#India – Farmers boycott land acquisition hearings for Chhindwara SEZ, Madhya Pradesh


Author(s): Aparna Pallavi , Down to Earth
Date:Jun 14, 2013
Villagers refuse to part with land; object to individual hearings, land acquisition by dubious means

Farmers and landowners protesting against land aquisition at the PWD guest house in Saunsar (Photo: Mukesh Badge)Farmers and landowners protesting against land aquisition at the PWD guest house in Saunsar (Photo: Mukesh Badge)

Around 150 farmers from eight villages in the Saunsar tehsil of Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh gathered at the guest house of the public works department (PWD) on Thursday and staged a protest. They were aggrieved by the individual hearing process adopted for land acquisition for a proposed special economic zone (SEZ) in the area. June 13 marked the first of the many individual hearings scheduled with the district collector to hear objections of farmers to the SEZ, which the farmers boycotted.

The process of acquisition of land for a multi-purpose SEZ developed by Nagpur-based Chhindwara Plus Developers Limited has been going on in the Saunsar tehsil of Chhindwara district since 2007, say farmers. Ramesh Kumre, land acquisition officer and sub-divisional magistrate, Pandurna,  says around 1,800 hectare (ha) of land has already been acquired in the area by following procedures under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Around 269 farmers and other land owners in the eight villages have refused to part with 430 ha of land which is still required for the SEZ, says farmer Bhaskar Tekade of Satnoor village. In April this year, a land acquisition notice was issued to the panchayats, following which representatives from the various villages went to district collector Mahesh Chowdhari to submit their objections. Chowdhari refused to accept it, says Shyamla Sanyal, owner of a small gun-powder factory in Satnoor. “On April 30, which was the last day for submitting objections, we had to take a bus-load of people from the villages and staged a demonstration before the objection was finally accepted,” she says.

Notices were issued to the villages, asking farmers to register their objections at individual hearings scheduled on different dates between June 19 and June 22. As late as the night of June 11, farmers from three villages were issued fresh notices, asking them to attend hearings on June 13 and 14. This last move, says Sanyal, “is totally unacceptable. When we asked the land acquisition officer the reason behind the change in dates, he said that he had other appointments on the previous dates. This is no way to hold hearings on such crucial issues.”

Legal procedures sidelined

At the protest, farmers protested against individual hearings, accusing the administration of trying to divide the community. “It is illegal to call people for hearings on different days,” says advocate Aradhana Bhargava of the people’s organisation Kisan Sangharsh Samiti who is providing legal support to the agitation, “The administration should have held a public hearing under the proper sections of the law.” She also says that land acquisition by government agencies is legal only in case of lands acquired for a public purpose. “Why is government aiding a private project proponent?” she asks. The notices also said that if farmers failed to turn up on the given date, the administration would take a suo-moto decision, which again is totally illegal, she says.

Farmers at the meeting submitted a memorandum to the land acquisition officer stating that they do not wish to part with their land and that the administration should not issue further land acquisition notices to the people. It was signed by 150 farmers and other land-owners, says Sanyal.

Land acquisition officer Ramesh Kumre confirmed that the hearing had been cancelled because farmers turned up in a group instead of individually.

Deceit and coercion

Farmers complain that no legal procedures were observed in the land acquisition process. “The land acquired earlier has been obtained through dubious means,” Tekade told Down To Earth. “Mostly poor and marginal farmers were targeted through touts, and were relieved of their land for as little as Rs 40,000 to Rs 3 lakh per ha. More than 50 per cent of the farmers whose lands were taken want their land to be restored to them.”

Dubious means were used to get the consent of panchayats, says Satnoor sarpanch Reemaji Dethe. “In February this year, the gram panchayat secretary got my signature on what he said was a routine document. Since I had joined just a month earlier, I did not know the procedures and signed where he asked me to sign. Later I found out that it was a document saying that the gram panchayat consented to the land acquisition,” says Dethe.

“Farmers and small industry owners have been issued threats by the project proponents. Goons are being used to quell protests,” says Sanyal.

