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Bengal: ‘Sagar Mela Project, Blue Revolution Leading to Victimisation of Fisherfolk’

At an all- India convention in Sunderbans, the fishing community said privatisation of ports, entry of foreign trawlers and big capital had hit their livelihood badly.

27 Sep 2022

wb

Hingalgunj (Sunderbans): The Centre’s proposed Sagar Mela project and Blue Revolution tantamounts to victimisation of fisherfolk along the entire Indian coastline, according to the  All India Fishers and Fishery Workers Federation (AIFFWF), which  recently met at a mass convention at Hingalgunj in West Bengal.

At an all –India convention, Debasish Barman, president AIFFWF, demanded that the government should improve social security provisions for fisherfolk and adopt a pisciculture-friendly policy. The convention also proposed scrapping of the Sagarmala project, which, they said, would “spell doom for the entire fishing sector across the country."

Uma Sarkar, another leader of the organisation, highlighted the importance of protecting the environment and forests along with the depth of various river channels in the Sundarbans area of the state. “Protecting mangroves should be a priority currently,” she said.

“The Centre is harming the ecology of the Sundarbans and hampering fishing in the area by allowing passage to ships. Blue Revolution is meant for big corporate entities. We will not benefit from it,” Barman, who belongs to the Hingalgunj Fisherman Community, told NewsClick on the sidelines of the convention.

Wb

“The size of the trawlers fixed by the Central government is meant for big companies. Besides, small-scale fishers cannot bear the huge cost of increasing the size of the present trawlers to 20 feet," he added.

Barman also said that restricting small-scale fishers to 10 nautical miles from 200 nautical miles is also hampering fishing in the country.

The convention also discussed the issue of big Indonesian trawlers allowed to fish in Indian waters under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement using modern solar searchlights to locate and net huge amounts of fish.

Hariprasad Roy, 51, a poor fisherman hailing from the Hingalgunj area of the Sundarban area, said a couple of years ago he had to sell his own boat and the boat license, as fishing has become unprofitable profession in the Sundarban area where about three fourth of the four million residents are dependent on water to earn their living, he told NewsClick.

Now Hariprasad sells fish in the local Hingalgunj market to earn his living. He has been lucky as he didn't have to venture out of the state as a migrant labourer, like others in his area have had to do after losing their fishing profession.  Nearly one-third of the able-bodied residents of the Sundarbans have left the state to earn their living.

During a visit to Hingaligunj area, NewsClick observed that the prawn culture on a large scale was being run by big capital-oriented firms, after the inundation of farmlands with saline water. They sourced the land from the erstwhile tillers paying them nominally. After rearing prawns in the farmlands for a couple of years, the land becomes barren and fallow and unfit for any other cultivation. So, the big capital-oriented firms reap huge profits and in the process, the erstwhile tillers turn into paupers, as they lose their lands and its cultivability.

Before 2011, West Bengal topped the country in fish production. At present, it is only producing 4,857 tonnes daily, though the daily requirement of the state is 4,940 tonnes, as per a report tabled in the West Bengal Assembly in 2020. To fulfil the state’s demand, fish is being imported from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, according to reports.

In 2005, an attempt was made by the Left Front government to start big carp fish cultivation in Nayachar and Captain Bheri region, but all that was “looted” in subsequent years after change of governance in the state, as per the report.

Along with this, the Centre’s ‘Blue Revolution’ project is also hampering both inland and marine fishers in the state, AIFFWF said during the convention. The Blue Revolution focuses mainly on increasing fish production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources – both inland and marine. There are about three lakh fisherfolk in the Sundarbans and another 1.5 million residents who are dependent on fishing for livelihood.

wb

Tuhin Ghosh, a scientist and head of the oceanology department of Jadavpur University, who spoke at the convention, called for an immediate ban on the international sea trade route that passes through the river channels of Sundarbans, which, he said, was causing severe damage to the islands. The convention noted that this had led to artificial high waves, while the oil spills – as residuals in the channels – were affecting the fish population of the entire area.

Speaking at the convention, Pritikumar Roy of Jadavpur University, said now puffed rice mixed with poison was being given as a bait by foreign trawlers who, following the Blue Revolution policy, were entering the Indian waters with a valid licence from the Central government and were making a huge catch from the region, thereby hampering the eco-diversity of the region.

The pertinent question of giving identity cards and licenses to all the fisherfolk of the state also came up in the discussion. 

Barman also demanded a ban on the entry of big capital into the cooperative sector. The convention also sought provision of loans at lower interest rates for the fishers – as were offered during the rule of the Left Front in the state.

Another demand was that inland water bodies be leased only to fishers’ cooperatives. Barman also pointed out that of the 103 ports that dot the Indian coastline, 75 had been privatised already and that was harming the fishing community immensely. In West Bengal, the Digha and Shankarpur fishing ports are being privatised.

Sarkar, central executive member of AIFFWF, appealed to the government to reduce land tax, which, she said, had increased manifold in the past few years.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Bengal: ‘Sagar Mela Project, Blue Revolution Leading to Victimisation of Fisherfolk’

At an all- India convention in Sunderbans, the fishing community said privatisation of ports, entry of foreign trawlers and big capital had hit their livelihood badly.

wb

Hingalgunj (Sunderbans): The Centre’s proposed Sagar Mela project and Blue Revolution tantamounts to victimisation of fisherfolk along the entire Indian coastline, according to the  All India Fishers and Fishery Workers Federation (AIFFWF), which  recently met at a mass convention at Hingalgunj in West Bengal.

At an all –India convention, Debasish Barman, president AIFFWF, demanded that the government should improve social security provisions for fisherfolk and adopt a pisciculture-friendly policy. The convention also proposed scrapping of the Sagarmala project, which, they said, would “spell doom for the entire fishing sector across the country."

Uma Sarkar, another leader of the organisation, highlighted the importance of protecting the environment and forests along with the depth of various river channels in the Sundarbans area of the state. “Protecting mangroves should be a priority currently,” she said.

“The Centre is harming the ecology of the Sundarbans and hampering fishing in the area by allowing passage to ships. Blue Revolution is meant for big corporate entities. We will not benefit from it,” Barman, who belongs to the Hingalgunj Fisherman Community, told NewsClick on the sidelines of the convention.

Wb

“The size of the trawlers fixed by the Central government is meant for big companies. Besides, small-scale fishers cannot bear the huge cost of increasing the size of the present trawlers to 20 feet," he added.

Barman also said that restricting small-scale fishers to 10 nautical miles from 200 nautical miles is also hampering fishing in the country.

The convention also discussed the issue of big Indonesian trawlers allowed to fish in Indian waters under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Agreement using modern solar searchlights to locate and net huge amounts of fish.

Hariprasad Roy, 51, a poor fisherman hailing from the Hingalgunj area of the Sundarban area, said a couple of years ago he had to sell his own boat and the boat license, as fishing has become unprofitable profession in the Sundarban area where about three fourth of the four million residents are dependent on water to earn their living, he told NewsClick.

Now Hariprasad sells fish in the local Hingalgunj market to earn his living. He has been lucky as he didn't have to venture out of the state as a migrant labourer, like others in his area have had to do after losing their fishing profession.  Nearly one-third of the able-bodied residents of the Sundarbans have left the state to earn their living.

During a visit to Hingaligunj area, NewsClick observed that the prawn culture on a large scale was being run by big capital-oriented firms, after the inundation of farmlands with saline water. They sourced the land from the erstwhile tillers paying them nominally. After rearing prawns in the farmlands for a couple of years, the land becomes barren and fallow and unfit for any other cultivation. So, the big capital-oriented firms reap huge profits and in the process, the erstwhile tillers turn into paupers, as they lose their lands and its cultivability.

Before 2011, West Bengal topped the country in fish production. At present, it is only producing 4,857 tonnes daily, though the daily requirement of the state is 4,940 tonnes, as per a report tabled in the West Bengal Assembly in 2020. To fulfil the state’s demand, fish is being imported from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, according to reports.

In 2005, an attempt was made by the Left Front government to start big carp fish cultivation in Nayachar and Captain Bheri region, but all that was “looted” in subsequent years after change of governance in the state, as per the report.

Along with this, the Centre’s ‘Blue Revolution’ project is also hampering both inland and marine fishers in the state, AIFFWF said during the convention. The Blue Revolution focuses mainly on increasing fish production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources – both inland and marine. There are about three lakh fisherfolk in the Sundarbans and another 1.5 million residents who are dependent on fishing for livelihood.

wb

Tuhin Ghosh, a scientist and head of the oceanology department of Jadavpur University, who spoke at the convention, called for an immediate ban on the international sea trade route that passes through the river channels of Sundarbans, which, he said, was causing severe damage to the islands. The convention noted that this had led to artificial high waves, while the oil spills – as residuals in the channels – were affecting the fish population of the entire area.

