Resolution on Environmental Protection and People-centric Development

1. Destruction of livelihood, grab of land and resources, eviction from land, pollution that endangers health and safety, and devastation of environment, is all being justified by the ruling classes in the name of ‘development.’ At the same time, people are being deprived of basic rights of education, health, housing, and other kinds of social welfare, which ought to be the fundamental parameters of development in any country.

2. Asserting a people’s agenda of development calls for firm measures to reverse corporate-led ‘development’, and counter the rampant privatisation of resources, assets, and services; and for placing people’s own concerns and local, participatory democratic decision-making at the centre of development. The basic principle of development must be redefined as ensuring people’s control over resources; and use of revenue generated from such resources for social welfare as a priority.

3. Over the past few decades, the growing damage to ecosystems and living environments, and the diminishing access to resources that sustain human lives have brought to the fore serious concerns about environmental degradation and ecological imbalance. The fallout of the damage to ecosystems and environment has to be borne mainly by the most deprived and vulnerable sections of society – fisher people, communities who depend on forests and common pastures for their livelihoods, the urban poor who live in slums that dot our cities, small farmers and landless agrarian labourers and so on. Moreover, even within these deprived communities, it is often women who shoulder a far greater burden of the damage.

4. ‘Solutions’ offered by the ruling classes for a host of environmental problems – from global warming, to industrial pollution and depletion of water and forests resources – inevitably fall within the same market and profit-based framework which exacerbated the problems in the first place. Moreover, these ‘solutions’ often end up forcing the poorest of the poor and the most marginalised people – who are usually also the victims of environmental degradation and ecological damage – to bear the whole burden of environmental ‘protection’. It is the responsibility of the revolutionary movement to oppose and reject this framework and forcefully articulate environmental and ecological concerns from a completely different framework rooted in the interests of the most vulnerable and deprived sections of society. We have to articulate a vision of development that does not destroy the source of peoples’ livelihoods, a model of development that is safe, as well as sensitive to the real needs of the rural and urban poor.

Environmental Concerns in Agriculture

5. Over and above perpetual neglect of agriculture, the excessive and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, promoted by the state in the interest of their manufacturers and to try and temporarily manage the agrarian crisis, is causing long-term damage to soil fertility in this country known for its fertility over the ages. Moreover the exposure to chemicals and the slow seepage of dangerous and hazardous chemicals into soil and water is resulting in the alarming rise of all sorts of diseases, including cancer, amongst farmers in areas with a long history of heavy pesticide and fertilizer usage. The extraordinarily high incidence of cancer in such regions – far above the national average – is a telling confirmation of this dark side of ‘development’.

6. The issue of the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has also brought to the fore the blatant double standards being followed by imperialist forces led by the US. To begin with, on the one hand, these powers coerced countries like India to adopt a model of chemical-intensive agriculture in order to protect the interests of agri-business back home. On the other hand, they are now rejecting Indian products on the ground that they are ‘unhealthy’ and contain unacceptable level of pesticides. Also,