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, February 26, 2011

The Battlelines are drawn

The Ministry of Environment and Forests had shown some teeth for some time in holding up some high profile projects like the POSCO steel plant in Orissa, the Navi Mumbai Airport, the Lavasa township in Pune and the proposals to mine for coal in heavily forested areas. However, this kind of environmental obstacle based on a strict application of the environmental laws and rules in this country had not gone down with the international financial community which is keen to invest in this country and they had made their displeasure felt. Consequently the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission who are longstanding cheerleaders for Wall Street had been airing their reservations regarding this environmental crusading of the Minister for Environment Jayaram Ramesh. So now, Ramesh, who had all this while been quietly passing 99% of the other projects that came up for approvals has now given the go ahead to these high profile projects also. Consequently, now the battle lines are drawn between international finance capital and their Indian lackeys in the establishment on the one hand and the poor people of India on the other. There are a myriad protests going on which obviously do not make it to the mainstream media headlines. Nevertheless, these struggles are making sure that the road of capitalist development is not one without thorns for the profiteers. Here is a report from the field of one such fresh struggle being coordinated by the National Alliance of People's Movements -

February 25: The memories of the police killings, atrocities
in Sompeta are yet to fade and the government of Andhra Pradesh is back
to terrorizing people. Today morning the Srikakulam District Authorities
deployed a large number of Police force, imposed Section 144 and started
mass arrests of people – /including women/– without any incidence of
violence or provocation and without issuance of any Warrant. Police
destroyed the tents of those sitting on relay hunger strike in
Vadditandra village and Hanumanth Naidupet. Police then resorted to
firing at the villagers, injuring 8 people. There have also been reports
of the police beating villagers and terrorizing.

NAPM strongly condemns the high handedness of the police and illegality
of their action and demands immediate action against the police
officials. As a background, since August 2010, villagers have been
protesting at Vadditandra village, Santabommali Mandal in Srikakulam
District, against setting up of 2640 MW Bhavanapadu Thermal Power
Project, constructed by East Coast Energy Pvt. Ltd. The project is
located within the /internationally recognised Wetland system /of
Naupada swamps and just 2.5 kms away from an important Bird Area Site
(IBAS) Telineelapuram. According to environmental laws of India Wetlands
are protected areas, where no polluting activity can be taken up.

Earlier the Environment Clearance granted by MoEF to the company on 9th
April 2009 was challenged in HC and National Environment Appellate
Authority. Ignoring the fact that the company had started construction,
even before the formal EC from MoEF, in connivance of district
administration and state government, NEAA and HC both dismissed these
petitions. However, NEAA in its order dated 7-9-2010 had laid down
additional conditions, including a) “/No filling and raising of land
beyond 1317 acres within wetlands of which 150 acres would be
greenbelt”, and b) //“No activity in identified 483 acres of land which
includes 8 acres of proposed pond near the temple”. /The company has
continued to violate these conditions and also failed to return 500
acres of land, which it promised to surrender on the southern side of
the site, in deference to the ecological concerns that were raised.
ECPCL obtained Environment Clearance from MOEF on the basis of this
assurance. In reality, ECEPL never surrendered the land. Instead, it
formed a /benami /company, Meghavaram Power Company Ltd. (MPCL) to set
up another 500 MW plant within that 500 acre land, thereby hoodwinking
MoEF and violating its own assurance given to EAC. On this ground alone,
the Environment Clearance (EC) is liable to be revoked.

The farmers and the fishing communities of Kakarapalli have been
protesting since it impacts their livelihood and blocks access to
natural resources. The conditions here are similar to the one in
Srikakulam where the EC granted to Nagarjuna Construction Company was
cancelled after the protests and police firing which claimed lives of
two people. We strongly condemn this and urge the MoEF and State
Government of Andhra Pradesh to cancel the project and demand action
against the district administration and company officials, and immediate
withdrawal of police force and relief to those injured and arrested.

"If in this age and time we continue to believe in the ideal that
'Development flows from the barrel of the Gun' then it is a shame for
the democratic traditions and principles and complete violations of
Constitution. We stand by those struggling against the nefarious designs
of corporations who are constantly scheming to wrest control of natural
resources and exploit them for the profit making."

- Medha Patkar, Thomas Kocherry, Sandeep Pandey, Maj Gen
S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Prafulla Samantara, Roma, P Chennaiah,
Ramakrishna Raju, Ajay Kumar, Saraswati Kavula, Anand mazgaonkar,
Pervin Jehangir, Madhuresh Kumar*

For details call : Saraswati Kavula 09849718364

National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM)
C/O 6/6 (Basement), Jangpura B, New Delhi 110 014
Mobile +91 9818 905316 | 011 2437 4535
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