 

Kalu : The Dam-ning Of A River And Its People


By Meenal Tatpati:in youth ki awaaz

In the latest minutes of the Forest Advisory Committee a small paragraph titled Agenda Item No. 4 highlights a dam on the river Kalu in Murbad Taluka of Thane District. It talks about the submergence of 18 villages, a “comprehensive” rehabilitation package of 68.75 crore being sanctioned and goes on to recommend the project for clearance. What the paragraph does not reveal however, is, the huge socio-economic and cultural impact that a dam diverting 999.328 ha of forest land has already had on the ecology and the people, close to 18,000, who stand to lose their land, forests and livelihood.

Anti-dam slogans on the walls of the houses in Murbad

ANTI-DAM SLOGANS ON THE WALLS OF THE HOUSES IN MURBAD

The Forests and its people

Murbad is a part of the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. Many threatened species of fauna and flora and a rich biodiversity have made ecologists recommend it as an Ecologically Sensitive Area. It is also home to the Thakar, Mahadeo Koli and Katkari tribal communities, known for their dependence and intricate links with the forests. The forest here provides shelter, livelihood and sustenance. Produce from Mahua, Tendu, Palas, Mango and Jamun trees is bartered and sold in weekly markets. The forests have a dense cover of Aain, Khair, Kandhol and Khevada trees. Several medicinal plants and wild edible vegetables are also sourced. The streams and rivers provide fish and crabs and water to drink throughout the year. Bibi Pandurang Wakh of Pejwadi hamlet says, “The jungle here provides everything. Even during droughts its bitter tubers sustained us. If the dam comes, our rightful land will go. How will we survive? Where will we take our children and go?”

Mahua Flowers                                    Tubers from the forest                           fishing equipment

MAHUA FLOWERS              TUBERS FROM THE FOREST                        FISHING EQUIPMENT

The tribal communities have made utmost use of the village land having planted trees like Mango, Jackfruit, Banana, and Cashew. On their small farmlands, they grow pulses and vegetables, selling them at the local markets.

Bamboo works

BAMBOO WORKS

Besides being a rich resource base, the forests have tremendous socio-cultural significance. At Chasole, a village close to the Dam site, is an ancient temple, complete with hero stones. This temple will submerge under the dam waters. The archaeological significance will be lost. So will several sacred groves in villages that are slated to lose their forests.

The sacred grove at Kharpatwadi and the Hatkeshwar Temple in Chasole will be submerged

THE SACRED GROVE AT KHARPATWADI AND THE HATKESHWAR TEMPLE IN CHASOLE WILL BE SUBMERGED

Illegal and unscrupulous attempts of the project proponents

The locals found about the project when JPC’s and dumpers arrived at the dam site, cut thousands of trees and excavated huge quantities of soil to begin building the dam wall. After repeated pleas to the contractors to stop the work failed, the local villagers sought the help of Shramik Mukti Sanghatna, a local organization working for tribal welfare in the region. An RTI filed by the Sanghatna revealed a tangled web of manipulation of laws and unethical tactics being used by the project proponents to further this project.

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dweller’s (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006; an Act enacted to “redress historical injustice” meted out to tribals and forest dependent communities has not been implemented in the area. The Act provides that no forest dependent community can be evicted from forest land under their occupation till their rights under the Act are recognized and verified. It also provides for rights to be recognized over community forests and resources. These rights have not been recognized.

The locals had not been given prior information about the proposed dam. Being a tribal area, consultations with the gram sabha regarding the project as stated under PESA were conveniently sidelined by the project proponents. The construction of the dam began in late 2010, without forest clearance. The project proponents also engaged in direct land deals with some tribal families which is illegal under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code. This was done with total secrecy, and the soil required to build the dam was excavated from this land.

In June 2011, the Sanghatna filed a PIL in the Mumbai High Court against the project proponent on the basis of the issue of forest clearance. Meanwhile, the construction of the dam continued, amidst protests and dharnas by the project affected. The proposal was sent for FAC clearance only in August 2011. The project proponents used various tactics of coercion and threats to break the strong opposition to the dam, offering money to the landless and creating chasms within the community. However, people continued to oppose the dam, and in March 2012, the Mumbai High Court stayed the construction of the dam. By this time, 20% construction of the dam wall was already complete.

