Kalinganagar: Development, Death and Despair

April 17, 2010

Balema Goipai (65) of Gobarghat village of Kalinga Nagar, died of suspected cerebral malaria on the same day that BJP state president Jual Oram attempted to enter the cordoned-off area of Kalinga Nagar. Her family couldn’t take her to the hospital for fear of being apprehended by the police or the BJD ‘goons’.

This article appears in The New Indian Express on the 17th of April, 2010.

‘Welcome to Kalinga Nagar Industrial Park’

Balema Goipai (65) of Gobarghat village of Kalinga Nagar had been sick with high fever for three days yet her son Samsundar Gopei couldn’t take her to the hospital. ‘The BJD goondas were all outside, they’re waiting to pick us up.’ He said, ‘No one goes out anywhere. We were afraid if we’d go, they’d put us in jail as well.’

His mother died of suspected cerebral malaria in the early hours of the 5th of April, 2010. The BJP state president Jual Oram was thwarted to visit Kalinga Nagar by these very Biju Janata Dal goons on the same day. His convoy was attacked, his car was damaged and journalists who were accompanying him were roughed up and robbed. In the village of Baligotha, the adivasis and the members of the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch were waiting for him under a large banyan tree, lying around on mats, with their bows and arrows, their lathis, wondering if he’d get across. Yet a pattern was repeated, it was a no show. ‘It’s okay,’ Said Ravi Jarika, ‘We can give ourselves speeches.’ And they do, right after they stand up, have a short prayer and a moment of silence for the 12 adivasis who were killed in police firing on the 2nd of January 2006.

Meanwhile, other villagers had decided to go pay their respects to Balema Goipai who would probably have been alive if she could’ve gotten to a doctor.

They aren’t too far away either. What’s left of tribal resistance to land acquisition in Kalinganagar is surrounded by four sides by a horizon made up of chimneys, conveyor belts and large factories. The sirens can be heard in the distance as does the sound of pounding rock, and bulldozers working less than a kilometer from the village of Baligotha. Yet the adivasis refuse to part with their land for Tata’s six million tonne steel plant and the common corridor road. And the repression is brutal. Twenty-four men of the villages opposed to Tata’s common corridor languish in jail with a number of cases against them. Most of them were apprehended as they stepped out of their villages and entered the main road, where policemen along with ‘BJD goondas’ or ‘Tata goons’ were out identifying anyone who belonged to the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch.

‘A lot of the people who work for the Tatas like this were once villagers, our neighbours,’ Says Dabar Kalundia, one of the leaders of the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch, ‘They’re the ones who accepted compensation.’

Barring arrests, after the January 2nd firings in 2006, there have been at least two known cases of murder and attempted murder. Dabar Kalundia, himself was fired at by a contractor Arvind Singh along with three other unidentified persons in front of the Rohit Ferro Tech on the 1st of May, 2008, International Labour Day. He had narrowly escaped yet Omin Banara (52) couldn’t escape and he was killed. Similarly Joginder Jamuda was shot at, in close range by two unidentified men riding on motorcycles. He was with his mother when he was shot but managed to survive. Yet on the 27th of August, 2009, he was arrested as he was returning from a football match at Nakundai and there are a total of 13 cases against him. His third child was born just two weeks ago.

Recently on the 30th of March, a series of protests against the common corridor road led the police to fire rubber bullets against the protestors. Over 30 villagers were shot and even after a week, pellets were still lodged in their bodies. Mani Soya (55) of Bamiyaguta village has a pellet lodged in her cheek and another in her arm. Munna Munda (18) (named changed) of Chandiya village has around 11 pellets lodged in his body.

