to the court about the harmful effects of this widely used killer pesticide. The verdict came as a major boost to the protracted, two-decade long movement against endosulfan – a movement that exposed the unholy nexus between government institutions and profit-hungry corporations. This battle needs to be continued till a country-wide ban is imposed.

18. There is also a need to intensify struggles against other potential killers like asbestos. All forms of asbestos pose completely unacceptable hazards to workers who mine it or work with it, and also to anyone who is exposed to asbestos for substantial periods of time. However, in a repeat of the tragic story of endosulfan, despite well-documented information, governments at the central and state levels are hell-bent on promoting the asbestos industry. While fifty-five countries in the world have already banned asbestos, new asbestos plants are being set up in India. In Bihar, new plants are proposed in Bhojpur, West Champaran, Muzzafarpur, Vaishali and Madhubani, and the Bihar government has even passed the Bihar Agricultural Land Conversion for Non-agricultural Use Act in 2012 to facilitate the construction of these plants. This promotion of asbestos continues despite the fact that alternatives to asbestos exist. Moreover, the central government has allowed countries like Russia and Canada to dump huge quantities of this toxic material in India.

19. The ship-breaking industry in Alang (Gujarat) and some other ports constitute yet another area of concern. In these ports hazardous substances are imported and handled by workers – mostly migrants from Bihar, UP, Orissa and Jharkhand – often in a clandestine and non-transparent manner in order to hide blatant violations of a host of laws. We oppose all such anti-people policies and practices and extend our fullest support to various campaigns against these.

Wildlife Conservation and Human-animal Conflicts

20. In different parts of the country, we continue to witness human-animal conflicts: whether is the almost daily struggle of villagers against elephants in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh or tigers in Uttarakhand, Sunderbans, Rajasthan or West Champaran, for instance, or the state-sponsored eviction of people in these areas in the name of wildlife conservation. These issues definitely pose a challenge of achieving a balance between the need to ensure human sustenance and the equally important need to protect natural ecosystems and the various species dependent on them. This challenge is rendered all the more difficult by the efforts of the ruling classes to portray the victims as the real ‘problem’. Thus the tribal living in forests, who has a long history of coexistence with the tiger, who has no real desire to poach and kill tigers simply to hang their skins as wall decoration, suddenly becomes the ‘intruder’, the poacher, the prime enemy of the wildlife conservation project.

21. Two major issues need to inform our positions on the human-animal conflict. Firstly, if steps are not taken to maintain at least a minimum forest cover and if this basic survival need of various species is not addressed, the conflict will increase. Secondly, poaching of animals is driven not by the local population but by the market consisting of upper class customers in far-away cities and countries. When forest cover is destroyed, it is mostly to cater to the needs of industry, real-estate and middle-class and upper class interests, while the villagers physically closest to the forest bear the brunt of animal attacks. It is they who understand the conflict best, and also have no interest in destroying ecological balance and exacerbating the conflict, so they are the best placed to find appropriate solutions. It is therefore necessary to actively involve local communities and villagers living in close proximity to animals in the process of conservation.