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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Fight For True Independence in Baiga Chak

Naresh Biswas of Nirman ( who is associated with the Baiga Mahapanchayat in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh has written an excellent write up on their efforts to establish the habitat rights of the Baiga Adivasis under the Forest Rights Act -
The British had established the Baiga Reserve in the current Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh in 1890 spread over an area of 23000 hectares where the primitive Baiga tribe resided in seven villages to provide them with special protection to continue their "Bevar" or shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering based livelihoods. This came to be known in local parlance as the "Baiga Chak". However, after independence the situation of the Baigas instead of improving, deteriorated for the worse.
1. Dispossession and Resistance
The forest department instead of continuing with the British policy of providing special protection to the Baigas to live in their traditional manner began harassing them by preventing cultivation, hunting and gathering citing the restrictive provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927 which the British had kept in abeyance in the Baiga Reserve. The forest department staff used to beat up the Baigas, destroy their standing crops, sieze their ploughs and bullocks and arrest them. Since they had no other livelihood option the Baigas would submit to such repression and still continue to cultivate their lands and live in constant fear.
Then, from 6th to 8th August 2000, a combined team of forest department staff and special armed police force raided the villages of Dhaba, Rajnisarai and Jilang and another village adjacent to the Baiga Chak named Gourakanhari and severely beat up the people and destroyed their standing crops. This repressive campaign so terrorised the Baigas that they refused to even speak about it let alone pick up the courage to complain at this blatant violation of their rights.

Nevertheless, a meeting was organised in the village Chara on 22nd September 2000 by the NGO Nirman to discuss this repressive action of the forest department staff in which along with the victims, people from other villages of Baiga Chak also participated. The people decided that the repression level had crossed all limits and the only way in which they could survive was to form an organisation to protest these atrocities. Thus was born the Baiga Mahapanchayat (Grand People's Assembly) as an umbrella organisation of the people of Baiga Chak.
A detailed complaint about the repressive action was submitted to various Government, Non-Government and media fora. After persistent mass agitation, the Baiga Mahapanchayat succeeded in getting the administration to conduct an inquiry into the repressive incident and the guilty forest department staff were transferred out of the Baiga Reserve. This was a big victory and it created a great excitement among the Baigas and considerably increased their courage. Instead of hiding in the forests as they used to do earlier when forest department staff used to come to their villages, they now confronted them en masse and spoke to them as equals.
Regular monthly meetings of the Mahapanchayat began to be held to sustain the organisation process and the enthusiasm and courage it had generated. These meetings stressed the need to assert their right to Bevar guaranteed by the British and also drew up plans to access the various public services that were to be provided by the Government but which were all absent in the area. The vanishing indigenous land races that are used in Bevar cultivation were also sought to be conserved and promoted through the "Beej Virasat Abhiyan" (Seed Heritage Campaign).

Then, in 2006 the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, popularly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) was enacted providing for legal title to the land that the Baigas were individually cultivating in the forest area and also community title to the forests for their livelihoods, religious and cultural needs. However, the big problem was that due to lack of literacy and not having any documentary proof of their cultivation, the Baigas could not apply properly for legal title and all their applications were rejected. After this the forest department staff once again began to raid the villages to dispossess the Baigas from their land in the same way as they had been doing earlier till 2000. The people of Gourakanhari village filed a petition in the High Court of Jabalpur and got a stay on their eviction and the Mahapanchayat used this to mobilise the people of Baigachak to organise to resist the forest department.
The Mahapanchayat pointed out to the administration that under Section 3.1.(e) of the FRA it had been clearly stated that - "Rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities" are to be ensured in addition to the general rights provided to all Scheduled Tribes to cultivate and live in forests. These provisions were specifically detailed in Rule 12 of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules 2007, which were further amended in 2012 to specifically mention the habitat rights of the primitive tribal groups and the procedure for their recognition. Thus, the Baigas being notified primitive tribes had special and stronger habitat rights in the forests in which they had lived for generations. Especially since the British had made special provisions for the people residing in the Baiga Chak to be able to live in accordance with their indigenous customs, religion and lifestyle.
However, there was some confusion as to what was meant by habitat rights as some people interpreted them as to mean just the right to reside in the forest in a habitation but not to cultivate land in it and access its resources for livelihoods, cultural and religious purposes. Subsequently, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs of the Government of India has clarified the confusion in this regard through its directive to Chief Secretaries of all States dated 23.04.2015 numbered 23011/16/2015/FRA which states that Community Forest Resources (CFR) will be recognised and managed by the Gram Sabha in accordance with the customary practices and livelihood needs and will include all the resources in the forest area. The working plans of the forest department have to be modified to accommodate the management plans drawn up by the Gram Sabha.
2. Establishment of Habitat Rights
During an informal meeting with the District Collector of Dindori on 26th November 2014, the subject of providing recognition to the habitat rights of the people of Baiga Chak was raised. The Collector said that there is a provision for habitat rights in the FRA, however, there were no guidelines as to how these rights were to be established. Then it was explained to the Collector that the British had established the Baiga Reserve in 1890 over an area of 23000 hectares and the people of seven villages had been given the right to practice Bevar cultivation in this area while those living outside the reserve did not have that right. The British delineated this area on a map and it was notified in the Mandla Gazetteer published in 1912 extending to an area of 36 square miles. Many different anthropological studies of the area also mention the existence of the Baiga Chak with its special rights for the inhabitants and the names of the villages. The villagers too possess documents stating that they are residents of the Baiga Reserve.
These documents state that the seven villages of the Baiga Chak are - Ajgar, Dhaba, Jilang, Silpidi, Dhurkuta, Rajnisarai and Lamotha. However, presently the number of villages are more possibly because more people have come and settled in the reserve over the past century and more since the notification of the area. The present situation is given in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Villages in Baiga Reserve of Dindori District of Madhya Pradesh
Gram Panchayat
Revenue Villages/Gram Sabhas within the Baiga Reserve
Hamlets in the Villages/Gram Sabhas
Jamuntola, Tendutola
Bhoulatola, Chhapra




