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Bastar Forestry Project 1975, 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.

In the Bastar region, the WB's first project for 'forest development' became therefore a major cause for deforestation in the region.

It was primarily developing for plantations for the pulp and paper industry. This World Bank project in Bastar was part of the trend to convert natural forests to commercial plantations so that the biomass produced could no longer benefit the original dwellers. The tribal sustenance base in cane and bamboo for basket weaving, mangoes, tamarind, jackfruit, mahua and edible berries are all destroyed when natural forests are replaced by monoculture plantations of eucalyptus or tropical pine. The Bastar Tropical Pine Project was finally shelved due to the serious resistance of local tribals.

It was a prescription for destruction of tropical forests aimed at changing the forest character in such a manner that they exclusively serve commercial interests, not the indigenous peoples.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Bastar Forestry Project 1975, Chhattisgarh, India
Country:India
State or province:Chhattisgarh
Location of conflict:Bastar
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:Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Pine (Pinus caribaea)

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Bastar 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:40,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1975
End of the conflict:1983
Relevant government actors:Madhya Pradesh Forestry Development Corporation (MPFDC) + Forest Departments
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tribal people

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityUnknown
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Forest destruction stopped by local indigenous populations.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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.

Meta information

Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update27/03/2018