South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (Report- august to December 2008) Name of the organisation



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South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy

(Report- August to December 2008)

Name of the organisation: Centre for the Study on Developing Societies (CSDS)

Name of the contact person of the organisation: Prof Rajeev Bhargava
Address: 29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110054, India

E-mail:

Fax: 91-11-2394219999/3951190/23971151

Telephone: 91-11-2394219999/3951190/23971151
Address of the Project Office: DA/9A DDA Flats, Munirka, New Delhi-110067

Email: saded.bharat@gmail.com

Telephone: 91-11-26177813
Project code: 0804AAS

Project title: South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy (SADED)
Amount granted for the total project in euros: 65.000
Project duration: Start Month/Year January 2008 Estimated End1 Month /Year March 2009

Time period covered by this narrative report: From Date/Month/Year 1st August 2008 To Date /Month /Year 31st December 2008

1. Please give us a description of the project activities you have implemented this far. Is the project progressing as planned? Write a short general summary and fill out the table below.
Summary:

Objectives of the project

  • To create an understanding about ecological democracy, its global context and bring it more centrally into public discussion within civil society and the political mainstream; focus being India, South Asia and Global

  • Not to make SADED a distinct entity but to contribute to the larger world of civil society strivings in the same direction. In order to do so it was felt to be important to undertake activities that will

    • Help to understand the life of low consuming section of societies and their worldview

    • To get more space in public life and gain leadership roles for these groups and worldviews

    • To understand ecologically oriented positions and worldviews within different ideological streams and gain greater space for these issues

  • To link academics and journalists sensitive to ecological democracy with grassroots activists in a web of communication.

In the current phase SADED hoped to strengthen the network within India, widen inter country linkages in the Asian region, and the deepening of Nordic-South Asia partnerships.

(Note that the spaces in the table can expand to accommodate as much information as you want to fill in)




Activities
List the activities from the original project plan. Please list also any possible new activities which have been added to your project


Progress
Describe to what degree the activities have been implemented so far, together with their possible impacts.



Participants
Beneficiaries or target groups to the project activities


Reasons for possible differences between the original project plan and the actual implementation of the activities




Due a different structure used in proposed activities we have reported progress using the same headings in the format, in text rather than table form


Dialogues Resource Centre Support Activities
Proposed Activities: Archiving, Documentation and Website Work
Progress:

  • Some of the new work that got initiated in spite of shortage in staff was building a still photography library, archiving material of campaigns on our website, building an event archive section, continuing with archiving of audio-visuals of dialogues.. Refer to Annexure 1: List of Photo Essays, Audios, Transcriptions during this period, and view our website, www.saded.in




  • A reclassification of our address lists was done in accordance to the current campaigns and issues that the Resource Centre is working with







  • Cataloguing and numbering of thematic boxes and rearranging material in them.




  • The Resource centre has continued to provide support to activists in terms of computers, typing, translation and communication work along with assistance in the coordination of some events and rallies and preparation of certain public campaign materials




  • The Website: A lot of emphasis was given on building content for the SADED website these few months. The first challenge was of ensuring a regular flow of information for website work since lot of reports/documents have to be translated into English and made into briefs or summaries and/or edited for presentation. Editorial quality of the content, a neater design and display of the content, adaptation for multiple readers, and a greater interactiveness of the website needs to be further evolved.


Participants: Campaign activists, researchers and media persons, web developers, editors, filmmakers.
Reasons for possible differences between the original project plan and the actual implementation of the activities:

  • Due to reduction in staff, Yatendra S who was engaged with The Documentation Unit responsible for archiving and classification of materials left SADED in July 2008. As a result, a lot of maintenance and updating work has slowed down.

  • Many of the monographs that are ready still need to be published and we have been attempting to locate funding sources for the same.



