Since 2007, the Chingari Trust has handed its annual ‘Chingari Award’ to Indian women making outstanding contributions in the fight against corporate crime and striving to protect the environment. This year’s Chingari Award is jointly given to Susheela Bhandari from Uttarakhand and Monoroma Chouette from Odisha.
In the words of Chingari Trust co-founder, Rashida Bee:
“Susheela Bhandari is 52 years old and has studied till 5th Standard. There are many hydropower projects proposed in her area on river Mandakini. One such project was initiated by L&T company in 2006 without any permission from the local people residing in that area. Local people there especially women have started their struggle in that area to save their livelihood which was dependent on their forest and land under the leadership of Susheela. Because of this struggle, she had also spent sixty five days in jail.
“Miss Monorama Khatua being born in a poor family of village Dhinkia in Jagatsingpur district of Odisha. When Anti-POSCO struggle to protect 4000 acres paddy, fish and beetle land started in 2005 under the banner of POSCO Pratirodha Sangram Samiti(PPSS) , Monorama was 19 years young village girl teaching to primary school children. When the president of PPSS Mr. Abhaya Sahu was kept in jail twice for months together, the heroic role of Monorama was historic to organise to continue the struggle with active women participation even in absence of the main leader of the movement. There was a threat to her life by the corporate goons and she narrowly escaped from a bullet in journey in her body when there was mass protest in 2010. She is facing more than 50 false criminal charges along with hundred women because of her active and vibrant mobilisation of villagers for democratic and non- violent struggle against corporate exploitation of natural resources. Because of people’s struggle for more than eleven years, the POSCO had to go back.
‘It is therefore with pride and gratitude that we salute this outstanding torch bearers of justice and bestow upon them with Chingari Award 2018.”