When we step back from the Commonwealth Games fiasco--which is not easy to do when you live in Delhi--it is hard to deny how important mining is to people who care about the environment and justice. 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. And those forests were places that supported animals, plants, and people!
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 not a smart strategy. 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.
The good news is that there is a growing awareness about how much damage the mining industry does--not just to forests, but to communities and workers, as well. This awareness is in large part thanks to the fact that the people who depend on forests have begun to resist their displacement in a variety of ways.
For people concerned about this issue there are several events happening that you should know about:
August 9:Corporations Quit India Movement (nationwide)On the 9th of August 2010, peoples movements across the country will come together for true freedom in the ‘Corporations Quit India Movement'. The goal is to build a national movement to stop the violation of peoples' rights and land grab by anti-people laws. Public demonstration and actions are planned in 6 regions in Uttar Pradesh, 9 in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh each, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Delhi Solidarity Group invites you to two simultaneous actions in Delhi, 1) taking place in Kanjhawala organized by Bhoomi Bachao Andolan (11am-1pm) and 2) facilitated by DSG at Jantar Mantar (3-5pm), both on the 9th August.
For information in Delhi, contact:
Bhupendra Rawat: 20506929
Vimal bhai: 9891814707
August 12: Conference on Niyamgiri a Test Case for Forest Rights (Delhi)The Dongrai Kondh and other tribes inhabiting the Niyamgiri forests have been resisting the threat of Mining of Bauxite in their sacred mountain. This one day event looks at legal, social, political issues around this. There are some interesting people on the agenda. More information on Navdanya's site. For background on this struggle, try reading this in-depth piece on by M Rajshekhar.
Ongoing, On-line Actions
Forests.org have taken on the Dongrai Kondh--Vedanta struggle and are running an international campaign on the issue. You can help out by going here.
If you are on Facebook, you can join Support India's indigenous peoples' rights to natural & cultural resources. They will keep you up to date on various struggles nationwide. Sometimes, it's good news; the Environment ministry recently halted a major project in Orissa due to environmental and human rights issues. Read more here.
Things to read:
If you want to learn more about this issue, there is a lot to read. In addition to the links mentioned above, try starting with two articles fromTehelka: in April, they ran an excellent piece on corruption in the mining industry in Karnataka ; last month, they ran an extraordinary piece on the 70,000 child miners at work in Meghalaya. For a look at the big picture, try reading Sabitha T P's guest post: Some Uncommon Thoughts About the Commons.
And if there are more things going on that you know about, put them in the comments below!