Modern, ultra-modern projects of development have been projected as the new form of temples in India. Corporates, Indian state machinery and foreign capitalists are the new priests of these temples which are setting the norms for the vast masses who will take what and when.
A report in Hindustan Times shows that more than nine times of Delhi NCR area is under the control of the Indian state. The maximum contributor in this field of encroachment is Railways, following that path coal and electricity ministry are others.
In this half-sovereign and self-proclaimed democratic development scenario, people have been pushed aside to the corner to watch the Dandiya playing circus of development with the help of their bones and skins. Community land, forest reserves, biosphere reserves, ultra- development projects are the way to get out the native people from their resources and give their jal, jungal and jameen to the corporates.
The development of modern land banks, new CRPF camps, extrajudicial killing and anti-labour laws proliferate parallelly to fulfil the unending appetite of corporates.
The Khori Gaon Movement took a new turn in the afternoon of 30 June when protestors were lathicharged by the Haryana Police to follow the words of the Supreme Courts decision to vacate the place. Women protestors were beaten up by male police in the presence of supreme authorities under the guidance of our honourable court.
An activist, who belongs to the Sikh community, was targeted and brutalised by the Brahmanical police because of his religious identity. They targeted his pagadi and daarhi. Another man, who was standing on the corner of the road was dragged by the police and thrashed. He also belonged to the Sikh community.
Khori Gaon is currently facing the adversity of the Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist State. The majority of the people belong to Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities who bought their lands and built homes.
Broken walls, torn clothes, swelled eyes, distorted windows and heavy hearts are the results to maintain democracy with the help of the most altruistic manner by the state. The best humanistic approach of the state towards migrant workers is the rearrest demonic act of rulers.
The basti has been demolished more than twice before this and this time they have the order of apex court, “defender of human rights”. When a plea was filled in front of Haryana Punjab High Court by the residents of Khori Gaon, the court replied that the right to life has to be secured.
Against this decision of the High Court, the Haryana government moved to the Supreme Court where the court ordered to vacate the colony within 6 weeks and removed the stay on demolition. Here it is prominent to note down that the Supreme Court gives excessive importance to the eco-sensitive zone at Aravalli hills, instead of people who are living inside it.
According to the Supreme Court, the zone is heavily impacted by human migration and the destruction of natural vegetation is the direct outcome of this kind of human settlement. More than one lakh people’s lives are at stake but the never-ending project of sustainable development cannot be revisited.
When I am criticising the sustainable development circus, at that very time my soul purpose is to expose the fairy play of people-centric development (claimed by the state every time). When people say “has the state done nothing for us?” my answer is very simple and straight, did the colonial British rule do nothing to us? Of course, they did, but who was that development for and how sustainable was it? Is it not a pressing concern for us?
After 1947, we constructed more than 3,300 big dams, but the actual area under drought and flood increased, instead of decreasing. It’s a way of letting governments lay their hands on huge sums of money; a way of centralising resources. They are snatching the resources from the poor and giving them to rich corporates.
In her 2003 interview with The Damned, Arundhati Roy described the Sardar Sarovar Project of Gujarat, which was a big dam project inside the second-largest area, and how Gujarat was still drought-prone and the state still defended the Narmada Valley project. Massive ecological loss of mangrove forests was seen after the increase of salinity of sea coast water.
It was the same time when Gujarat was branding itself as the development capital of India. As an estimate, more than 50 million people have been forced to vacate their native place because of big dam projects and development projects and many of them evacuated from ecologically vulnerable zones since 1947. And the worst part is that no government data can prove that India’s vast food supply is fulfilled by the big dams.
And the biggest flag bearer of eco-sensitivity was silent on the 50 million evacuations. Has justice been delivered?
The court ordered that all encroachments in the notified ridge area be removed, including the three settlements housing around 30,000 people. The deadline for the removal was 31 October, 1996, which was extended till 31 March, 1997, and again.
On 17 June, 1995, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had issued a notification increasing the allocation for commercial development in a certain south Delhi area from 8 ha to 65 ha. The main ingredient of this development plan was a proposed complex of 11 hotels and a wide road to be built over a green tract near Vasant Kunj — a geographic extension of the south-central ridge. The EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) has not been finalised by the authorities.
Anita Soni, a social worker functioning in the region said: “The axe fell on the innocent poor settlers, leaving out massive ecologically harmful encroachments by the rich.” She points out that in the southern ridge, sprawling farmhouses and luxury weekend resorts of the rich and the famous have proliferated over the last 20 years.
A recent amendment to the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), a 100-year-old law, by the Manohar Lal Khattar government threatens to open up 33% of the forest for commercial activity. In Ankhir village, land mafias have encroached upon an entire hill to build an illegal road. On both sides of the road, farmhouses have sprung up.
This commercial activity is going on unchecked despite the area falling under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act. Quarrying and real estate development are banned in 17 villages of Faridabad under this act but the administration has turned a blind eye.
Environmentalist Chetan Agarwal alleges that the Haryana government in an affidavit had said that there were no Aravallis in Faridabad at all. They brought the amendment to the PLPA to allow illegal construction in the Aravallis with retrospective effect.
On the border area of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, Dibru Sikhowa National Park is located in Assam. The Park is bounded by Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers which are extended up to a 12 km area. It mainly consists of moist mixed semi-evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests and grasslands.
Assam State government recently proposed an amendment in the eco-sensitive zone of Dibru Sikhova, which actually shrinks the area of the National Park. According to the rule of the eco-sensitive zone, there could be no development work done around the 10 km buffer zone of National Park.
In a recent amendment of Assam state, which is responsible to delineate the boundary of Park, they shrunk the buffer zone to zero kilometres for an Oil India Limited Project. The project is near the North East Biodiversity Hotspot which has many endemic species and endangered species of flora and fauna.
In defence of the project, the Assam government said that the project was in working mode before 2010 in Tinsukiya before the declaration of the eco-sensitive zone. Four months after the whittled down eco-sensitive zone, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change gave clarence to this project expansion, which projected a deep mark on the sensitivity of the state towards the environment.
The gravest form of destruction is habitat loss for the flora and fauna of different climatic zone and it is inevitable in neoliberal development. Displacement is not a new phenomenon in the history of humankind and it has been changing its course from time to time.
The Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot is suffering from the massive exploitation of local vegetation, especially medicinal plants. Many pharmaceutical companies are investing crores of rupees to harass these medicinal plants through local Bahubalis. Apart from this, black marketing of resources is very common in these areas with the help of local administration.
The actual inhabitants are at the margins and the contractors are consuming these resource-rich spaces. One thing which is common for the whole era, more powerful displaces lesser from it.
Historically, with time, the state has also changed its shape and idea with a common intention to exploit the vast masses. We witnessed the history of Brahmanical State expansion in ancient times on the throats of Adivasi people and the jungle. They not only occupied their jungles and converted them into plain land, but they also turned Adivasi people into slaves, forced them to do Begari.
Increasing demand for cheap labour and free land are the basic demands from the modern resource seeking corporate sectors.