Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Making the Law Work

There is some good news at last. The rules regarding mandatory holding of public hearings where people to be affected by a development project can express their opinions regarding the environmental and social impacts of development projects are generally not followed. Even if public hearings are held they are doctored and public protest is ignored. Thus in a landmark event the organisation Jan Chetna in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh has succeeded in getting the National Environment Appellate Authority to stay an environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to a proposed power plant on the grounds that the video recordinig of the public hearing clearly established that it was not held properly and officially cancelled. Such cancellation could take place only because of vehement public protest at the fraud being perpetrated as shown in the picture below provided by Jan Chetana.

The report of this great achievement as provided by the activist Ramesh Agrawal of Jan Chetna is as follows -
The National Environment Appellate Authority on 17th November 2009 stayed the Environment Clearance granted to the 1200 MW Athena Thermal Power Plant at village Singhatarai, Tehsil Dabhra, District Janjgir Champa, Chattisgarh. The decision came as a result of the Appeal filed by Jan Chetana and the "Villagers of Singhatarai" who challenged the environmental clearance on the ground that the Ministry of Environment and Forest approved the project without considering the fact that the Public Hearing held on 15.01.2009 was cancelled by the chairperson in view of the documents not being made available to the affected public and the procedure as contemplated in the EIA Notification not being followed. There was nothing on record to show that the Expert Appraisal committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests took note of the concerns expressed by the people and even took note of the decision of the chairperson (additional Collector) to declare the hearing null and void.
The NEAA went through the video recording of the Public Hearing for over an hour which was provided by Jan Chetana and was convinced that there was discrepancy in what was recorded in the minutes of the public hearing and what was spoken in public by the A.D.M. Janjgir-Champa S.K.Chand. The video recording clearly showed large scale opposition of the public to the project. The picture below shows the Collector on the dais and activists recording the proceedings on video camera.

The Expert Appraisal Committee has been directed to look into the public hearing proceedings and take a decision. The NEAA stated that the Environmental Clearance could not have been granted without following the due procedure prescribed in the EIA Notification, 2006. It remains to be seen ofcourse what the Ministry of Environment and Forests does now with regard to once again holding the public hearing in a proper manner. But getting the NEAA to come out with such a ruling is in itself an achievement.

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