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

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.