Speaking at the convention, Pritikumar Roy of Jadavpur University, said now puffed rice mixed with poison was being given as a bait by foreign trawlers who, following the Blue Revolution policy, were entering the Indian waters with a valid licence from the Central government and were making a huge catch from the region, thereby hampering the eco-diversity of the region.

The pertinent question of giving identity cards and licenses to all the fisherfolk of the state also came up in the discussion. 

Barman also demanded a ban on the entry of big capital into the cooperative sector. The convention also sought provision of loans at lower interest rates for the fishers – as were offered during the rule of the Left Front in the state.

Another demand was that inland water bodies be leased only to fishers’ cooperatives. Barman also pointed out that of the 103 ports that dot the Indian coastline, 75 had been privatised already and that was harming the fishing community immensely. In West Bengal, the Digha and Shankarpur fishing ports are being privatised.

Sarkar, central executive member of AIFFWF, appealed to the government to reduce land tax, which, she said, had increased manifold in the past few years.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Opposition to the Vizhinjam Port Project must be seen in the wider context of protecting coastal ecology and communities

A proper evaluation of the mammoth project is also necessary given the increase in cyclones and other climate change related disasters that have been increasingly striking the region

01 Sep 2022

Adani
Image courtesy: PTI

The wider discussion surrounding coastal areas often takes place in the context of their beauty and tourism potential. However, ecologists place more emphasis on how these are ecologically sensitive areas, whose development activities should be carefully monitored and regulated to prevent unintended serious and longer-term harm.

The need for this has increased further in times of climate change when several wider aspects need to be monitored carefully and when the need for protective policies has increased further. In particular, the increasing frequency and intensity of cyclones is a very worrying aspect of coastal life related to climate change and anything which increases further the harm caused by cyclones is best avoided.

A second aspect of coastal life is that traditional fisherfolk and coastal communities, the children of the sea, so to say, have experienced increasing injustice and marginalisation during recent decades. Due to mechanisation trends and the entry of big capital, the livelihoods of small and cottage-scale traditional fishers were eroded while big tourism and other coastal developments also tried to marginalise them. Gradually their place in the beaches and shores which had been in their ancestral home has been made more precarious, so much so that even when they were devastated by cyclones, some of the rehabilitation was within the framework of such marginalisation. Thus, clearly traditional fisherfolk and coastal communities are much in need of justice-based interventions and policies.

Keeping in view all these considerations, coastal areas need ecologically protective and justice-based policies, with much emphasis also on careful, unbiased monitoring of the changing situation, and protection from sea-level rise, coastal storms and coastal erosion.

It is only in this wider context that the debate on the massive ongoing development projects such as the Adani group’s Vizhinjam seaport, located at a short distance from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, should be seen. This massive seaport, or transshipment container terminal, has faced sustained opposition from local fisher and coastal communities spread over many villages prompting much debate on this under-construction project.

It is a big enough project in its ongoing first phase, but if its future development plans are included, then it becomes a truly massive project which should be properly evaluated keeping in view the current priorities of coastal areas. Another factor that must be kept in consideration is that Kerala has already become a very high disaster-prone region in recent times. Several experts have attributed this. in large part, to indiscriminate construction activities, apart from the overall high risks associated with climate change such as those relating to more highly concentrated and heavy rains.

Keeping in view all these factors a massive project like Vizhinjam does not appear to be justified in these times. It is apparent from the intense and sustained opposition of the local fisher community that they strongly feel, on the basis of their actual experiences as well as their understanding of local conditions, that their sustainable livelihoods are being badly eroded and made much riskier and hazardous by this project.

The wider risk is that the various constructions of the project can increase the damage to some surrounding areas at the time of cyclones. The construction works and the building materials required by then may lead to increase in quarrying in vulnerable nearby areas where even the existing smaller quarrying has led to adverse impacts. The project can also accelerate the rate of ongoing sea erosion processes. In fact, an important question is why such a massive project was started in a place where sea erosion was already considered to be a serious threat.

Hence while evaluations have been taken up already, it appears that important possible adverse factors were not taken note of adequately. Hence the demand of local communities for stopping this work till a more comprehensive and unbiased evaluation can be taken up in a transparent manner, involving them and their representatives, appears to be well justified. The best available and latest scientific information and studies can be utilized for such a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation, the best of experts can be consulted, but at the same time the immensely valuable knowledge of local people, particularly the elders among them who have known the sea and the coast all their life, should also be utilized properly as this can really contribute to a better understanding. This comprehensive evaluation should be conducted in a highly transparent way and can be completed in about six months or so. Until such time that this evaluation can be completed, most work on this project should be stopped. In the course of this comprehensive reappraisal the terms of the agreement reached by the government with the company should also be re-examined in a transparent way from the perspective of protecting and promoting public interest only.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

A Time to Defend Democracy in India

Corporate tax cuts: Revenue lost could have funded important welfare projects

Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

Opposition to the Vizhinjam Port Project must be seen in the wider context of protecting coastal ecology and communities

A proper evaluation of the mammoth project is also necessary given the increase in cyclones and other climate change related disasters that have been increasingly striking the region

Adani
Image courtesy: PTI

The wider discussion surrounding coastal areas often takes place in the context of their beauty and tourism potential. However, ecologists place more emphasis on how these are ecologically sensitive areas, whose development activities should be carefully monitored and regulated to prevent unintended serious and longer-term harm.

The need for this has increased further in times of climate change when several wider aspects need to be monitored carefully and when the need for protective policies has increased further. In particular, the increasing frequency and intensity of cyclones is a very worrying aspect of coastal life related to climate change and anything which increases further the harm caused by cyclones is best avoided.

A second aspect of coastal life is that traditional fisherfolk and coastal communities, the children of the sea, so to say, have experienced increasing injustice and marginalisation during recent decades. Due to mechanisation trends and the entry of big capital, the livelihoods of small and cottage-scale traditional fishers were eroded while big tourism and other coastal developments also tried to marginalise them. Gradually their place in the beaches and shores which had been in their ancestral home has been made more precarious, so much so that even when they were devastated by cyclones, some of the rehabilitation was within the framework of such marginalisation. Thus, clearly traditional fisherfolk and coastal communities are much in need of justice-based interventions and policies.

Keeping in view all these considerations, coastal areas need ecologically protective and justice-based policies, with much emphasis also on careful, unbiased monitoring of the changing situation, and protection from sea-level rise, coastal storms and coastal erosion.

It is only in this wider context that the debate on the massive ongoing development projects such as the Adani group’s Vizhinjam seaport, located at a short distance from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, should be seen. This massive seaport, or transshipment container terminal, has faced sustained opposition from local fisher and coastal communities spread over many villages prompting much debate on this under-construction project.

It is a big enough project in its ongoing first phase, but if its future development plans are included, then it becomes a truly massive project which should be properly evaluated keeping in view the current priorities of coastal areas. Another factor that must be kept in consideration is that Kerala has already become a very high disaster-prone region in recent times. Several experts have attributed this. in large part, to indiscriminate construction activities, apart from the overall high risks associated with climate change such as those relating to more highly concentrated and heavy rains.

Keeping in view all these factors a massive project like Vizhinjam does not appear to be justified in these times. It is apparent from the intense and sustained opposition of the local fisher community that they strongly feel, on the basis of their actual experiences as well as their understanding of local conditions, that their sustainable livelihoods are being badly eroded and made much riskier and hazardous by this project.

The wider risk is that the various constructions of the project can increase the damage to some surrounding areas at the time of cyclones. The construction works and the building materials required by then may lead to increase in quarrying in vulnerable nearby areas where even the existing smaller quarrying has led to adverse impacts. The project can also accelerate the rate of ongoing sea erosion processes. In fact, an important question is why such a massive project was started in a place where sea erosion was already considered to be a serious threat.

Hence while evaluations have been taken up already, it appears that important possible adverse factors were not taken note of adequately. Hence the demand of local communities for stopping this work till a more comprehensive and unbiased evaluation can be taken up in a transparent manner, involving them and their representatives, appears to be well justified. The best available and latest scientific information and studies can be utilized for such a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation, the best of experts can be consulted, but at the same time the immensely valuable knowledge of local people, particularly the elders among them who have known the sea and the coast all their life, should also be utilized properly as this can really contribute to a better understanding. This comprehensive evaluation should be conducted in a highly transparent way and can be completed in about six months or so. Until such time that this evaluation can be completed, most work on this project should be stopped. In the course of this comprehensive reappraisal the terms of the agreement reached by the government with the company should also be re-examined in a transparent way from the perspective of protecting and promoting public interest only.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

A Time to Defend Democracy in India

Corporate tax cuts: Revenue lost could have funded important welfare projects

Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

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Protest in ‘Struggle To Save Aarey ‘ in Mumbai

26 Aug 2022

Aarey

On 21st August, A protest demonstration was staged at Picnichen Spot, Opp Shaheed Birsa Munda Statue, Aarey forest, Mumbai. It opposed the present Maharashtra Government of Shinde-Fadnavis in installing Metro 3 depot at Aarey and to project the truth behind depot politics and land scam.