Themes: Dialogues, Research and Campaigns
Proposal on all the themes: ‘The earlier thematics-- Water and Agriculture, Adivasi Survival Globally, Ecology, Dignity and the Marginalised Majorities, remain our concerns and are now to be consolidated into one head, as components of Ecological Swaraj. Four new themes are to be developed — Wealth Creators Forum for Ecological Responsibility, Climate Justice, Engagement with Gandhi and Ecology, Faith Communities and Ecology. All these would have a local, national and international focus’. Some preparatory work on these has already begun. The reporting has been done theme wise.
Dialogues on Ecological Swaraaj
Proposed
‘These dialogues can be those organized by SADED or SADED can participate in the dialogues organized by others or organize them in collaboration with other networks. Developing a sound understanding of the ground realities and responding to them through the world of ideas is the primary task.
The Indian civil administration is moving towards greater planning at district level, and we should use this opportunity to generate discussion on local issues and people’s planning from an ecological democracy perspective. District level dialogues could lead to evolving some sort of forum for SADED-like activities, bringing together interested academics, media persons, grassroots activists and other civil society organisations and persons. H.S.A. is already engaged in this exercise in Uttarakhand and the partners in Jharkhand (Judav) are also engaged in similar activities that they would like to strengthen in collaboration with SADED. There has been expression of interest from persons in several states-Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. These would largely be self-financed activities, with support of SADED core and thematic resource persons and network contacts. The resource person contacts and networks already developed as well as documents produced/collected for documentation, will be drawn upon for these dialogues.
Participation in dialogues at all levels will include those organised by SADED alone and in collaboration with others, as well as involvement in those organised by other initiatives. The WSF will continue to be the major forum for engagement at international level. However, we would like to increase engagement with the Global Greens, the Socialist International and build bridges with a wide variety of international organizations like Green Peace, Friends of the Earth, Survival International, Via Compassion, etc. We also need to deepen the contacts made in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. In South-east Asian countries we want to develop links through the Siemenpuu partners’.
Progress (August to December 2008)
The dialogues on ecological swaraaj have been multilayered, covering a wide spectrum of issues and locations in India. Some of the key areas of conflict on which dialogues took place were in zones of transition where large tracts of land inhabited by fisher folk, landed peasants, forest dwellers are being acquired for high energy consuming projects such as power plants, mines, dams and for real estate purposes.
In terms of transitions in policy changes by the national and state government in India, one finds that there have been dramatic shifts on land use planning and policy, lands being used for agriculture and forest, is being transferred in large area sizes, for mining and industrial activity. This is primarily possible through the Land Acquisition Act. These shifts in land use have major repercussions on issues related to climate change and global warming. Interlocking of both these arguments has been possible in some of the larger dialogues hosted by SADED such as “sustainable futures” bringing together activists and academicians together for debate.

The changes in policy planning points to a future of drastic changes and uncertainty in the lifestyles of tribal populations in India. They are continuing to negotiate a counter worldview on ideas of ecology and development. The challenge before them is to be able to do so on an equal footing, without being relegated to spaces of romanticism, museology and or the ‘exotic’.


This has led to the need for understanding the ‘adivasi’ question across India, which SADED has been engaging with even in the past. Linkages sought with the north-east has given fresh insights on the issues of Adivasis, in terms of SADED debates and dialogues, where, though tribal cultures are predominant in the north-east, they do not identify with the term ‘adivasi’. Also, the situation of the ‘adivasi’ as marginalised and economically impoverished sections elsewhere in the country is not the same in the north-east.

While Adivasi survival has been a core theme around which dialogues, campaigns and research have taken place under ecological swaraaj debates, SADED networks and resource persons have also engaged with issues of agricultural workers, and related occupations. Mining projects in non-Adivasi areas has impacted agricultural and occupations indirectly related to land, which are not always counted in the impact assessments of these projects. Both adivasis and non Adivasi groups have been similarly impacted by displacement.


