Guest Post by AR VASAVI
January, 26th, 2016, the 66th year of celebrating the declaration of India as a ‘Republic’ and the passage of the Indian Constitution, witnessed an unusual gathering at an auditorium at Challakere town (Chitradurga District, Karnataka). Local residents, farmers, shepherds and a number of environmentalists, academics, reporters, and students from various towns and cities of Karnataka participated at a public hearing on the appropriation by the governments of India and Karnataka of more than ten thousand acres of a common grazing land called the Amrut Mahal Kaval which had been allocated to various public and private sectors for the construction of a futuristic ‘science city’. Organised by Amrit Mahal Kaval Hitarakshana Haagu Horata Samithi [Amrit Mahal Kaval Conservation and Struggle Committee] the public hearing was to assess the pros and cons of such land allocation. Local shepherds and farmers from the surrounding villages highlighted the impact of the loss of their grasslands (kavals). In their eloquent and well-thought-out statements, the local residents sought to retain their rights to the grassland (a collectively maintained resource) and to the livelihoods and life that it enabled. They questioned the undemocratic process by which their land had been appropriated and commented on the nature of the nation’s institutions. Although they had all been invited, none of the representatives of the government departments and the organisations which had received land deemed it worthy to attend this public hearing. This meet and the visit to the Kavals (now cordoned off with a double boundary; an outer wire fence and an inner stone, concrete and steel meshed 15 feet high fence, reminiscent of high-security prisons) were testimony to the unusual trajectory of the Indian Republic where the voices of common people are increasingly silenced and the state, and its institutions of the military, the science establishment, and some private players have gained ascendency.
Continue reading The ‘Non-Science’ Of Grabbing Grasslands And Promoting A Futuristic ‘Science City’: A.R.Vasavi
Earlier this month, I travelled to Gambella in South West Ethiopia to visit the 100,000 ha farm managed by Karuturi Global Ltd ; an Bangalore-based company that hopes to use its farm in Ethiopia to become one of the largest food producers in the world. Karuturi has become the most visible symbol of what activists have termed “land grab” in Africa; a term that is as contentious as the process itself. At various times, Kafila has also carried pieces on the subject. Some the material put out by groups like Human Rights Watch has been hard to verify, but the process itself is worth following. Appended below, my Sunday story for The Hindu.
Gambella (Ethiopia): Last August, Ojulu sat smoking a cigarette outside his thatch-roofed hut in Pino village when a rising tide of water seeped through the reed fence. “The water came in the morning,” Ojulu said, “And stayed for a month.”
As Ojulu and his neighbours scrambled to higher ground the Baro river swirled through the village, gathering in force until it breached a series of dykes, built by Bangalore-based Karuturi Global, and swamped the company’s vast 100,000-hectare farm. “Karuturi blocked the natural route of the water [with the dyke], so the water came into our village,” Ojulu said. “Karuturi was the cause of the flood.” Read the rest of the story here
Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM
The state of Jharkhand was created after several decades of struggle. On 15 November, the state completed 12 years of its formation. The day is considered to be the birth anniversary of the legendary leader Birsa Munda. The state, famous for its rich mineral resources, occupies an area of 28,833 square miles (74,677 square km) and has a population of nearly 330 lakh people according to 2011 estimates. Like every year, the formation day was celebrated with the great pomp and show by the government and the political elite in the state capital Ranchi and elsewhere.
However, this year, greater effort was made to bolster its ever declining public image due to mass displacement, brutality by police and security forces and rampant corruption in the state over the years, by giving advertisements not only in local and Hindi newspapers but also in major national dailies. On 15th of November, in the Times of India (Delhi edition), a full page advertisement was published with smiling faces of Shibu Sonren, once a popular leader and referred as Dishom Guru or the Great Leader of Tribal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief and also head of the ruling alliance, along with chief minister Arjun Munda and his team, in Hindi with the heading, ‘Vikas ke path par agrasar Jharkhand: Zameen par utri Haqeeqat’ (Jharkhand on the path of Development: Reality on the ground), enumerating ‘landmark works of development’ of the government. I was also told by friends that similar advertisements appeared in other newspapers as well. Continue reading Jharkhand, twelve years later: Mahtab Alam
Guest post by ARUNA CHANDRASEKHAR
If we cut the entire forest down, where will we live?’- Muria adivasi, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh
I don’t even know how to begin addressing a story as blindly biased in its premise as this one in the Wall Street Journal, which draws an obtuse line between loss of forest cover and land usage by adivasis, when it is land grab by industrialization that is endangering all we have left.
So I’m going to do this paragraph by paragraph.
India’s forest cover decreased by 367 square kilometers between 2007 and 2009, and it was primarily tribal and hilly regions that were to blame.
The tribal and hilly regions are the last vestiges of India’s forests. How can you blame entire regions, without casting any aspersions on institutions or practices responsible? Continue reading What the Wall Street Journal Can’t See in India’s Forests: Aruna Chandrashekhar
This statement, signed by many individuals and organisations, was released on 29 November by the CAMPAIGN FOR SURVIVAL AND DIGNITY
CONDEMN THE REPRESSION ON POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI AND THE LIKELY IMMINENT ATTACK ON THE PEACEFUL PROTESTERS OF THE AREA
The undersigned condemn the growing brutality of the state repression being unleashed against the peaceful, democratic protesters of the POSCO project area, who are only fighting for their legal and fundamental rights. This repression has reached a peak with the arrest yesterday (Friday) of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahoo. The government’s constant announcements of its intention to start construction in the area lead us to apprehend that there will be more violence and brutality against the movement. Continue reading Statement Condemning the Repression of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
This press release was put out by the NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS on 14 November 2011
Post-facto Green signal to Phase-I of Lavasa by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) given on the November 9th is a blot on the democratic process and a shockingly dangerous precedent in the history of environmental action in India. MoEF’s improper action has infact sent shock-waves to eco-activists within the country and also across the world. Although it is not the first time in the long history of Indian Environmental clearance regime that political highhandedness has been used to subvert rule of law and the ends of justice, this case is unique since the clearance has disregarded well established evidence based on facts collected by no other than the MoEF itself. It is surprising that the Ministry’s decision has come in the wake of the case filed by the Maharashtra government against 15 persons including promoters of Lavasa Corporation for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), while the Maharashtra Chief Minister on the other hand has recommended that Lavasa be considered for environmental clearance, exposes the double standards of the state government. Continue reading Clean Chit to Law-Breaker Lavasa, a Blot on India’s Democracy and Environmentalism: NAPM