Stop Kalu Dam: Environmental disaster and Displacement of indigenous people (StopKaluDam.org)
See StopKaluDam.org for photographs of the submergence area.
Every time the petition is signed, an e-mail with the petition letter goes out to several officials, who need to hear your voice loud and clear. So, please express your solidarity with the adivasis and oppose environmental destruction by signing the petition.
Why this is important:
Kalu Dam currently getting constructed near Murbad in Maharashtra state in India will submerge land in several hamlets belonging to the original forest dwelling communities, the adivasis. This is the very land they won legal recognition in 2006 as rightful owners after decades of struggle.
The dam is being constructed in a global biodiversity hotspot in an ecologically sensitive area of India. However, no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), no Social Impact Assessment (SIA), no wildlife assessment and no public hearings with affected stakeholders were held before starting work on this project.
Adivasis depend entirely on the forest land and resources for their bona fide livelihood needs and practice. They have rich tradition of community conservation, like maintaining sacred groves, temple fish sanctuaries and an innate sense of fairness and justice with the environment around them.
We are writing to protest the grievous violations of laws and the abuse of democratic processes that we are witnessing at the hands of Government of India and the State Government of Maharashtra in the matter of the construction of dam. These violations encompass human rights abuses such as intimidation to quell dissent against the project, involuntary resettlement of villages in the project affected area, losses of land, housing and livelihood of the people, as well as serious harm to the land and forest ecologies and environments of a global biodiversity hotspot, the Western Ghats.
We find the construction of Kalu Dam should be stopped immediately on the following grounds:
A. The Western Ghat region of Thane district comes almost entirely under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP or the Integrated Tribal Development Program), especially talukas like Murbad. According to the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002), one of the reasons for this focused effort was, ‘Post-independence, the requirements of planned development brought with them dams, mines,industries and roads – all located on tribal lands. With these came the concomitant processes of displacement, literal and metaphorical. Tribals found themselves at a profound disadvantage in the face of an influx of better- equipped outsiders into tribal areas. The repercussions for the already fragile socio-economic livelihood base of the tribals were devastating – ranging from loss of livelihoods, land alienation on a vast scale, to hereditary bondage.’
However, Kalu Dam construction underway in this region does not require any environmental clearance and involves no public hearing, no Environment Impact Assessment due to a bizarre legislation excusing drinking water projects from this requirement. (Sept 14, 2006 EIA notification, Section 1(c) River Valley projects)
B. Even though the project does not have Forest Clearance, work has already started on what they refer to as ‘non Forest Land’ (which is forested Adivasi land).
On January 6, 2011, The Forest Conservation Division of the MoEF issued a circular revising para 4.4 of the Guidelines on the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 regarding projects involving forest as well as non forest lands. According to 21 March 2011 circular issued by the MoEF, the original guideline has been strengthened and which is now in force (since March 2011 and also before that) says: "If a project involves forest as well as non forest land, work should not be started on the non forest land till the approval of the government for release of forest land under the FCA 1980, has been given. This fresh circular has been issued, "to avoid further mischievous interpretation". The ongoing work on Kalu Dam blatantly defies the legal stipulation in this circular.
C.The entire area to be submerged and affected by Kalu Dam is a TSP-Scheduled Area. The provisions of PESA (Panchayats Extension in Schedule Area) Act require informed consent from Gram Sabhas for this project. No such consent has been given by any Gram Sabhas. Most of the Gram Sabhas have resolved to resist this project. Thus the ongoing construction of this dam also amounts to Violation of the PESA Act.
D. The submergence area of Kalu Project includes about 1000 ha of forest land. The area is inhabited by Scheduled Tribes and other traditional Forest Dwellers who depend entirely on the Forest land and resources for their bona fide livelihood needs. Many of these tribals and traditional Forest Dwellers have filed Individual Cultivation Rights claims under the ‘Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA). Further, about 20-25 hamlets/ villages have their community forest rights in this forest in the form of food gathering, collection and sale of minor forest produce like Bamboo, Mahua, Mangoes, Karwandas, Tendu leaves, cashews, gum, firewood, etc. They also depend on this forest for herbal medicines. Most of these have not been documented or settled yet.
The 2006 FRA, Section 4 (5) states: “No member of a forest dwelling scheduled tribes or other traditional forest dwelling communities shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition and verification process under this act is complete.” Therefore the ongoing work on Kalu dam is a violation of the FRA also. The Katkari, Thakur and Mahadev Koli Tribes have more than 20 traditional worship places in this forest area and there are many sacred groves and trees associated with these places.The lands and forests also act as grazing grounds for cattle and goats. Fish from the streams and river are an important source of protein for these tribals.
E. The project contractor has already clear felled thousands of trees near the dam site without seeking permission even from the Regional Forest Department. After repeated agitations by Shramik Mukti Sangathana, the local Forest officials confiscated one JCB, one Dumper and more than 3000 cubic meter of Timber. But this is just a small fraction and the felling is continuing in the absence of any strong action by the Forest Department, or any other Department.
F. Under the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007, no project involving displacement of families can be undertaken without Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Additionally, the policy states that "The affected communities shall be duly informed and consulted at each stage, including public hearings in the affected areas for social impact assessment, wide dissemination of the details..." (See http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=31832). No SIA has been conducted before beginning construction on Kalu Dam, in clear violation of National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007.
It is outrageous that the government has unleashed such terror on the very people it is required to protect by law according to the country's constitution. Section 46 of the Indian constitution protects scheduled tribes from "social injustice and all forms of exploitation". Section 48A of the Indian constitution protects the environment and safeguards forests and wild life.
We, the undersigned, express our solidarity toward the adivasis fighting against the might of the corporate state and join other citizens groups to demand:
1. An immediate halt to the Kalu Dam project and ongoing work by the private contractor in Murbad taluk.
2. Prompt legal action against personnel responsible for the criminal offense of recklessly causing massive deforestation and destructive excavations, thereby violating adivasi rights under the FRA and violating section 2 of FCA.
3. Prompt rejection of any proposal received from the Maharashtra government for forest clearance for this project on grounds of FCA and FRA violations, as well as the fact that the gram sabhas have denied consent.
4. An unequivocal commitment from you, the Prime Minister of India, as well as the Minister of State for Environment and Forests and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra of recognition of the fact that adivasi resistance to displacement stems from their real life experiences. As observed by the Ministry of Rural Development in its recently released report, adivasis have borne the brunt of displacement due to development projects, and that such land alienation and the consequent distress migration has devastated adivasi families. [http://dolr.nic.in/Committee\%20Report.doc]
We note that the situation with these adivasis is not isolated. 100 million adivasis, 10% of India's citizens, exist invisible to the remaining population, their rights to local natural resources as original inhabitants of the land (adi=first, vasi=resident) routinely trampled using a pre-defined notion of global development.