More than 500 persons protested, from a broad strata of society.. Students,  Dalits,  Adivasis and activists of many NGOs, Political Parties. and social organisations. participated. The main participant was Army. An important role has also been played by activists of Disha Students group, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and Bigul Mazdoor dasta like Avinash Bittu and Baban.

Around three weeks ago being embarrassed to the core  from the growing youth protest, the fascist Shinde-Fadnavis government issued instructions to brutally subvert  every initiative  to organize people against the illegal destruction of Aarey Forest.

Avinash, a first year M.A. student of Philosophy from Mumbai University and member of Disha Students’ Organization and Dr. Pooja, an occupational therapist and member of Progressive Doctors’ League, both constituent organizations of the Save Aarey Joint Action Committee hade been detained at Aarey Police Station along with 11 other local residents and environmental activists.

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE DEPOT POLITICS

  • The Kanjur depot plot measures 41 ha (102 acres).
  • If an integrated depot for Line 3, 6 and upcoming Line 4&14 is planned at Kanjur, then the entire plot will be consumed by the Metro. This also eliminates the need for Aarey or land in Thane.(pg48)
  • If Metro 3 depot plot is shifted to Aarey and Line 4 uses land in Thane, then Metro 6 only requires 15 ha (37 acres) leaving the balance area of nearly 26ha (65 acres) open to residential and/or commercial development.
  • Denying Kanjur land for Metro 3 paves the way for the exploitation of balance areas of the plots in Aarey and Kanjur under the disguise of ‘ancillary development’. The plot chosen in Thane also becomes vulnerable. (pg 32-33)
  • An area of 165 ha in Aarey has also been exempted thus adding more lands to be exploited (pg 8,9)
  • Taking into account the available FSI, the plot areas of Aarey and Kanjur and the current ready reckoner rates, the monetary potential of just these two plots touches One lakh crores!

Thus Aarey became the egg  or hub of this real estate extravaganza.

Unfortunately this scam which will only benefit a few, has been used to stall the work of critical metro lines and delaying them.

The people backing this distorted decision are answerable if it is in Mumbai’s interest to

  • Forfeit an important forested area like Aarey?
  • Suffer delay in completion of the Mumbai Metro network?
  • Deprive Mumbaikars of better connectivity between the various lines and dismantle the

Convenient linkage of suburbs like Powai, Thane, Badlapur to Western suburbs and South

Mumbai

  • Suffer loss of land, time and hard -earned taxpayers money.

What is the motive behind this? Thirst for Profits to quench greed for the real estate groups and associated lobbyists?

_Slogans were vociferously raised ’Stop LiesToSupremeCourt  ,‘SaveAareyForest’   ‘Save Indigeneous People’  ‘SaveAdivasis ‘  ‘Adivasi LivesMatter’   ‘SaveMumbaikar ‘ SaveAaarey ‘Save Nature ‘ ‘ShiftMetroCarShed3ToKanjurMarg’,  ‘AareyDepotIs LandScam ‘  ‘JaiBhimLalSalaam’  ‘Inquilab Zindabad

Background to ‘Save Aarey.Movement

The struggle to save Aarey Forest has been going on for a considerable period time now and the movement has received support from individuals and organizations encompassing the country and the world At its current stage, an obstacle is created by from the Environmental approach of NGO’s of several individuals, many of whom happily continue to blow their trumpet n their social media profiles of having received awards from Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis. For these people, ‘environmentalism’ is a business – they raise funds for their ‘activism’ from various corporates, resort to crowd funding if the issue is a popular one and also ‘partner’ with the government whenever possible. They simply fail to gauge the base of bankruptcy of ruling class politics. The movement’s seeds were planted in response to the State deciding to allot public hand in order to benefit a handful of capitalists and real estate barons. The ‘metro car shed’ in Aarey is a façade which allows the state to pretend as if the project is in public interest when the real purpose is in fact to allow the builders and developers to come in through the backdoor. The lives of over 1100 species of plants and animals hang in jeopardy  to allow them to develop luxury apartments providing great aerial views of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, facilitating  the rich the pleasure of living ‘close to nature’. Each such flat will sell for Crores of rupees making every tree felled and animal killed for the purpose worth the effort. It is because such powerful interests are at stake that this plan has crystallised in such a determined and organized manner, despite all government reports and public protests advising against the measure. In their thirst for power, each party – whether it is the BJP, Shiv Sena, MNS, Congress, NCP, or VBA – cut throats of each other projecting itself as the superior alternative.. These parties never promote welfare for the environment. Their “concern lays only within the boundaries of their material interests. No matter which party reaches to the chair the funds which steer them to power invariably comes from the wealthy – the capitalists, builder-developers, corporates and real estate moguls. As soon as they gain seat of power, they will first try to appease their bosses – those capitalists who have patronised them to reach this destination – and in fact, that is their only purpose. They get to enjoy the privileges of power only so long as they are faithfully bootlick their bosses (and this is precisely what happened when the Fadnavis government came to power). Once the political class takes a decision to please it the task of enforcing this decision falls on the executive .Here the police intervenes s to ensure that the dictates of the ruling class are obeyed and that all voices of dissent are suppressed. In such a situation, all foolish tactics such as as garlanding, pleading, giving roses to or prostrating before the police are purposeless.

In addition to such stupidity, some “NGO environmentalists” endorse great faith in legalism and seriously believe that the courts will come to their rescue. When the movement is steered on the course of independent political direction and the people are united, the authoritarian behaviour of the judiciary is checked and the courts act in people’s interest. However, when the movement is weak and confused as it is now, it is clear to even the layman that the court will mainly act to crush any remnant of the movements or stall until such a point where it basically achieves its goal and the legal fight is rendered baseless. Only by establishing the power of the people can the movement can succeed. As of today however, the movement is veering towards the opposite direction. The NGO Environmentalists, following the doctrine of “An enemy’s enemy is a friend” is looking to appease as many opposition political parties as it can. But the truth is that every political party which has come to power in Maharashtra has endorsed the destruction of the Aarey forest! Even though some parties may make claims to support the movement to Save Aarey at present it is important to remember the history of these political parties’ actions when in power in the past .The nexus between the BJP, Congress and ShivSena in executing many a project jointly is an ideal illustration in recent decades.

Democratic intellectuals need to be brought in the forefront of this struggle .Workers  and peasants must grasp the inter relation between such developments and their day to day lives and its link with liberalisation and globalisation.. The focus in the movement is in garnering forces to confront the neo-fascist BJP.Postive to witness how the ruling calluses are shaken by the youth protests of ‘Save Aarey.’ agitation.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance Journalist who covers mass movements all around the country.

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

Protest in ‘Struggle To Save Aarey ‘ in Mumbai

Aarey

On 21st August, A protest demonstration was staged at Picnichen Spot, Opp Shaheed Birsa Munda Statue, Aarey forest, Mumbai. It opposed the present Maharashtra Government of Shinde-Fadnavis in installing Metro 3 depot at Aarey and to project the truth behind depot politics and land scam.

More than 500 persons protested, from a broad strata of society.. Students,  Dalits,  Adivasis and activists of many NGOs, Political Parties. and social organisations. participated. The main participant was Army. An important role has also been played by activists of Disha Students group, Naujwan Bharat Sabha and Bigul Mazdoor dasta like Avinash Bittu and Baban.

Around three weeks ago being embarrassed to the core  from the growing youth protest, the fascist Shinde-Fadnavis government issued instructions to brutally subvert  every initiative  to organize people against the illegal destruction of Aarey Forest.

Avinash, a first year M.A. student of Philosophy from Mumbai University and member of Disha Students’ Organization and Dr. Pooja, an occupational therapist and member of Progressive Doctors’ League, both constituent organizations of the Save Aarey Joint Action Committee hade been detained at Aarey Police Station along with 11 other local residents and environmental activists.

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE DEPOT POLITICS

  • The Kanjur depot plot measures 41 ha (102 acres).
  • If an integrated depot for Line 3, 6 and upcoming Line 4&14 is planned at Kanjur, then the entire plot will be consumed by the Metro. This also eliminates the need for Aarey or land in Thane.(pg48)
  • If Metro 3 depot plot is shifted to Aarey and Line 4 uses land in Thane, then Metro 6 only requires 15 ha (37 acres) leaving the balance area of nearly 26ha (65 acres) open to residential and/or commercial development.
  • Denying Kanjur land for Metro 3 paves the way for the exploitation of balance areas of the plots in Aarey and Kanjur under the disguise of ‘ancillary development’. The plot chosen in Thane also becomes vulnerable. (pg 32-33)
  • An area of 165 ha in Aarey has also been exempted thus adding more lands to be exploited (pg 8,9)
  • Taking into account the available FSI, the plot areas of Aarey and Kanjur and the current ready reckoner rates, the monetary potential of just these two plots touches One lakh crores!

