Medha urges CM to stop destruction of natural resources
BHUBANESWAR: Renowned environmentalist and founder member of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) on Monday urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging him to put a stop to the destruction of natural resources of the state as well as livelihoods of common people for corporate profit and think about an alternative sustainable model of development.
“We understand that Odisha is the state rich in mineral resources, which are being used for filling the state exchequer, but how can any citizen of this country or appropriate authority approve extractive industries that are adding to the profits of the big corporates at huge cost to nature and generations old inhabitants?” Patkar asked while writing a letter to the Chief Minister.
The environmentalist said in the letter that during her recent visit to Kalahandi, Jagatsinghpur and Balasore districts, she could see that the people of the state, the indigenous and natural resource based communities of farmers and fish workers were compelled to fight for their survival because of non-compliance with the constitutional principles leading impingement upon the human rights. Their generations-old dependence on the natural ecosystems, she said, was facing an assault when the plans were made in the name of development to take over or transfer those into the hands of monetary investors.
“It is in this process that Article 253, which gives primacy to a village community in planning development as also PESA Act, 1996-97, that is applicable to Adivasi communities and other relevant environmental laws are violated,” Patkar said. “We expect full and fair compliance of the total legal regime and protection of constitutional rights of communities living with simplicity, sustainability and self-reliance.”
She questioned the government’s push for bauxite mining Khandualmali in Kalahandi with scant regards for transparency and accountability, thus affecting nine gram panchayats and 200 villages. Likewise, she questioned the use of police force to make people of Dhinkia accept the mega project of Jindal Steel Works (JSW) including steel, power and cement plants. “Can the non-violent protesters be dealt with violence? We expect you to immediately stop all ways and means of repression, withdraw police force, repeal false cases filed and free all those in jail with false accusations including Debendra Swain, Gitanjali Das and others,” the social activist said.
Patkar said that the bountiful state of Odisha can certainly plan a sustainable way to provide for all basic needs and amenities with priority to employment generation in every community and in vicinity. It will, she said, also try to convert Odisha to a state with least carbon emission, preventing climate change, which makes the real defenders of earth, face the worst. “Such development plans can’t emerge without a democratic approach and localisation as decentralisation, against globalisation and liberalisation in favour of the corporate millionaires” she said.