(continuation of Tales from Dantewada..page 4)
There’s no dearth of statistics. More than two and half crores of people have been displaced as a result of mining activities in the first four and half decades of Indian independence. Not even 25% of these people have been rehabilitated. Out of this population more than half are Adivasis (‘Rich Lands, Poor People’- report by CSE, 2008). The blatant loot by private players empowered by National Mineral Development Policy of 1993 is largely responsible for this sorry state of affairs. More than 164 lakh hectares of forest has been cleared for this purpose till now. Official statistics say that there are more than 15,000 illegal mines in the country. All the gallant declarations made by the Indian gov. in various international forums for climate change regarding its commitment towards forest conservation and environmental protection has been reduced to just another joke.
Arundhati Roy, in her brilliant essay titled “Walking with the comrades”, raises yet another aspect of the problem. The Gond tribes of Orissa have been worshipping the ‘Niyamgiri’ hills as their gods for centuries by now. MNCs like Essar, Tata and Vedanta have signed various MoUs with the state government to mine these hills which happens to be a rich source of bauxite, iron ore and other natural resources, obligating the gov. to provide basic infrastructure like roads and conducive atmosphere for the same. Now, the question is, “would the gov. have acted in the same way if it was faced with a situation involving, say temples or mosques instead of these hills?” Isn’t Right to Religion applicable when it comes to adivasis? The 5th schedule of Indian constitution dealing with Administration and Control of Tribal Areas assigns the governor to report directly to the President regarding the administration of tribal areas. But all these safe guards provided by the constitution vanish in to thin air at the prospect of multimillion dollar agreements between the MNCs and the government.
This reflects the inevitable internal contradiction faced by all ‘democratic’ governments that follows the neo-liberal paradigm of development. This happens when the very conception of development becomes extremely one sided and the majority of people gets evacuated from its premises. The neo liberal slogan of development above politics effectively reduces the scope and depth of political activity in the society. Politics devoid of a dialogue about the nature of development is undoubtedly impoverished and ineffectual. Above all it makes Democracy a meaningless and wasteful exercise. Something that’s visible only in the polished streets of Delhi and not in the villages of Dantewada.