On the whole, debates on land-based struggles seemed to have come into prominence more than other issues. There is greater need to look at the ‘land question’ and its interlinkages with ecological issues in the long term in India, and understand similar displacement and land struggles in the rest of the world.
On issues related to water, there have been numerous presentations, researches, visits and discussions. The debates and dialogues can be pin pointed along two sides of the axis of water crisis, on the one hand that of water scarcities and on the other hand that of water excess. Interesting researches have been highlighted a different perspective on water issues, the arrangement and philosophies of the traditional communities in Rajasthan who have developed traditional water management systems which have an inbuilt science in them by Anupam Mishra and the communities in Bihar who have learnt to use and store water when the river overflows her flood banks. While these traditional sciences are being understood, dealing with the new water catastrophes e.g. floods by the River Kosi descending form Nepal into Bihar this year, has led to the need to reassess water management systems and generate cross national discussions on the problem. Visits and experiences through participation in conventions and programmes organised by Jal Biradree revealed similar debates. There is a need to deconstruct existing policies on water on the whole, to be able to deal with issues of water storage, management, flood management etc. and also revive the eroded consciousness that was there among the Indian people and other cultures on water. How this is to be done can be hotly debated, since many of the earlier philosophies were related to the ‘worship’ of water. Much of these practices remain in ritualistic forms today, the true thought and philosophy behind them is not popularly known. However there are doubts on whether this revivalism in a time when much has changed, and where the society seems to be questioning religious beliefs and practices on the whole in the post independent history in India, would such methods of bringing in water consciousness ensure a wider participation? What are the ‘secular’ paths to building an ecological consciousness in the present times? This is a central question being explored.
On the questions on agriculture, while agricultural lands and agrarian societies are threatened in areas, getting industrialised, agriculture is dealing with a complex set of environmental and market issues. Reviving traditional agricultural systems, which were ecologically, sound and attempting to help agrarian societies through marketing cooperatives, which would deal with price rise, reduce food adulteration for consumers and increase profits for farmers are being initiated by a group of SADED network persons and steering committee members.

A lot of work has also been done with floating populations or those who are landless and unorganised sector work. Refer to annexure of a list of activities and meetings related to social security, food security issues of unorganised sector workers and consultations of unorganised sector workers by Subhas Lomte.


Participants: Campaign activists, researchers, students from colleges and universities, media persons, communities, movement groups and networks.
Reasons for possible differences between the original project plan and the actual implementation of the activities: Members of the SADED networks have built linkages with some of the international groups; however there is need for a regular flow of information both from the international networks. A major disabler in this is the scattered geographical locations and the non familiarity with the internet and e-work of many activists, and besides the fact that in many areas electricity is not in regular supply, necessitating other methods of information flow.
List of Activities

1. Dialogues
Organised by SADED
Beyond Land and Forests: Decimation of Niyamgiri, Vishwa Yuva Kendra, New Delhi on 2nd August 2008. The meeting was held at a very crucial time of the struggle of the Dongria Kondhs in Niyamgiri. Along with bringing to light the information of recent Court judgements, the role of the CEC (Central Empowerment Committee), the contradictions in the judicial system, and the situation on the ground, the dialogue brought together several academicians and activists on the issue and also helped in an initial nurturing of a flow of solidarity activities in Delhi. It also reiterated that we need to hear the adivasi’s voice, in this case the Dongria Kondhs, since the very language and way of viewing the world has been different for the Dongaria Kondhs not easily expressed by the perspectives and language we habitually use.
Perspectives on Ecological Swaraaj, Notions on Forests, Mining and SEZs in Gandhi Peace Foundation, on 30th and 31st November 2008. Savyasaachi, Professor in Sociology at Jamia Milia Islamia, presented his research work on the Koitors in Abhuj Maad, Chhattisgarh and their worldviews. Visit http://www.saded.in/adv3.htm to locate his research paper submitted and titled “Glimpses of Shringar Bhum Forest: A Koitor’s perception of time, work and rest”. A revealing discussion emerged, where the philosophies of tribal societies, the way they view life, work, the functioning of society, disease, death and their material worldview, which is distinctly different, offering a space for others to learn from, and build a counter conception on development. Besides just ecological issues, there were issues related to gender, maternal health, the conception of the well being of children. Some areas of debate were, that while policies, governance institutions are structured such that every individual/community in the country, is assumed to be integrated to the grid of interventions and policy making of the state, why has this not been possible in Abhuj Maad. While some seemed more concerned with why this has not happened, others felt that it is incorrect to try to intrude the external cultures promoted by the government, NGOs, social activists, and recently, Maoists into the lives of the tribal.