Thus Aarey became the egg  or hub of this real estate extravaganza.

Unfortunately this scam which will only benefit a few, has been used to stall the work of critical metro lines and delaying them.

The people backing this distorted decision are answerable if it is in Mumbai’s interest to

  • Forfeit an important forested area like Aarey?
  • Suffer delay in completion of the Mumbai Metro network?
  • Deprive Mumbaikars of better connectivity between the various lines and dismantle the

Convenient linkage of suburbs like Powai, Thane, Badlapur to Western suburbs and South

Mumbai

  • Suffer loss of land, time and hard -earned taxpayers money.

What is the motive behind this? Thirst for Profits to quench greed for the real estate groups and associated lobbyists?

_Slogans were vociferously raised ’Stop LiesToSupremeCourt  ,‘SaveAareyForest’   ‘Save Indigeneous People’  ‘SaveAdivasis ‘  ‘Adivasi LivesMatter’   ‘SaveMumbaikar ‘ SaveAaarey ‘Save Nature ‘ ‘ShiftMetroCarShed3ToKanjurMarg’,  ‘AareyDepotIs LandScam ‘  ‘JaiBhimLalSalaam’  ‘Inquilab Zindabad

Background to ‘Save Aarey.Movement

The struggle to save Aarey Forest has been going on for a considerable period time now and the movement has received support from individuals and organizations encompassing the country and the world At its current stage, an obstacle is created by from the Environmental approach of NGO’s of several individuals, many of whom happily continue to blow their trumpet n their social media profiles of having received awards from Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis. For these people, ‘environmentalism’ is a business – they raise funds for their ‘activism’ from various corporates, resort to crowd funding if the issue is a popular one and also ‘partner’ with the government whenever possible. They simply fail to gauge the base of bankruptcy of ruling class politics. The movement’s seeds were planted in response to the State deciding to allot public hand in order to benefit a handful of capitalists and real estate barons. The ‘metro car shed’ in Aarey is a façade which allows the state to pretend as if the project is in public interest when the real purpose is in fact to allow the builders and developers to come in through the backdoor. The lives of over 1100 species of plants and animals hang in jeopardy  to allow them to develop luxury apartments providing great aerial views of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, facilitating  the rich the pleasure of living ‘close to nature’. Each such flat will sell for Crores of rupees making every tree felled and animal killed for the purpose worth the effort. It is because such powerful interests are at stake that this plan has crystallised in such a determined and organized manner, despite all government reports and public protests advising against the measure. In their thirst for power, each party – whether it is the BJP, Shiv Sena, MNS, Congress, NCP, or VBA – cut throats of each other projecting itself as the superior alternative.. These parties never promote welfare for the environment. Their “concern lays only within the boundaries of their material interests. No matter which party reaches to the chair the funds which steer them to power invariably comes from the wealthy – the capitalists, builder-developers, corporates and real estate moguls. As soon as they gain seat of power, they will first try to appease their bosses – those capitalists who have patronised them to reach this destination – and in fact, that is their only purpose. They get to enjoy the privileges of power only so long as they are faithfully bootlick their bosses (and this is precisely what happened when the Fadnavis government came to power). Once the political class takes a decision to please it the task of enforcing this decision falls on the executive .Here the police intervenes s to ensure that the dictates of the ruling class are obeyed and that all voices of dissent are suppressed. In such a situation, all foolish tactics such as as garlanding, pleading, giving roses to or prostrating before the police are purposeless.

In addition to such stupidity, some “NGO environmentalists” endorse great faith in legalism and seriously believe that the courts will come to their rescue. When the movement is steered on the course of independent political direction and the people are united, the authoritarian behaviour of the judiciary is checked and the courts act in people’s interest. However, when the movement is weak and confused as it is now, it is clear to even the layman that the court will mainly act to crush any remnant of the movements or stall until such a point where it basically achieves its goal and the legal fight is rendered baseless. Only by establishing the power of the people can the movement can succeed. As of today however, the movement is veering towards the opposite direction. The NGO Environmentalists, following the doctrine of “An enemy’s enemy is a friend” is looking to appease as many opposition political parties as it can. But the truth is that every political party which has come to power in Maharashtra has endorsed the destruction of the Aarey forest! Even though some parties may make claims to support the movement to Save Aarey at present it is important to remember the history of these political parties’ actions when in power in the past .The nexus between the BJP, Congress and ShivSena in executing many a project jointly is an ideal illustration in recent decades.

Democratic intellectuals need to be brought in the forefront of this struggle .Workers  and peasants must grasp the inter relation between such developments and their day to day lives and its link with liberalisation and globalisation.. The focus in the movement is in garnering forces to confront the neo-fascist BJP.Postive to witness how the ruling calluses are shaken by the youth protests of ‘Save Aarey.’ agitation.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance Journalist who covers mass movements all around the country.

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

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SC forbids Mumbai Metro from cutting trees in Aarey colony

Matter to be heard on August 30 as counsel for the Maharashtra government sought time to collate documents

24 Aug 2022

Save aarey

On August 24, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the Mumbai Metro rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) to strictly abide by its undertaking that no trees would be cut in Mumbai’s Aarey colony and warned that any violation will result in strict action, reported the New Indian Express.

The 3-judge bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, SR Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, reportedly said, “The counsel for MMRCL submits that her clients have already filed an affidavit that no trees have been or would be cut in any manner. The said undertaking by the MMRCL director has already been taken on record and MMRCL shall be strictly bound by the same.”

The Court was informed by Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy appearing for the petitioner that the clearing and levelling work had begun despite the top court’s order. In 2019, the MMRCL had told the Supreme Court that no trees had been cut in Mumbai’s Aarey colony after October 2019.

The apex court in 2019 had reportedly taken suo motu cognisance of a letter petition addressed to the then Chief Justice of India by a law student seeking a stay on the felling of trees in the Aarey colony. The top court had restrained the authorities from cutting any more trees in the Aarey colony after the solicitor general had submitted on behalf of the state of Maharashtra that no further trees will be cut.

The Bombay High Court in October 2019 refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow the cutting of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.

Related:

Metro car shed to shift from Aarey forest to Kanjurmarg

Bombay HC stays order shifting metro car shed

Truth prevails! Maha govt to declare parts of Aarey as reserved forest

 

SC forbids Mumbai Metro from cutting trees in Aarey colony

Matter to be heard on August 30 as counsel for the Maharashtra government sought time to collate documents

Save aarey

On August 24, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the Mumbai Metro rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) to strictly abide by its undertaking that no trees would be cut in Mumbai’s Aarey colony and warned that any violation will result in strict action, reported the New Indian Express.

The 3-judge bench comprising Justices UU Lalit, SR Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, reportedly said, “The counsel for MMRCL submits that her clients have already filed an affidavit that no trees have been or would be cut in any manner. The said undertaking by the MMRCL director has already been taken on record and MMRCL shall be strictly bound by the same.”

The Court was informed by Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy appearing for the petitioner that the clearing and levelling work had begun despite the top court’s order. In 2019, the MMRCL had told the Supreme Court that no trees had been cut in Mumbai’s Aarey colony after October 2019.

The apex court in 2019 had reportedly taken suo motu cognisance of a letter petition addressed to the then Chief Justice of India by a law student seeking a stay on the felling of trees in the Aarey colony. The top court had restrained the authorities from cutting any more trees in the Aarey colony after the solicitor general had submitted on behalf of the state of Maharashtra that no further trees will be cut.

The Bombay High Court in October 2019 refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow the cutting of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.

Related:

Metro car shed to shift from Aarey forest to Kanjurmarg

Bombay HC stays order shifting metro car shed

Truth prevails! Maha govt to declare parts of Aarey as reserved forest

 

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Himachal Pradesh’s vulnerability to Floods and Landslides increasing

There is an urgent need for more ecologically protective policies instead of mindless development projects that eventually end up threatening people’s lives

22 Aug 2022

HimachalRepresentation Image

Following excessive rain in many parts of Himachal Pradesh on August 20, flash floods as well as landslides have been reported from many areas, showing how the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

In a particularly sad incident, 8 members of a single family in Gauhar ke Kashan village died after being buried under their collapsed house. In the same district nearly 900 students and their teachers who had gathered in Mandi district for a sports event were trapped for some time due to a flash flood, spreading a lot of anxiety. Nearly 27 persons died in various incidents, while some others were injured or missing. Several hundreds were rescued, or had a narrow escape. In Bariara village of Nurpur area, several houses developed cracks and had to be deserted.

The Chakki railway bridge on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway track has collapsed. This was a known danger zone, as repair of pillars had been taken up in recent times, but the more extensive repair or reconstruction work needed was not taken up. The Pathankot-Mandi highway also suffered extensive damage. Indiscriminate construction and road cutting has led to the creation or aggravation of many permanent landslide zones here and the situation worsens at the time of heavy rains.

