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SACW | 2 Feb 01

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire 2nd February 2001 http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex) #1. India-Pakistan Friendship issue of Gallerie --an arts and ideas journal #2. Shell
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      South Asia Citizens Wire
      2nd February 2001
      http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex)


      #1. India-Pakistan Friendship issue of Gallerie --an arts and ideas journal
      #2. Shell in Court over Pakistan Park Scandal
      #3. Nature Protests
      #4. Book relase announcement: Dams vs Drinking Water

      ------------------------------------

      #1.

      GALLERIE--an arts and ideas journal.

      India-Pakistan Friendship issue.

      This issue is dedicated to India and Pakistan; to a peace process that
      should have begun long ago. Just a border away, we know little about
      the other nation beyond the obvious cliché-ridden assumptions. Partition
      has created not just a geographical divide but a formidable chasm in the
      emotional psyche of both people. Outside knee-jerk reaction to the
      violence of Partition, have we questioned the events that led to it? And
      must a fifty three-year old nightmare be sustained? Do we allow the wound
      to fester? Must we not start a healing process?

      India and Pakistan have shared a border. But they have not shared an
      understanding?of their centuries-old history dating back to Moenjodaro
      and Harappa when a more civilised, pluralistic society prevailed. Our
      nation was cleaved by an arrogant imperialism. It’s policy of divide and
      rule left hundreds of thousands dead, displaced or scarred for life.
      Both nations suffered but the wounds have been made to fester?by two
      myopic governments unable to engage in a constructive dialogue. Arms
      dealers and middle-men, politicians and speculators make millions while
      innocent lives are still squandered.

      Kashmir is one example of this insensate sport?in the last eleven years
      alone more than fifty thousand have died. A once-idyllic land of gentle
      people is ravaged today by the highest ratio of soldiers to civilians in
      the world. Besides, we are virtually sitting on two time bombs that
      needs just one irrational moment to wipe out millions. The "warning"
      time of 15-20 minutes is not only hopelessly inadequate, it is
      completely meaningless; nuclear "empowerment" and the theory of
      'deterrence' will be extinguished as ingloriously as millions of both
      our people.

      Fortunately, cracks of light are beginning to shine through a dismal
      horizon?the work of peace activists from both nations has raised
      curiosity and interest in ordinary people. The Wagah border is witness
      to an incessant traffic?people going East, going West. Artists,
      anti-nuclear activists, writers and journalists are enagaged in dialogue
      through conferences, workshops and cultural events.

      A special mention must be made for writers Aasim Akhtar, Tehmina Ahmed
      and Asif Noorani from Pakistan who helped coordinate this issue. Here
      then, we feature artists little known to India: Shahzia Sikander and
      Anwar Saeed, Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureishi. Photographers Ayesha
      Vellani, Tehmina Ahmed, Jamshyd Masud and Tapu Javeri. Writers, Beena
      Sarwar, Dr. Hamida Khuhro, Altaf Fatima, artist-writer Salima Hashmi and
      poets Faiz-Ahmed Faiz, Moeen Faruqi and actor Salman Shahid. Bombay
      artist, Nalini Malani interrogates Partition in her video installation
      'Toba Tek Singh', reviewed by Dutch writer Johan Pijnappel, Manisha Gera
      shares her miniature artworks and Shuvaprasanna journeys with the travel
      stories with charcoal and acrylic. Uma Narain explores the common
      terrain of Sufis and Bauls. Ritu Menon and Sheba Chhachhi capture some
      spirited moments with Asma Jehangir. Praful Bidwai and Teesta Setalvad
      urge us to confront and undo our political follies.