The next day, a meeting was held on ‘Mining and SEZs’. The meeting helped to bring together researchers, activists and lawyers belonging to different parts of the country, Orissa, Gujarat, Goa, Dehradun and Karnataka and locate common issues and issues of difference in the same. Speakers were K B Saxena, Sreedhar, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, Sebastian Rodrigues, Manshi Asher, VK Sridhar and Mamata Dash. View http://www.saded.in/arch.htm for transcriptions and papers submitted. The activities here helped to create a wider solidarity network with local activists in Goa and Orissa.


Collaborative
Film Show on Niyamgiri organised with solidarity groups in Delhi at WWF Auditorium on 9th August 2008 with solidarity groups in Delhi at WWF Auditorium on 9th August 2008 which included a group of students from colleges and universities. The films on the protests and atrocities shocked the students who are otherwise not aware of many of these realities and issues. They also took part in street protests and campaigns.
The Anti-POSCO Convention held on October 24th was in support of an over two year struggle called the ‘Struggle for Ðhaan-Meena-Paan’ (Rice-Fish-Betel Vine) at Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, where a part of the villages protesting against the Steel Plant being set up on their land by POSCO had constructed internal gates enclosing their villages from entry of any outsiders into the area. A number of researchers specifically interested in civil and political rights, displacement issues, environmental impacts of the project, forest dwellers rights have researched the area in detail. A plea from the local movement to this collective of researchers and intellectuals across the country was made to highlight the anti POSCO struggle in Metros and big cities. The Convention in Delhi was brought under a banner ‘The POSCO Protirodh Solidarity’ group where activists, political parties concerned on the issue, environmental activists and researchers gathered at the meeting to talk more on the issue. Further to this a rally was held in New Delhi with a few students from Orissa, specifically from AISF(All India Students Federation) and the POSCO Solidarity group who protested in front of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, demanding immediate release of the activists and scrapping of the POSCO project.
National Seminar on Special Economic Zones at Hyderabad attended and presented his research on SEZs , Asit Das on 16th and 17th October 2008. The seminar brought researchers working on SEZs together and made available archive of research work done on SEZs for SADED.
Local Dialogues
Jal Kumbh at Khijura, Rajasthan participation by Babulal Sharma, Shaweta Anand and Sayantoni Datta on 6th and 7th September 2008, was organised by Jal Biradree (Water Warriors) and Tarun Bharat Sangh. The Jal Kumbh organised in Khijura was to revive the concept of early Hindu rituals and practices where an auspicious day was selected for all members of society and religious heads to gather and pay their due respects to the river. The function also had discussions related to sharing of water, and maintenance of the river in the area. Today however, people have forgotten this element, and Kumbhs have only been remembered in their ritualistic forms. The water warriors are thus building an alternate kumbh, a space where all those currently attempting to revive our rivers, store water will gather. The first such kumbh was planned in Khijura, because Khijura located in the “Ðang” areas of Rajasthan (or undulating terrains) was uncultivable. However, the people of Khijura stored rain water taking advantage of this terrain, and grow rice there today. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has supported this initiative, however how far the consciousness of people with regard to water has changed still remains to be explored. How will they deal with sharing, storing and management issues, only time will tell.
Meeting with Goa groups on formation of PEZ alliance and visits to groups engaged with 'ecological struggles' on 3rd October 2008 attended by Shaweta Anand and Sayantoni Datta. The meeting took place at Nuem, Khola in Canacona Taluka in South Goa comprising representatives from various villages, who are having to bear the direct brunt of the neo-liberal onslaught of mining industries, Real Estates, SEZs (Special Economic Zones) and CRZs (Coastal Regulation Zones). As a result of the brainstorming on the idea of working together and finding common ground for a united peoples' resistance, it was decided that there is a need to include children within the fold of these environmental issues as well. With this in mind it was decided that 14th November (Children's Day) would be held as a day for mass protests by children - The Black Day, which would be the first way in which different resisting groups would come together in Goa.
A 500 people strong anti-SEZ rally through Panjim on 6th October 2008 organised by MAND Adivasi Resource Centre was attended by Shaweta Anand and Sayantoni Datta The protests of women and men from various coastal fishing villages, forest villages and those villages badly affected by mining projects, rang through the air as they thronged the streets of Panjim. The rally of over five hundred people gathered much attention in Panjim, as many pedestrians, tourists stopped by to hear the protestors. The Chairman of the Gaon Ghor Rakhaand Manch(GGRM) read out in detail the memorandum submitted by the people. Listing their complaints against the Government and state of affairs, GGRM highlighted that while on the one hand big decisions are being taken by the state on mega projects, there is a simultaneous disempowering of local Panchayats and Gram Sabhas and processes leading to village development plans.
Some of the issues highlighted were frauds by the Goa Industrial Development Cooperation in leasing out land for SEZs, a huge water crisis in villages affected by mining industries which have not only extracted water from the area but also polluted the catchments areas, and community lands being blatantly converted to private lands for construction for buildings and mining. They demanded licenses for commercial constructions be stopped, gram sambas be empowered and village development plans encouraged, the 128 environmental clearances to mining industries and 98 more recently be withdrawn, that the Goa mining and mineral policy be withdrawn and all mines legal or illegal be closed in Goa.
Public Meeting at Colamb Village organised to share experiences of people living close to mines, and issues of people impacted by Maina Village on 8th October 2008 organised by Mand Adivasi Resource Centre and attended by Shaweta Anand and Sayantoni Datta, Colamb Village is one of the areas fighting the anti mining struggle and harsh environmental impacts by Formentos mine. The previous night activists were called to the police station to be interrogated on previous cases of trespass etc. Villagers of Colamb gathered at the village sharing that just the vocal activists should not be harassed and the entire village should be arrested instead. Advocate John Fernandes shared the list of complaints filed on environmental grounds against the Formentos mines Company Manager for creating public nuisance in the area caused by the toxic waste, pollution water etc into the village where food and cash food crops are grown, but no action was taken. The SP, Santosh Dessai, finally relented, and the villagers went back. In the neighbouring village Maina, that night, Cheryl D’ Souza who belongs to the area called to say that the mining trucks had started entering the area again and agro forest area at night, without informing any of the local villagers about, that too, in spite of there having been a public hearing where people were against mining in the area. This struggle has continued and there has been a series of human rights violations and harassment to the environmental activists. For more details visit mandgoa.blogspot.org