Other reports say that those who had suffered serious harm in earlier flash floods and landslides during this monsoon season have not been rehabilitated properly yet. To give an example, flash floods had caused extensive damage in Karpat village of Lahaul and Spiti district in the last week of July this year (as well as earlier in 2017). Fearing more harm from floods, they have to start living in tents some distance away. More recently they have sent a strong plea to the administration for rehabilitation at a safer place.

The cumulative impact of several such disasters has led to a situation in which a large number of families have been devastated over the years and another significant number live with increasing fear in danger zones. A recent report by the state government has stated that Himachal Pradesh is vulnerable to 25 out of 33 hazards identified by the Government of India. Overall, the districts of Chamba, Kinnaur and Kullu, as well as parts of Kangra and Shimla fall in the ‘very high’ vulnerable status.

When looked at in the context of earthquakes, the districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi fall in the ‘very high’ vulnerability category.

In this context, the extent to which risks can be aggravated by the location of several hydro-electricity projects in high-risk areas and high seismicity areas has been frequently debated. There are several aspects of this debate. One aspect relates to the extent to which these structures are safe in areas with high seismic activity. Another aspect relates to the extent to which threats and risks increase in the course of the construction process, which frequently involves not just the use of heavy machinery but also often blasting work and serious problems relating to disposal of mounds of rubble. Another aspect of controversy relates to reservoir induced seismicity.

Have all these risks been taken care of while approving these projects? Given the sensitive ecology and fragile as well as complex (from the point of view of dam-construction) geological conditions of the region, is it really advisable to go ahead with several of the controversial hydro-electricity projects of the region?

Are these projects even desirable and viable in economic terms, given the long delays and cost overruns? A parliamentary committee on energy has reported recently that the 800 MW Parbati-II project, earlier billed at Rs. 3,900 crores (one crore=10 million), has a cost over-run of Rs. 5,400 crores, so that it is now estimated to cost Rs. 9,300 crores. Where is the guarantee that a project found viable at the cost of Rs. 3,900 crore is still viable following a 139% rise to Rs. 9300 crores?

Such questions can be raised also about the 100 MW Uhl-III which has experienced a 197% cost rise, or the Sawra Kaddu project which has experienced a cost rise of 111%.

In the case of several highway construction and highway widening projects, there have been many cases of indiscriminate cutting of slopes, excessive tree felling, unsafe practices of rubble disposal and other factors leading to the emergence of many more landslide zones as well as aggravation of the threat from floods.

Indiscriminate mining, particularly in and around rivers and water-sources for sand, has also led to increasing the threat from floods during rains (while at the same contributing to rapid depletion of water during the dry season).

These times of climate change are identified with several kinds of adverse weather situations, including concentration of rainfall in a few very heavy rain events. In such a situation there is need for more ecologically protective policies but the actual situation appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Therefore, there is a clear need for corrective actions in favor of an ecologically protective path which will also protect people from disasters.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

Corporate tax cuts: Revenue lost could have funded important welfare projects

Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

Himachal Pradesh’s vulnerability to Floods and Landslides increasing

There is an urgent need for more ecologically protective policies instead of mindless development projects that eventually end up threatening people’s lives

HimachalRepresentation Image

Following excessive rain in many parts of Himachal Pradesh on August 20, flash floods as well as landslides have been reported from many areas, showing how the situation is deteriorating rapidly.

In a particularly sad incident, 8 members of a single family in Gauhar ke Kashan village died after being buried under their collapsed house. In the same district nearly 900 students and their teachers who had gathered in Mandi district for a sports event were trapped for some time due to a flash flood, spreading a lot of anxiety. Nearly 27 persons died in various incidents, while some others were injured or missing. Several hundreds were rescued, or had a narrow escape. In Bariara village of Nurpur area, several houses developed cracks and had to be deserted.

The Chakki railway bridge on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway track has collapsed. This was a known danger zone, as repair of pillars had been taken up in recent times, but the more extensive repair or reconstruction work needed was not taken up. The Pathankot-Mandi highway also suffered extensive damage. Indiscriminate construction and road cutting has led to the creation or aggravation of many permanent landslide zones here and the situation worsens at the time of heavy rains.

Other reports say that those who had suffered serious harm in earlier flash floods and landslides during this monsoon season have not been rehabilitated properly yet. To give an example, flash floods had caused extensive damage in Karpat village of Lahaul and Spiti district in the last week of July this year (as well as earlier in 2017). Fearing more harm from floods, they have to start living in tents some distance away. More recently they have sent a strong plea to the administration for rehabilitation at a safer place.

The cumulative impact of several such disasters has led to a situation in which a large number of families have been devastated over the years and another significant number live with increasing fear in danger zones. A recent report by the state government has stated that Himachal Pradesh is vulnerable to 25 out of 33 hazards identified by the Government of India. Overall, the districts of Chamba, Kinnaur and Kullu, as well as parts of Kangra and Shimla fall in the ‘very high’ vulnerable status.

When looked at in the context of earthquakes, the districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi fall in the ‘very high’ vulnerability category.

In this context, the extent to which risks can be aggravated by the location of several hydro-electricity projects in high-risk areas and high seismicity areas has been frequently debated. There are several aspects of this debate. One aspect relates to the extent to which these structures are safe in areas with high seismic activity. Another aspect relates to the extent to which threats and risks increase in the course of the construction process, which frequently involves not just the use of heavy machinery but also often blasting work and serious problems relating to disposal of mounds of rubble. Another aspect of controversy relates to reservoir induced seismicity.

Have all these risks been taken care of while approving these projects? Given the sensitive ecology and fragile as well as complex (from the point of view of dam-construction) geological conditions of the region, is it really advisable to go ahead with several of the controversial hydro-electricity projects of the region?

Are these projects even desirable and viable in economic terms, given the long delays and cost overruns? A parliamentary committee on energy has reported recently that the 800 MW Parbati-II project, earlier billed at Rs. 3,900 crores (one crore=10 million), has a cost over-run of Rs. 5,400 crores, so that it is now estimated to cost Rs. 9,300 crores. Where is the guarantee that a project found viable at the cost of Rs. 3,900 crore is still viable following a 139% rise to Rs. 9300 crores?

Such questions can be raised also about the 100 MW Uhl-III which has experienced a 197% cost rise, or the Sawra Kaddu project which has experienced a cost rise of 111%.

In the case of several highway construction and highway widening projects, there have been many cases of indiscriminate cutting of slopes, excessive tree felling, unsafe practices of rubble disposal and other factors leading to the emergence of many more landslide zones as well as aggravation of the threat from floods.

Indiscriminate mining, particularly in and around rivers and water-sources for sand, has also led to increasing the threat from floods during rains (while at the same contributing to rapid depletion of water during the dry season).

These times of climate change are identified with several kinds of adverse weather situations, including concentration of rainfall in a few very heavy rain events. In such a situation there is need for more ecologically protective policies but the actual situation appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Therefore, there is a clear need for corrective actions in favor of an ecologically protective path which will also protect people from disasters.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

Corporate tax cuts: Revenue lost could have funded important welfare projects

Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

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Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

Will start a campaign to court arrest from today

17 Aug 2022

Apple

On August 16, protests of apple growers resumed in Himachal Pradesh after a 10-day ultimatum to the government by the apple growers did not bring a satisfactory response. The cultivators had issued the ultimatum on August 5, and now, the deadline has ended.

Harish Chauhan, convener of Saunkta Kisan Manch has announced that the organisation will start its jail bharo (court arrest) campaign from today August 17.

This development is a very important moment in the emergence of a more sustained movement of farmers and orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh. During the prolonged agitation of farmers, which continued for almost a year in 2020-21, the adverse impact of big business houses on farmers, and marketing of farm produce had emerged as perhaps the biggest issue. Now this issue is making waves in Himachal Pradesh in the context of its apple economy.

Himachal Pradesh has a border with all the three foremost states/regions of the farmers’ movement—Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. So, some impact of the movement had also reached this Himalayan state then also but this was not a very big impact. The visit of Rakesh Tikait, a prominent leader of farmers from Western UP, had helped to bring this movement to Himachal Pradesh but this was only a small beginning.

More recently, 27 farmer organizations in Himachal, with a prominent role of apple growers, had mobilized to raise several demands relating to apple orchards in particular. This Sanyukta Kisan Manch (SKM) had organised a protest on August 5, presenting several demands and said that a bigger protest movement will start after about ten days (after August 15) if these demands are not met. Just before this, things have heated up with complaints about the role of big business houses.

The recently voiced complaints of SKM and apple growers are actually not very different from the complaints voiced last year too at the time of the apple harvesting season by several apple growers and their representatives. However, at that time the apple growers were not so well mobilised, and so the complaint had not attracted so much attention.

