Skip to main content

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, defence project in North India's Mewat: Forest dwellers feel totally "sidelined"

Jats of Mewat
By Ashok Shrimali*
People of the Mewat region of North India are feeling the pinch of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which includes a rail corridor stretching between Alwar in Rajasthan and Panipat and Meerut via Delhi in Uttar Pradesh.
With plans simultaneously underway to develop the whole region -- a protected forest area -- as a tourism spot, on one hand, and a major military industry industrial complex, on the other, the region has already created a flutter among the area's forest dwellers.
A historical region of Haryana and Rajasthan states, the loose boundaries of Mewat generally include Mewat District of Haryana and parts of Alwar, Bharatpur, and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan.The region roughly corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Matsya, foun.ded in the 5th century BCE.Though the district is in the National Capital Region (NCR) and just 20 km from Delhi airport, it has largely remained undeveloped.
A senior activist Guman Singh of the Himalay Niti Abhiyan, who recently interacted with the forest dwellers, however, says, "Several gram panchayats, which are part of the region, have protested against the refusal to consult them and hold gram sabha before laying down any of the proposed projects."
What is worse, he says in a report he has sent to Counterview following his visit, is that, "the defence production project is being implemented on a 850 hectares (ha) land by the the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) without people being aware of its detailed project report (DPR) or the environment impact assessment (EIA)."
In all, according to him, "40-odd villages on a 12-km hilly stretch of Aravalli mountain range, where more than 65,000 people live, will be affected." The gram panchayats to be affected include "Jajor, Kithur, Kholbas, Pahada, Mehrampur, Ghasoli and others", he says.
Singh claims, "There is no provision in law which empowers DRDO not to consult local people before coming up with a project, especially in a forest area. The decision to transfer forest land, at the very first site, appears to be illegal."
The locals, says Singh, told him that a "missiles project has been approved for the 850 ha set aside for the DRDO, which is proposed to cost around Rs 16,000 crore. Yet, there has not been any environmental nod, nor have been people told about the project, not even how they would be rehabilitated. It would seem as if the Forest Rights Act does not exist for region, or that the Supreme Court judgements need not be implemented for the project."
Meanwhile, forest dwellers of the region have begun to organize themselves to start a movement against the government decision to "develop" the region through various projects. There have been interaction with the authorities following a meeting on August 15 with the participation of 30-odd panchayat chiefs and 500 local people's representatives.
Singh says, "I learnt at one of the meetings that the panchayats have in their possession all the necessary papers which suggest that the area is a protected forest, one reason the 850 ha cannot be transferred to the DRDO, yet the authorities are refusing to listen."
According to Singh, the area consists of a big portion of cattle grazing land, where as many as 4,000 cows graze. "Animal husbandry is the people's main occupation. There are large number of ponds in the area, which help recharge water in the nearby regions. All this is now under threat", he adds.
---
*Gujarat based senior activist

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.