Only after retired Orissa High Court judge P.K. Mishra led a fact-finding team consisting of a doctor, into the area, did the adivasis receive treatment. One woman, Gurubari Gagarai (40) from Gadapur village was beaten by lathis and was admitted into the hospital on the day of the firing as it is. Five more people left the area and were admitted into the government hospital after P.K. Mishra’s visit. Yet firing rubber bullets at the protesters wasn’t all that happened. After the protestors were fired at, the police along with the ‘goondas’ entered the village of Baligotha, vandalized homes, destroyed a cycle shop, stole livestock, stole money, poured kerosene into a well and onto produce, and destroyed the memorial for villager Rangala Nundaya who was killed on the 2nd of January, 2006 firing.

The vandalized memorial of Rangala Nundaya who was killed in the 2nd January, 2006 firing.

After the attack, the police and the goons cordoned off the area to prevent all access to opposition political parties, journalists and more importantly, to restrict the movements of the adivasis who now live in a virtual prison, and almost every villager, from young children to old men, carry lathis, bows and arrows or blades, wary of another attack from whoever it may be. This is the situation, as of the 12th of April, 2010.

Development Means Jobs?

Rama Budra from the village of Tangorasahi worked at the Rohit Ferro Tech Plant at Kalinganagar along with his brother Pitambar. Yet in the first week of April, he along with his brother, were fired from their jobs for providing help to the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch, and according to him, it was done through the instructions of the Collector and the Superintendent of Police.

‘There is nothing for the adivasis in industry, everything is still in agriculture’ he says, sitting with over 40 other adivasis who all nod their heads in approval; ‘All the big jobs are given to outsiders.’

Recently, over 50 adivasis from Chandiya Gram Panchayat who were employed by Rohit Ferro Tech Limited were fired from their jobs. Chandiya Gram Panchayat is the heart of the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch, and when this correspondent asked the leaders of the movement whether anything like this happened before, they responded as such, ‘Rohit company was the only one that even hired so many of our people, the others never did.’

And for many villagers, the adivasis never needed the work. In Gobarghat, Nati Angarai (45) has only five acres but manages to cultivate rice, pulses, brinjal and tomatoes. He claims to produce enough rice to earn around Rs.20,000 each season. Yet for a long time, he hasn’t been able to visit his market at Duburi due to the repression over the last 2 years. Almost all the villagers have been selling rice for only Rs.700-750, that is far below the market price. Only for a short time a few months ago, did they receive market price for the produce yet that was also discontinued.

Dabar Kalundia himself claims to be able to produce 30 quintals of rice per season and is one of the major landholders of the area with around 15 acres.

‘Almost everyone here has around five acres of land,’ continued Nati Angarai, ‘We’re dependent on rain for water and recently due to the dust and pollution, we’ve noticed that our cultivation is suffering.’

Development means dust?



A majority of the villagers of Suanla work to load coal onto the trains for a minimum of Rs.100 a day and many of them suffer chronic health problems. They have no healthcare insurance and no union.

A few kilometers beyond the cordoned-off Chandiya Gram Panchayat is the village of Suanla, Dhodiguda, where a majority of the villagers spend their time loading minerals, especially coal onto railway bogeys. They get paid to anywhere between Rs.100 and Rs.150 and live opposite the Jindal steel plant. Yet this access to labour, and proximity to industry and development has had one severe impact onto their lives. In the first ten minutes spent in Suanla, our motorcycle was already covered in a thick layer of black dust.

‘Almost everyone who works loading coal falls sick,’ Says Parmal Shana (46) of Suanla, who was sick for the last three days and is on his way to load coal again. ‘There are days when they do nothing but vomit, and the vomit is always yellow or white liquid.’ He continues.

None of the labourers receive any medical insurance and there has been no clear diagnosis of the illnesses suffered by the villagers of Suanla. Estimates wary, but over the last six months, some 20 to 30 villagers of Suanla have died from some illness or the other. The house of Markand Hembram is almost indicative to the severe health hazards faced by the villagers of Suanla, as over four members of the household have died over the last year, starting with Markand Hembram himself and his two daughters – Nooni (21) and Sutoni (19), and then his son Bapun Hembram. The symptoms included severe cough, blood in the vomit, swelling and thinning of the arms, weakness and loss of appetite, according to the villagers.

