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Lohardaga-Ranchi train robbed by armed gang

The robbery took place soon after the passenger train left Narkopi station. The robbers made their escape near Argora on the outskirts of the capital.


Eyewitnesses said that the gang boarded the train at Lohardaga and occupied the luggage space. "They pretended to have fallen asleep, but soon after the train left Narkopi, they started firing in the air and asked the passengers to hand over their belongings. They also beat up those who were reluctant to part with the cash," said an eyewitness.


Over 20 passengers were robbed. An employee of Ruchika Sales lost Rs 8,700 in cash, a gold chain, a wristwatch and a mobile phone. After the looting spree, the gang pulled the chain when the train was about to reach Argora and fled. The passengers lodged a complaint with the GRP after reaching Ranchi junction.


This was the second time that a passenger train was targeted in Ranchi rail division. On September 22, suspected PLFI members shot dead a district police havildar on board Jharsuguda-Hatia passenger train at Bakashpur railway station in Khunti district.


Additional director-general of railway Kumud Choudhary, however, ruled out any link between the two incidents. "Efforts are on to arrest the robbers soon," she said, adding that criminals languishing in jails might be involved.


We are collecting information from sources inside jail and hope to make a breakthrough soon," she added.


October 2, 2009 / Telegraph


Naxals obstruct development in Jharkhand village

Development initiatives in Jharkhand have received another blow with the rebel Naxals preventing the construction of a bridge over the Koel River.


Naxals in the Gumla-Lohardaga area are reportedly now forcing people to cross the river in improvised wooden boats at great risk to their lives. Several have lost their lives in the river. During the monsoon, the water level rises to 30 feet, increasing the danger to life.


The government has sanctioned the contract for the construction of the bridge, but no one is willing to come forward to undertake the task out of fear of a Naxal reprisal.


Local residents are in dire need of the bridge but the Naxals have been preventing its construction for a long time. It has led to an aggravation of problems in the daily life of local people.


Naxals don't want the bridge constructed out of fear that it would expose the location of their camps. About 50 villages in the region remain unconnected as a result.


They are hardly concerned with the development of the area or the welfare of the villagers.


"It is a main river here, but the locals have to face a lot of hardship to cross it. There have been several occasions when there were talks of bridge construction, and every time the Naxals just dismantle it. This is the reason why there is no development," said Ashok Shukla, a Gumla resident.


"It's been three to four years since the plans to construct a bridge over the Koel River are going on. But there has been no initiative to construct the bridge, and this has dejected the villagers here," claimed Baghmbar Ohdar, another resident in Gumla.

"We have read various newspaper reports about administrative officials' efforts to construct the bridge over the Koel River, but we are just living on assurances till date," Ohdar added.


"It is not just the families, but also education which has have suffered badly due to absence of proper bridge over the river. There are times when boats cannot float, especially during heavy rains," said Ajay Kumar, a Gumla resident.


Villagers are surprised when told the Naxals are the voice of the voiceless. They say the Naxals are the actual enemies.


Local residents are waiting for the day when development does actually take place, but are also aware that the Naxalites will view such developmental works as a challenge to their existence and not let it happen.


Aug.1 (ANI)

Lohardaga: Closure of bauxite mine opposed

The Chhotanagpur Bauxite Workers' Union (CBWU), which is affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress, on Saturday, opposed the closure of a mine 9625 of the Hindalco Industries Limited in the Pakhar bauxite plateau.


The meeting was held in the residential office of CBWU's and leaders vehemently opposed the Union labour ministry's nod to Hindalco to close down the bauxite mine 9625 in the Pakhar plateau.


The union leaders had earlier staged a demonstration in March when the company issued a notice in this regard. It is feared that as many as 250 regular labourers would become jobless if the company goes ahead with its plan.


The CBWU leaders have decided to move court if the company refuses to listen to their appeal. The company will have to close all its mines and activities if it does not provide jobs to the workers of the 9625 mine, the CBWU general secretary said.


MLA Bhagat said that the company is cheating the government by giving wrong information about the bauxite deposits in mine 9625. The company has a total lease of 774 acres in Pakhar area while the mine under the closure threat is of less than 2 acres.


On the other hand, labourers, who had given their land to the company on lease, were employed in the company and not in the said mine. He said that some of the Congress MPs have been requested to raise the issue in the ongoing session of the Parliament even as the Union labour ministry has promised to review the matter.


© TNN / July 11, 2009

Lohardaga, Gumla and Latehar Panic pause on ore supply continues

It has been three weeks since Maoist rebels torched six trucks carrying bauxite on Ghaghra-Bishunpur road. But Hindalco Industries Limited, a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group, is paying the price till date.


Two units of Hindalco, one in Renukoot and the other in Muri, are on the verge of running out of bauxite deposits as dispatch and transportation of ores from mines in Gumla and Lohardaga districts have stopped after that incident. Fearing fresh Maoist attacks, transporters have stopped ferrying bauxite ores to the units.


