Seen one? You’ve Seen Them All !


Grab of Adivasi land and loot of Government revenue by PANEM Co in Jharkhand.
A typical example of what corporates generally do.

by Stan Swamy

This company is PANEM Coal Company, a joint venture of the Punjab Electricity Board and Kolkota-based EMTA. An investigation by an Assembly-Members Committee of Jharkhand Govt revealed that it has been indulging in rampant irregularities since 2006 resulting in financial losses to the govt to the tune of Rs. 10,000 crores. [as reported by Times of India, 20-6-2014].

The history behind PANEM Co

There is a history behind this company. It had quietly signed an MoU with Jharkhand govt for acquisition of 1151.70 acres of land out of which 674.2 acres was agricultural land in Pakur District for a captive coal mine for the Punjab Electricity Board. Once the Santal Adivasi people whose life-sustenance was this land came to know about it, they mobilized themselves into a resistance movement by name of Rajmahal Pahad Bachao Andolan (RPBA). The villagers came to realize the legal protective mechanisms like the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act, the provisions of the Fifth Schedule, etc. and went to Jharkhand High Court seeking justice.

The court gave its verdict against the poorest of the poor, and in favour of powerful mining co under the guise of the ‘Law of Eminent Domain’, thus infringing the constitutional & legal provisions meant to safeguard the interests of Adivasi people. The people had no choice except to enter into a mutual agreement with the company, but the company did not fulfill its part of the agreement adequately. It further divided Adivasi village communities by buying off some of the youngsters with money and liquor and making them its ‘dalals’. These dalals were used by the company even to physically eliminate those who were leading and guiding the resistance movement. Such was the starting point of PANEM Co.

Now it has come to light that this company has cheated the govt a revenue of Rs. 10,000 crores by indulging in rampant irregularities since 2006.   How are we to understand this loot by the corporate sector? How are we to look at the local administration and the state govt which have cooperated with the looter all these years?

Greed is an essential constituent of capitalism

President Evo Morales of Bolivia, the first ever indigenous leader to be elected President of a country through democratic process, in a recent speech, points out how

  • acting in     the     name of the free market and democracy, a handful of imperial powers invade countries, block trade, impose prices on the rest of the world, choke national economies, plot against progressive governments.
  • a tiny elite of countries and transnational corporations control the destinies of the world, its economies and its natural resources.
  • The economic and social inequality between regions, between countries, between social classes and between individuals has grown outrageously.
  •  It has led to a structural crisis affecting international finance, energy, climate, water, food, institutions and values. It is a crisis inherent to capitalist civilization.
  • The financial crisis was prompted by the greedy pursuit of profits from financial capital that led to profound international financial speculation, a practice that favored certain groups, transnational corporations or power centers that amassed great wealth.
  • The climate crisis is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production, with consumption levels and unharnessed industrialization that have resulted in excessive emissions of polluting gases that in turn have led to global warming and natural disasters affecting the entire world.
  • In turn, global warming is generating a water supply crisis that is compounded by privatization, depletion of sources and commercialization of fresh water. As a consequence, the number of people without access to potable water is growing apace.
  • The water shortage in many parts of the planet is leading to armed conflicts and wars that further aggravate the lack of availability of this non-renewable resource.
  • As a result of all these developments, peoples’ social rights are endangered. The promise of equality and justice for the whole world becomes more and more remote and nature itself is threatened with extinction.
  • We have reached a limit, and global action is urgently needed to save society, humanity and Mother Earth.

[excerpts taken from Pres.Evo Morales’ talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia, on June 14, 2014.]

Any idea about how much profit PANEM Co earned during these eight years?

The fact is, it is top secret. Nobody except the company owner knows it. Now the media is saying that it has looted the govt of Rs. 10,000 crores. Even after this startling revelation, the govt does not seem to take this company to task. On the other hand, what is very clear is that the people have lost their land which is the source of their sustenance, they have been displaced, their communities have been scattered, dust-pollution has gone beyond all limits and people are becoming poorer. A tremendous injustice has been done to the indigenous adivasi people.

Mother Earth has given everything free to all human beings. . . but the greedy capitalist appropriates it to himself and deprives everybody else from their rightful enjoyment of nature’s bounties. May we say that as long as the greedy capitalist is allowed to exploit Mother Earth for his greed, deprivation of the masses of even their basic needs will continue. The only other human alternative is to work towards a socialist order wherein every person gives to society as per his/her capability and society gives to every person as per his/her needs.

Stan Swamy, 1 July 2014

All views/opinions expressed in this article are of the author.