The Kalu River

THE KALU RIVER

The forests of Shisewadi

THE FORESTS OF SHISEWADI

Facing Displacement

These life-giving forests stand to disappear if the project is eventually completed. Also slated to disappear is the tribal whose identity is intricately linked with this forest. They will be lost, as statistics, a displaced population.

The rehabilitation plan announced by the district authorities provides about Rs 6 lakh to each affected family. The official figure of affected people is pegged at about 3000. This has been calculated without conducting either an EIA or a Social Impact Assessment (made mandatory by the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007). Sangathan activists and locals say that about 40-42 hamlets will be affected, some whose land will submerge, some whose forests. Only 50% of the people in the affected villages own land, which means that half the population depends on the forests for sustenance. If the forests disappear, so do the people who depend on it. The actual figure of affected individuals is about 18,000! This is only the backwash effect of the actual dam. The water will be supplied to Navi Mumbai, about a 100 km away, in canals and piplelines, affecting thousands of villages downstream as well. But the proposal has no comments on this.

12 gram sabhas passed resolutions rejecting the project. They neither want the dam, nor the rehabilitation money.
Nausa Shiva Waghe of Shisewadi revealed the flaw in the way rehabilitation packages in our country are planned. When asked why they do not want to take the money offered and leave, he said, “What will we do with the money? It is never enough. Money comes, alcohol enters, vehicles enter and then the money goes!

A rehabilitation package that only provides money completely misses the point. The displaced population is completely alienated, not just from their material source of livelihood but also from cultural and knowledge. Monetary assessment of these values is dehumanizing. The locals here will face loss of identity which money will not be able to restore.

The Kalu river bed with the dam wall in the background

THE KALU RIVER BED WITH THE DAM WALL IN THE BACKGROUND

The future

After rejecting the proposal in April 2012, the FAC in its latest meeting on 4th April has recommended the project for clearance with certain “conditions”. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has repeatedly stated in his letters to the Ministry of Environment and Forests that the project is of vital importance to Mumbai’s water supply needs. As it expands in size and population, land, water and resources from surrounding areas will continue to be absorbed into this metropolis to feed and shelter its increasing population. Thousands of people along the banks of the rivers that are slated to provide water to Mumbai and other cities stand threatened to be dispossessed, stripped off their land and livelihood, their forests and their rivers. They do not figure in the decision making process making this a short-sighted and incomplete attempt at providing the need of one section of the society without taking into consideration the needs of the other. The Kalu Project is just one of 8 projects slated to come up in this area. On the Kalu itself, a hydroelectricity project is under construction upstream in Malsejh Ghat in Pune District. The geological sensitive nature of the Kalu basin being coupled with absolute disregard of the provisions of cumulative impact assessments of dams in this region will prove dangerous to the ecological and geological stability of the area. A complete socio-cultural and economic impact assessment of such projects, coupled with a biodiversity assessment done by independent agencies is a requirement that cannot be sidelined in such projects.
Meanwhile in Murbad, the people’s struggle will continue.

The Kalu Dam is being proposed by the Government of Maharashtra (GoM), Raigad Irrigation Division No.2 (Kokan Irrigation Development Corporation), the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA). The contract to build the dam has been given to F.A. Enterprises, Mumbai. It is slated to provide drinking water to Navi Mumbai and Thane submerging about 2300 ha land out of which about a 1000 ha is forest land.

-Meenal Tatpati with inputs from Shiba Desor, Kalpavriksh, Pune.
(Based on a visit to 8 villages that will be affected by the Kalu Dam Project)

 

#India- Well got robbed in Amravati #WTFnews


 

By Jai Maharashtra News | 23 Feb Sat, 2013 |

Amravati: In a very strange case here at Amravati, a village named Kovala Jateshwar, which is almost 50 km away from Amravati, the local villagers are facing a unique problem.

The locals have complained that the well in their village has gone missing. They claimed that their well has been stolen.

