A petition to get James Cameron to withdraw attendance from the upcoming INK/TED conference to be held in Lavasa City, a private controversial city because it has involved exploitative land grabbing from indigenous communities, and was built after destroying parts of the western ghats biodiversity hotspot.
Given this commitment, we are a bit surprised to hear that you are attending a TED/INK conference hosted in Lavasa City.
The Western Ghats of India, is a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot. Like many other global hotspots, they are home to a large number of indigenous people who have been living in the region for centuries without feeling the need to decimate the natural world around them and create 'beautiful' and 'well-planned' cities like Lavasa. Without even touching on the wider social, political and ecological questions of whether cities should be privately owned and managed or whether we should all be urbanising given the large increase in our ecological footprint, the construction of Lavasa city has resulted in the direct displacement of a large number of indigenous people who once called it home.
Lavasa of course, is quick to point out that it was all done legally, but we're sure you are aware that laws can be bent, especially when prominent politicians and ministers in the government have large personal stakes in the company.
Almost all the reputable print journals in India as well as a range of international ones have carried stories about the large number of problems around Lavasa city (among others, The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, The Week, Tehelka, Down to Earth, The Economic and Political Weekly, The New Internationalist, Business Standard, The Sunday Times). The well known social activist Anna Hazare has called it blatant disrespect for the Indian Constitution, and plans to return his prestigious award - the Padmabhushan - to the President of India followed by a 'hunger satyagraha' if no action is taken. The central Minister for Environment and Forests has written to the State Government asking for clarifications on the irregularities in granting the project environmental clearance.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has also issued Lavasa Corporation a show cause notice for its violations under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Unless the company is able to prove it has not violated the Act, all construction from 2004 onwards will be demolished in entirety.
Issues of social and environmental justice are normally beyond the scope of most celebrity and entrepreneur speakers with good ideas, but given your track record and larger concern about the state of this planet we hope you will reconsider your visit to Lavasa, and urge you to cancel it.