Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bangladesh: Human Chain Formed Across The Country Demanding Constitutional Recognition As Indigenous Peoples

On 19 March 2011 indigenous peoples of Bangladesh organised human chain across the country demanding constitutional recognition as indigenous peoples.

Human chains were formed at least 16 places through the country including Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban districts in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region; Joypurhat, Dinajpur, Naogaon, Sirajganj, Thakurgaon, Rajshahi and Bagura districts in North Bengal region; Barguna and Patualhali districts in coastal region; Sylhet, Moulabi Bazaar and Mymensingh districts and other parts of the country where indigenous people live.

The leaders of the country's indigenous communities called upon the government to seriously consider the issue of constitutional recognition as indigenous instead of small ethnic group; otherwise, the process of amendment of constitution will remain incomplete.

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum organised human chain in front of the National Museum in Dhaka where a number of organisations, including Kapaeeng Foundation, CHT Hill Students' Council (PCP), Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Sangram Parishad, Hill Women's Federation (HWF), Tripura Students Forum (TSF), Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon and national level rights organisations took part in the human chain.

On the others, CHT Citizens’ Committee and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (CHT Chapter) formed human chains in three hill districts of CHT where M N Larma Memorial Foundation, Jum Aesthetics Council, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Marma Oikya Parishad and local CBOs and development organisations took part.

Human chains in North Bengal region were formed basically by Jatiya Adivasi Parishad while Rakhain Samaj Kalyan Samity, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (local chapter) and Bangladesh Rakhain Students Association in coastal region.

Human chain was formed in Sylhet in the banner of all walk of indigenous peoples while at in front of Moulvibazar Press Club by Greater Sylhet Adivasi Forum, Tea Garden’s Adivasi Forum, Monipuri Social Welfare Association, Khasi Council and Khasi Student Union.

Thousands of indigenous peoples, political leaders, journalists, lawyers, university teachers, human rights defenders, indigenous rights activists, women rights activists had joined the human chains and rallies, raising their voices for the constitutional recognition of indigenous people of Bangladesh.

Expressing dissatisfaction at the recent speech of Co-chairman of Special Parliamentary Committee for Constitution Amendment (SPCCA) Suranjit Sengupta, MP, indigenous leaders accused him of not being aware about the proper definition of indigenous in the country's context. They said, the rights of the indigenous communities should be recognised incorporating their rights in the Constitution as indigenous peoples but not as small ethnic group.

Speakers at the human chain said ‘Adivashi’ word does not only mean who comes first in the land rather it means the communities who posses distinct identity from the mainstream. The ethnic communities hold different culture, history, heritages, land related culture and a tendency to solve their social and legal problems by their customary laws rather than the statutory laws. Speakers pointed out the existing laws including the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act 1950, The Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900, The Finance Act 1995 where the ‘Adivashi’ term had been used. The speakers also pointed out the election mandate of the present ruling party and the constitution of the Awami league where the ‘Adivashi’ term also has been used.

The indigenous leaders demanded rights of the indigenous people with separate traditional socio-cultural-ethnic identity for their survival in different regions Bangladesh and full implementation of CHT Accord 1997.

It is mentionable that on 15 March 2011 after a meeting of the parliamentary special committee for constitutional amendment, its co-chairman Suranjit Sengupta said that the committee agreed to recognise the ethnic minority groups (Khudro Jonogosthi) in the constitution, although no minority community will be recognised as indigenous (Adibashi) people.

He said as the demand for recognising them as indigenous people could not be applicable in the context of Bangladesh, so it was more logical to recognise them as Bangladeshi, not indigenous. ‘The definition of indigenous people given by the ILO has no consistency with the situation in Bangladesh,’ said Suranjit, adding that it could be applicable for some countries like Australia where indigenous people were ousted from state power by others.

The indigenous leaders also condemned the comment of opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia in parliament on March 15 narrating indigenous leader Bangladesh Adibasi Forum president Sree Joytirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Santu Larma) as ‘terrorist’.

The indigenous leaders said that comment from a former prime minister and opposition leader was unexpected and unacceptable as communal and provocative and should be withdrawn.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

INDIA: Environment assessment is a joke, says Jairam; wants 3rd party EIA

Hyderabad, March 19
“The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in the current form is a bit of a joke as it is self-assessment by the company. Instead, we will have a third party EIA,” Mr Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment and Forests, said.
Speaking to reporters at the CII-Green Business Centre, Mr Ramesh said, “I have been concerned about this. Supreme Court also expressed its concerns. We want a cumulative EIA.”
“We have blacklisted three consultants for their wrong reports. Therefore, we would prefer a third party EIA for power, coal and multi-sector projects. The MoEF will seek third party assessment. The present system is deeply flawed,” he said.
Mentioning the clearance accorded to the Posco project in Orissa and the proposed nuclear plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, the Minister said both the clearances are conditional. In the case of nuclear power plant, third party assessment was done by NEERI and they have been directed to conform to at least 35 conditions.


The satellite imagery assessment of costal areas of four States where a large number of projects are coming up, including ports and power, will be concluded within two months, he said.
The Ministry had initiated a project to assess the impact of projects coming up along the coast in Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
“We have completed work on three States and Andhra Pradesh is expected to be covered within two months. This impact assessment study will enable us to estimate the degradation and sensitivity along some of the coastal areas of these States,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Mr Ramesh said this imagery will facilitate a comprehensive environment analysis and ensure the preservation of precious natural resources in coastal areas. “We now have a new Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2011 notified on June 6. This has to be complied with,” he explained.
Referring to the two AP power projects at Sompeta of (NCC Ltd) and Kakrapalli (East Coast Energy), he said they have been served notice. “I must admit the recent firing incident did move me. I have begun to grapple with the next moves,” he said.
The Supreme Court decision on the Ministry stand on Nirma's cement plant in Gujarat has been vindicated.


Andhra Pradesh is yet to conduct public hearing for Polavaram wherein villages in Chhattisgarh and Orissa will get submerged. The State has, however, agreed to construct a 30-km long wall along Sabari and Sileru rivers.
The clearance for Polavaram was conditional. The State Government was told to handle relief and rehabilitation simultaneously. Unless they take up public hearing it would be difficult to take this forward, he said.

This film is a call for tribal solidarity. It reveals the approaching trauma of two lakh tribals who will be displaced under the Polavaram Dam Project on river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, India. The project is estimated to submerge four hundred villages and four thousand hectres of forest in Dandakaranya. Large-scale projects often created islands of development in the midst of under-development perpetuating regional imbalances. Past experiences have shown that development paradigms are often discriminatory against the tribal communities and other marginalized sections of society. Development is meaningful only when it is sustainable. India needs an alternative way of development which combines traditional methods with environmentally sustainable technologies. Only then will it be able to sustain its diverse cultures and promote the welfare of the tribals.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Inside Job

'Inside Job' is the first film to provide a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.