"For over 21 days, we have not been able to send bauxite to our Muri-based refinery and integrated plant in Renukoot. As a result, the units are slowly running out of bauxite deposits, thus dealing a blow to manufacture of aluminium products," said K.K. Dave, the general manager (mines) of Hindalco Industries Limited. He added that 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of bauxite get transported from the mines every day under normal circumstances.


He further pointed out that in the 2008-09 fiscal, out of 365 days, there were 200 non-working days in the mines due to the bandhs called by various rebel outfits in the area. "The scene has not changed in this fiscal. How can industries exist in the state under these circumstances?" asked Dave.


To ensure that trucks and dumpers can safely ply on the route, the police top brass held a high-level meeting with transporters in Gumla on May 29. Senior police officials, including IG (operations) D.K. Pandey, DIG (Ranchi zone) R.K. Mallick and superintendents of police of Lohardaga, Gumla and Latehar — three districts where either mines are located or ore-carrying vehicles ply through — tried to convince the transporters to ply their vehicles, assuring protection.


After the meeting, Mallick had even claimed that dispatch and transportation of bauxite from the region would resume soon. But the situation has failed to look up.


According to sources, People's Liberation Front of India had attacked the trucks on May 12 to avenge the death of two of their top cadres.


Besides, the outfit has asked the state and the company to ensure better health, education, electricity and road facilities for villages located around the mines.


June 4, 2009 / Telegraph


Naxal fear disrupts bauxite supply

Dispatch and transportation of bauxite from mines in Gumla and Lohardaga districts to different units of Hindalco Industries Limited — a flagship company of Aditya Birla Group — has come to a standstill since May 12 because of Maoist menace.


Hundreds of trucks carrying bauxite used to ply on the Netarhat-Bishunpur-Ghaghra-Lohardaga route. But the vehicles have disappeared after Naxalites torched at least six trucks on this stretch in the Ghaghra police station area on May 12. Fear of more trouble by the rebel outfits — more than four groups are active in this area — have kept the drivers away.


Bauxite from Lohardaga and Gumla is ferried to Hindalco's integrated plant in Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh that has a metal production capacity of 3.5 lakh tonnes and Muri in Jharkhand, which produces 5 lakh tonnes alumina refinery every year.


"It seems that the Hindalco management has either failed to strike a peace deal with the rebel outfits or the truck owners are too scared to ply on this route," said a businessman of Ghaghra. Daily activities in the area were also affected, as villagers, who are dependent on these mines for their livelihood, have no work for over a week.


Although Hindalco officials are tight-lipped, a senior employee said that dispatch and transportation from the mines of Serengdag and Gurdari in Gumla district and Bagru and Pakhari in Lohardaga district had taken a hit since May 12. General manager of the company's mines division K.K. Dave is apparently in Mumbai, the headquarters of Aditya Birla Group, to discuss the matter with the higher authorities.


Hindalco officials voiced concern that disruption in movement and transportation of bauxite from the mines in Jharkhand would affect production in Muri and Renukoot plants.


Gumla deputy commissioner R Sharma, who held a meeting with Hindalco officials yesterday, told The Telegraph that they had decided to provide escort to bauxite-carrying trucks. "Today, a few dumpers transported bauxite ores from Gurdari mines plateau near Netarhat. There is a possibility that dispatch and transportation will resume from Serengdag mines from tomorrow," said Sharma, adding that the rebels torched the vehicles on May 12 probably in protest against the killing of their area commander Sanjay Oraon.


"The Maoist rebels may not demand levy but the new incumbent, who has replaced Oraon, wants to make his presence felt. A rumour of bandh is enough to force the businessmen down their shutters. Vehicles have also stopped plying. This has taken a serious toll on mining activities," said a businessman of the area.


Such is the fear that vehicles do not ply at night on the route. This despite the fact that a school to train combat forces is being commissioned near Netarhat.


Hindalco has leases in four functioning major bauxite plateaus of Lohardaga and Gumla. Besides, it has two leases in Latehar, which are yet to become operational. Many other individual-owned mines operate in Gumla district. They have been forced to close down since last week.
The Telegraph / 2009 May 20
About Lohardaga District of Jharkhand

Lohardagga's history dates to hoary antiquity. Lore-a-Ydaga' in Mundari means river of tears. There is reference to Kismate Lohardaga in 'Aain-e-Akbari' as well. The ruins of forts and temples of Korambe, Bhandra, and Khukhra-bhakso, are mute testimony to its rich cultural past. Local historians say that Lohardaga was once a major centre for smelting iron ("Lohar" means iron monger, "dagga" means centre).


Around 1765, the British entered this area. In 1833, when 'South West Frontier Agency" was established, the chief agent of the Governor General was resident in Lohardaga. In 1842 the Principal Assistant to the "Agent" was relocated from Lohardaga to Ranchi (then known as Kishunpur). In 1843 a Deputy Commissioner was placed and Courts were established at Ranchi but the Commissioner continued to work from Lohardaga until 1899 despite the fact that in 1854 the South West Frontier Agency was abolished. Government notified Lohardaga as a Sub Division in 1972 and as a district on 17ltl May 1983.


