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In a new turn, protesters oppose ADB proposal to fund smart cities, as they have "no space" for street hawkers

By Our Representative
Nationwide protests against the Asian Development Bank's (ADB’s) 50 years of “inequitable” and “unjust” development, which began on May 1 (click HERE), has taken a new turn, with people’s organizations terming smart city and other urban beautification projects funded by ADB and other international financial institutions (IFIs) “anti-poor.”
Hawkers’ organizations have said, their livelihood would be snatched. Apprehending that proposals would include imposing huge user charges on hawkers for a space to sell their goods in smart cities, Anita Das, general secretary of the All-India Women's Hawkers Federation, wondered, "From where the poor vendor will pay a penalty of Rs 500 for selling their goods when they sell goods worth less than Rs 500 per day?"
According to reports, ADB has agreed in principle to set aside $1 billion for extending loans to the smart city projects.This follows a Government of India’s suggestion to the cities in the first list of 20 smart cities to quickly apply for funding from international bodies, including the World Bank, ADB and the BRICS Development Bank.
Protesters belonging to the National Hawkers’ Federation in Ranchi, Secundarabad and Kolkata organised similar actions of resistance – ranging from human chains and demonstrations to public meetings - to raise voices against forced eviction of hawkers and roadside vendors.
According to Das, city administrations, in the name of beautification and smart cities, are harassing hawkers. "In recent times, they are being jailed for days and charged with the provisions of deterring public servant from discharge of their duty," she lamented.
Pointing towards lack of transparency and accountability, and impunity enjoyed by ADB and other IFIs, the demonstrators said there was nothing to celebrate on the 50th anniversary of ADB during annual meetings being held in Yokohama, Japan.
Anti-ADB protests are being coordinated by the Peoples' Forum against ADB, and are part of over 120 actions of resistance observed across the country, in the current week across 21 states of the country to highlight what they considered “gross human rights violations, loss of livelihood, and environmental destruction caused by the inequitable, unjust development model being pushed by ADB and other IFIs.”
Programmes are being held by civil society organisations, trade unions, women organisations and people's movements such as National Hawkers’ Federation, National Fishworkers’ Forum, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Environment Support Group, Delhi Solidarity Group, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, Jharkhand Mines and Area Coordination Committee, Chhattisgarh Nagarik Manch, and Machhimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan.
Programmes are being held in metros like Kolkata and Bangalore as also remote parts like villages in Belghana block of Chhattisgarh, with the common thread being “anguish” against the development model, being “peddled” by IFIs.
In the buffer zone of the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh, people protested at the Belghana block of Bilaspur district under the leadership of Susheela Baiga and Indumati Uraon against displacement and social alienation, caused by the construction of the dam and other infrastructure projects in the buffer zone of the protected area.
“The villagers are angry as they are being displaced while the tourism industry is promoted in the region with ADB funds,” said Devjeet Mandi, co-convenor of the All India Forest Movements Forum, who is also part of this movement.
In Jammu & Kashmir, people organised meeting and demonstration at Kathua, Jammu, Chinai, Battote, Bhadarwa, Doda and Rajouri and raised social and environmental impacts of the projects being run or proposed in the state. Programmes were also organised in Andhra Pradesh, Jaipur, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.

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