The tribal residents of the Baiga Chak have preserved the bio-diversity of the area by practising their nature friendly Bevar cultivation and animal husbandry and so under the provisions of the FRA they are entitled to get habitat rights.  Rule 12.1 of the FRA Rules 2012 specifies the following regarding claim settlement of primitive tribal groups -
(d) ensure that the claim from member of a primitive tribal group or pre agricultural community for determination of their rights to habitat, which may either be through their community or traditional community institution, are verified when such communities or their representatives are present; and
(e) prepare a map delineating the area of each claim indicating recognizable landmarks.
(f) delineate the customary boundaries of the community forest resource with other members of the Gram Sabha including elders who are well versed with such boundaries and customary access;
(g) prepare a community forest resource map with recognizable land marks and through substantial evidence as enumerated in sub-rule (2) of rule 13 and thereafter, such community forest resource claim shall be approved by a resolution of the Gram Sabha passed by a simple majority.
The Collector accepted that the process of habitat right settlement could be begun on the basis of the documents provided in accordance with the aforementioned rules. After the documents regarding the special status of the Baiga Chak were submitted, a workshop was organised to discuss the process with the community leaders of the Baiga Chak.
3. Workshop on Habitat Rights
The District Collector organised the workshop on 8th January 2015 to ascertain the status of forest and habitat rights in Dindori. Forest Department Staff of the district from the lowest to the highest, a Government trainer on Forest Rights Act from Bhopal, Baiga leaders, Chairpersons of the Forest Protection Committees, the leaders of the Baiga dancing troupes, Principals of schools and members of the Baiga Mahapanchayat were the participants in this workshop. The forest department staff and the leaders of the forest protection committees spoke against the settlement of habitat rights saying that this would lead to the forests being destroyed by over exploitation. The trainer from Bhopal did not know anything about habitat rights for primitive tribal groups and said that these meant only the provision of rights to habitation and not to the control of Community Forest Resources. The members of the Baiga Mahapanchayat spoke at length about their forest based livelihoods, the diversity of the traditional Bevar cultivation and its produce in terms of food and nutrition, the food and nutrition security that this provides and the spiritual relationship of the Baigas with the forests. They also said that the leaders of the Baigas that had been invited to the workshop were not the traditional leaders but ones who had been forced on their community by various Government departments. The traditional leaders referred to in the FRA as the arbiters of rights in the villages are the Mukaddams and Dewans. As a consequence of this detailed presentation by the Mahapanchayat it was decided that a campaign would be conducted to have discussions in the seven villages of the Baiga Chak with the traditional leaders, Sarpanches and the Chairpersons and Secretaries of the Forest Rights Committees.
4. Mukaddam Awareness Campaign
The opposition of the leaders of the Forest Protection Committees set up by the forest department to the establishment of habitat rights led the Baiga Mahapanchayat to initiate a campaign to raise the awareness of the traditional Baiga leaders, the Mukaddams, regarding the provisions of the FRA regarding the special role they have in settling habitat rights. Each village in the Baiga Chak has its own community organisation which is headed by a leader who is variously known as the Mukaddam, Dewan or Samarth. Small disputes within the community and various other social matters are decided by these leaders in consultation with other elders. They also play an important role in the conduct of various social and religious events. The community meetings that are held to decide on disputes and social events are called "Jati Samaj". The awareness campaign was conducted in each village of the Baiga Chak to make these leaders and the community in general aware of the provisions of the FRA so that they would be able to competently place the demand for habitat rights before the District Collector and other government officers.

5. Forest Food and Indigenous Seed Festival
The Baiga Mahapanchayat in association with the NGO Nirman organised a Forest Food and Indigenous Seed Festival on 9th April 2015 in village Bhoulatola. The District Collector was invited along with other government officers so that they could understand the forest based livelihoods of the Baigas and its basic conservationist ethic. Many different kinds of seeds, fruits, herbs, medicinal plants and grasses were on display. The various agricultural implements, cultural artifacts and musical instruments that are used by the Baigas were also on display. The traditional Baiga leaders and men and women in large numbers had come to the festival. The District Collector stayed for four hours and had detailed discussions with the village leaders and the people. The traditional Baiga leaders submitted a written memorandum demanding the settlement of the habitat rights for the whole 23000 hectare area of Baiga Chak.
Following this the members of the Baiga Mahapanchayat and staff of Nirman remained in constant touch with the Collector providing various documents regarding the process of settlement of habitat rights. Initially it was decided to hold a combined Gram Sabha for the whole of Baiga Chak but after a close perusal of the FRA it was decided that the legal provision is for holding separate Gram Sabhas in each hamlet and so this was decided on.

6. Sample Habitat Mapping and Preparatory Workshop
Subsequently in a meeting with the Collector on 13th August 2015 it was decided that there would be a preparation workshop at the district level on 20th August followed by Gram Sabha meetings in all the seven villages of the Baiga Chak on 22nd August. It was also decided that a sample habitat mapping exercise would be conducted in one village prior to the Gram Sabhas and the procedure established in this sample exercise would be followed later also. This sample habitat mapping exercise was carried out in Dhurkuta village on 18th August. The District Project Officer along with two workers of Nirman and the Baiga leaders and people of the village conducted this exercise. The results of this mapping exercise were presented in the preparatory workshop. The traditional leaders of all the seven villages, forest department staff, revenue department staff and the Sarpanches and staff of Nirman all took part in the workshop. All the procedures to be followed in the Gram Sabhas were finalised and explained to the participants and Deputy Collector rank officers were designated as nodal officers for the conduct of the Gram Sabhas. The Collector decided to tour all the seven Gram Sabhas to oversee the process.
7. Gram Sabhas for Habitat Rights
The Gram Sabhas were held as per schedule on 22nd August 2015 in all the seven villages from 11 am onwards and they went on till 4 pm. The Collector chose to be present in the Gram Sabha at village Dhaba. The habitat mapping was done through participatory rural appraisal (PRA) method. The claim for habitat rights was presented and the Gram Sabha resolution accepting the claim was passed. In all seven villages the people and their traditional leaders held forth at length on the symbiotic relationship between forests and Baigas, the dependence of the latter on the forests for their livelihoods and food, the importance of Bevar cultivation and the spiritual connection of the Baigas with their forests which are home to their Gods and clan symbols. On the basis of this the people claimed their right to the entire forests.

