Chota Nagpur conflict, Jharkhand, India

Description

The Bihar Forest Corporation's policy of replacing sal and mahua forests with teak has been sharply opposed by Ho, Munda and Santal indigenous peoples in the Chota Nagpur area. In August 1979, the tribals, armed with bows and arrows, began cutting down the teak forests, asking simultaneously for their replacement with trees of species more useful to the local economy. The opposition to teak dovetailed with a wider movement of self-assertion which has demanded a separate tribal state of Jharkhand (which eventually became independent in 2000). A slogan of the movement, "Sal means Jharkhand, Sagwan [teak] means Bihar", captured these links between the economic and ecological exploitation of the area. In 1980, it degenerated into a violent confrontation between tribals and the forest officials and police in Gua, resulting in the death of 13 indigenous peoples and 3 policemen.

Basic Data
NameChota Nagpur conflict, Jharkhand, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceJharkhand
SiteChota Nagpur area
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesBiological resources
Timber
Teak
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGovernment forest companies replace sal and mahua forests with teak plantations in "backward" indigenous areas.
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date08/1979
End Date1985
Relevant government actorsBihar Forest Corporation, Forest Department, Police forces
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTribal groups

Politica groups asking for a new state (Jharkhand)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Indigenous protesters, armed with bows and arrows, cut down the teak forests, asking simultaneously for their replacement with tree species more useful to the local economy. They claim a new state Jharkhand, in India.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesThe opposition to teak dovetailed with a wider movement of self-assertion which has demanded a separate "tribal state" of Jharkhand (which eventually became independent in 2000). A slogan of the movement, "Sal means Jharkhand, teak means Bihar". The protesters, as an alternative to teak, also asked for tree species more useful to the local economy.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Mass mobilization against the "homogenization" of forests, but apparently few concrete results.
Sources and Materials
References

- Shiva, V., 1989. Staying alive: women, ecology and development. London: Zed Books.

- Gadgil, M., and R. Guha, 1992. This fissured land: an ecological history of India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Meta Information
ContributorJ.-F. Gerber
Last update03/05/2014
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