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Adivasis are not beggars:: ridiculous proposal of R & R policy to give 1% of the annual profit

Adivasis are not beggars
- Context: the ridiculous proposal of R & R policy to give 1% of the annual profit of the industrialist to Adivasi land-owner -
Stan Swamy

There should be a limit to the greed of the industrialists. They want to take the 99% of the annual profit their companies make and throw one trivial per cent at the Adivasi in whose land all the mineral wealth is stored. It is like a rich, fat man giving a ten-paise alms to a hungry beggar. The contradiction in this is that all the mineral wealth is in the land of the Adivasi and therefore it is given by nature and he is the rightful owner of what is on, above and beneath his land. The country’s capitalist law makes the State the owner of the minerals and hence it is violative of the law of nature. The law of nature is above any state law.

This was the way the ‘natives’ in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand were deprived of their rights to the land and forcibly put in secluded pockets during the colonial period. If this process of dispossession continues in India, our Adivasi People will not even have secluded pockets to live in but will just be eliminated.

Adivasi land-owner’s share in the value of the minerals: Let us take one concrete example of this industrialist loot. This is from Santal Parganas in Jharkhand. In 1988, a systematic exploration for coal was initiated in an around the villages of the Pachuara region by the Geological Survey of India. The Pachuara region has reportedly 562 million tonnes of coal reserves in an area of approximately 1300 hectares.

Pachuara Central Coal Block in Pakur district of Santal Pargana. The Jharkhand govt has given lease license over 1300 hectares covering nine Santal Adivasi villages to a private mining company called PANEM to excavate coal

As per the report published by PANEM Co, 562 million tons of coal is to be excavated from the 1300 ha of land slated to be taken from the people of Pachuara Central Coal Block. The monetary value of coal must be estimated as per the current market value for 562 million tons and divided by 1300 hectares, and at least 50% of it must be paid to the land owners.

A rough calculation shows that the value of 562 mill. tons is Rs. 1,12,400 cr. divided by 1300 hectares gives Rs.86 cr per ha, and converting it to acres it works out to Rs. 34 cr per acre. It means every acre has a coal deposit to the value of about Rs. 34 cr. The owner of the land should be entitled to at least 20% of the value. That would work out to Rs. 6.8 cr., and this should be credited as shares in the company in favour of the land owner.

Putting the above facts more graphically…
Coal mining in Pachuara Central Coal Block in Pakur Dt of Santal Pargana.
( a rough estimate )
Value of one kg coal Rs. 2 (at a minimal level)
Value of one ton coal Rs. 2000
Value of one million tons Rs. 200 crores
Value of 562 mill. Tons Rs. 1,12,400 cr
Divided by 1300 hectares of land Rs.86 cr p/hect
Divided by 2.5 to convert hectares to acres Rs. 34 cr p/acre
20% of value in favour of land-owner to be converted into shares Rs. 6. 8 cr

This is not being unfair to the industrialist because from the remaining value of 80%, the industrialist may spend about 30% in putting up the infrastructure, purchase of technology, paying the managerial personnel and labour force. So he will still have 50% of the value as his profit. That should be more than enough to satisfy his thirst for wealth.

Similar calculation can be done anywhere depending on what mineral deposits are there and the market value of such minerals. It is necessary to keep in mind that this is the only way the nation’s wealth can be equitably shared and the industrial production can lead to the development of all. Needless to say, the government of the day should have the honesty to accept this as a just policy and should have the political will to implement this.

Besides, this is in keeping with the Preamble of the Indian Constitution where it affirms that the Indian State is committed to realising a ‘socialist society’. Again it is confirmed in the Samata Judgement of the Supreme Court of 1997 where it says ‘at least 20% of the profit of the company should be ploughed back to the community for welfare & development work’.

Certainly, the Jharkhand Govt should change its R&R policy and industrialists should accept to share their profit more justifiably with those who give their land freely and willingly. The necessary intermediary is the Gram Sabha.

People are awakening to their rights. Resistance Movements are building up. The nation’s wealth should be evenly shared. That alone will lead to the development of the country as a whole.

24 November 2008

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