Thus, a process that had started with an informal meeting on 26th November 2014 has culminated in the conduct of Gram Sabhas for securing habitat rights in the Baiga Chak. This was possible because the District Collector of Dindori Ms Chhavi Bhardwaj is a very sensitive officer committed to the proper implementation of the FRA. Our effort has been to facilitate the cooperation between the Baigas and the administration so as to benefit the former. Often, NGOs expend a lot of energy and resources in mobilising the people and conducting habitat mapping and Gram Sabhas but without the active involvement of the administration, ultimately nothing concrete is achieved in terms of securing legal title under the FRA. This is the important contribution of Nirman in this case in securing the cooperation of the administration to actualise the FRA. The Collector says, " If we can establish the habitat rights of the people in the Baiga Chak then in future nobody will be able to displace them for any project whatsoever." This will then be a historic achievement of the people of Baiga Chak and a first in Madhya Pradesh and only the second after Mendha Lekha village in Gadhchiroli district of Maharashtra where too the tribals have established their habitat rights. The Baiga Mahapanchayat and Nirman have together been able to organise the Gram Sabhas for habitat rights but there is still some way to go before the process is brought to its logical end with legal title to the forests with the Baigas and establishing true independence denied to them so far.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Beauty and The Beast

The year 1985 is when two important streams in the political landscape of India renewed themselves. These are that of mass environmentalism and Hindu majoritarianism. On the one hand the battle to secure the sustainability of livelihoods for people who live close to nature, which had been somewhat in abeyance after the initial thrust of the Chipko movement had ebbed, took off again with the beginning of the struggle against the Sardar Sarovar dam on the River Narmada. On the other, the majoritarian Hindu political movement which had received a body blow after the decimation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha elections of 1984 when it was reduced to just two seats in parliament, began to reorganise its cadres around a more aggressive and overt anti-Muslim and pro-Hindu agenda. The first was led by Medha Patkar and the second had as one of its able ground level organisers, Narendra Modi, who was specifically assigned for this purpose to the BJP by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of which he was a Pracharak or organiser. It is indeed a telling comment on our times that while the mass environmental movement is languishing on the margins, the movement for mass Hinduism is the dominant political force in the country.
Thus, on independence day recently, while Medha Patkar was launching a dharna with a motley crew of a few hundred people on the banks of the River Narmada in the politically inconsequential Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh as shown below, Narendra Modi, as the Prime Minister of India, was addressing thousands of people at the Red Fort and his speech was being televised to millions more across the country and the world. Since, what he had to say was more important to track as it had more of a bearing on what we in Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath were doing than what Medha had to say, I too was listening to Modi through TV instead of being at Barwani!!!

Medha and Modi are at loggerheads in a very fundamental way currently. Immediately after coming to power in 2014, in his very first Cabinet Meeting, Modi had a resolution passed that the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the River Narmada, which had been stalled, should be begun forthwith. Soon after this the Narmada Control Authority after a meeting gave the official go ahead for the construction to begin and since then work has been going on apace. The work on the last 17 m of the dam for the installation of the gates will be completed in another two years or so. The work had been stopped because there are still many households in the submergence area, especially in Barwani and Dhar districts who have not yet been rehabilitated. Since the Supreme Court had in its order stipulated that the dam can only be completed after all the affected people have been rehabilitated, the work was stopped. The Congress Government earlier had not made much of an effort to get things moving faced with the opposition of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). However, for Modi the Sardar Sarovar dam is most important and the centrepiece of his industrial development thrust which has led to the dilution of many social and environmental safeguards since the BJP Government assumed power last year and so he is pushing ahead with its construction. That is why the NBA has now launched the Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha in Barwani against this blatant violation of various statutes and court orders.
Actually it is not a clash of personalities but that of global politico-economic trends. The 1980s were a crisis time for global capitalism as demand was sagging all over the world and environmental problems had assumed threatening proportions  leading to mass movements like that of the NBA in India. The subsidised welfare apparatus put in place in the developed countries from the early twentieth century onwards was becoming too costly to fund for their governments. This, triggered the neo-liberal onslaught of capitalism with the rolling back of welfare states across the world and a fierce attack on labour and the environment so as to shore up profits through primitive accumulation. Information technology made it possible to outsource both manufacturing and services on a global scale and casualise work. Casualisation of work not only economically weakens the working class but more importantly reduces their ability to organise for their rights. Then, in the late 1980s, the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe collapsed severely discrediting the whole ideology of mass mobilisation for revolutionary change. Across the world conservative political parties, like the BJP in India, began to gain in popularity and come to power backed by huge funding from the corporate sector. Even liberal and social democratic parties became more rightist. The media and academia, which form public opinion and ideology, controlled as they are by the capitalists, were dominated by neo-liberal ideas completely marginalising the mass movements for a more equitable and sustainable world order. Thus, the beast of centralised neo-liberal development has completely overwhelmed the beauty of decentralised equitable and sustainable development which continues to languish at the margins. That is why three decades on from 1985 Medha and Modi are at two contrasting ends of the spectrum of political power!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Tragic Lone Ranger