The state government in the BJP-ruled state has propagated the growing role of big business houses in apple purchase in a very positive light, and had claimed credit for speeding up the process of giving No Objection Certificates (NOCs) so that big business houses could enter the trade and purchase system which the government said will result in the apple growers receiving a higher price. However, at the ground level things took a different turn and apple-growers started complaining about a lower opening price and arbitrary gradation of apples to deny them a fair price.

Similar complaints are being made more forcefully now. On August 14, Sanjay Chauhan, co-convener of SKM, said, “New opening prices announced now have made it clear that the government is working under pressure from Adani and other companies.”

Gaurav Bisht reported in The Hindustan Times on August 15, in a report titled ‘Apple growers dissatisfied with Adani Agri Fresh’s opening prices’ that, “Adani Agri Fresh is one of the biggest corporate buyers of apples in Himachal. It owns three controlled atmospheric pressure stores in Himachal Pradesh, including one in Sainj and another in Rohru. The markets had crashed drastically last year after Adani Agri Fresh opened its price.”

Providing more details this report states, “Last year, the Rs. 5,500 crore apple business, which mostly runs on the fee market model, was dealt a major setback right at the beginning of the season when the Adani group announced its opening price for A-grade premium quality apples at just Rs. 72 per kg, much lower than the Rs. 88 per kg it offered in 2020.”

With this year’s opening being around Rs. 76 for premium A-grade apples, the apple growers are angry that despite the all-round rise in production and packaging costs during the last two years as well as several adverse weather conditions, they may have to sell at prices lower than in 2020. They are also upset that the assurances given to them regarding a committee, also including their representatives, having a major say in determining price is not being honored in the right spirit. On August 16, the SKM pointed out that clearly the earlier assurances regarding giving a key role to this committee, to be headed by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Horticulture and Forestry, and expected to protect the interests of apple-growers, have not been kept. 

This is an, election year in Himachal Pradesh and the three main opposition parties - the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the CPM - are all extending their support to apple-growers. They and the SKM also realize that now may be the most favorable time to convince or compel the government to accept most of their demands. Several other farmers are also agitated because of big losses from adverse weather conditions not being compensated adequately and lack of proper rehabilitation and compensation for those whose land has been taken over for various development projects, particularly four lane roads. Hence it appears quite likely that the protest actions of apple growers and other farmers will escalate in the coming days till their demands are substantially met.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

Himachal Pradesh: Apple growers continue protest over adverse impact of Big Business

Will start a campaign to court arrest from today

Apple

On August 16, protests of apple growers resumed in Himachal Pradesh after a 10-day ultimatum to the government by the apple growers did not bring a satisfactory response. The cultivators had issued the ultimatum on August 5, and now, the deadline has ended.

Harish Chauhan, convener of Saunkta Kisan Manch has announced that the organisation will start its jail bharo (court arrest) campaign from today August 17.

This development is a very important moment in the emergence of a more sustained movement of farmers and orchard owners in Himachal Pradesh. During the prolonged agitation of farmers, which continued for almost a year in 2020-21, the adverse impact of big business houses on farmers, and marketing of farm produce had emerged as perhaps the biggest issue. Now this issue is making waves in Himachal Pradesh in the context of its apple economy.

Himachal Pradesh has a border with all the three foremost states/regions of the farmers’ movement—Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. So, some impact of the movement had also reached this Himalayan state then also but this was not a very big impact. The visit of Rakesh Tikait, a prominent leader of farmers from Western UP, had helped to bring this movement to Himachal Pradesh but this was only a small beginning.

More recently, 27 farmer organizations in Himachal, with a prominent role of apple growers, had mobilized to raise several demands relating to apple orchards in particular. This Sanyukta Kisan Manch (SKM) had organised a protest on August 5, presenting several demands and said that a bigger protest movement will start after about ten days (after August 15) if these demands are not met. Just before this, things have heated up with complaints about the role of big business houses.

The recently voiced complaints of SKM and apple growers are actually not very different from the complaints voiced last year too at the time of the apple harvesting season by several apple growers and their representatives. However, at that time the apple growers were not so well mobilised, and so the complaint had not attracted so much attention.

The state government in the BJP-ruled state has propagated the growing role of big business houses in apple purchase in a very positive light, and had claimed credit for speeding up the process of giving No Objection Certificates (NOCs) so that big business houses could enter the trade and purchase system which the government said will result in the apple growers receiving a higher price. However, at the ground level things took a different turn and apple-growers started complaining about a lower opening price and arbitrary gradation of apples to deny them a fair price.

Similar complaints are being made more forcefully now. On August 14, Sanjay Chauhan, co-convener of SKM, said, “New opening prices announced now have made it clear that the government is working under pressure from Adani and other companies.”

Gaurav Bisht reported in The Hindustan Times on August 15, in a report titled ‘Apple growers dissatisfied with Adani Agri Fresh’s opening prices’ that, “Adani Agri Fresh is one of the biggest corporate buyers of apples in Himachal. It owns three controlled atmospheric pressure stores in Himachal Pradesh, including one in Sainj and another in Rohru. The markets had crashed drastically last year after Adani Agri Fresh opened its price.”

Providing more details this report states, “Last year, the Rs. 5,500 crore apple business, which mostly runs on the fee market model, was dealt a major setback right at the beginning of the season when the Adani group announced its opening price for A-grade premium quality apples at just Rs. 72 per kg, much lower than the Rs. 88 per kg it offered in 2020.”

With this year’s opening being around Rs. 76 for premium A-grade apples, the apple growers are angry that despite the all-round rise in production and packaging costs during the last two years as well as several adverse weather conditions, they may have to sell at prices lower than in 2020. They are also upset that the assurances given to them regarding a committee, also including their representatives, having a major say in determining price is not being honored in the right spirit. On August 16, the SKM pointed out that clearly the earlier assurances regarding giving a key role to this committee, to be headed by the Vice-Chancellor, University of Horticulture and Forestry, and expected to protect the interests of apple-growers, have not been kept. 

This is an, election year in Himachal Pradesh and the three main opposition parties - the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the CPM - are all extending their support to apple-growers. They and the SKM also realize that now may be the most favorable time to convince or compel the government to accept most of their demands. Several other farmers are also agitated because of big losses from adverse weather conditions not being compensated adequately and lack of proper rehabilitation and compensation for those whose land has been taken over for various development projects, particularly four lane roads. Hence it appears quite likely that the protest actions of apple growers and other farmers will escalate in the coming days till their demands are substantially met.

*Views expressed are the author’s own. The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now.

Other articles by Bharat Dogra:

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement

Why the Struggle of Dhinkia Deserves Wide Support

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India’s tree lovers get together for a nation-wide tree festival

17 Aug 2022

trees

The  August Tree Festival will be held from 15th to 31st August, 2022 all over India. The participants of the festival will go outdoors and observe 166 common tree species. The festival has 2 challenges – to observe more than 200 trees and as many Ficus trees as possible during the 17 days of the festival. One school and one  individual will be declared the winners of each challenge based on a lucky draw of all participants who finish the challenges.

Even though we know climate change is real, understanding its impact is an ongoing task. One simple way of documenting this impact is by observing the seasonal changes in trees around us. As seasons change, so do the trees around us. Different kinds of trees in India produce flowers, fruits and new leaves or shed old leaves in particular seasons. This seasonal behaviour  forms the basis for studying the impact of climate change on trees, and by extension on the lives of all other organisms dependent on trees. Tropical trees are diverse owing to the geographical and climatic diversity of India. This diversity makes it tricky to study the response of trees to climate change as each kind of tree behaves differently in different parts of the country. This is where citizen scientists can help – by observing trees in their neighbourhoods across the country..  SeasonWatch, an India-wide citizen science project is collating this information  to understand  the impact of climate change in India.

SeasonWatch organises quarterly tree festival events as a way of reaching out and inspiring citizen scientists  to contribute observations on the trees around them. The ongoing August Tree Festival (15-31 August 2022) is one such event. About organising the festival, Sayee Girdhari, the SeasonWatch project coordinator, says, “For the tree festival, people from all over India will be simultaneously observing trees for a few days. Interacting with people and encouraging them to share their findings with us is rewarding. Through these festivals, we hope to make treewatching as mainstream as birdwatching.”

Nature Conservation Society Nashik (NCSN), a collaborator of SeasonWatch shares their experience about a  previous event – April Tree Festival – saying, “Nature Conservation Society of Nashik has been monitoring trees  for the past 2 years. We have been participating in Tree festivals and from this year we have initiated a year-long project to document seasonal tree patterns of 32 tree species of Maharashtra’s first Conservation Reserve – Borgad. During the April Tree festival we organised an Instagram live with Sayee as an awareness session in Marathi. We are encouraging the members of Nature Conservation Society of Nashik to participate in tree festivals by observing trees around them. We have planned to involve school children in the August Tree festival as well.”

Dr.Geetha Ramaswami, the project lead of SeasonWatch and a participant of the tree festivals adds, “I had fun during the April tree festival because I got the opportunity to compare the trees I have been monitoring over the past three years in April. I had coincidentally taken photos of the same tree in April 2021 and ‘22 and it was amazing to see how nearly identical the tree looked!

