New Delhi | May 05, 2017: “From where the poor vendor will pay a penalty of Rs. 500 for selling their goods when they are there to sell goods worth less than 500 every day to earn their daily bread,” Anita Das, General Secretary of All India Women’s Hawkers Federation, angrily asks referring to the steps being taken by the local governments to implement Smart City and other city ‘beautification’ projects, which are being financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
Anita Das is among the thousands of people who have gathered to protest in many places of India during this week to commemorate the 50 years of ADB. The people are raising issues against the lack of transparency and accountability, and the impunity enjoyed by these institutions. These events are being organised in parallel to the official ADB 50th anniversary celebrations coinciding their annual meetings held currently at the Yokohama, Japan.
These programmes are being held by the civil society organisations, trade unions, women organisations and people’s movements such as National Hawkers Federation, National Fishworkers Forum, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Environment Support Group, Delhi Solidarity Group, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, Jharkhand Mines and Area Coordination Committee, Chhattisgarh Nagarik Manch, Machhimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan and many others across the country. The programmes organised by the above mentioned organisations are taking place during this week in the heart of metros like Kolkata and Bangalore to the remote parts like that of villages in Belghana Block of Chhattisgarh. Throughout, the common thread is anguish against the development model being peddled by the IFIs and lapped up by the respective governments which will have far greater repercussions than imagined.
In the cities like Ranchi, Secundarabad, and Kolkata, where National Hawkers Federation has organised many actions of resistance – ranging from human chains, demonstrations to public meetings – to raise voices against the forced eviction of the hawkers and roadside vendors. Anita Das, General Secretary of the All India Women’s Hawkers Federation, shares that the city administrations in the name of beautification and smart cities are harassing hawkers. “In recent times, they are being jailed for days and charged with the provisions of deterring public servant from discharge of their duty,” she lamented.
Whereas, in the buffer zone of the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh the people protested at the Belghana Block of Bilaspur district under the leadership of Susheela Baiga and Indumati Uraon against the displacement, social alienation caused by the construction of the dam and other infrastructure projects in the buffer zone of the protected area. “The villagers are angry as they are being displaced while the tourism industry is promoted in the region,” says Devjeet Mandi, co-convenor of the All India Forest Movements Forum, who is also part of this movement.
In Jammu and Kashmir, where many projects are underway, the people organised meeting and demonstration at Kathua, Jammu, Chinai, Battote, Bhadarwa, Doda and Rajouri and raised the social and environmental impacts of the projects being run or proposed in the state. Dr. Sunilam, National Convener of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, opposed the privatization of water and electricity saying “Due to privatization, water and electricity tariffs is going up and common people are facing the consequences.” The programmes were also addressed by Mr Abdul Rehman, a former Member of Parliament, linked the loans with the increase in the inequality and poverty.
Apart from the above-mentioned states, the programmes were also organised in Andhra Pradesh, Jaipur, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and many other states. These programmes, coordinated by the Peoples’ Forum Against ADB, are part of the over 120 actions of resistance observed across the country, in the current week i.e. May 1 – 7, 2017, across 21 states of the country to highlight the gross human rights violations, loss of livelihood, and environmental destruction caused by the ‘inequitable, unjust development model’ being pushed by ADB and other international financial institutions (IFIs).
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