Another man, Mangal Munda (40) has been bed-ridden for the last year and a half. He suffers from severe pain in his spine and spends his days lying down. He used to work as a loader in the Jindal Steel plant and now receives no medical assistance from them.


  1. An insightful and touching chronicle of the disease called “development”.

    Development for whom?
    Whose development? At whose cost?

  2. no word seems to express the helplessness & apathy one feels after reading about our fellow countrymen…wish something from our part could be meeted out.
    thanks Javed for at least being a window to that world which is a part of us yet doesn’t seem to be!!

  3. Thanks for the hard work Javed.

  4. “At Kalinganagar Tata Steel ensures that every member of the Tata Steel Parivar gets the opportunity to assume leadership in generic issues. For women in particular, self-help groups are a means of beneficial involvement in economic activities that keep them away from social marginalisation. Little encouragement, support and belief that ‘things are going to be much better’ seems to have done a miracle in shaping the confidence of the tribal women at Kalinganagar rehabilitation colonies of the Tata Steel Project.

    As women plays a greater role in the construction of a family, Tata Steel pays special attention to women empowerment initiatives. The life story of Sabita Jamuda of Kalinganagar proves it.

    Earlier Sabita Jamuda was the teacher in an Anganwadi centre in the Chandia village at Kalinganagar. She was strongly against displacement and was even the leader of Women Group opposing displacement at Kalinganagar.Slowly she learnt about Tata Steel Parivar R&R package. She and her family got displaced from Chandia village of Kalinganagar.

    Sabita Jamuda with the help of Tata Steel officials became self sufficient and started helping other displaced tribal women to be self sufficient. Due to her many other tribal women have taken training in tailoring and are earning a substantial amount. These women have become well-known faces of the Tata Steel Parivar Women Empowerment Programme taken up for the displaced families of Kalinganagar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzPHzCLDOyM

  5. Great report Javed…

    Just wanted to reply to the comment by Mahi Pritam…

    Citing individual examples of Tata Steel’s CSR is unlikely to undo the social chaos taking shape because of TATA’s Kalinga NAgar project.

    From the massacre of 14 men, women and children in 2006 to numerous assasination bids, the non-violent and democratic resistance of the tribals of Kalinga Nagar has been suppressed violently and illegally by the state machinery working like a hired mercenary of Tata.

    So when Mahi Pritam talks of Sabita Jamuda becoming a tailor from being a teacher (as if thats a sign of ‘development’) I am reminded of Tata’s Environmental engineer who said that to save the environment Tata has banned polythene from its campuses in Sukinda (located right next to Kalinga Nagar and known across the world to be amongst the ten most polluted places in the world)…

    It is rather shameful that an elected woman representative of the people was beaten by Tata’s people and then framed and arrested in a false case… Yes, Swarnalata Banara the Sarpanch of Gobarghati is a brave leader of the people who is now languishing in jail because of Tata…

    In an interview Swarnalata had exposed the condition of women in the area… especially those living in the displacement colonies, which can be seen here –