Let’s collect more data on trees all over India through your contribution.

To find information about this event in Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam, download pdf from here – https://bit.ly/3PpmI15

For more information about the press note, please contact Sayee Girdhari (sayee@ncf-india.org)

This press release is brought to you by the Nature News Network. If you want to receive occasional updates and press releases about cutting-edge research and initiatives in the field of wildlife, ecology and conservation in India, please add your contact here – bit.ly/connectcomms.

India’s tree lovers get together for a nation-wide tree festival

trees

The  August Tree Festival will be held from 15th to 31st August, 2022 all over India. The participants of the festival will go outdoors and observe 166 common tree species. The festival has 2 challenges – to observe more than 200 trees and as many Ficus trees as possible during the 17 days of the festival. One school and one  individual will be declared the winners of each challenge based on a lucky draw of all participants who finish the challenges.

Even though we know climate change is real, understanding its impact is an ongoing task. One simple way of documenting this impact is by observing the seasonal changes in trees around us. As seasons change, so do the trees around us. Different kinds of trees in India produce flowers, fruits and new leaves or shed old leaves in particular seasons. This seasonal behaviour  forms the basis for studying the impact of climate change on trees, and by extension on the lives of all other organisms dependent on trees. Tropical trees are diverse owing to the geographical and climatic diversity of India. This diversity makes it tricky to study the response of trees to climate change as each kind of tree behaves differently in different parts of the country. This is where citizen scientists can help – by observing trees in their neighbourhoods across the country..  SeasonWatch, an India-wide citizen science project is collating this information  to understand  the impact of climate change in India.

SeasonWatch organises quarterly tree festival events as a way of reaching out and inspiring citizen scientists  to contribute observations on the trees around them. The ongoing August Tree Festival (15-31 August 2022) is one such event. About organising the festival, Sayee Girdhari, the SeasonWatch project coordinator, says, “For the tree festival, people from all over India will be simultaneously observing trees for a few days. Interacting with people and encouraging them to share their findings with us is rewarding. Through these festivals, we hope to make treewatching as mainstream as birdwatching.”

Nature Conservation Society Nashik (NCSN), a collaborator of SeasonWatch shares their experience about a  previous event – April Tree Festival – saying, “Nature Conservation Society of Nashik has been monitoring trees  for the past 2 years. We have been participating in Tree festivals and from this year we have initiated a year-long project to document seasonal tree patterns of 32 tree species of Maharashtra’s first Conservation Reserve – Borgad. During the April Tree festival we organised an Instagram live with Sayee as an awareness session in Marathi. We are encouraging the members of Nature Conservation Society of Nashik to participate in tree festivals by observing trees around them. We have planned to involve school children in the August Tree festival as well.”

Dr.Geetha Ramaswami, the project lead of SeasonWatch and a participant of the tree festivals adds, “I had fun during the April tree festival because I got the opportunity to compare the trees I have been monitoring over the past three years in April. I had coincidentally taken photos of the same tree in April 2021 and ‘22 and it was amazing to see how nearly identical the tree looked!

Let’s collect more data on trees all over India through your contribution.

To find information about this event in Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam, download pdf from here – https://bit.ly/3PpmI15

For more information about the press note, please contact Sayee Girdhari (sayee@ncf-india.org)

This press release is brought to you by the Nature News Network. If you want to receive occasional updates and press releases about cutting-edge research and initiatives in the field of wildlife, ecology and conservation in India, please add your contact here – bit.ly/connectcomms.

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Kolkata: Civil Society, Tribals Protest, Demand Cancellation of Coal Mines in Deucha-Panchami

The protesters demanding the cancellation of Deucha Pachami coal mining project have alleged that the government is illegally occupying the land.

12 Aug 2022

coal
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
 

Nagarik Samanway Manch, a citizens' organization, staged a protest on Wednesday demanding immediate cancellation of the coal mining project proposed by the West Bengal government in Deucha-Panchami. With this demand, Civil society members marched from Sealdah to Kolkata Municipality.

Hundreds of tribals from Deucha Panchami also participated in this protest. At the rally, they raised slogans saying -- "Stop Deucha Pachami coal mine, remove corporates from our forest-land."

Members of the civil society alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed in several public rallies about respecting all communities, including tribals. However, during Banerjee's tenure, the people of tribal communities have been neglected and deprived of their rights.

On Wednesday, Nagarik Manch marched with this complaint against the government. They protested by playing a Dhamsa Madal in front of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Their main allegation is that the government is illegally occupying land and forests in the name of coal mining, and the possession of all these lands is going into the hands of industrialists like Adanis. They said the common people do not want this possession and the government should do what the citizens want. 

After the march ended, the agitators held a rally. The leader of West Bengal Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Debalena Hembram, tribal leader Lakshikant Hansda, member of Nagarika Sahandya Manch Anisur Rahman, lawyer Shamim Ahmed and others spoke at the rally. Ratan Hembram, Jaba Murmu, Kokila Murmu and others from Deucha Panchami also spoke.

The keynote address of the leaders at the rally was that even after 75 years of independence, many marginalized people, including the Scheduled Tribes, the oldest inhabitants of the country, are still living a subjugated life. They have to repeatedly fight for water, forest and land rights across the state and the country. Although the Constitution includes various rights laws for them, they are not getting the benefits of those laws.

Leaders complain that even though the government has started extracting coal from the mine, there has been no environmental impact assessment or public hearing for the project so far. Most of the tribals claimed to not have received compensation yet.

The Deucha-Panchami-Dewanganj-Harinsinga coal block is the second largest coal block in the world and the largest in India. Estimates show that around 20,000 people will be displaced due to the project.

Apart from opposing the coal mining project on Deutcha Panchami, the Nagrik Samanway Manch also protested against corruption in the appointment of teachers and the killing of student leader Anish Khan.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Kolkata: Civil Society, Tribals Protest, Demand Cancellation of Coal Mines in Deucha-Panchami

The protesters demanding the cancellation of Deucha Pachami coal mining project have alleged that the government is illegally occupying the land.

coal
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
 

Nagarik Samanway Manch, a citizens' organization, staged a protest on Wednesday demanding immediate cancellation of the coal mining project proposed by the West Bengal government in Deucha-Panchami. With this demand, Civil society members marched from Sealdah to Kolkata Municipality.

Hundreds of tribals from Deucha Panchami also participated in this protest. At the rally, they raised slogans saying -- "Stop Deucha Pachami coal mine, remove corporates from our forest-land."

Members of the civil society alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed in several public rallies about respecting all communities, including tribals. However, during Banerjee's tenure, the people of tribal communities have been neglected and deprived of their rights.

On Wednesday, Nagarik Manch marched with this complaint against the government. They protested by playing a Dhamsa Madal in front of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

Their main allegation is that the government is illegally occupying land and forests in the name of coal mining, and the possession of all these lands is going into the hands of industrialists like Adanis. They said the common people do not want this possession and the government should do what the citizens want. 

After the march ended, the agitators held a rally. The leader of West Bengal Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Debalena Hembram, tribal leader Lakshikant Hansda, member of Nagarika Sahandya Manch Anisur Rahman, lawyer Shamim Ahmed and others spoke at the rally. Ratan Hembram, Jaba Murmu, Kokila Murmu and others from Deucha Panchami also spoke.

The keynote address of the leaders at the rally was that even after 75 years of independence, many marginalized people, including the Scheduled Tribes, the oldest inhabitants of the country, are still living a subjugated life. They have to repeatedly fight for water, forest and land rights across the state and the country. Although the Constitution includes various rights laws for them, they are not getting the benefits of those laws.

Leaders complain that even though the government has started extracting coal from the mine, there has been no environmental impact assessment or public hearing for the project so far. Most of the tribals claimed to not have received compensation yet.

The Deucha-Panchami-Dewanganj-Harinsinga coal block is the second largest coal block in the world and the largest in India. Estimates show that around 20,000 people will be displaced due to the project.

Apart from opposing the coal mining project on Deutcha Panchami, the Nagrik Samanway Manch also protested against corruption in the appointment of teachers and the killing of student leader Anish Khan.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Climate Change May Increase Mortality Rate by 6 Times Due to Excess Heat: Lancet Study

The study said rise in night heat events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to sleep disruption.

10 Aug 2022

climate change
Image: Newsclick

Beijing: Climate change may increase the mortality rate due to excessive heat six times by the end of the century, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, US noted that ambient heat during the night may interrupt the normal physiology of sleep.

Less sleep can then lead to immune system damage and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic illnesses, inflammation and mental health conditions, they said.

The study found that the average intensity of hot night events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to excessive heat that disrupts normal sleep.

The findings show that the burden of mortality could be significantly higher than estimated by average daily temperature increase.

