Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Activist Alert: Independent People's Tribunal on Land Aquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt

Whatever your feeling about the Maoists--or about Arundhati Roy's recent story in Outlook--it seems clear that this problem has reached the attention of the central government and urban elite in large part because there are all kinds of valuable resources in many of the the places where the Maoists are active. And I'm not talking about pristine streams, tiger habitats, or idyllic villages full of people living sustainably. I am not talking about trees or the stuff that grows on trees, but the stuff that lies under the trees-- the stuff you need if you want to make iron and steel and aluminum. The stuff India Inc. is dying to get it's hands on.  The stuff  that is required to sustain the unsustainable way of life many of us are living in Delhi and the other mega-cities.

What happens when government-backed corporations encounter people living on valuable resources? It's an old story and it usually ends badly for the people and the earth land they  inhabit.  In the past, governments from across the political spectrum justified destroying the land in the name of development.  But there's a problem: unsustainable development is...unsustainable, which means in the long run, or even the medium run, it is bad for everyone!  All those new cars you see on the road, those new shopping malls and the expensive stuff you see inside them?  A large part of all that is made from metals that were mined from places that used to be forests.

With or without Maoists, mining is a dirty, ugly business. We probably can't stop doing it completely--a modern sustainable, just society will require some metal, even if we use much less and recycle like we should.  But destroying forests, mining metal and running factories just to produce throw-away consumer goods for the richest of the rich is not helping anything.  It will result in jobs for a few years, maybe even decades, but in the end that road leads to nowhere but disaster--when oil prices spike, when wells and rivers run dry and the monsoons don't come, malls and big cars won't power our homes, they won't irrigate our fields!  Better to put people to work in industries that build things we really need: efficient, affordable housing, solar and wind power plants, water harvesting projects, etc. 

An alliance of civil society groups, including the Indian Youth Climate Network, is shining some light on this issue.  They are putting together an Independent People's Tribunal (IPT).   IPT's are a way for civil society groups to present an issue of public concern before an impartial and eminent group of jury members, whose report on the subject is useful in educating and informing and mobilizing public opinion.  Here is the basic information:

on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt 
9-11 April 2010, 
Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi

For more information go here.


  1. Good piece and focuses attention on the really basic and the fundamental point that it boils down to! As it was said in the case of Iraq- " It's the oil Stupid!" Here it's iron, coal, bauxite, uranium, diamonds.......

    We cannot support violent reprisals but more than that we cannot support (or stand muted) when our own government attacks our fellow citizens in our name! And definitely not if the objective of this violence is as clear as satellite images of the mineral resources in the affected regions.

  2. @anon--thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again.


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