      If the wall can come down in Berlin, if North and South Korea can be
      friends, if Taipei and China can begin a dialogue and all of Europe be a
      free trade zone, India and Pakistan can be good neighbours. It's time we
      begin to heal.

      for subscriptions email <gallerie@...>
      website: http://www.gallerie.net

      _____


      #2.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Farhan <fanwar@...>
      To: foqia@...
      Date: Thursday, February 01, 2001 2:40 PM
      Subject: Fw: from FOE: SHELL IN COURT OVER PAKISTAN PARK SCANDAL

      >> >
      >> > EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01 HRS, Wednesday 24th January 2001 page 1 of 2
      >> > SHELL IN COURT OVER PAKISTAN PARK SCANDAL
      >> > Environmentalists in Pakistan are taking Shell, the giant oil
      >> > multinational, to court [1] in Karachi today (Wednesday 24) over its
      >> > plans to drill for oil in one of most beautiful and precious areas of
      >> > Pakistan [2]. Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment, one of the
      local
      >> > green organisations behind the court case, today called on "investors
      >> > with money in Shell to ask this company how it can defend its actions."
      >> > Friends of the Earth, which has branded the plans as "scandalous",will
      >> > launch a major campaign against Shell in the UK .
      >> >
      >> > Kirthar National Park was established in 1974 to protect endangered
      >> > wildlife including the unique Sindh ibex, desert wolves, leopards,
      >> > striped hyena, rare wild sheep and imperial eagle. Covering more than
      >> > 740,000 acres of forests and valleys 80 miles north-west of Karachi, it
      >> > is essential to the water supply of the city's 14 million people. The
      >> > park also contains Rannikot Fort, one of the world's oldest, which
      dates
      >> > back to 3500 BC.
      >> >
      >> > Kirthar Park is internationally listed and supposed to be protected by
      >> > law. But just last weekend, the Governor of Sindh province, Mohammed
      >> > Mian Soomro - a director of Shell-Pakistan until he became governor
      last
      >> > year - amended the local wildlife laws to allow pipeline construction
      in
      >> > the park. Final permission for drilling will have to be granted by
      >> > Pakistan's Federal oil minister, Usman Aminuddin. He is a former
      >> > executive of a Shell subsidiary, Burshane.
      >> >
      >> > The controversy will tarnish the clean image that Shell has been trying
      >> > to create over recent years. In its recent glossy brochure "People,
      >> > Planet and Profits", Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell's chair wrote "My
      >> > colleagues and I are totally committed to a business strategy that
      >> > generates profits while contributing to the well-being of the planet
      and
      >> > its people. We see no alternative."
      >> >
      >> > Despite this Shell still continues to open new oil and gas reserves in
      >> > sensitive areas. And in many cases, including Dureji wildlife santuary
      >> > in Pakistan, local environmentalists have raised concerns about damage
      >> > to precious ecosystems.
      >> >
      >> > The damaging impact of the oil industry has been dramatically
      >> > illustrated over recent days:
      >> > . a massive oil spill at the weekend still threatens the Galapagos
      >> > Island's, one of the most delicate ecosystems in the world;
      >> > . and on Monday a panel of UN scientists warned that global climate
      >> > change is likely to be much more severe than previously feared, mainly
      >> > as a result of the burning of fossil fuels like oil.
      >> >
      >> > Friends of the Earth believes that Shell should invest far more of its
      >> > vast wealth in long-term solutions to environmental problems, such as
      >> > wind, solar and wave power. This year, FOE will be mobilising the
      public
      >> > to take up the issue with Shell investors such as pension funds and
      >> > banks to address the oil companies shortcomings.
      >> >
      >> > Farhan Anwar, an Executive Member of Shehri-Citizens for a Better
      >> > Environment, a local environmental NGO in Pakistan said:
      >> >
      >> > "We have already seen the damage that Shell's activities can have on
      >> > wildlife, such as at Dureji Wildlife Sanctuary. We find it quite
      >> > outrageous that they are now planning to plunder one of our most
      >> > precious national parks - in Kirthar - home to some of our most
      >> > endangered species. Shell's project is illegal. Our law clearly
      >> > prohibits any kind of mining or exploration activity in these areas.
      But
      >> > now this massive corporation is using its influence, and contacts with
      >> > ex-Shell employees now in Government, to trash our wildlife laws. We
      >> > call on British investors with money in Shell to ask this company how
      >> > it can defend its actions".
      >> >
      >> > Craig Bennett, Habitats campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:
      >> >
      >> > "Shell claims that it cares about poor people and the environment, yet
      >> > its massive profits are being used to open up and plunder some of the
      >> > world's most precious and sensitive areas. This scandalous project must
      >> > not go ahead. Shell should also listen to the dire warning issued this
      >> > week by UN scientists on the threat of global climate change. The main
      >> > cause is the burning of fossil fuels. Shell should invest more of its
      >> > massive profits in renewable energy such as wind and solar power. If it
      >> > doesn't, then its claims to care about the planet and its people will
      be
      >> > nothing but hot air.
      >> >
      >> > We will be working with local campaigners in Pakistan to fight this
      >> > project. We want the public, banks and pension funds to challenge Shell
      >> > to stop putting profits before people and the planet".
      >> >
      >> > EDITOR'S NOTES:
      >> >
      >> > [1] Nine environmental organisations have petitioned the Sindh High
      >> > Court, noting that mineral and gas exploration inside the national park
      >> > is illegal under the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance. The first
      date
      >> > for the hearing (January 4th) was postponed because Shell complained
      >> > that it was "not ready".
      >> >
      >> > [2] Since 1998, Shell has been involved in exploration in Dureji
      >> > Wildlife Sanctuary in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan - an area
      >> > important for Sindh ibex and rare mountain sheep. Local
      >> > environmentalists claim that access roads built for heavy machinery
      have
      >> > damaged the delicate mountain environment, increased erosion and
      >> > increased access for poachers. They say that the seismic testing has
      >> > also caused disturbance to wildlife populations, and that one rig was
      >> > constructed in Hamilag range right in the heart of a sensitive zone -
      >> > against the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
      >> > Dureji was recently downgraded from a Wildlife Sanctuary to a Game
      >> > Reserve, as a result of the damage.
      >> > Photo's of Kirthar National Park available from FOE
      >> >
      >> > Craig Bennett 020 7566 1667 (Dir) 07654 588 862 (Pgr)
      >> > Farhan Anwar, Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment (Pakistan)
      >> > 00 92 21 438 22 98 (tel)
      >>
      _____