Finally after many years I met up with Khajan again at his house in Anjanwara. Two failed fighters against destructive modern development who have had vastly different life trajectories of late as is somewhat evident from our looks in the picture taken below to mark this meeting for posterity!!
Khajan is one of the most steadfast fighters against the Sardar Sarovar dam being built on the River Narmada at Navagaon in Gujarat. The dam has been built partially but the final act of putting the gates on it and completing it to its full height is still in abeyance mainly due to the intransigence of a few people like Khajan. The Supreme Court in 2000 delivered its final judgement on the petition filed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) for the scrapping of the dam dismissing it and allowing the construction of the dam but with the proviso that the affected people would have to be rehabilitated and resettled first in accordance with the provisions of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award. This Award stipulates that each affected person will have to be given a minimum of five hectares of irrigated agricultural land in lieu of the land that is to be submerged and this land can be either in Gujarat or in the State of his residence in accordance with the choice of the affected person. Many Adivasi people in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh initially refused to be rehabilitated in Gujarat and instead demanded land in Madhya Pradesh. Khajan who had been fighting against the dam from the mid 1980s led this new phase of struggle also in refusing to go to Gujarat. Since the Madhya Pradesh Government was not prepared to resettle the people from Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh, this resulted in a stalemate that is still continuing in that the dam cannot be completed despite all efforts of the Gujarat and Central Governments.
However, with time the situation has become a little dicey. One by one or in groups of a few most people in Alirajpur have agreed to go to Gujarat over the last fifteen years since the Supreme Court judgment was given in 2000 and now only twelve families remain who are still hanging on to the demand to be rehabilitated in Madhya Pradesh. Khajan and three of his brothers (two other brothers have opted for land in Gujarat) are the only ones from Anjanwara village who are still holding out.
In these fifteen years Khajan has fought tooth and nail along with other affected people to get land in Madhya Pradesh but to no avail. Twice he has led people to forcibly occupy Government Agricultural Research Farm land and gone to jail in the process. The Government has consistently showed them barren land or those in adverse possession by others and refused to give them either good unencumbered land that it owns or buy good land from farmers and give it to them. The Supreme Court has time and again heard contempt petitions from the Narmada Bachao Andolan about this negative attitude of the Government of Madhya Pradesh in not giving the affected people land and rapped it but even so in the end this has not resulted in anything positive. So one by one the stalwarts of the fight against the dam have accepted land in Gujarat and only a few like Khajan are still holding out (The Gujarat Government of course is eager to give land to the people from Madhya Pradesh because it can construct the gates to the dam and complete it only when all affected people are resettled).
Finally today Khajan is dispirited even though he swears that he will not go to Gujarat under any circumstances. He says that after all these years he is without any money in his pocket and hope in his heart. He survives on the forest land up on the hills in his village which he has encroached and to which he does not have any legal title. His legal agricultural land has been submerged in the dam and even the small farm behind us in the picture above is one for which he does not have legal title. He is able to farm the forest land because the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS) has fought a long battle to ensure access to forests for the Adivasis in Alirajpur and has considerable strength in the area.
Khajan recalled that the River had been so beautiful flowing majestically through the gorges very clean and great fun to swim in. I too have great memories of the River in its pristine form. Now the water is dirty and stagnant and infested with crocodiles so that it is neither possible to swim in it nor drink its water. A man who has given his all to fight against destructive modern development has lost the battle.
I couldn't but reflect on the dire situation of Khajan and the comparatively better situation that I am in. We have both failed in our fight but I am in a much better situation financially at least because of my money earning skills. I harked back to the days of our youth when he was such a handsome guy with a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step as we fought our battles thinking we would never lose. Looking at the old man that Khajan is now, a deep sadness engulfed me. Fourteen years back after a particularly hard battle against the State that I lost, I decided to stop fighting the State full tilt as I had been doing till then and toned down my activism. However, I had something to fall back on but Khajan not only continued his good fight but now when he is exhausted he does not have the luxury of an alternative source of livelihood. Of course he gets considerable support from both the KMCS and the NBA and that is why he is able to continue his fight but he is a lonely tragic figure like many great Adivasi fighters before him who have made huge sacrifices in the fight for a more socio-economically just and environmentally sustainable world.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Reality of Criminal Investigation

Of all the writing about Yakub Memon's case the one that I found to be most pertinent, because of its resonance with my own experience as a sufferer of the police's propensity to falsely implicate people in this country, is this comment of Justice Markandey Katju, retired judge of the Supreme Court of India -
"I believe there has been gross travesty of justice in the case of Yakub Memon. I have carefully studied the judgement of the Court. The evidence on which he has been found guilty is very weak. This evidence is (1) retracted confession of the co-accused, and (2) alleged recoveries.
As regards the first, everyone knows how 'confessions' are obtained by the police in our country-- by torture. And torture is such a terrible thing that one will confess to anything under torture. Joan of Arc confessed to be a witch under torture. Moreover, in this case, the alleged '├žonfession' was later retracted in court. As regards 'recoveries', anyone having even the slightest knowledge of the working of the police knows that such alleged recoveries are often planted. The truth is that our police usually cannot nail the culprits because it is not trained in scientific investigation."
The inability on the part of the police to get good independent witnesses and proper material evidence due to shoddy investigation is a common failing of theirs. Going by what Justice Katju says, it would have been very difficult to get a conviction even in the trial court in this case under normal circumstances but the indictment of the accused under the now repealed TADA ( Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act), in which confessions by co-accused and the accused themselves to the police are admissible as evidence) and the general tendency in the judiciary to come down hard on terrorists has led not only to conviction but also to the death penalty for Yakub. That is to say that even if there can be a strong suspicion to believe that Yakub played an important role in organising the blasts, the evidence is not sufficiently strong legally to nail him.  
In this regard here is an excerpt from another interesting analysis of the biases of the Judges of the Supreme Court who upheld the death penalty of Yakub by Sudeep Singh - 
"The two member bench that originally decided Yakub’s appeal at Supreme court included Justice Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan. This is same bench that is famous for Dara Singh’s judgement – yes, the same Dara Singh, a Bajrang Dal activist, who burnt alive Australian Missionary Graham Staines along with his two minor children. The Supreme Court judgement, which upheld Orissa High court’s decision commuting death sentence, observed in Dara Singh’s case, "Though Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity". "It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone's belief by way of 'use of force', provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other"".
In fact the trial court had slapped the death penalty on nine other accused which was commuted to life sentence by the Supreme Court. So, as I see it, one can be thankful that the judges of the Supreme Court at least saw it fit to commute the death sentence of the nine other accused to life imprisonment even though the evidence against them also was the same as that in the case of Yakub - confessions of co-accused made to the police which were later retracted in court. It is also important to note that Abu Salem, another underworld Don associated with the Dawood Gang, which is said to have masterminded the lethal serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993, cannot be tried under draconian laws and sentenced to death, because Portugal, from where he was extradited, had made it a condition of his extradition that he would not be sentenced to death. When the police slapped TADA on him along with nine other accused against whom the case is still pending because they were all arrested later, he immediately complained to the Portugal court that had extradited him citing the violation of the conditions and the court cancelled the extradition order and demanded that Abu Salem be returned to Portugal. So the police removed the TADA charge against Salem while it is still there against the others.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where will the Money Come from?