Two kinds of research is needed in Goa, mapping sustainable lifestyles and practices of the people of Colomb who are still to be impacted by mining and are strongly resisting it and the unsustainable impacts of mining in Northern Goa. Along with this, there is a lot of illegal mining activity prevalent in Goa which needs to be tracked.



SADED-Andhra Pradesh group meeting reported as on 25th November by Asha Kachru: , The group decided to get active in providing intellectual support to struggle groups in A.P, e.g. by providing a platform for a dialogue and

1. Work with the main struggle groups in A.P. in the following categories:

Industrial belt along the coastal corridor from Srikakulum to Nellur

72 open cast mining projects from Adilabad to Khammam and West Godavari

Dam irrigation (Pollavaram) and SEZs and for a GM-free A.P.

Monitoring and surveying Arogyasree and other health schemes of the Govt.

2. Work with groups active for example in building political alliances before elections

3. Have a dialogue (as our immediate activity) with the common man/woman on “Living with less: a lifestyle issue”.

Asha also briefed about her contribution “Living with Less..” at the Italian initiative on World Food Day, sensitizing both their youth as well as the school teachers on issues regarding Food Security and the inter-connectedness of the Northern and Southern lifestyles: obesity in the North and hunger in the South. Uma Shankari said it was a topic we could take up in our societies too.

A brief report on initiation of SADED processes in Bangalore on 31st December 08 which was convened by Sudha Reddy:

Vijay Pratap and Sudha Reddy held meetings with farmer/activists group, Agricultural scientists, human rights lawyers and political leaders in Karnataka.

