Whenever there are “development projects” in various parts of the world, the ostensible reason given is almost always that they are good for the economy in some way– i.e., they “provide jobs” for the community where a project is being sited. This rationale is usually the only one cited to tip the scale in favor of a project irrespective of the costs to the community. It leaves me a bit “dazed and confused” (to quote Led Zeppelin– see video below) even as an economist because there is more than just jobs that play into whether a development project is good for the community. Things like whether the project will affect drinking water supplies, whether a project will result in soil contamination and also whether a project’s sponsors will treat the community in line with human rights law.
In Orissa, we seen over and over again that a company moving into a community for a “development project” means water and soil contamination and other human rights violations. Protesters are beaten or killed, property is confiscated and communities are left seething over their land and people being abused.
For the last two months, Kalinganagar has been witnessing recurrent clashes between the state police and about 250 well-armed private civil militia supporting land acquisition on the one hand and the adivasis protesting against government acquisition of their lands and habitats for setting up a six million ton capacity Tata Steel plant and a common road corridor. On March 28, 30 adivasi protesters sustained bullet injuries as police and the civil militiamen fired upon a 250 strong group of protesters who pelted stones at them in a bid to prevent them from taking over the land meant for the common road corridor.