A few days back an activist friend of mine sent me a slew of proposals that he had drawn up for ensuring funding for his ongoing projects, asking my opinion on their feasibility. While some involved raising funding from the Government some others involved running his project as a business proposition. In both cases I pointed out that a project like his that challenges existing power structures is unlikely to get funding from the Government or be successful as a business proposition. For a business proposition to be successful the customers of a service must be able to pay for it to cover its costs at least, if not provide a profit but projects to improve the status of the poor cannot get the latter to pay for the service provided because they do not have the wherewithal to do so. Therefore, most projects for the poor run on donations from individuals or funding agencies which eventually are part of the capitalist system of profit making and so while they can provide some bandage treatment to relieve poverty they cannot challenge the basic tenet of profit making and rent seeking that powers capitalism and entrenches poverty not to speak of fomenting mass murder and mayhem.
So how have challenges to capitalism been funded and what have been the results of such challenges in the long run? The initial grand system changing challengers like Proudhon, Blanqui, Saint Simon, Marx and the like all hailed from the middle or upper classes and either survived on donations from the wealthy or conducted businesses themselves which were at variance with what they preached. Consequently they did not get very far. The Paris commune of  1872 was the first socialist Government to come to power and it lasted just two months because it did not have the funds to withstand the onslaught of the Capitalist French State which it had displaced. The Bolsheviks, who brought about the revolution in Russia, learnt their lessons from the failure of the Paris Commune and immediately took control of the state apparatus even though they were in a minority at the time of the October Revolution in 1917. Prior to that the Bolsheviks depended on individual donations from wealthy sympathisers and robberies, kidnappings and various other skullduggery to garner funds. However, to remain in control of the State apparatus they initiated an authoritarian system which was far removed from the ideal of proletarian freedom that they had initially spoken about. In fact the Soviet Union deteriorated into a State Capitalist system within a decade of the revolution. Most socialist revolutions following this were also flawed by the use of force and dubious funds.
The less said about the more passive brand of social reformers the better. Not just the modern ones like Vivekananda and Gandhi, but even people like the Buddha were all supported in their endeavours by well heeled power brokers of their day and so in the end were never able to challenge the systems of power which they ostensibly set out to change. Thoreau, who is feted by anarchists the world over for his advocacy of individual and small community freedom used to depend on the income from a pencil factory and mine in which he exploited his his employees to provide him with income to pursue his anarchist dreams. Anarchists like Kropotkin, Bakunin and Tolstoy were all princes or well to do people and anyway they were mainly theoreticians with limited activist programmes.
Then there is the trade union movement. Initially it fought its battles with the contributions of the workers and that remained the trade unions' main source of funds. When initial gains were made and job security gained in the organised industries and services these trade unions became restricted to themselves instead of using their funds to further trade unionism in the unorganised sector. Currently capitalism has reinvented itself in such a way that production and services can be outsourced at the drop of a hat and the power of trade unions in the organised sector and so their finances are on the wane. The unorganised sector remains as weak as ever and is dependent on doles and philanthropy.
Since I have found that our own mobilisation work among the Bhils requires funding from capitalist sources and so is circumscribed by it in many ways I have been reading up on how various so called great social reformers and revolutionaries have funded their work and have found that in every case they have had capitalist funding in one way or the other and so in the end have not been able to mount the challenge to capitalism that they initially proclaimed as their goal.
In 1993 it became clear that the KMCS could not continue on ad hoc funding anymore given its spreading work. There was a debate within the organisation as to how to garner funds. While I advocated doing consultancies and accessing grant funds through the NGO Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra which we had registered earlier, others demurred and said that we should try for donations from individuals who felt that our work was worthwhile. I let the others have their way and left to pursue my own work elsewhere funded by consultancies for such dubious organisations as the World Bank and various US Foundations. Eventually the donation route did not yield much and DGVK had to be used for accessing grant funding. We have been able to retain some amount of independence and a radical programme because we access only minimal funding and still rely greatly on the voluntary contributions of time and labour of the Bhil members of the KMCS. However, even so our work is quite far from being a challenge to Capitalism because the members of the KMCS today are reconciled to making a place for themselves in the prevailing capitalist system rather than fight it to accord with the intellectual predilections of some of their activist colleagues!! Moreover, those in the KMCS who had objected to accessing grant funding now ask me to garner funds for them despite my telling them that the sources of these funds are dubious in ideological terms!!
The Aam Aadmi Party has provided a new model where they have garnered online donations and voluntary contributions of time and labour from ordinary people. They succeeded in coming to power in Delhi with a landslide victory on the back of these. But whether they will be able to sustain this model in the face of attacks from the State and Capitalists remains to be seen. However, since Arvind Kejriwal seems to think that he has single handedly brought about the AAP miracle there are already signs of his megalomania written large on the way the AAP is operating in Delhi!! There are many movements, some totally anarchist, others socialist and yet others a mixture of the two which are afoot across the world against capitalism but as far as I can see none of them are anywhere close to posing a serious challenge to the dominance of capitalism and the main reason is the lack of funding.
There are a lot of people writing all over the place that with the coming of the internet there is the possibility of challenging capitalism through decentralised mass action but this is so much poppycock. The internet is not only controlled by capitalists and the State but it and all communications generally are diligently monitored by their intelligence agencies. The other day I did an internet search for flights from Indore to Ahmedabad on Google. After that I have been continually getting adds in Gmail and in Facebook offering great deals for Indore to Ahmdebad flights!! That is the level of surveillance that is taking place and so the prospects of a challenge to capitalism are indeed dim. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Megalomaniacs and Compromisers All!!

