Skip to main content

Unresolved conflicts characterize environmental nod to 70 of 75 projects involving 7.28 lakh ha land: Study

Protest against the POSCO project in Jagatsinghpur, Odisha
By Rajiv Shah
A recent research study has said that of the “75 cases of conflict over land use change” involving 7,28,673 hectares (ha) “officially transferred through environmental clearance process”, in as many of 70 conflicts have remained unresolved even today. The projects have been chosen out of a list of environmental clearances granted to 14,498 projects, uploaded on the Union environment ministry’s website as of October 2017.
Most of the land use changes carried out for satisfying the demand for "developmental" needs relate to infrastructure expansion and industrial acceleration, and urbanisation.
Pointing out that “in five cases the conflicts have been resolved as per publicly available information, and in 2 cases the conflicts are unresolved but closed”, the study, “Midcourse Manoeuvres: Community strategies and remedies for natural resource conflicts in India”, defines a conflict to mean “the first known collective action against an existing or an upcoming project.”
The four sectors covered in the study are mining, power generation, industry and port development, the study says, adding, the two for which the conflicts have been dropped, even if they remain unresolved, are Commonwealth Games Village in New Delhi and Sompeta Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Plant in Andhra Pradesh (PPP).
Carried out by Kanchi Kohli, Meenakshi Kapoor, Manju Menon and Vidya Viswanathan of the CPR-Namati Environmental Justice Program (2018), and supported by the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, the study says, of the 75 projects, “there are 46 thermal power plants” which have been “contested” to have “allocated 5,82,722 ha of land.”
The study further says, “In 70 of the 75 cases where conflicts are ongoing, we see that the conflict persisted for a period of 7 years or average age of 8.4 years as the time period during which the conflict had persisted.”
“The longest ongoing conflict among the 75 cases is on the Tehri Hydropower Plant in Uttarakhand, going on for more than 45 years, while the most recent conflict is Nyamjang Chhu Hydroelectric Project in Arunachal Pradesh, which started 1.7 years back”, the study notes.
The study says, “While in some cases the conflict had persisted even before a project was granted environment clearance, in some others, it seems to have appeared only after construction activity had begun”, adding, “Out of 75 cases, in 36 cases the environment approval was given to the project after the conflict began, and in 39 cases the conflict arose after the project got an environmental approval.”
Identifying three causes of conflicts, the study says, the first one is “non-fulfillment of assurances related to compensations and jobs”. Thus, in Gevra mines in Korba district, Chhattisgarh, “The mining proponents have chosen to use specific policy options for compensation, that deliberately deprive people of jobs… Having lost access to land and livelihoods, occupational and financial support is an ongoing bone of contention.”
“Similarly”, the study says, “the people living around the two thermal power plants in Singrauli region at the border of the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were promised contractual jobs.” It was revealed, however, “that while there were 20,000 people in the village, only 234 were given jobs.” 
Also, there is an 11-year-old resistance to land use change in Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha, resulting from a MoU, prompting the state government to create a land bank for a South Korean company, POSCO.
The second reason is “continued resistance against land use change”, the study says, quoting Satyajit Chavan, president, Jan Hakka Seva Samiti, an umbrella organisation for groups fighting against the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, as saying that while they have “consistently” opposed the project for more than eight years, things have reached to a point where political intervention is necessary. 
The third reason is “air and water contamination and depletion”, the study says, giving the example of Mundra block of Kutch district of Gujarat, where “people affected in the region analysed the compliance of approval conditions of one large infrastructure project including several multi-utility ports, a railway line, and related facilities. They pointed to impacts of mangrove and sand dune destruction that had led to salinity increase, loss of fish catch and restriction on mobility in the area.”

Comments

TRENDING

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Why nobody objected to Gautam Gambhir, Sunny Deol in t-shirt, jean?: Activists

By Our Representative
Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s excitement on their first day as MPs was overshadowed by a barrage of sexism over their ‘non- sanskari’ outfits, a group of civil society activists have said in a statement. According to Aarushi Nigam, Divya Kaushik, Riya Sharma, Ruman Ganguly, and Anulekha Agarwal, both Bengali actors and first-time MPs "were certainly excited to take them on when they posted pictures from their new workplace on social media."
Hit by misogynistic comments, the activists say, "Their choice of workwear – jeans and a white button-down shirt for Mimi, a wine-coloured peplum suit for Nusrat – was the first and last word on their political competence for many."
“You’re not on vacation”, “they have mistaken Parliament for Kolkata’s Nicco Park or City Centre”, “this is not a photo studio, this is a place where you should fight for people’s rights and legislate”, “keep some respect towards your Bengali society” were some of the &quo…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat CM aide 'doubts' authenticity of Gandhi article published in 'Harijan'

By Rajiv Shah
A top aide of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has doubted the authenticity of the article written by Mahatma on Gandhi January 27, 1948, three days before his death. Hitesh Pandya, who was assistant public relations officer (PRO) under Narendra Modi’s chief ministership in Gujarat, and is currently serving as PRO of Rupani, has said, there is “reason to doubt”, since the article appeared on February 1, 1948, two days after Gandhi’s assassination.

Denied permission in Ahmedabad to protest on Kashmir, NGO seeks online support

By Our Representative
Gujarat chapter of the Delhi-based Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), which calls itself is a socio-cultural organization established “as a response to 2002 Gujarat riots”, has sought support from state academics, activists and professionals for a petition against the “unilateral” decision of the Government of India to “revoke” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) legislature’s “right to self-governance”.

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

RSS chief's Hindutva motto seems to be: Down with lynching, long live vadh

By Shamsul Islam*
India has turned into the lynching capital of the world. Our country has been tagged with this infamous identity with Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister of India in 2014. The Modi rule herald the beginning of nation-wide spree of lynching of Dalits and minorities. Unfortunately, there is no government data collection on hate-crimes but few media outlets have been collecting the lynch data.