Under the National Drinking water policy, two years ago, the village was granted Rs 36 lakh to avail the supply of drinking water.

Under this policy a water hole and water tank was build. But in fact one cannot see any of these in the village. Later the villagers found out that the well showed by the Grampanchayat actually belonged to a peasant.

Apparently the locals are wondering where the well actually went.

According to the sources, the documents have record stating that the work of the water hole and water tank is completed. But the fact is, until now no well is built in this village, only a pit is formed to build the well. The process to build water tank has not even started.

The village has only one drinking water pool through which the local villagers use to fill water. The local people are blaming the Grampanchayat for this situation.

When the state is severely hit by the drought, one cannot believe the fact that funds raised from the government policies are being misused.

 

Radiating Lies- A Report on Jadugoda


 

Although the company claims radiation stories as ” myths “, Headlines Today documents the evidence where the entire environment, community and the future generation has been put to risk by the sheer negligence of the company.

 

#Karnataka -MoEF closes Gogi mines file


By Ramkrishna Badseshi & Bhimashankar Kakalwara | ENS – GULBARGA

15th February 2013

The Ministry of Environment & Forests has closed the project file relating to uranium mining plant at Gogi village in Shahpur taluk and has delisted it from the pending list of projects.

A letter by Director of Ministry of Environment & Forests Dr Saroj to the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd on December 28, 2012,   was made available to Express on Thursday. According to the letter, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has noted that the public hearing panel going into the setting up a mining extraction plant at Gogi was chaired by Yadgir Assistant Commissioner though he was not the competent authority. Under Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006, the deputy commissioner should chair the panel. Hence the hearing is not valid and has to be conducted afresh according to procedures prescribed in EIA Notification, 2006, it stated.

The letter further stated that since the public hearing was postponed without following procedures, the ministry has decided to close the project file. Yadgir deptuy commissioner F R Jamdar said that as far as the district was concerned, the “uranium mining chapter is closed”.

Selling Nulcear Power to Women: Why the Industry has got it Wrong


Donella H. Meadows, http://www.dianuke.org/
DonellaMeadows1
Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

The U.S. Council for Energy Awareness has finally figured out how to sell nuclear power to women.

Women have always been a problem to the nuclear industry. Polls consistently show them to be more opposed to nuclear power than men. (“Because of their deeply held distrust of science and technology,” the Council for Energy Awareness assumes.) The Council, which, if it were honest would call itself the Council for Nuclear Propaganda, has never bothered to spend much of its $21 million annual budget advertising to women. It has sensed a better investment airing spots during football games and the World Series, telling men how nuclear power is going to free us from the domination of oil-rich Arabs.

That’s a lie, of course. Nuclear power generates electricity, which runs our lights and electric motors. It is not a substitute for oil, which runs our cars and planes. A flat-out program to build nuclear power plants could reduce our oil imports by a few percent at most. But then the CEA’s job is not to tell the truth, but to make us look kindly on nuclear power.

Which, when it came to women, was assumed impossible, until now. Through tireless polling, the CEA has finally found the key to female hearts and minds. Women, it has discovered, care about their children and about the environment and especially about the environment surrounding their children. And so the pages of Good Housekeeping, the Ladies’ Home Journal, and Better Homes and Gardens are soon to be graced with CEA ads showing kids playing happily in sylvan scenes with nuclear cooling towers rising in the background, and sweet pictures of a baby turtle crawling to the sea.

“The baby sea turtles hatching on nearby beaches are more evidence of the truth about nuclear energy; it peacefully coexists with the environment. Because nuclear plants don’t burn anything to make electricity, nuclear plants don’t pollute the air,” say the ads. “Nuclear plants produce no greenhouse gases.”

