May 18, 2022
#Thread: NOT In My Backyard
The tussle between development and environment plays out in Kerala, quite in line with what developed countries have faced across the world.
Told through the story of a village.
By @jeffjoseff. Stay with us till the end please.
People's movements against industries in Kerala have worked in favour of public health, quality of life and the environment. But it gave Kerala an anti-industry image, which the state now wants to change.
Analysis of conflicts in Kerala documented by @LandConflicts show that opposition against environmental degradation is the largest cause of land-related conflicts in the state. These conflicts involve a total area of 1.3 lakh hectares and investments worth ₹56,359 crores.
For decades, Kerala witnessed several community movements against industries. These range from isolated protests against small quarries and stone crushers, to some of the world’s most successful pushbacks against corporates such as Birla Group’s Gwalior Rayons and Coca Cola.
These protests, however, differ from the successful Silent Valley movement spearheaded by the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad in the 70s. While they were headed by the intelligentsia, protests today are led by ordinary citizens.
Unlike most other states within India, the constant vigil of a prosperous, more aware society which doesn’t want polluting companies in their backyard forces positive results.
Experts on environmental history say that such protests in Kerala resemble those in advanced democracies, as they focus on lifestyle expectations and not only about pressing existential concerns and livelihood loss.
In recent years, companies have become vocal in such standoffs and have threatened to move to other locations. Kerala has also generally fared poorly on the central government’s ease of doing business index. In 2019, it ranked 28th out of 36 states and UTs
The developments taking shape in Puthenvelikkara, a riverside village near Kochi witnessing protests since 1979, is a new chapter in the state’s attempt to reverse its reputation as the graveyard of industries.
But in the process, the Kerala government is now trampling and pressuring local bodies, trespassing on their mandates. This is a reversal of the trend of decentralisation that the state has progressively come to be known for.
Read on to understand the inner workings at play on the ground
Research by @landconflicts|Anchored by @furquansid
Special thanks to @haramitheatre