I have just finished reading two new biographies of Lenin which cover his life from birth to death in some detail based on research on new material made available from archives that have been opened up in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The striking aspects of Lenin's character and life that are revealed in these biographies are as follows -
1. He used to believe that what he understood about politics and economics was right and would engage in heated debates to assert this even if reality may belie his interpretations.
2. He was prepared to tweak his interpretation of orthodox political and economic theory if it seemed to him that the attainment of some practical goal needed him to do so. Thus, there was a serious gap between what he preached and what he practised.
3. He had no respect for democracy and justice and was ever ready to manipulate people and situations so as to be in control of his party and state. Especially after the seizure of power in the October Revolution, which itself was done through military action by his Bolshevik party which was in a minority even among the various socialist factions, he used terror and military action to suppress other socialists who were more numerous than his own Bolshevik faction and also the workers and peasants who did not agree with his policies and programmes. And what is even more interesting is that all the other members of the Politburo, the highest decision making body of the Bolshevik party, too were megalomaniacs like Lenin with scant regard for democracy and justice!!
4. He had a fierce hunger for power and would brook at nothing to achieve his goals.
5. He thought nothing of making compromises with those on the other side of the ideological spectrum to gain money for his party. Thus, after the February Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks were funded heavily by the Germans with whom Russia was at war and this helped the former to increase their propaganda work among the workers in Petrograd and arm their militia prior to the October Revolution.
6. Given the fact that the Bolsheviks did not have enough skilled people to run the Russian State, Lenin thought nothing of inducting people from the old Tsarist bureaucracy into the party as long as his overall control over it remained secure. In the process he had no compunction in crushing the workers and peasants soviets which were demanding control of their factories and farms.
7. Eventually with the introduction of the New Economic Policy in 1921, Lenin had to give way to peasants and allow them to produce and trade independently because of the impending collapse of the agricultural system in Russia, but even so this was a strategic retreat because of the inability of the military and the secret police to enforce total nationalisation of farming through terror. Later when the Bolsheviks were in a more secure position and the Soviet Union had bolstered its economy, Lenin's successor Stalin, resorted to even greater repression to nationalise farming forcibly in the 1930s.

Lenin, being a votary of dictatorship of course had little compunction in the use of arbitrary State power to suppress dissent, but even within overtly liberal democratic dispensations, State power is used, even if less arbitrarily, to further the political and economic goals of leaders who see themselves as being right in their interpretations of society and the economy even if they fly in the face of reality and those dissenting have to face oppression. Throughout the twentieth century the power of centralised States has increased considerably vis a vis the individual citizens even in liberal democratic dispensations and the might of the State is used to crush dissent. The control of these centralised State systems can only be possible by winning elections through organisation in centralised political parties. Invariably these political parties are led by power seeking and concentrating leaders who are not much different from Lenin in their megalomaniac and compromising tendencies, even if they may not resort to direct terror due to the legal provisions that prevent overt dictatorship. Any political party requires a considerable amount of funds both for its day to day activities and for fighting elections. These funds are mostly acquired from Capitalists and so the latter have a major say in the determination of the policies of the State. So like Lenin, the leaders of democratic parties too tend to be ambivalent of the source of their funds. In the end the masses, the ordinary citizens, end up having little say in the affairs of the State even in liberal democratic dispensations.
Even within smaller organisations fighting the centralised State apparatus for the rights of citizens, there is the tendency on the part of megalomaniac leaders to brush aside dissent.  It is very difficult to actualise true democracy where there are no leaders and only citizens. One is left wondering if the anarchist goal of decentralised communitarian consensus based social, economic and political arrangements will ever be possible to actualise on a large scale.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Rule of Law is not for the Tribals