      #3.


      Indian Express column. January 31, 2001.

      Nature Protests

      By Bina Sarkar Ellias (Editor, Gallerie)

      Life is fragile. We are reminded every now and then, and yet we forget.
      Just back from the nightmare in Ahmedabad, the recounting is as
      chilling. Alone on the 10th floor of a triplex apartment in Ambavadi,
      between dream and waking I felt the bed rock. "Stand beneath a door
      frame," a Japanese friend had cautioned in Tokyo, and I stood there
      clutching the frame while the building shook forever. Things around me
      were crashing to the floor. Voices screamed outside. I waited for the
      walls and floor to give way. Strangely, they did not. In the terrifying
      silence that followed I froze for a long, long time.

      I learnt later, that two ten-storeyed buildings in Ambavadi had
      collapsed. On my way out, I saw a building fallen on its side just down
      the road. Many dead. Residents had vacated all buildings. People were
      out on the streets. NID, where I headed for was a haven of order,
      barring a few shaken foreigners and students desperately trying to reach
      family and let them know they were safe. Despite cracks on many of its
      walls, a broken water-pipe and a damaged spirit, the flag-hoisting
      ceremony went on. A limp flag hung, it seemed, in shame. Fifty one years
      and nothing to show.

      No electricity, no water. No knowing what was happening outside. The
      rare taxi that was available took us to the Taj Residency. The driver
      was charged with the urgency of the moment. He told us of the
      devastation in different areas. He said that the three hundred rupees he
      would earn from ferrying us would be used for sewa?this was an
      opportunity in a lifetime, he said. He would spend the next few days in
      relief work. He was heading for disaster zones. And we were heading for
      the Taj where we waited until confirmed seats on the evening flight out
      were made available. The Taj was another planet. Only the swimming pool
      had responded to the quake?the water danced, they said. It was surreal.

      It was the next day in Bombay that the quake shook me again. Waves over
      waves. Someone said, "You were in a high-rise in Ambavadi?and you
      escaped? (Two similar high-rises in the vicinity had collapsed) God is
      great!" Extremely selective I thought, in manifesting greatness. Why
      were the thirtynine school children buried under rubble for twentyfour
      hours dying a slow, knowing death excluded from the largesse, and the
      four hundred and fifty children and teachers in Anjar, out on a cheerful
      republic day parade?why were they punished? And the thousands in Gujarat
      and Cutch and the millions who die all over the world in natural
      disasters.