The results suggest that warming from climate change could have a troubling impact, even under restrictions from the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

"The risks of increasing temperature at night were frequently neglected," said study co-author Yuqiang Zhang, a climate scientist at the University of North Carolina.

"However, in our study, we found that the occurrences of hot night excess (HNE) are projected to occur more rapidly than the daily mean temperature changes," Zhang said.

The study shows that the frequency and mean intensity of hot nights would increase more than 30% and 60% by the 2100s, respectively, compared with less than 20% increase for the daily mean temperature.

 The researchers estimated the mortality due to excess heat in 28 cities in China, South Korea and Japan between 1980 and 2015 and applied it to two climate change modelling scenarios that aligned with carbon-reduction scenarios adapted by the respective national governments.

The team was able to estimate that between 2016 and 2100, the risk of death from excessively hot nights would increase nearly by six-fold.  This prediction is much higher than the mortality risk from daily average warming suggested by climate change models.

"From our study, we highlight that in assessing the disease burden due to non-optimum temperature, governments and local policymakers should consider the extra health impacts of the disproportional intra-day temperature variations," said Haidong Kan, a professor at Fudan University in China.

"A more complete health risk assessment of future climate change can help policymakers for better resource allocation and priority setting," said Kan, the corresponding author of the study.

The researchers also found that regional differences in temperature accounted for many of the variances in night time temperature, and areas with the lowest average temperature were projected to have the largest warming potential.

 "To combat the health risk raised by the temperature increases from climate change, we should design efficient ways to help people adapt," said Zhang.

"Locally, heat during the night should be taken into account when designing the future heat wave warning system, especially for vulnerable populations and low-income communities who may not be able to afford the additional expense of air conditioning," the scientist said.

The researchers said stronger mitigation strategies, including global collaborations, should be considered to reduce future impacts of warming.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Climate Change May Increase Mortality Rate by 6 Times Due to Excess Heat: Lancet Study

The study said rise in night heat events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to sleep disruption.

climate change
Image: Newsclick

Beijing: Climate change may increase the mortality rate due to excessive heat six times by the end of the century, according to a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina, US noted that ambient heat during the night may interrupt the normal physiology of sleep.

Less sleep can then lead to immune system damage and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic illnesses, inflammation and mental health conditions, they said.

The study found that the average intensity of hot night events will nearly double by 2090, from 20.4 degrees Celsius to 39.7 degrees Celsius across 28 cities from East Asia, increasing the burden of disease due to excessive heat that disrupts normal sleep.

The findings show that the burden of mortality could be significantly higher than estimated by average daily temperature increase.

The results suggest that warming from climate change could have a troubling impact, even under restrictions from the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

"The risks of increasing temperature at night were frequently neglected," said study co-author Yuqiang Zhang, a climate scientist at the University of North Carolina.

"However, in our study, we found that the occurrences of hot night excess (HNE) are projected to occur more rapidly than the daily mean temperature changes," Zhang said.

The study shows that the frequency and mean intensity of hot nights would increase more than 30% and 60% by the 2100s, respectively, compared with less than 20% increase for the daily mean temperature.

 The researchers estimated the mortality due to excess heat in 28 cities in China, South Korea and Japan between 1980 and 2015 and applied it to two climate change modelling scenarios that aligned with carbon-reduction scenarios adapted by the respective national governments.

The team was able to estimate that between 2016 and 2100, the risk of death from excessively hot nights would increase nearly by six-fold.  This prediction is much higher than the mortality risk from daily average warming suggested by climate change models.

"From our study, we highlight that in assessing the disease burden due to non-optimum temperature, governments and local policymakers should consider the extra health impacts of the disproportional intra-day temperature variations," said Haidong Kan, a professor at Fudan University in China.

"A more complete health risk assessment of future climate change can help policymakers for better resource allocation and priority setting," said Kan, the corresponding author of the study.

The researchers also found that regional differences in temperature accounted for many of the variances in night time temperature, and areas with the lowest average temperature were projected to have the largest warming potential.

 "To combat the health risk raised by the temperature increases from climate change, we should design efficient ways to help people adapt," said Zhang.

"Locally, heat during the night should be taken into account when designing the future heat wave warning system, especially for vulnerable populations and low-income communities who may not be able to afford the additional expense of air conditioning," the scientist said.

The researchers said stronger mitigation strategies, including global collaborations, should be considered to reduce future impacts of warming.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Swaraj India decries MoEFCC’s Forest Conservation Rules 2022 notification

Experts voice concern that the new rules will completely disregard Gram Sabha, Tribal and Forest dwellers’ consent during developmental project

09 Jul 2022

Swaraj IndiaImage Courtesy: journalsofindia.com

Farming union Swaraj India demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 notification on July 8, 2022. It expressed grave concern against the Government of India’s new rules that bypass consent and consultation from local adivasis and villagers. 

On June 28, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued a notification that the rules will be applicable to all proposals for use of non-forestry purpose. As per these new provisions, the Central Government shifts the responsibility of obtaining forest dwellers’ consent and ensuring settlement of rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act to state governments. 

“The state government or Union territory administration, as the case may be, after receiving the ‘Final’ approval of the central government under Section 2 of the Act, and after fulfillment and compliance of the provisions of all other Acts and rules made there under, as applicable including ensuring settlement of rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, shall issue order for diversion, assignment of lease or dereservation, as the case may be,” said the new rules. 

However, Swaraj India pointed out that this in effect permits the Government of India to clear forests before state governments have obtained the consent of forest dwellers. This infringes on their rights over their traditional forestland and violates the Forest Rights Act. The latter requires free, prior, and informed consent of the forest dwelling communities before any such project is undertaken. It is also a threat to the environment and India's decreasing forest cover, said the West Bengal-based organisation. 

According to Land Conflict Watch member Mukta Joshi, this move can bring industries into conflict with communities and threaten their investments. Further, it can lead to coercion of communities who oppose a project. 

 

“Swaraj India stands against attempts to disenfranchise tribals and forest dwelling communities from their rights over their traditional forest land. This is more preposterous when the government is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of great tribal leader Alluri Seethrama Raju,” said Swaraj India.  Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the tribal leader’s statue. 

Along with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the new rules also violate provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. However, that is not surprising considering on October 2, 2021 the MoEFCC proposed amendments to the same. These amendments do away with many stringent laws requiring prior approval for development projects on forest land. 

Related:

Environmentalist demand withdrawal of changes to Biological Diversity Act
Palghar Adivasis decry ecologically-dangerous infrastructural projects
AIUFWP’s 2nd National Conference begins in New Delhi
8 years on, Tharu tribe’s struggle for land rights continues
Nearly 20 days later, MoEFCC shares FCA proposal in regional languages

Swaraj India decries MoEFCC’s Forest Conservation Rules 2022 notification

Experts voice concern that the new rules will completely disregard Gram Sabha, Tribal and Forest dwellers’ consent during developmental project

Swaraj IndiaImage Courtesy: journalsofindia.com

Farming union Swaraj India demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022 notification on July 8, 2022. It expressed grave concern against the Government of India’s new rules that bypass consent and consultation from local adivasis and villagers. 

On June 28, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued a notification that the rules will be applicable to all proposals for use of non-forestry purpose. As per these new provisions, the Central Government shifts the responsibility of obtaining forest dwellers’ consent and ensuring settlement of rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act to state governments. 

“The state government or Union territory administration, as the case may be, after receiving the ‘Final’ approval of the central government under Section 2 of the Act, and after fulfillment and compliance of the provisions of all other Acts and rules made there under, as applicable including ensuring settlement of rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, shall issue order for diversion, assignment of lease or dereservation, as the case may be,” said the new rules. 

However, Swaraj India pointed out that this in effect permits the Government of India to clear forests before state governments have obtained the consent of forest dwellers. This infringes on their rights over their traditional forestland and violates the Forest Rights Act. The latter requires free, prior, and informed consent of the forest dwelling communities before any such project is undertaken. It is also a threat to the environment and India's decreasing forest cover, said the West Bengal-based organisation. 

According to Land Conflict Watch member Mukta Joshi, this move can bring industries into conflict with communities and threaten their investments. Further, it can lead to coercion of communities who oppose a project. 

 

“Swaraj India stands against attempts to disenfranchise tribals and forest dwelling communities from their rights over their traditional forest land. This is more preposterous when the government is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of great tribal leader Alluri Seethrama Raju,” said Swaraj India.  Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the tribal leader’s statue. 

Along with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the new rules also violate provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. However, that is not surprising considering on October 2, 2021 the MoEFCC proposed amendments to the same. These amendments do away with many stringent laws requiring prior approval for development projects on forest land. 

Related:

Environmentalist demand withdrawal of changes to Biological Diversity Act
Palghar Adivasis decry ecologically-dangerous infrastructural projects
AIUFWP’s 2nd National Conference begins in New Delhi
8 years on, Tharu tribe’s struggle for land rights continues
Nearly 20 days later, MoEFCC shares FCA proposal in regional languages

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