Sahaja Samruddha(SS) is an organic farmers association of Karnataka. From its modest beginnings the organization has grown into a vibrant group engaged in building a network of contacts to facilitate the exchange ideas, innovations and experience, encourage other farmers to grow top quality produce and work in harmony with a healthy ecosystem, encouraging nature ’s protective network of soil micro organisms and beneficial insects to help them farm successfully. SS has developed a connectivity network of consumer and producer for procurement and marketing or organic products. The organization has been actively involved in advocacy issues related to genetically modified crops and seeds.

Krishnaprasad of SS responded to SADED’s vision and objectives by suggesting that SADED South could be initiated by organizing a National level workshop that would address rural developmental issues. He said that SS would provide the platform for all the ideas and initiatives of SADED.. SS would help in organizing a south India level event by brining in farmers from different parts of south India as SS is committed to its objectives and the works are ongoing irrespective of availability of funds. However as the organization works on a limited budget, expects SADED to assist in approaching funding agencies.

During meeting with Human Rights lawyers and political leaders the discussion was revolved largely around Socialist movements/political parties in Karnataka, the performance of state and national political parties, political alternatives, the need to emphasize ecological justice issues in forthcoming national elections, etc

Vijay Pratap and Dr. Prakash of Karnataka Agricultural University shared the views on the present crisis of food security, environmental, economic and social implications. Dr. Prakash agreed to initiate the process to reflect on the concerned issues under SADED in Bangalore.

The anti POSCO convention at Dhinikia, Orissa on 30th November 2008 by Asit Das, Bipin, Mamata Dash, Subrat Sahu and Sayantoni Datta, from Delhi. This convention was a local convention where solidarity activists were invited from across Orissa and within the country to meet the people protesting against their displacement. There were mixed emotions in the area after the arrests of the leader and local activists, and refusal of bail to the political leaders there. This has only made the movement on the ground react more strongly. A village which was pro–POSCO, Gobindpur, attended the convention adding to the strength in the movement.

The villages to be acquired by POSCO are close to the sea-coast and have a thriving agricultural and fishing economy. The local sands consist of a unique combination of fresh and salt water, making it viable for betel vine culture. Other crops such as cashew also bring a fair amount of returns to the farmers. Most of the households have multiple sources of food, where each settlement had a coconut grove, kitchen garden near the house. For wealthier families, goats and chickens play an important part of the non-vegetarian diet along with fish. It was clear that the peasants of Dhinikia are well off peasants, and this area has a thriving agro-based economy. Some of the areas where betel vine cultivations are done for many years, have been called ‘forest areas’. People claim that they have been cultivating there for many years, before it was declared ‘forests’. So while on the one hand, this has made the peasants unauthorized claimants to the land, granting of forest I clearances to POSCO recently has made POSCO a legal claimant to the land for the steel plant project.

Gates restricting entry of outsiders into the area have enclosed the villages from the outside world. However the police have also barricaded the area. Hence any activist leaving the area and wanting to go outside faces the threat of arrest and anyone wanting to visit the village would also be stopped. In the mean time, the health situation of many is deteriorating in the village, and yet there is no supply of these services there, because of the agitation. Local leaders and activists shared that the struggle needs to be supported by raising some money for legal support and meeting health costs and arrangements in the village in the next few months. Activists have continued to be picked up and the leader denied bail. The struggle on the ground continues.

Meeting with activists like Prafulla Samantra, Sudhir Pattnaik, Lingaraj Azad, Prashant Paikkray, Biswapriyo Kanungo, Kashipur Solidarity activists, Jeetu and Felix Padel on 1st and 2nd December 2008 for an overview on movements in Orissa. Meetings with these leading activists gave multiple perceptions on situation of people in Orissa, specifically related to displacement. A video documentation has been taken of some of these speeches and remains to be edited and put together, and a compilation of the same is pending.