The District of Lohardaga is located in the south western part of Jharkhand State between 32030" to 23040" north latitude and between 84040" to 84050" east longitude covering an area of 190.82 Km2 in the tribal belt of Chotanagpur plateau.


     The administrative set up of the district is divided into 5 development blocks viz : (i) Kuru (ii) Kisko (iii) Senha (iv) Bhandra and (v) Lohardaga. The district includes 5 police stations having 353 villages spread over in 67 Gram Panchayats. Lohardaga is the only town in the district.

     The district is divided into two broad physical divisions viz : (i) the Hilly Tract and (ii) the Plateau Region. The hilly tract is extended in the West and North-Western parts of the district which includes the parts of Kisko, Senha and Kuru development blocks. The high hill tops of this region are known as Pat. The region is covered mainly with sal forests. The Plateau region is a part of the Gumla plateau, comprised with entire part of Lohardaga and Bhandra development blocks and some parts of Senha, Kuru and Kisko developments blocks.

    This region has a number of small hill blocks covered with forests. The general slope of the district is from west to east. The main rivers of the district are South Koel, Sankh, Nandni, Chaupat's and Fulijhar etc. These are mainly Rainfed Rivers and dried up in the summer months. Some springs are also seen in the hilly tract of the district. Geologically the area in comprised with Archean Granites and Gneisses. In the uplands considerable thickness of late-rite of Pleistocene age is found in the Granite and Gneisses tracts. Alluvium of recent to sub-recent age is found in the river valleys. The most important mineral of the district is bauxite. Other minerals which are found in the district are feldspar, fire clay and china clay and have less economic importance. The major part of the district is covered with Golden Alluvium, Red and Sandy and Red and Gravelly soils. Late-rite and Red and Yellow soils are also found elsewhere in the district. The district enjoys a healthy and pleasant climate throughout the year. The annual average temperature is 230 centigrade and the district receives an annual average rainfall of 1000-1200 mm. The rainfall increases from west to east.


     There is scarcely of sufficient and dependable source of irrigation because of the district being hilly. The means of irrigation in the district are river, canal, ponds and wells. About 90% of the total population of the district is dependent on agriculture. The net sown area of the district is 7744.78 hectares out of which, only 7034.20 hectares of land is under irrigation. The main crop of the district is rice followed by millets (marua, gondli and maize), pulses, wheat, oil seeds (Sarguja and groundnuts) and vegetables.

     There is a total absence of large scale industries in the district. People are engaged in small scale industries like making of stone chips, bricks, soaps, oil, candles, aluminums goods, wooden furniture, earthern pots, bamboo baskets, weaving of cloths and carpets etc. The district is not having good network of communication. No national highway passes through the district and Lohardaga town is located on the state highway between Ranchi and Rourkela. Lohardaga is also connected with Ranchi by a metre gauge railway line.

     The district is lagging behind in education. Only 33% of the total population is literate. There are 2 colleges, one teacher's training school, 19 high schools and 149 primary schools in the district. About 59% of the total population of the district is tribal population, Oraon is the major tribal inhabitant of the district, the other primitive tribes are Asur, Birijia etc. still preserving their additional old culture in the district.

     With the available resources and potentialities, for socio-economic growth, the district deserves proper attention for resources planning which could magnify the district in every field of development.



Cultural specificities:


Lohardaga district is part of the wider tribal region, called Jharkhand. The region has been a sort of loose confederation of freely associating concatenation of economically self-sufficient village communities since time immemorial. This confederation of Adivasis extended from south-western Bengal, Jharkhand, large parts of Orissa, northern Andhra, southern Madhya Pradesh, Western and coastal Maharashtra. Many Adivasis are still alive who can trace their ancestors from these parts. The Adivasis of Lohardaga had a sophisticated culture based on fine understanding of land, sustainable natural resource management, and community rights. The following paragraphs document a few singular facts about these people.




A typical village was carved out of forest. Homestead land would generally be selected at an elevation surrounded by farmland and forests. There would be a water source- a well, a river or a pond- as close to the homestead as possible. The forests compensated the low productivity of soil to the extent of making village communities self-sufficient.


The Adivasis, therefore, came to depend heavily on forest resources such as stems, tubers, fruits, leaves, flowers, animals, timber, and herbs, for food, shelter and medicines. Despite the emergence of money economy, a part of their cash requirement is still met from non-timber forest produce (NTFP). Even today, despite education, many Munda, Oraon and Kharia Adivasis households, who own more land as compared to other Adivasis, depend upon the forests for their survival needs. There is a symbiotic relationship between the Adivasis and the forest that transcends purely material and takes on deeper metaphysical, often spiritual, connotation. "Sarna," the sacred grove, where elders are buried, is invariably located within a Sal forest.


Cultural ethos


Local people narrated another interesting feature of the Adivasi life to the investigating team. Traditionally males and females of marriageable age were first symbolically married off to Mango and Mahua trees respectively. After the actual marriage, the males would marry the Mahua and the females the Mango tree. Thereafter married couples were expected to look after their respective trees.





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