Nuclear plants produce radioactive wastes that no government on earth has figured out how to store safely, but those wastes are indeed not greenhouse gases. Under normal operating conditions nuclear wastes don’t pollute the air, though if anyone goofs and lets them loose, there is no more insidious pollutant of air, water, or soil. Nuclear wastes have to be sealed off in concrete tombs, kept under pools of water, and guarded closely for the several centuries; they have to be kept out of the hands of terrorists; the buildings that contain the reactors become hazardous waste when they are pulled down. But these matters would bother you only if you had some sort of irrational feminine distrust of science and technology.

young-women-in-nuclear-power-plantNuclear plants could, at best, reduce the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 12 percent, which is the amount generated by coal-burning power plants — the only greenhouse-gas-emitting activity for which nuclear power can substitute. To replace all existing coal plants with nuclear ones, would cost $5.3 trillion (and a multiplication of nuclear power reactors worldwide from the present 400 to 5,000). We could get the same amount of greenhouse gas reduction from energy efficiency at one-seventh the cost.

But let’s not bother the ladies’ heads with economics. Let’s help them, as the CEA kindly puts it, “sort out the facts from the conflicting messages they hear.”

“I want my kids to grow up in a healthy environment,” says the attractive young woman in the TV ad, as her kids play by a pristine lake. “I want them to breath clean air. I”m for nuclear energy because … it’s one of the cleanest sources of electricity we have. When I was in college, I was against nuclear energy. But I’ve reached a different conclusion. [Nuclear energy] means cleaner air for this planet.”

Her name is Karen Strauss, she is an environmental engineer, she travels around the country as a spokeswoman for CEA, and that college she was in when she was “against nuclear energy” was Dartmouth. She is the granddaughter-in-law of Dr. Lewis Strauss, once the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He is the one who promised that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter.” Now it is the most expensive way of generating electricity, even with major government subsidies.

Karen Strauss doesn’t mention the high cost of nuclear electricity, nor does she point out that the utilities funding the CEA run not only nuclear plants, but also coal-fired plants, sources of just about every air pollutant you can mention. They spend some of their tax-deductible public relations money telling us about nuclear power and clean air, and some fighting the Clean Air Act.

Nuclear power has dragged some utilities down to bankruptcy. Many others long ago reached the conclusion that they can meet their customer’s needs far more cheaply and with less environmental threat using technologies ranging from hydropower, wind, and solar thermal to smart conservation. The utilities that haven’t caught on yet are still trying to promote their dangerous, dinosaur technologies by lying to the public.

Maybe they would wise up if they hired more women.

 

Independence Day, Gram Sabha Meeting, Goons & Chemplast Sanmar #blackday15august


 

Piyush Manush, in Salem , 15/8/2012


Chemplast Sanmar has dumped huge quantities of Chemicals & Heavy Metals which is constantly polluting our drinking water source the Kaveri and has killed 500 odd wells by turning the water toxic. It has made lives difficult people in its vicinity by severe air, water & soil pollution it has caused.
Sreela, a campaigner from Chennai working on the Mettur issue has been mobilizing people to attend the Gram Sabha meeting slated to be held on the Independence day. Sreela along with Madesh & Ganesh anna from GWADU, Gonur West Agriculturists Union were having tea before proceeding to the Gram Sabha meeting, were intercepted by 15 goons led by kalai kovan,a ruling party functionary. They used very slang & filthy language against Sreela outraging all modesty and went on to threaten her with murder if they found her working on pollution in mettur.

The activists were stopped from going to the Gram Sabha Meeting and were warned of severe consequences if they went on to attend the meeting. For two days notices were printed on behalf of the union and were distributed in the villages asking them to attend the Gram Sabha Meeting. The people gathered in quite sizeable numbers for the meet. Madesh & Ganesh anna refused to be intimidated by the threats and went ahead to attend the meeting and also presented demands on behalf of the union and the pollution affected communities.The Company goons had threatened about any campaign against the PVC manufacturer Chemplast Sanmar. The company has been using all tactics to quite any murmur of protest. Sreela has launched a complaint against Kalai Kovan and his goons. A CSR has been issued by the karmalaikoodal police station. It is proposed to be present in large numbers tomorrow to force the SP to act against the Goons and to get to the people who had planned the attack.

I will seek an appointment with the SP tomorrow and would request all those who have read this to be present. The Pollution & loot needs to be tackled as it is our & our children lives which are at stake.

