scale of the leak that horror stories haven’t stop coming out three decades on. But have we learnt any lesson?

Doesn’t seem so if we look at Sonbhadra-Singrauli. The 40 square-kilometre area hosts some half-a-dozen power plants – both coal-fired and hydro-electric. Their combined capacity of about 21,000 megawatts (MW) cater to a large part of the country.

Now private groups such as Reliance, Lanco and Essar as well as state-owned utilities are set to add 20,000 MW more by setting up several projects in the next five years.

The belt also houses several other industries like an aluminum, chemical and carbon factories of the Birlas and a cement factory owned by the Jaypee Group.

But these impressive numbers tell just one side of the story.

FARMER TRAGEDIES
The Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt is also known for the plight of its farmers whose land has been ruined by mining and limestone.

This region is also home to over five lakh Adivasis. In fact, Sonbhadra is the only district of Uttar Pradesh where tribals are in a majority.

However, the fruits of industrial activity have barely reached these people with most of them find it difficult to make ends meet.

The region is traversed by eight small rivers. With the area accounting for nearly 16% of the total carbon emission in the country, it is of little surprise that all the river waters are completely polluted.

In other words, every inch of this land is prone to a catastrophe like Bhopal. The greed of industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats is not the only reason for this risk.

The media is equally to blame for this state of affairs. It will highlight Sonbhadra-Singrauli’s issues only after a disaster. Otherwise, it is happy to look the other way.

Enrico Fabian for The Washington Post via Getty Images
POISON FACTORY
The chloro chemicals division of Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd, located at Renukoot, produces some of the most dangerous substances for industrial use. It was acquired by the Aditya Birla group in 2011 at a cost of Rs 830 crore.

It is estimated that the waste produced by this factory kills 40-50 people every year on average. Most of this waste is released directly into the Rihand dam. And the effect is telling on the surrounding population.

Thousands of residents in hundreds of villages around the Rihand Dam have been completely or partially crippled.

“Waste from the Kanoria Chemicals factory at Renukoot kills 40-50 people every year on an average”
In December 2011, 20 people of the Kamari Dand village in Sonbhadra district lost their lives after using the water from the Rihand Dam. Thousands of cattle had also met with the same fate.

Investigations proved that the chemicals released from the Kanoria Chemicals Factory had poisoned the water. Yet, the issue did not attract enough media attention.

Earlier, a gas leak from the Kanoria plant had killed five people in January 2005. The accident reportedly occurred because of the negligence of company officials.

Villages after village in Sonbhadra are falling prey to the fatal disease of Fluorosis, a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds.

There is hardly a person in villages like Padwa Kodawari and Kusumha, who has not been afflicted with some of kind of physical deformity due to this disease.

HAZARD CALLED MERCURY
The power plants of Sonbhadra-Singrauli emit 1.5 tonnes of fly ash every year. This fly ash is composed of mercury that is extremely harmful to the human body. Traces of mercury have been found in the samples of human hair, blood and even crops of this region.

The locals have no option but to live with the impact of this pollution. The sun here is paled with the dust coming out of towering chimneys. A blanket of haze engulfs the air as soon as the evening sets in.

The pollution has not even spared the still-to-be-born babies. The death of children during the pre-pregnancy period has become a regular occurrence.

Yet, the state-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without any environmental clearance. The Central Pollution Control Board has ordered a close down stating they are ‘too dangerous.’

“State-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without environmental clearance”
However, nobody seems baffled with such blatant flouting of norms. The seeds of a Bhopal-like tragedy are being sown, not only in Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt but in every corner of the country.

The state as well as the Union Government is avoiding accountability in the name of development. For now, the Sonbhadra-Singrauli region is nothing more than a hen laying golden eggs for them.

While one Warren Anderson may have gotten away, there are many more in the making.

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/sonbhadra-singrauli-belt-is-called-india-s-power-capital-but-may-be-headed-for-a-disaster-1465284694.html

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Displaced 35 Years Ago, One Man Fights For A Piece Of His Land

May 23, 2016

When India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) established a power project four decades ago, the city of Singrauli began its journey to become “India’s Energy Capital” and also played witness to the displacement of thousands of people.

During that time, the World Bank provided financial support to the government of India to build this power project, the beginning of what would soon become an infestation of power projects in the region. This inundation of dirty coal projects has, over the decades, ultimately displaced around 300,000 people, many of whom have faced multiple displacements over the last 35 years. Some of them have even been displaced up to four times, but neither the state government nor the Indian central government has paid any attention to their struggle.

People who lost their land during the NTPC Singrauli Power Project in 1977 are still struggling to get their rehabilitation land allotment.

One of these displaced people, Ram Shubhang Shukla, is taking a stand.