Visit by foot to the following villages to get an idea of the recent resistances and turbulences in Niyamgiri: the villages visited were, Sakata, Gorrota, Dongamatia, Lakhpadar, Phuldumer, Taarijhola, Kadampura and the refinery at Lanjigarh 3rd to 7th December 2008. After the long legal struggle taken up both nationally and internationally, there were several lessons to be learnt. Firstly, many local leaders say that numerous NGO interventions and in the end launching into a legal battle has gone against the local people. The legal battle led no where, and this has been a case in point with other movements as well. In Orissa where all other movements are resisting against any discussions on rehabilitation or resettlement policy, the call is that of ‘no displacement’. It remains to be understood how the local struggle will continue, and is it that the conservationist’s and indigenous rights arguments have been swept to a marginal space in decision making on ‘development’ issues yet again? The team that trekked to the area was a combination of researchers and activists from different backgrounds and locations which helped to locate local to global arguments in Niyamgiri. Some key aspects or dominant people’s perceptions were:



  • NGOs are not assisting in any way to strengthen the movement, the role of NGOs seems to be directed mainly to the area of skill building, introducing new lifestyle

  • The government role of DKDA (Dongria Kondh Development Agency) has its own set of flaws working more with the new paradigm rather than the original concept that it was set up for.

  • From the lessons learnt in the recent legal struggle, the people in the area have mixed responses ranging from extreme fear of death if they resist, to extreme anger of resistance till death. There is a complete mistrust of outsiders, and suspicions of foreigners entering the area. In many of the places we visited which were extremely remote and had a rough climb, it seems that several geologists and researchers had been visiting the area from outside.

  • A political force (local political party belonging to new democratic ideologies) has entered the area, and it seems that it will be this force which will lead the movement from now on and not any other organizations.

  • Roads have been constructed into the forest areas, but not without resistance. We realized how important it would be to highlight these struggles, which are marginalized by the media and hardly enter into public memory.

A collaborative research project is being conceived by the team that went there to trace the industrialization conflict from post independence to current times, with a focus on Orissa struggles and collect the stories of resistance from there. The research would also have discussions on development. Does resisting mining mean that the Dongria Kondhs do not want development? Visits and discussions showed that they want health care and education and even roads, but not at the cost of their own displacement, pollution of their water and agricultural fields and for the benefit of mining companies like Vedanta. The concept note is currently in preparation stage.

Fact Finding work in Dumka on 8th, 9th and 10th December 2008 by Vijay Pratap, Ghanshyam, Medha Patekar to ascertain the incidents of firing in Dumka. A power plant being set up by CESC in Dumka was resisted by the tribals of Kaatikundh, Santhal Pargana on the grounds of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act and PESA, where tribals have complete ownership over their lands and the right to decide to how it will be used. A ten thousand persons strong protest rally against the displacement for the power plant was expressing the local residents’ strong resistance, but in a peaceful manner, under the aegis of the Ulgulan Manch, a local network organisation. The police made aggressive attempts to contain the protest, including firing on the crowd, where one of the Adivasi activists was killed, and labeling the resisting groups and individuals as ‘Maoists’. For a detailed view of the report please refer to http://www.saded.in/factfindingreport.htm and annexures. The Ulgulan Manch is well-known for its espousing the ideology of Gandhi and JP Narayan, and so the labeling carries little credibility.

Swashasan Adhikar Rally at Dumka attended by Putul on 24th December. For a detailed report refer to http://www.saded.in/Amgachi.doc. This rally was held to commemorate Swashaasan Diwas of Jharkhand adivasis.Many people from the Chhatri Yuva Sanghasrh Vahini participated and political activists gathered to look at a long term vision for the struggle at Dumka. On 7th January in Ranchi, there was a ‘Dharna’ planned to demand justice in Kaatikund, and release of the activists immediately.

Discussions with local activists on the tribal struggles in Lalgarh West Bengal on 5th January 2009 by Putul at Shantipur, Nadia District West Bengal. In discussions with local activists, a finding emerged that the Lalgarh struggle has not found its way into mainstream newspapers and many of the incidents have not been clearly articulated. Lalgarh is located in West Medinipur and seems to be put in the same category of police atrocities incidents like Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal. The atrocities took place when the Chief Minister was returning from an inauguration of a Jindal Steel factory in Salboni, when on the return to the city, a landmine exploded, however the party traveling was unscathed, though many police officers were not. This was followed by severe police atrocities and combing of the area for Maoist activity. Without adequate knowledge, reason and facts, innocent villagers of Lalgarh were harassed and subject to severe atrocities from the police. The local leaders have demanded a fact finding.


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