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October 25, 2009

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The article “The biggest land grab after Columbus” by Neelesh Mishra published in ‘Hindustan Times’ about the land accusation by Tata Steel is based on draft report of ‘Committee on Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reform’ which by itself is not providing the complete information about the MOU signed between Tata Steel and Chhattisgarh government.

According to me Tata Steel is a company which is fully committed to the well being of the communities it operates in, especially the tribal people with whom they are working with. They have a hundred year old history of engagement and sharing of the wealth generated by the enterprise in Jamshedpur.

Being a frequent visitor of Jamshedpur I have experienced how their community development initiatives have ensured a qualitative improvement in the standard of living of the people of the operational & project areas be it in education, health services, development of sports activities, increase in income, Entrepreneurship development, Women empowerment, Preservation of tribal culture and much more. This is a well known fact and there is evidence of this in over 800 villages they are working in, which the members of the committee have ignored during the survey.

It is ridiculous to believe the report which accuses Tata Steel as the supporter and the first financier of Salwa Judum, the so called anti-Naxalite movement of the people of the area. It is a well known fact that the first movement against the Naxalites was the 'Jan Jagran Abhiyan', started in 1991 by Mahendra Karma. That was mostly led by local traders and businessmen. It later collapsed, and the leaders had to seek police protection to survive. In 2005 it was renamed Salwa Judum (meaning "Purification Hunt" in Gondi language) and it is reported that civilians were armed to supposedly fight the Naxalites in the region. And In mid-2008, the movement's front liner, Mahender Karma announced that Salwa Judum will soon cease to exist.

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