Protests galore

Activists protest against mindless development in Uttara Kannada district

Published: Saturday 15 November 1997

a major demonstration was held in the second week of October in Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka. The rallyists were protesting against mega development projects and tourism, which are hurting the ecologically sensitive area. The rally was led by members of the Uttara Kannada Parisara Sanrakshana Samiti and Medha Patkar of the National Alliance of Peoples' Movements.

Over 3,000 activists, including tribals from all taluka s of Uttara Kannada, attended the rally and submitted a memorandum to the district deputy commissioner. The memorandum pointed out that forests, agriculture and fisheries are the main source of livelihood for the people, and development projects are over-exploiting resources. Forests are being destroyed, fertile land has been lost to the Konkan railway project and highways, and flora and fauna are threatened. The projects benefit outsiders, while unemployment is high in the district. All this is being done in the name of development and democracy, it said. "In the name of democracy, our resources cannot be taken away. People should be allowed to decide and that is real democracy," it said.

Receiving the memorandum, the district deputy commissioner urged the activists not to oppose all development projects, since they are a source of income for the district. Citing the example of China, he said that the country earns a lot of foreign exchange from tourism. Medha Patkar shot back: "We do not want to convert the Western Ghats into another Rajasthan."

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