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Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lokshakti Abhiyan : Update from Maharashtra and Goa

Lokshakti Abhiyan : Update from Maharashtra and Goa
February 8, Panjim : Lok Shakti Abhiyan entered into the third day of the 4th phase today. Abhiyan held a press conference on 8th Feb, 2012, at Barrister Nath Pai Bahudeshiya Sabhagraha in Savantwadi at 10.30 pm as part of its Maharastra campaign to spread awareness about corruption and other related issues. Medha Patkar, Ravi Kiran from Malvan, Maharashtra, noted environmentalist Praveen Sabnish from Goa and Suhas Kolhekar spoke about the environmental impacts of the anti people policies which affects livelihoods as well as the ecosystem at large.
Ravi Kiran of Shramik Machimaar Sangh spoke specifically about the Sindhudurg Fisher people’s Struggle and how traditional fisher people are fighting for the right to livelihood because of the destruction of the natural resources due to Purse Seine Net fishing and large fishing trawlers. Purse Seine Net is a means of catching surface fish at sea in cases where a shoal of fish is visible or where they can be attracted into a small area by the use of powerful lights. While the fish with market value is kept for sale, smaller fish that don’t generate much income is thrown away. At one time, with Purse Seine Net, fish equivalent to the catch of 200 traditional fish workers working at a single time is caught. In 2004, the Maharashtra High Court gave an order sanctioning the right to fish anywhere that worked in the favour of these large scale fishing companies. The High Court decision has been challenged in 2005, in the Supreme Court by Shramik Machimaar Sangh, constituent National Fish workers Forum, but the case is still going on and is being argued by noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan. The demand of the local traditional fisher people seeking ban on Purse Seine Net fishing to protect their fundamental right to life and livelihood must be met which will also stop the large-scale depletion of natural resources.
Praveen Sabnish also stressed on the importance of learning from the environmental destruction of the coast of Goa before the destruction of the Maharashtra part of the Konkan coast is complete. When the ore is taken out during mining, the capacity of the soil to retain water is lost and this affects the eco system in a serious way. 99% of the mining companies are owned by Saraswat Brahmins and the ways in which old, pre modern institutions like caste collude with capitalism to start a renewed exploitation of the already marginalized is seen by this. The privatization of the health system was also highlighted in the press conference. Thermal power plants coming up along the coasts and the environmental destruction caused as a result of this was also discussed in the conference. Corruption is a result of and one of the reasons for the largescale exploitation of traditional fisher people, forest dwellers, adivasis, dalits etc and the need of the hour is a combined and united struggle by all marginalized communities.
Medha Patkar later delivered a talk titled 'Reviewing Development Paradigm : Contribution of People's Movements' at the D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas in Panjim. She emphasized at the power of the people in the country for alternative development over the recent development paradigm. She put the idea of Gram Sabha over the Lok Sabha before the audience in the festival and said people's movements are not anti development but they are redifining the ideas of development and pushing us all to think and act for future generations and conserve precious natural resources. Government and the present generation is only a trustee of the commons and it is our solemn duty to preserve it for future.
Tomorrow, the Abhiyan will hold a joint meeting with the activists from Goa on illegal mining and different issues and a press conference followed by a public meeting at Bichhaulin in Goa.
National Alliance of People's Movements
For details call : Seela Manaswinee 9212587159


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