NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS (KARNATAKA)
1, Russell Market // Shivajinagar // Bangalore-560001
November 10, 2010
GLOBAL INVESTORS MEET and LAND BANKS
With regard to Government of Karnataka (GoK) full page advertisement on page 5 of "The Hindu" dated November 5, 2010, NAPM (Karnataka) notes with deep concern that in addition to 137 on-going projects worth Rs.2.43 lakh crores, GoK has signed 389 more MoUs with investors worth Rs.3.93 lakh crores, of which it appears that 342 projects worth Rs.91,519 crores are already committed. The deep concern is because all this has been done with no public consultation and without conducting a comprehensive survey of persons who are already displaced or otherwise adversely affected by industries in operation, and the status of their rehabilitation. Many of the projects are already being opposed by people who are already affected or who will be affected by displacement or industrial environmental pollution.
With some industries already blatantly violating environmental pollution norms (which affect people's lives, health and livelihoods), thanks to the supine Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the establishment of new industries can only bring more trouble for people. GoK has not bothered to consult the Gram, Taluk and Zilla Panchayats before planning projects. The opinion of people of the State appears not to matter to GoK in its rush to industrialize at any cost. NAPM (Karnataka) demands that written acceptance of projects from affected Gram Panchayats should be obtained before any project is planned.
Even though Environment Impact Assessments may be carried out for individual projects, the cumulative social and environmental impact of existing operating industries plus projects under construction plus projects planned, must be carried out keeping in mind that the carrying capacity of the region (which may span more than one district) is not exceeded, before signing MoUs or making contractual or financial commitments. The State Ministry of Environment and Forests and KSPCB have a crucial role in this but are notably absent. This constitutes a dismal absence of planning and governance in a State that boasts of Sir M.Visweswaraya, Sir Mirza Ismail and others. NAPM (Karnataka) demands that all MoUs signed be put on hold immediately and reviewed after cumulative social and environmental impact is conducted with full public transparency .
GoK's creation of "land banks" under KIADB or other government organization also violates environmental norms, besides amounting to the State making a profit at the cost of farmers if it buys cheap and sells high, or the industry making a profit if government gives it land at throw-away price or on cheap long-term lease. There are several examples of such cases. NAPM (Karnataka) demands that land banks be foreclosed and this anti-people practice be immediately abandoned in the public interest.
National Convenor, NAPM Karnataka
Convenor, NAPM Karnataka