 

NAPM- No land should be forcibly acquired for Private and PPP Projects


 

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

NAPM welcomes the decision to cancel 4 SEZs

 

 

No land should be forcibly acquired for Private and PPP Projects

 

 

Mumbai, August 1: The decision of the Maharashtra Government to cancel 4 SEZ projects which were proved to be illegal & unjust, on one ground or other, brings a hope to the people’s struggles for justice & against land grabbing. These projects were stalled by the common people, farmers to fishworkers, and women as well as youngsters who were at the forefront of the struggle.

 

 

 

The issues were clear & justifiable. Land to be acquired for private corporates is an illegitimate and unconstitutional act. When the profit-motives are clear in these projects, earning crores of rupees, out of land & other sources of livelihood, these resources are received with the State facilitating them. It’s this role of the State which is bullying & ousting our rural folk that was objected by the natural resource based communities, asserting their right to approve or disapprove the project which the State government has ultimately admitted.

 

 

 

The non-violent struggles are raising basic questions of inequity which is a clear outcome of SEZ Act & similar moves promoting corporatisation. We question and oppose industries which are land & water-intensive, capital intensive but not labour intensive and their impacts on ecologies, neither mitigated nor compensated. It is unfortunate the more sustainable & employment generating, local resource-based industries proposed by the movements as alternative options are negated by the governments. People are certainly not for the industrialisation at the cost of agricultural, since food security and livelihood is certainly our first priority. The whole model of SEZ with subsidised land, water, electricity, outside the jurisdiction of the gram sabhas and panchayats, tax holidays and exemptions is a blot on democracy and sovereignty of both, people & the State.

 

 

 

It’s obvious that all tactics & manoeuvring efforts by the Corporates failed in this regard & the State level ministers couldn’t carry out their initial agenda of joining hands with Corporates earning out of these projects. It’s, however, an ultimate victory of the firm view, clear perspective & perseverent strategy, along with an all pervasive analysis of the fraud that SEZ Act & projects are. Maharashtra cabinet too deserves a pat for this pro-people decision. Even though this is later, but better late than never. They should, without any delay must remove restrictions & reservations put up, on the titles of the landholders. If this cancellation is to bring in another project like Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor at the cost of farms & farmers, that will also face the same fate, we warn. We continue to fight the battle for cancellation of the undemocratic & unconstitutional SEZ Act, 2005.

 

 

 

We would also like to mention that the proposed amendments being brought out by the UPA government to the SEZ Act is not going to alter our opposition to the Act since, they are only aimed at facilitating land grab. Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act is also going to facilitate the land grab for private corporations and we oppose this. People’s Movements will thwart every attempt at subverting the laws of the country and handing over the precious natural resources to the predatory corporations. It’s time the governments across the country listened to the voices of dissent and worked in favour of the majority of the population.

 

 

 

Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, Suniti S. R., Medha Patkar

 

 

 

For details contact : 9423571784 / 9818905316

 

 

 

India uproots most people for ‘progress’ =1 million displaced every year


, TNN | Jun 4, 2012
Between 60 and 65 million people are estimated to have been displaced in India since Independence, the highest number of people uprooted for development projects in the world.

“This amounts to around one million displaced every year since Independence,” says a report released recently by the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR). “Of these displaced, over 40% are tribals and another 40% consist of dalits and other rural poor,” says the WGHR report.

“Not taking into account displacement due to armed and ethnic conflict, India is estimated to have the highest number of people displaced annually as a result of ostensible development projects,” it adds.

Over 60% of people forced out of their homes globally are victims of internal displacement. Of the 43 million people forced to flee their homes, 26 million are displaced within their own country, 16 million are refugees and one million are asylum-seekers.


No policy for internally displaced

The data is part of a report on the state of the world’s refugees, released in New York last week by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). “For humanitarian workers, an ensuing implication is that helping the displaced is becoming more costly and dangerous. In countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, or Iraq, getting help to internally displaced populations means working in environments where access is difficult and conflict or criminality can present deadly risk,” says the UNHCR.