  6. Tata Steel Paribars – the rehabilitated families in Kalinganagar in Jajpur district of Orissa have achieved two Millennium Development Goals of United Nations well before the timelines of 2015 AD. While the first Millennium Development has set a time line of 2015 to ensure Universal Primary Education, the second millennium development goal stresses upon removal of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015 AD.
    Tata Steel which has given a guarantee to improve the quality of life substantially within five years for the rehabilitated families of Tata Steel Paribar at Kalinganagar, have already achieved this in the field of education within first four years of rehabilitation at Kalinganagar. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement team of Tata Steel ensures and motivates all the children above the age of 3 to attend a school starting from Balwadis operating in the rehabilitation townships and monitors & tracks the performance of each child. This has ensured Zero School dropout amongst the children of rehabilitated families. It may be noted that while the country’s elementary school dropout rate is around 23% and that of Orissa is around 26%.
    Further constant persuasion with the parents and facilitating in creating opportunities in boarding schools including that in KISS have ensured 100% education for the girl child of Tata Steel Paribar starting from primary levels to secondary level and higher professional levels like that of Engineering, Business Management etc.
    Another impressive achievement for Tata Steel Paribars at kalingangar is the drastic jump of the literacy levels from 45% ( in 2005) to 65% in 2010 amongst its members. Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) through 6 Adult literacy centers has been giving participants the opportunity to acquire literacy skills
    Education in Tata Steel Parivar is being handled through 12 education centers currently running at five locations catering to 105 children in the age group of 3 to 5 years and 122 children in 6 to 14 years age group. A thorough monitoring system on monthly basis is in place to track performance of children in acquiring language and arithmetic skills through these centers. Children are also provided with novel opportunities to expose themselves into various extra curricular activities to foster the spirit of creativity, inquisitiveness, self motivation and discipline for a harmonious well being of mental and physical health. In the past years series of workshops were held on creative writing, painting, dramatics etc and children came out with flying colors displaying their latent talents and got awarded in different creative pursuits on the occasion of Sishu Mela. Since last year an annual children’s magazine viz. Ama Prathama Lekha is being published capturing children’s expectations, aspirations, whims and fancies in their writing.
    In order to ensure quality education for Tata Steel Parivar children, the capacities of the teachers are being built through specific training programs conducted by the experts from ‘Prathama Orissa’. The programs update teachers’ teaching techniques and hone their skills in innovative teaching and learning methods.
    As many as 159 tribal children have been enrolled in the residential schools in the district and 50 children have got the opportunity of studying in one of the premier schools in Orissa viz. Kalinga Institute of Social Science (KISS). In addition to the residential schools, as many as 213 children are in schools as day scholars.
    While education gives the ability to comprehend information, Sports inculcates the sense of discipline, develops the spirit of competition and the ability to thrive in adverse situations without compromising on the values.

    • Creative writing at its worst… I will not even get into ‘capturing children’s expectations’ & UN millenium goals…

      Lakshman Jamuda grand niece, aged 3, got one of those horrible pellets used to kill birds right under her eye… should she thank Tata Parivar for the horror??

      And thanks to TATA that Baligotha community hall where the children studied was forcefully demolished last month… ?

      No wonder the locals are saying its ‘Sarva Bhikya Abhijan’…

      Its like blackmail or rather it IS…

      if you refuse displacement you will get no education… if you accept it then you will be given education that you anyway have a right to as a citizen of the Indian republic…

      Its a great strategy, on one side influence the district administration to stop sending Govt teachers to the schools of the villages refusing to be displaced and on the other send 50 kids to KISS and publicise Tata’s commitment to education for the people affected by its projects…

      and mind it, all this at police Gunpoint.. Tata surely has learnt it well from its former masters the East India Company how to rule the Indian people…

  7. […] have lived in a virtual prison, often facing arrests, attacks, and raids by police personnel as happened in April of last year when the police fired plastic rounds into protesting crowds, and pro-BJD and Tata-goondas had […]

  8. Development and displacement are 2 sides of the same coin.For the progress of the country development is required but why should not it will be sustainable,people-Eco friendly,why people are being forced to leave their native land???here i am being a sociologist would like 2 suggest that if displacement is required for the development then it should be the right of the displace people 2 choose their new habitat and according to that it will be the responsibility of the company to arrange all livelihood support according to the peoples needs in the new place. 2nd provision of pension should be given to all the displaced on monthly basis because when the illiterate tribal got a heavy amount against land at a time they have no idea for the sustainable use of the money at last they loss all money.there should be a national wide health card for all displace victim in both govt and private hospitals and all expenses should be bear by the company.if these provision will be taken into consideration then some extent the cases like kalinganagar,posco,can be avoided.and it is true that when the social support mechanism is failure the poor,suppressed,illiterate people attracted towards another group like the left wings.

  9. […] have lived in a virtual prison, often facing arrests, attacks, and raids by police personnel as happened in April of last year when the police fired plastic rounds into protesting crowds, and pro-BJD and Tata-goondas had […]

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