FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
India – The Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples, International Accountability Project, The Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre, All India Kisan Sabha (Assam Unit), and 58 organizations and 75 individuals released a petition to express deep concern regarding the land-grabbing and ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by Azure Power 40 Pvt Ltd against the Adivasi and Karbi peoples of Mikir Bamuni in Assam, Northeast India.
Azure Power 40 Pvt Ltd, without obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of the affected communities, forcefully acquired land belonging to the Adivasi and Karbi peoples of Mikir Bamuni for the establishment of a 15 MW solar power plant. This action violates the fundamental human rights, livelihoods, cultural identities, and dignity of the Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, the land acquisition was carried out by manipulating the land laws of Assam, raising serious legal concerns.
The historical context of Mikir Bamuni reveals that the land in question, part of the larger Mikir Bamuni Land Grant No. 1, was initially allocated for tea cultivation to multiple individuals. The Adivasi and Karbi peoples in the area have been cultivating these lands for generations, and they hold legal rights to the land as per the Assam (Temporarily Settled Areas) Tenancy Act 1971. However, Azure Power disregarded these rights and purchased the land from a single family, converting the land tenure system to private property.
The petition highlights a series of documented human rights violations committed against the Adivasi and Karbi farmers of Mikir Bamuni during the course of this land acquisition and subsequent construction of the solar power plant. These violations include arbitrary detention, physical assault, destruction of crops, and violent confrontations with security personnel.
Renewable energy companies like Azure Power 40 Pvt Ltd, supported by international financial institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, PROPARCO, KfW, DEG, and FMO, have a responsibility to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and avoid adverse impacts on their human rights and well being. The signatories of this petition call upon Azure Power Limited to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, comply with the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation, and respect the rights of the Karbi and Adivasi farmers of Mikir Bamuni.
Specifically, the petition demands the following actions from Azure Power:
- Respect the Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent: Engage in meaningful and transparent consultations with the Indigenous Peoples of Mikir Bamuni, ensuring their views and concerns are considered in the decision-making process. Provide all relevant information about the operation in a language accessible to the community.
- Conduct Due Diligence: Undertake a thorough assessment of the human rights impacts resulting from the solar farm and implement measures to prevent and mitigate such violations in the future. Engage with affected communities throughout the process.
- Provide Remedy: Offer effective remedies to individuals and the community of Mikir Bamuni who have suffered harm and continue to face adverse consequences due to the solar power plant. Remedies may include compensation, restitution, and environmental restoration.
- Accountability: Take responsibility for the harm caused by actions and ensure an independent investigation is conducted to address the violations. Issue a public apology and implement appropriate remedies to prevent future occurrences.
The petition also urges the Assam Government to recognize and respect the rights of the Karbi and Adivasi Indigenous Peoples and support their efforts to reclaim their land from Azure Power.
The petitioners call for immediate action from Azure Power Limited and the Assam Government to address these concerns and rectify the injustices faced by the Adivasi and Karbi peoples of Mikir Bamuni. The right to land, self-determination, and the protection of indigenous communities must be prioritized in pursuing renewable energy development.
For more information, please contact:
Adrian Banie Lasimbang
Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples