Last update:
2014-05-03

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
Name of conflict:Chota Nagpur conflict, Jharkhand, India
Country:India
State or province:Jharkhand
Location of conflict:Chota Nagpur area
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Teak
Biological resources
Timber
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Government forest companies replace sal and mahua forests with teak plantations in "backward" indigenous areas.

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:08/1979
End of the conflict:1985
Relevant government actors:Bihar Forest Corporation, Forest Department, Police forces
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tribal groups
Politica groups asking for a new state (Jharkhand)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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 of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives: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, 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Mass mobilization against the "homogenization" of forests, but apparently few concrete results.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

- 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
Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update03/05/2014
Comments
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