“I am tired of running after government officials to get my land allotted,” Shukla said. “I am a physically challenged person and in spite of that, I had to run from one office to the other but to no avail. I have lost all hope, and now after all this, I have been sitting in protest near Rajiv Gandhi Baazar since January 19, 2016. I have been forced to sit in protest.”

Ram Shubhang Shukla has been given 1,200 rupees — the equivalent of less than $18 U.S. dollars — as compensation for his house, but he was not allotted any plot for the land he lost. Even after repeated reminders to officials, all Ram Shubhang has received is false assurances. He further stated that his brother and father have received plots of land but he has not.

A number of displaced families have been allotted land, but more often than not, those lands are already occupied by other people. After hearing about Ram Shubhang sitting in protest to get his land, a number of people who similarly have had to fight for their land, people like Jaggnath Giri from Kota, have joined him in protest.

It is clear that Ram Shubhang Shukla is not alone in his fight, but Singrauli still continues to displace hard-working people in the name of coal. Some have failed to raise their voice, and some, like Ram Shubhang , are still continuing to fight the system for their rights.

Ram Shubhang says that he met administrative officials responsible for the power projects — Mr. Gautum Singh Bhati, section officer Y. K. Chaturvedi, and many other officials — but to no avail.

Ram Shubhang calls on the Madhya Pradesh state government and Indian central government to follow through on their failed promises and allot him and all the other people who have been wrongfully displaced their resettlement land. He also calls on the World Bank, the financer of the NTPC project, to investigate the situation and pressure the government to follow through on their broken promises.

Ram Shubhang Shukla had to give up his protest after 63 days due to ill health. Neither the state government nor central government has taken any step toward fulfilling his legitimate demands.

“I have not taken back my demands or protest,” Shukla said. “Due to my ill health and extremely harsh summer (with temperatures soaring to 49 degrees Celsius or ~120 degrees Fahrenheit), I cannot sit in protest since I don’t want to give my family a tough time. I will sit again in protest as soon as i feel a little better and will continue to demand for my rights.”

Image Source: Joe Athialy

Rajesh Kumar is a Research Associate for Bank Information Center, South Asia.

See more stories by this author

http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2016/05/displaced-35-years-ago-one-man-fights-for-piece-his-land

 

पर्यावरण बचाने के लिये आन्दोलन पर उतरे किसान

पर्यावरण बचाने के लिये आन्दोलन पर उतरे किसान

(जनादेश न्यूज़ नेटवर्क)

सिंगरौली। सोनांचल का यह अंचल फिर गरमा रहा है। अब पर्यावरण बचाने के लिये किसान सडक पर उतर आए है। सिंगरौली जिले के गोरबी-बरगवां मार्ग पर कसर गेट से करीब कोस भर आगे स्थित त्रिमुला ईण्डस्ट्रीज़ के आस-पास रहने वाले 12 गाँव के किसान इस कंपनी की वजह से फ़ैल रहे प्रदूषण से परेशान हैं। इसे लेकर वे लगातार सवाल उठाते रहे हैं पर पिछले कई वर्षों से लगातार होती बातचीत के नाकाम होने के बाद अब किसान आर पार की लड़ाई का मन बना चुके हैं। पच्चीस फरवरी को सुबह 11 बजे सैकडो किसानों ने त्रिमुला इण्डस्ट्रीज़़ के गेट पर पहुँच कर कम्पनी प्रबन्धन के सामने पाँच सूत्रीय माँगें रखीं। प्रबन्धन के तरफ से कोई पहल न होती देख किसानों ने कम्पनी के गेट पर ताला जड़ दिया, जिससे कम्पनी का काम बन्द हो गया।

त्रिमुला इण्डस्ट्रीज़़ में सिंगरौली व सोनभद्र जिले से लोहे का कबाड़ इकट्ठा करा कर गलाया जाता है, जिसके बाद इससे लोहे के कई किस्म के सामान तैयार किये जाते हैं। वित्तीय वर्ष 2012-13 के कम्पनी के रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक, कम्पनी का वार्षिक लेन-देन लगभग 800 करोड़ रूपये का है। प्रदूषण के अलावा, समय-समय पर, इस एक परिवार द्वारा संचालित कम्पनी पर ढेरों आरोप लगते रहें हैं। इनमें संगठित तौर पर इलाके भर में कबाड़ चोरी करना, किसानों को डरा-धमका कर उनकी जमीने हथियाना, अवैध कब्जे करना, श्रम कानूनों का उलंघन आदि कुछ संगीन मामले हैं जिनमें कम्पनी को कई बार जाँच का सामना भी करना पड़ा है। यह बात दीगर है कि प्रशासनिक सांठ-गांठ और केन्द्रीय नेतृत्व व राज्य सरकार की खुलेआम मद्दद से, कोई भी जांच अब तक मुकम्मल नतीजे तक नहीं पहुच सकी है।