There are many good laws in this country for the protection of the Tribals but the problem is that they are not implemented and the Tribals continue to suffer illegal displacement and harassment in the modern Indian State's pursuit of capitalist development. Those who try to help the Tribals to get the laws implemented in their fight for justice are also persecuted. Here is a report from the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) about the way in which the Tribals in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh and the activists helping them are being harassed -
NTUI National Secretary Roma and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) National Committee Member Sokalo who were arrested in Sonebhadra on 30th June 2015 have been remanded to a further 14 days in judicial custody.
Comrades Roma, who is also Deputy General Secretary AIUFWP and Sokalo were arrested from the AIUFWP office in Robertsganj on 30th June as they were preparing for the rally of the All India People’s Forum on the basis of three First Information Reports (FIRs) lodged by the Police, with neither of them named in any of these. The charges against them are false, fabricated and politically motivated. Subsequently arrest warrants were also issued against two earlier FIRs that had never been pressed.  In the course of the last fortnight bail has been obtained against two of the five FIRs being pressed.
The AIUFPW has been at the forefront of the struggle for land rights of the people threatened with displacement by the Kanhar Dam project. This arrest is the fallout of the incidents of police firing on peaceful protestors against illegal land acquisition for the Kanhar Dam project. Uttar Pradesh Police fired indiscriminately on several hundred dalits and adivasis, including large numbers of women and children, on the morning of Ambedkar Jayanti (14 April). Several women are injured. Following this, false cases were filed against countless unnamed persons. Four days later, on 18 April, there was a second instance of police firing in which once again several people were seriously injured and some of the key activists of the movement arrested. Those arrested are yet to be released. Despite there being court orders, including from the National Green Tribunal, against the persistence of land acquisition in scheduled areas, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has pursued and targeted activists who are protesting its illegal actions at Kanhar. 
Apart from being illegal the actions of the Uttar Pradesh government are duplicitous. The Samajwadi Party, the party currently in government, has opposed both the Land Acquisition Ordnance and the bill before parliament in the JPC.
Speaking to the several hundred members of the AIUFPW outside the court today, Sujata Mody, National Secretary, NTUI said: ‘the NTUI will leave no stone unturned to ensure the early release of Comrades Roma, Sukalo and others while continuing our fight against the land acquisition bill’.  Com. Sujata and Supreme Court Advocate Rajat Kumar were in Mirzapur yesterday to meet with the comrades in the district jail there and at the court in Robertsganj today.  They also met the District Magistrate, Sonebhadra District, to press for the early release of the comrades.
The NTUI secretariat at its meeting decided at its meeting in New Delhi on 10th July 2015 that:
·         It will launch a bulk text message (SMS) campaign to the District Collector, Sonbhadra on every date of court hearing. This was carried forward today by some 200 comrades of our Mumbai affiliates most notably the Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangathana (KVSS).
·         The Secretariat reaffirmed the commitment to the AIUFPW that it will co-ordinate with all affiliates to ensure the success of mass action that it calls for and
·         The Secretariat will co-ordinate with other support organisations in Delhi to immediately file complaints with the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women’s Commission.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Recently a Phd student did a preliminary study of the areas of influence of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath in Alirajpur to see what made small mass organisations like this tick. As an initial exercise she did some interviews with some of the veteran grassroots fighters of the KMCS. The foremost among these is Dahelibai of Attha village who is seen below leading a rally of the KMCS in Alirajpur even though now she is close to seventy years of age.
Dahelibai and her husband Lalia were landless in the late 1970s because they had been prevented from cultivating their ancestral land by the Forest Department after the area was declared to be a Reserved Forest under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act 1927 which had a colonial vintage having been carried over after independence instead of being abrogated. Since the Attha village was in the Mathwar princely state before independence, there were no land records and no demarcation of forests as elsewhere in British India where the Indian Forest Act and the Land Revenue Code used to prevail. However, after independence gradually all the princely state areas in Madhya Pradesh were assimilated into the modified British Indian system and in the process many tribals across India were dispossessed of the lands they were cultivating. Daheli and many other Bhil tribals in Alirajpur too suffered the same fate. Since they could not survive without cultivating land they did it by bribing the forest department officials and often had to bear severe beatings also.
By the early 1980s things got very difficult as the bribes and the beatings increased manifold and it became almost impossible to exist. On one occasion Daheli's husband Lalia was so severely beaten up that he bled from his anus for days on end and could not get up from bed. Then in 1983 Khemla Aujnaharia, a Bhil tribal activist who had fought many battles against the police and the forest department in Alirajpur was invited along with some non-tribal activists who were working with him to come and help the Mathwar tribals. Thus began the struggle against the forest department which later evolved into the KMCS.
Daheli led from the front in this struggle. She mobilised the women of Attha and they went and confronted the Forest Department staff when they came to beat their men. She led other women to come out of their homes and go to Alirajpur to participate in rallies and dharnas to highlight the oppression of the forest department. These struggles along with that of many other tribal people across the country finally resulted in the Forest Rights Act coming into force in 2007 and now the tribals in Alirajpur have legal title to their land.
Daheli has not only fought the State for her rights but has also mobilised the women of her village to protect the forests. They regularly go out on patrols to guard the forest as shown below. The forest is now lush green and since other villages in the watershed have also followed this practice, the stream running through the village has become perennial.
  Daheli is not content with just protecting the forest but has been a driving force behind soil and water conservation also. She has been instrumental in the revival of the traditional labour pooling custom of Dhas in which people get together and work on each others' fields to do agricultural work. Many stone bunds and gully plugs have been built to conserve soil and water and create more agricultural land as shown below.

Even though both KMCS and Dahelibai have lost a considerable amount of their militant dynamism of the early years, the fire continues to burn in both. Those initial struggles have ensured that the people these days lead much more secure lives and they are mostly in control of their village resources. Also by migrating to labour in Gujarat off and on they are able to earn extra income which results in cash in their hands and better food, clothing and housing. But this is not the only things we had in mind when we started fighting all those years ago. Daheli and all the rest of us had dreamed of tribal self rule. However, that has remained a distant dream due to the increasing power of capitalism. We need many more Dahelibais among the new generation now for that dream to be realised.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

For Whom The Emergency Never Ended!!

Today, 25th June, happens to be the fortieth anniversary of the declaration of Internal Emergency by the Congress Government in 1975 and the curtailment of rights and civil liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. What intrigues me is that the Government of the time was able to clamp down so easily on the whole nation by incarcerating thousands of the workers of the opposition parties from the top leaders to the grassroots workers. In the absence of these leaders and workers, there was little or no opposition from the masses to the draconian regime that was let loose. I can't help wondering whether such a nationwide clamp down on civil liberties on a large scale is still as easily doable  at present. The reason is that on a small local scale such clampdowns take place all the time and Governments of all hues are able to stifle mass protest quite easily even today. The only way to counter the Government on such occasions is for leaders and workers to go underground in large numbers and carry on the struggle. There was little of that in 1975 except for a few examples like that of the venerable socialist George Fernandes.
When the emergency was lifted in 1977 and the Congress Government was thrown out in the ensuing elections there was a lot of euphoria about the earthy political wisdom of the masses and their innate consciousness about civil liberties. However, given that the voting percentage was only 60.5% and of them about 52% voted against the Congress, the actual vote for civil liberties was just about 31%!!
I was a student activist of some fringe, over ground, Naxal groups during my college days from 1978 to 1983, at a time when the Naxal movement was in disarray before it gained in power once again through the under ground armed mobilisation of the People's War Group in Andhra Pradesh and the Party Unity group in Bihar in the mid 1980s. I saw then that the level of consciousness among the masses was very low and we used to have a hard time mobilising them to protest against the blatantly anti-people policies of the Central and the State Governments.
However, this was nothing compared to the shock I received when I first came to work in Alirajpur in 1985 among the Bhils. I found that for them there had been a continuous emergency right from the time of the Marathas and then the British and their rights were being wantonly violated by the independent Indian Government and the administration. From 1985 to 2001 we fought many battles and the State always had an upper hand jailing us and even killing some of our colleagues at will. On one occasion in 2001, the State came down hard on the Bhils in Dewas district, destroying their houses and killing four of them in police firing alleging that they had defied its might by implementing the provisions of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, which makes the tribal Gram Sabha the supreme authority in its domain and this could not be tolerated. When the late Dilip Singh Bhuria, who has just expired yesterday, as the then Chairperson of the Commission for Scheduled Tribes, visited the area after this mayhem, Motia Patel asked him whether in this country the Bhils were worse than rats that they could not even have the right to live in their own houses as he sat among the ruins of his destroyed house below.
For the Bhils the emergency has never ended because it has always been there from the time of the Marathas and then the British. And also for many others who are fighting for their rights in various corners of this country or dying like nine pins because agriculture has been devastated. Invariably, except for a few glorious occasions, arrests of the leaders and the main grassroots workers used to lead to the Bhil masses losing their urge to fight against an obviously much much more powerful State. On a small scale going under ground for long periods of time is generally difficult unless the area is heavily forested. So unless this de facto emergency that stifles and oppresses the poor and marginalised in this country, of whom the Tribals and Dalits constitute a disproportionately large share, is ended, the rights and liberties provided in the Constitution will remain largely on paper.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lies, Damned Lies and Politics