According to human rights activist Medha Patkar, who has been at the forefront of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, internal displacement is not a natural calamity but a political calamity.

“It is carried out deliberately so that a handful of people can grab resources at the cost of the livelihood of millions. It is a phenomenon that can easily be stopped. But instead of ensuring an equitable distribution of resources, those ruling the country are facilitating land grab, resulting in displacement. The United Nations only intervenes during wars, but it should do so for internal conflict such as displacement,” she adds.

According to Shivani Chaudhry, associate director, Housing and Land Rights Network, only around 20-25% of those internally displaced are ever resettled in India, as the vast majority of those forcibly evicted from their habitat are not recognized as internally displaced people.

“Many poor people have faced multiple displacements. They are often displaced from their villages due to projects such as dams or SEZs. With no land and no livelihood, they head to cities where they live in jhuggis that are considered illegal and demolished,” she adds.

She points out that, while the government has policies for refugees, it does not have policies for internally displaced people.

“The Land Acquisition Rehabilitation And Resettlement Bill 2011 is not intended to minimize displacement and does not address human rights,” she says.

The Asbestos Shame in India #enviornment


By Rohit roy,  kindlemag.in

A slow and painful death is creeping through the nation. Asbestos – the essential roofing of the poor – is a silent and deadly killer. It causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis through a slow filling of the lungs with asbestos dust, leading to a painful existence and eventual death. The WHO estimates that more than 100,000 people die each year of asbestos related diseases. Yet, walk around any village or town (or even our cities) and an elevated view will reveal a sea of corrugated asbestos sheeting.

  The most vulnerable are those working in factories handling asbestos, but it also affects people using asbestos in their homes as a cheap substitute for roofing materials. In most cases this is a common demographic. The poor need asbestos and the poor work with asbestos. The poor are also silent sufferers.

The deadly nature of asbestos is common knowledge in the developed world. Several nations have completely banned the use of the material, most notably of the EU, Japan and Australia. In the late 90s, the European Commission and Canada even had a standoff at the WTO regarding France’s ban on asbestos products.

Weirdly, Canada is another country where the use of asbestos is banned. The Canadian government has spent vast amounts of money to remove the material from its environment. Yet, in the international trade of asbestos, the hypocrisy of the Canadian government is absolutely criminal. Canada is one of the world’s larger exporters of this deadly material and its clientele consists mostly of developing nations like India. It would seem that, to the Canadian government, consideration for human life is limited only to its own people, and international responsibility is but a farcical concept.

Yet, why blame a foreign government that is looking out for its businesses when our government is shockingly apathetic to the welfare of its own people? One of the excuses, used by Canada, to justify asbestos export is that it is legal in India. One, then, wonders why a material, which is so comprehensively vilified in international markets, is still allowed to flourish in such alarming quantities and with so little regulation, in a country where income differences and an uncontrollable population, increases the associated risks manifold.

Very few people in India are aware of the dangers stemming from asbestos use. Asbestos regulation is, at best, pretence. Factories are under-regulated and health and safety norms are hardly implemented, regularly flouted or at times even non-existent. Stories have emerged of abandoned open mines seriously affecting the population of surrounding villages. Rural doctors are so ill-informed about the effects of asbestos that villagers are very often misdiagnosed. Even in cities, factory workers and families have alarming experiences of deteriorating health conditions and death.

Why is the government not doing anything? Has it now come to the point where even a full blown catastrophe cannot motivate it to take action? Is this again a case of government incompetence that we Indians are so used to, or is there a more sinister reason behind the silence and ignorance? Mining lobbies and the mining mafia come to mind. Given the recent incidents concerning the mining mafia in the country, it is not a big leap of imagination, to think there is big money being made at the expense of the expendable poor.

The proliferation of asbestos use is not just an environmental hazard. It is also nothing short of a human rights violation. To knowingly allow the use of a material, that regularly kills millions, is criminal negligence. To allow our country to be used as a dumping ground for such materials, by other nations, is shameful. But most importantly, to watch our people die of a preventable cause and do nothing about it is a heinous crime worthy of comparisons to the Holocaust.

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