Tag Archives: Forests

Forest Areas, Political Economy and the “Left-Progressive Line” on Operation Green Hunt: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

Guest post by SHANKAR GOPALAKRISHNAN. This piece also appeared in Radical Notes earlier.
As central India’s forest belts are swept into an ever-intensifying state offensive and resulting civil war, there has been a strong convergence of left, liberal and progressive arguments on Operation Green Hunt. This note argues that this ‘basic line’ is problematic. The line can be summarised as: The conflict is rooted in resource grabbing by corporate capital, in the form of large projects, SEZs, mining, etc. Such resource grabbing leads people to take up arms to defend themselves, resulting in the ongoing conflict. The conflict thus consists of a state drive to grab people’s homes and resources, with people resisting by taking to arms as self-defence.
Supporters of the Maoists’ positions now often conflate these points with the more orthodox positions on the necessity for “protracted people’s war” in a ‘semi-feudal semi-colonial’ state. Liberals in turn tend to deny these orthodox positions and instead advocate the resource grab – displacement – corporate attack issue as the “real” explanation. Both, however, accept this as the predominant dynamic at the heart of the current conflict. But at the heart of this line lies an unstated question: why are forest areas the main battleground in this war? While the conflict is not coterminous with the forests – most of India’s forest areas are not part of this war, and the conflict extends outside the forest areas in some regions – forests are both politically and
geographically at its heart.

Whose woods these are….

…. I think I know?

If the latest developments at the Bali Summit are anything to go by -the answer to this question is going to become very contentious in the coming years. Armed with a mandate to cut, capture, and squester carbon; Governments, International Organisations, and private companies have been working hard at arriving at a means to bring forests under the carbon market – and possibly use carbon in forests as a tradable commodity. What this means for the future of our forests is uncertain.

There are several components that can be considered under the Forests and REDD – Reduction of emissions from Deforestation and Degraded Land in developing countries. Some of the big ones are afforestation programmes, deforestation reduction programmes, carbon capture and squestering (CCS), the rights on indigenous peoples and forest dwellers, the Clean Development Mechanism and conservation. Each carries with it an entire lexicon and phrase-ology of its own.

I mentioned in previous posts, it is one of the most interesting issues at the conference – and one I hope to deal with at length in my article for Frontline – which I shall have to work on very soon. In the meantime, jus to get interested readers up-to-speed, am appending to articles that I have written for the The Hindu. They should provide the briefest of introductions. Note that the articles correspond to standards of objectivity required in “Hard News” reportage – Shall write an opinion piece for Kafila soon. In the meantime, I would urge careful readers to read against, for, below, above and around the text.

Continue reading Whose woods these are….

Welcome to Ore-issa

Forest Degradation -Orissa

As the shadows lengthen along Keonjhar’s main street, the tube-lit sign above Hotel Arjun flickers to life, illuminating both – the front entrance of the hotel and the cigarette seller adjacent to it. A solitary traffic policeman walks up to the junction right outside the hotel, and assumes his position on at the most significant crossing in town.

Fifteen kilometers down the road the ground shivers as a queue, over a kilometer long, shudders to life. Engine after engine revs up as a convoy, several hundred trucks strong, begins the next stage of the 325 kilometer journey from the iron rich district of Keonjhar in North Orissa to the port of Paradip on the coast. Continue reading Welcome to Ore-issa