Shivraj Singh Chauhan the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has claimed that he has implemented the first River Linking Project in the country by bringing water from the River Narmada to the River Kshipra and in the process ensured that the dry Malwa Plateau region now has water, water everywhere for both drinking and farming. Once again like in the case of his big mouthed boss, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's false boast about cleaning the River Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, Chauhan too is lying through his teeth!!
In the run up to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections in 2013, there was big media hype regarding Chauhan having made the impossible possible by linking the two rivers and a journalist in Indore asked me to give him some critical analysis of this hype for a news story. I told him that the only way to critically analyse the project was to study its Detailed Project Report (DPR) which is a mandatory document on the basis of which sanction is granted for any project. So I asked him to get me the DPR from the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) which was the implementing agency of the project. However, try as he might, the journalist could not get the DPR and nor could other journalists whom I contacted later. Even though this is a public document that should according to the laws of the land be made open to the public for critical analysis before a project is undertaken, the NVDA has kept it close to its chest and thwarted all attempts to make it public. Why is this so? A quick analysis of the little data about the project that is available in the form of pamphlets published by the NVDA will reveal the reason.
The Narmada Kshipra Simhastha Link Project (NKSLP) is a pipeline project which is to pump 5 cumecs (5000 litres per second) of water from the Right Bank Canal of the Omkareshwar Dam on the River Narmada over a distance of 49 kms and a height of 349 metres to Ujjaini village in Indore district where the River Kshipra originates through pipes of 1.8 metre diameter. It is not mentioned as to whether this lift will take place 24x7 but it is mentioned that the power requirement is 27.5 MW and the cost of lifting the water will be Rs 118.92 crores per year. Now currently, the cost per unit of electricity for public purpose projects in Madhya Pradesh inclusive of all charges and taxes is about Rs 6 so working backwards from the annual cost figure we find that the pumps are to run 20 hours per day. This means that the total water to be supplied is 360 million litres per day (MLD). The capital cost of the project is Rs 432 crores so if one takes a twenty year time period for repaying it at 15 % interest per annum then the annual repayment instalment comes to around Rs 80 crore initially gradually decreasing to Rs 24 crores towards the end or if one equates the instalments then it comes to about Rs 40 crores annually throughout. Then there are other maintenance and operation costs apart from the electricity charges which conservatively one can take to be about Rs 11 crores annually. Thus, factoring in an optimistic 10% as losses (in reality due to inefficiency and corruption the actual losses are much more) the cost of the water comes out to be Rs 15 per Kilolitre. Moreover, the miniscule amount of 360 MLD of water will be able to provide water to only a few villages and towns and for that an additional delivery system involving more piping and tanks will be necessary at great cost further increasing the cost of delivered water to say around Rs 20 per kilolitre.This is a price that those wanting to use the water for household purposes are unwilling to pay and typically they look towards the government to subsidise it. Additionally it is totally beyond the capacity of farmers to pay this price for irrigating their farms. Also water linking of the Narmada and Kshipra basins through water pumped up by a pipeline has already taken place since 1973 when the first such pipeline was built to supply water to Indore and so defined in this way the NKSLP is not the first link as is being claimed and of course it will not be able to irrigate anything more than a few hectares of land.
So, despite the huge fanfare of its inauguration, the NKSLP is not running at the moment except for about half an hour every alternate day to keep the pumps in shape as can be seen from the photograph below.
In fact the outlet pipe shown above is only 0.5 metre in diameter even though the rising pipes over the whole distance  are 1.8 metres in diameter and this itself shows that the NVDA never had any serious intention of releasing the water into the Kshipra. The water from these tanks at Ujjaini is taken for about 7 kms by a concrete channel that is hardly 1 square metre in cross section as shown below to a tank and there the water seeps into the ground. Obviously because so little water will get lost in the highly polluted Kshipra river which has millions of litres of sewage and industrial effluents spilling into it untreated everyday from Dewas city. Also there is no question of providing water for Ujjain city where the Sinhastha Festival is to be held in 2016 unless the water is carried there from Ujjaini village by 60 kms or so of more pipelines. and pumping to clear hillocks in between.

So if the link isn't operational how is the money invested in it to be recovered? The money invested in it has itself been garnered through a financial sleight of hand. The central government has provided money to the Madhya Pradesh government under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme to construct canals of dams that have been constructed. Under this money has been released for the construction of canals for the Omkareshwar dam. Money has been diverted from that for the NKSLP by saying that it will provide irrigation to the Malwa Plateau. However, since an irrigation project has to go through a tortuous process of impact assessments and public hearings for getting sanction, the NVDA in its DPR has labelled the NKSLP as a drinking water project which according to the current rules does not require going through an environmental and social impact assessment process before sanction. This is why the DPR has been kept shrouded in secrecy so that it cannot be proved that the Government had pulled wool over the eyes of all and sundry in the pursuit of the narrow political goal of winning elections on the strength of lies.
Sanction has also now been procured from the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project for supplying water from the NKSLP to the Pithampur industrial area in Dhar district on the western side of Indore and negotiations are on with the industrial units in Dewas, which too are short of water, to supply them. Once these projects for the supply of water to industries which can foot the high price for it go on stream, the NKSLP pumps will begin to run continuously. In the interim it will remain a white elephant like many others that are there in the water sector in this country which is ruled by the whims and fancies of fools and liars masquerading as politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats. When the Kshipra basin gets on an average about 900 mm of rainfall, which if properly recharged and harvested and combined with recycling can easily meet all the household, industrial and agricultural water needs of the area, it is nothing short of criminal in the current scenario of climate change to waste so much energy to pipe water up from the Narmada.