पर्यावरण बचाने के लिये आन्दोलन पर उतरे किसान

फ़ोटो -सिंगरौली के गाँव से गुजरती रिलायंस की कोयला ले जाने वाली ओपन कन्वेयर बेल्ट जिससे पर्यावरण बिगड़ रहा है। फ़ोटो -अंबरीश कुमार

 

बहरहाल, मेन गेट पर तालाबंदी के बाद कम्पनी प्रबन्धन हरकत में आया और जिला प्रशासन की मध्यस्थता मे वार्ता की पेशकश रखी। शाम छह बजे तक तीन बार बातचीत के नाकाम होने पर प्रशासनिक गुण्डागर्दी के बल पर कम्पनी प्रबन्धन ने गेट का ताला तो तुड़वा लिया, जिससे नाराज़् होकर किसानों ने तत्काल ‘ प्रदूषण मुक्ति मंच ‘ का ऐलान करते हुये अनिश्चितकालीन अनशन की घोषणा कर दी। अम्बरीश देव पाण्डेय, नईम खॅान, पप्पू सिंह, मैनू खान (सभी किसान), संजय नामदेव व रंजन चौधरी (ऊर्जांचल विस्थापित कामगार यूनियन) ने अनिश्चितकालीन अनशन तत्काल प्रारम्भ करते हुये आन्दोलन को और तेज करने की घोषणा कर दी। मौके पर उपस्थित उर्जांचल विस्थापित कामगार यूनियन ,लोकविद्या जन आन्दोलन और किसानआदिवासीविस्थापित एकता मंच के कार्यकर्ताओं ने आन्दोलन को बिना किसी शर्त के समर्थन देने की घोषणा की और किसानों के इस आन्दोलन को हरसम्भव तरीके से मजबूत बनाने का आहवान किया। अब यह आन्दोलन लंबा चलेगा।

प्रदूषण की स्थिति

मौके पर उपस्थित रमपुरवा, समदा, पड़री, कसर, सालन, भलूआ, बस्तौली, बड़ोखड़, सेमुआर, गन्दवली तथा गोरबी तक के गांवों के किसानों ने जिन हालात की जानकारी दी वह भयावह है। पिछले वर्ष, 2013 में मप्र राज्य प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड ने इलाके भर की मिट्टी की उर्वरता पर पडते असर की जांच की और पाया कि उर्वरता लगभग नष्ट हो चुकी है। गाँव के लोगो ने दिखाया कि किस प्रकार उनके भोजन और पीने के पानी, ढके रहने के बावजूद एक काली परत से पटे रहते है। गाँव के बुजुर्गों ने बताया कि उनके गाँव मौसमी फलों व सब्जियों से भरे पूरे रहते थे, आज इस प्रदूषण के कारण पेड़ों पर फल नहीं लगते, बच्चे आम, अमरूद जैसे फल खाने को तरस जाते हैं।

गाँव के युवा व अनशनकारी नईम खान ने बताया कि हमारे गाँव में सरसो के फूल पीले नहीं काले दिखते हैं, गेहूँ के खेत काटते समय महिलायें कपड़ो व शरीर में कालिख पुती हुई आती हैं। गाँव के लोगों ने बताया कि उन्हें याद नहीं कितने वर्ष हो गये थूकने पर थूक भी काली ही निकलती है। गाँव के कई कुओं का पानी, पीने तो दूर नहाने लायक भी नहीं रह गया है। इतनी तेज आवाज आती है कि पास बैठे दो लोग आपस में बात नहीं कर सकते, इशारों से काम चलाना पड़ता है। कई लोग इस वजह से बहरेपन के शिकार हो गये हैं। गाँव के किनारे कहीं भी राख भरे कचड़े का ढेर गिरा देतें है जो उड़ कर हमारे भोजन, पानी, खेतो, मवेशियों के चारों में पडता है, गाँव के कई मवेशी इसके चलते मर गये हैं, गोंदवाली गाँव के समला टोला में तो एक भी मवेशी अब जीवित नहीं रहा। यही हाल गाँव रमपुरवा का भी है। सफेद गाय भी यहाँ काली दिखती है। महिलाओं के गर्भ असमय गिर रहें है। अब इस सवाल को लेकर किसान बड़े आन्दोलन के मूड में हैं। इस आन्दोलन को क्षेत्रीय संगठनों, ट्रेड यूनियनों व राजनीतिक-सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं का समर्थन हासिल हो रहा है जिससे यह मुद्दा तूल पकड़ सकता है।