//Violence against tribals condemned

Violence against tribals condemned

 "Human rights trampled upon; projects coming up in violation of environmental regulations"

CHENNAI: Environmental activists on Thursday condemned "State-sponsored violence" against people, especially tribals, who are opposing projects on their land. They said human rights were being trampled upon, and projects were coming up in violation of environmental regulations.

At a solidarity meeting held here, Nityanand Jayaraman, a member of the Campaign for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a coalition of organisations, said ever since economic liberalisation was launched, violence against communities was more pronounced.

Rules given the go-by

Adivasis were being evicted from their land, and violence was let loose on those opposing big projects. Environmental laws were being given the go-by and projects cleared summarily. People were being prevented from taking part in hearings held at faraway places.

Prafulla Samantray of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa, said the police opened fire in Jajpur district in January to mow down residents protesting a steel plant. Tribals were a demographic and political minority in Orissa, and the killing of tribals could be viewed as a "systematic genocide" committed to fill the coffers of corporates.

Latha Anantha of Chalakudy Puzha Samarakshana Samiti said the Kerala Government was pushing through dam projects in eco-sensitive areas. The Government was insensitive to the concerns of the local communities. Worse still, there was no record of the number of people displaced by such projects.

The CEJI said the Adivasis were harassed by the police and musclemen in Chhattisgarh when they condemned attempts to "divert water from the Kelu and privatise the Kurkut river."

In December last, three people died and several were injured when the police opened fire to disperse a crowd demanding compensation for the land acquired for a multipurpose dam in Manipur.

The organisation condemned the alleged attempts by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to "dilute environmental regulations and limit public participation to expedite investments."