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Other protests that went unheard

delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2011 00:07 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
Chetan Chauhan

Anna Hazare's campaign may have caught nation's attention but over 100 silent protests over issues of land, forest and rights have remained unheard.

"It is primarily that these protests at the grassroots fail to catch imagination of the principal opposition party or the mainstream media," said Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People.

The problem is not just of the outreach but the issues do not attract urban population, who backed Hazare in his campaign. Issues of tribal rights, impact of hydel projects on local bio-diversity and acquisition of land for industry catch very little eyeballs among urban India.

In 2007, about 25,000 tribals from across India marched to Delhi demanding right to land, livelihood and dignity.

In 2011, thousands of tribals held a similar three day long protest in Delhi which did not receive any public support like Hazare's campaign has.

In far flung areas of India, people's silent protests have been rampant. Local tribals have been protesting against Polavaram multi-purpose dam in Andhra Pradesh to protect their land from submergence.

People are opposing hydel projects on river Alakananda in Srinagar valley in Uttarakhand. In north-east, people of the lower Brahmaputra valley have been running different form of protests backed by professors from IIT, Guwahati.

Protests against private industrial projects are taking place in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, in Chindwara, Madhya Pradesh, Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, Kutch area of Gujarat and Sonebadhra in Uttar Pradesh. Locals have also been opposing Posco's steel plant in Orissa and nuclear power park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

There is one thing common in over 100 such protests, as Bharat Jhunjunwala, a campaigner against hydel projects in Uttarakhand, says they have not bothered the government at all.

"These are campaigns of the voiceless poor," said Mihir Shah, member planning commission, who has spent 20 years working with poor tribal in Central India.

What has hurt some of these campaigners is that Team Anna has only taken up formation of the Lokpal while side-tracking other important issues.

"Corruption is there but bigger issues afflicting the nation such as falling girl child population, poverty and deprivation has missed Anna Hazare. It is very sad," said Sayeeda Hamid, a plan panel member in-charge of the voluntary sector.

He added, "The campaign is primarily urban centric and limited to big metros".

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