Where Ants Drove Out Elephants

The Story of People’s Resistance to Displacement in Jharkhand

January 6, 2012

By Stan Swamy, Sanhati

This article is an introduction to the trajectory of peoples’ movements against displacement in Jharkhand in the last few years. As the author writes, the resistance in Jharkhand has resulted in the fact that “[o]ut of the about one hundred MOUs signed by Jharkhand government with industrialists, hardly three or four companies have succeeded in acquiring some land, set up their industries and start partial production.” – Ed.

2010: A rally against Operation Green Hunt, in Ranchi, Jharkhand

Displacement is painful for anybody – to leave the place where one was born and brought up, the house that one built with one’s own labour. It is most painful when no alternate resettlement has been worked out and one has nowhere to go. And when it comes to the indigenous Adivasi People for whom their land is not just an economic commodity but a source of spiritual sustenance, it can be heart-rending.

A very conservative estimate indicates that during the last 50 years approximately 2 crore 13 lakh people have been displaced in the country owing to big projects such as mines, dams, industries, wild-life sanctuaries, field firing range etc. Of this, at least 40%, approximating 85 lakhs, are Indigenous Adivasi People. Of all the displaced, only one-fourth have been resettled. The remaining were given some cash compensation arbitrarily fixed by local administration and then neatly forgotten.

Independent studies done during the mid-1990s reveal that in Jharkhand about 15 lakh persons have been displaced and about 15 lakh acres of land alienated from mainly Adivasi people. Needless to say, during the last 15 years a lot more displacement of people and alienation of land have taken place. Strange but true, rehabilitation of the displaced was never taken seriously by any govt during all these six decades when the process of industrialization for ‘national development’ has been in vogue. In fact there was no rehabilitation policy at all!MOU-signing spree after the creation of Jharkhand

The real reason for the creation of Jharkhand as a separate state in November 2000 was not so much to respect and honour the long cherished wish and struggle of the indigenous people to govern themselves as per their culture & traditions, but in view of opening up the vast mineral resources to national & international mining companies whose pressure was increasingly brought to bear on the government. Quite understandably, one MOU after another was signed between the state government and various companies without any reference or consultation or consent of the mainly Adivasi people in whose land all this natural wealth is stored. Continue reading