Justice K Ramaswamy and Samata judgement

Justice K Ramaswamy, former Supreme Court Judge who passed away on March 6, was popularly known for one of his landmark Judgements known as Samata Judgement that upheld the rights of tribals on their lands in tribal areas. The State government, in a befitting manner, conducted his funeral with all respects to the departed soul.

Samata was a non-governmental organisation that worked for the rights of the tribal people as it found them being alienated from their lands and exploited by non-tribal people and the state, in contravention of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and various Central and State government laws. After a prolonged struggle, it approached courts. The case it filed in the then Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1993 against the then State government was dismissed. Then, Samata filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. After a four-year legal battle, it won.

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We break indigenous societies and yet are scared of ‘them’

The Hans India | Oct 31, 2020

We (you, I and them) are all tribals by origin. Over the years, we have lied to ourselves and conveniently believed that we are not tribals and that we were never tribals. A lie repeated constantly becomes the truth.

In the last seven decades and more, after many ‘convenient’ map makings, we have been trying our best to destroy tribals and their lives. Still, they hold the keys to our rental economy, specifically for Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and the North East. The platitudes related to a trillion-dollar economy are majorly based on the mines and minerals in custody of our indigenous peoples. The tribals, whom we left behind and set out in pursuit of creature comforts, remain the guardians of flora and fauna, below which lie the sparkle of billions of dollars.

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Rajasthan’s phosphate mines deprive villagers of land, livelihood, health

Mongabay | October 28, 2020

  • Udaipur’s phosphate mines have been causing miscarriage in women of surrounding villages, have destroyed farming and forests, claims locals.
  • Health officials note that there’s so much dust in the air that residents of villages nearby mines develop diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer.
  • However, the government firm operating the mine denies any negative impact.

“Yeh toh bhagwan ki marzi hai, sahab. Pichhle janam ke kuch paap honge jo iss janam main saamne aa rahe hain (It’s all god’s will. Maybe we had sinned in our past lives, for which we are suffering now),” said Lohari Meena, a resident of Jhamarkotra village, 22 kilometres from Udaipur in Rajasthan, while explaining her two miscarriages.

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Illegal mica mining continues unabated in Jharkhand, causing deaths and diseases

  • Years ago mica mines were abandoned in Jharkhand but neither the mines were restored nor the local inhabitants were rehabilitated. As a result, villagers over the years continued visiting them to extract mica.
  • From sudden death owing to mines caving in or slow death because of lung ailments, the illegal mines provide for villagers’ livelihood as well as cost them dearly.
  • Local activists and human right workers believe that villagers merely collect mica flakes for their livelihood whereas private contractors have been illegally mining it on a large scale in forests.

In Tisra village of Jharkhand’s mineral-rich Giridih district, about 180 kilometres north of state capital Ranchi, Shyam (name changed), a Dalit boy in his early adolescence, hustles his way through the forest area to a makeshift shop. He buys a handful of chickpeas, enough to satiate his and his older brother’s hunger after a day spent in an abandoned mica mine, which as per official records is non-operational.

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