Bastar conflict, Chhattisgarh, India

Description

From the mid-19th century onwards, the indigenous peoples of Bastar have lost their rights to the forests as a result of outside interference culminating in the Bastar Forestry Project which was jointly funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government in 1975. The objective was to develop and industrialise this “backward” region through 40000 ha of industrial plantation of the Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea) for which the natural forests had to be cleared. The regions belonged then to Mahya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh is a new state created in 2000. For the Madhya Pradesh Forestry Development Corporation (MPFDC), trees are resources to be grown and cut for profit; the Forest Department views the forests as a capital that needs to be protected from intruders, especially the tribals; the planners and experts are interested in the technical issues of supplying raw material for the mill; and for the indigenous peoples, the forest is an important source of income and sustenance. As they had no interest in cooperation or in job opportunities, local indigenous peoples resisted the commercial penetration into their environment. Their suspicion, resistance and hostility finally prompted the government – with the support of influential politicians – to terminate the pine plantation project.

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Basic Data
NameBastar conflict, Chhattisgarh, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceChhattisgarh
SiteBastar
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)Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesPine (Pinus caribaea)
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBastar Forestry Project jointly funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government in 1975: 40,000 ha of industrial plantation of the Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea).
Project Area (in hectares)40,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1975
End Date1983
Relevant government actorsMadhya Pradesh Forestry Development Corporation (MPFDC) + Forest Departments
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters Tribal people
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)UNKNOWN
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationOfficial complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Forest destruction stopped by local indigenous populations.
Sources and Materials
References

Anderson, R., and W. Huber, 1987. The hour of the fox. Tropical forests, the World Bank, and indigenous people in central India. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

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

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