June 5, 2008

Facing the winds of power in India

Gururaja Budhya writes at "NGO Forum on ADB [Asian Development Bank]" (click on title of this post for original):

“Our village used to have peacocks roaming around. We had strict rules to protect them along with other flora and fauna visiting our village,” said a woman from the community. She has been cursing the installation of the wind mills surrounding their village and has been blaming it for the disappearance of peacocks. She lamented that the installation of the windmills surrounding the hills was done without any consultation with them.

The woman narrated that the hills have been chopped, causing soil erosion and affecting the flora and fauna in the region. Hundreds of windmills in Karnataka have caused the alteration of geography, affected the topography, greenery and the endangered species of flora and fauna.

The proponents of development want the villagers living near the resources to “sacrifice for the development of the nation.” For years, the same people who sacrificed their resources have been denied to get a fair share of the “fruits” of development. They ended up only as contributors. At the same time, they have suffered due to the impact brought by development. The mining case in Orissa is another example of such development devastating the forest lands and forest dwellers.

The promoters of windmills in Davanagere district have begun community development initiatives as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), resulting in the formation of women’s self help groups and construction of toilets, to name a few. I find these initiatives, which are part of the CSR of these so-called corporate houses, totally misguiding.

Corporations have social responsibility – to be sensitive to the nature of their investments and be able to boldly address the issues of social development. As a part of this responsibility, corporations must spend on mitigation measures and environmental impacts assessments, for example. This means said measures must be part of the investment allocated to address the negative impacts of the project. Additionally, a part of the annual profits have to be ploughed back into the development of the community. For me, this is part of fulfilling their Corporate Social Responsibility.

But cleverly, many companies do not address the negative impacts of their projects. They spend a small project allocation for their so-called community development activities – claiming it as Corporate Social Responsibility. No ethics, no sensitivity, no social responsibility – all at the cost of people for high profits.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights