Hyderabad, May 3, (UNI) The Peoples Forum Against Asian Development Bank (PFAADB) today commenced its 'counter events' to the 39th ADB Governor's meet with a powerful indictment of the development model promoted by the institution and the Indian state.
Speakers from across Asia - Philippines, Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh and India spoke of their experiences with bad development projects, exclusion and militarisation.
Over 1,000 people gathered at the public garden for the inaugural session of the PF. Groups from West Bengal and Jharkand began the meeting by raising slogans against ADB and singing songs of protest.
'Where is the space for the poor in the development model pushed by the ADB?' asked Kousalya of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Hakk, a struggle group based in Mumbai fighting for housing rights.
'The ADB-funded Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM) is a slap in the face of the poor. The ADB should withdraw and the plan be dropped. There is no space for us in this scheme, it is mainly to attract big companies to cities', she asserted.
A focus area at the PF was the implication of the Bank's plans for the North-Eastern states of India. 'Due to existence of repressive laws, civil space is increasingly being reduced'.
This allowed mega projects like dams, power plants and highways to bulldoze into the North-East, they said, adding, the nexus between militarisation and so-called development had been sufficiently proven in ethnic conflicts engineered by the army, said M Kikon of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR).
'The strength of Chattisgarh is agriculture and bio-diversity.
ADB will destroy this with their plans to promote agri-business in the state. The loan will introduce high-end seed varieties that consume huge amounts of water. This will lead to a limiting of seed varieties and farmers will be pushed off the land, further accentuating the agrarian crisis, and lead to mass migration. This is why many of us have been demanding that the loan be dropped,' said Gautam Bandhopadhya of the Nadi Ghati Morcha.
'Over 30 million people depend on fisheries for livelihoods in South East Asia alone. ADB-led policies of unregulated privatisation and destructive development of coastal and marine resources will sound the death-knell for these people', asserted Agnes Balota of the SEA Fish for Justice Network and Tambuyog based in the Philippines.
Later in the day, activists from the PF joined the Trade Union rally and expressed solidarity with their demand 'ADB - Go back'.
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