      Perhaps, resignation to the will or whims of a god, must be replaced by
      a serious questioning of ourselves. We are guilty of contributing to
      natural disasters. Like petty thieves we rob our forests of trees, build
      dams, rob our citizens of their natural habitat. We dump chemical waste
      in our rivers, pollute the air with toxic fumes. You cannot mess around
      with the environment forever. Nature will protest. It needs just a shrug
      to devastate thousands.

      And with every nuclear explosion we sap life out of our own people. In
      Khetolai, the village near Pokharan, the recent 1998 testing caused more
      harm than the government would like us to believe. 1500 villagers were,
      without prior warning herded out on the scorching afternoon of May 11,
      and made to wait in a treeless field for hours until the three
      explosions occurred. On returning to their homes they discovered that
      the mud walls of their homes were cracked, the walls of their wells were
      cracked and water had drained out of them. Their protests met with
      complete dismissal.

      Research showed since the first test in 1974, the earth, vegetation,
      water and air around Pokharan were contaminated with radioactivity.
      Although the governments denied the fact, residents of the villages
      around Pokharan are testimony to the after-effects. The soil has since
      yielded radiated vegetation, farm animals have suffered, cancer has
      slowly gnawed into an alarming number of its inhabitants. There is no
      periodic investigation or healthcare provided by the state. Where do the
      people go? If they remain on the land of their birth, they continue to
      suffer. If they come into the cities we complain they are slumming our
      streets.

      Is there a solution? How do we combat the greed of governments and some
      of the industrial houses that are partners in crime? Increasingly, in
      India, we find non-government organisations taking over municipal and
      state responsibilities in education, health and community welfare. This
      is of course, a happy situation for the government as responsibilities
      can be relinquished and tax payer’s money for community benefits,
      usurped to augment personal coffers.

      This is true in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where like paan shops, almost
      ever street corner houses an NGO. India is heading in a similar
      direction. And we, the people are to blame. We are in alliance as we
      elect corrupt "leaders" (little option, it is said, between the less
      corrupt and the more) and are too busy with our lives to engage in a
      confrontation. Silence is consent. The impotence is complete.

      The prime minister has sanctioned five hundred crores of Rupees towards
      rehabilitation. And of this, we do not know how much will be syphoned
      off at which level, how much will reach the victims. The recent disaster
      in Orissa claimed thousands of its people and to date, welfare benefits
      have yet to reach its survivors. The Bhopal tragedy victims are still
      waiting after a decade for a just compensation. Gujarat and Cutch have
      just begun their own tragic journey.

      _____

      #4.


      31 January 2001

      Announcing a Book Release


      An attempt to understand the ideology, presumptions, conclusions
      and consequences of the Supreme Court Judgement
      -------------------------------
      Dams vs Drinking Water
      -------------------------------
      Exploring the Narmada Judgement

      by LC Jain

      In the first ever in-depth critique of the Supreme Court verdict on Sardar
      Sarovar (Narmada) case, L C Jain methodically explains the flaws in the
      judgement which has been described by many as the worst ever in the history
      of the apex court. Using his wide experience and with immaculate precision
      he dismantles the arguments set forth in the judgement and exposes the real
      issues which are still left unanswered. This is essential reading for all
      interested in knowing the truth, which remains clouded behind the heated
      controversy over the Narmada debate.

      LC Jain: Economist, ex-member of Central Planning Commission and planning
      boards of states, member of Five-member committee appointed by the Central
      Government to review the Sardar Sarovar Project in 1993, Vice Chairman of
      the World Commission on Dams.

      Size: 8.5" x 5.5"
      Pages: 136
      Binding: Paperback
      Price: Rs 75.00 / $ 7

      Pre Publication offer:
      For orders received before 15th February 2001
      Rs. 50.00 / $5 (Postage free)

      For registered post please add Rs. 15.00

      Please rush Demand Draft or Money Order in favour of "Parisar" and book your
      copy today!
      Please add Rs. 15.00 for outstation cheques.

      Order Form:

      Name:___________________________________

      Address:_________________________________

      ________________________________________

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      ----------
      Parisar,
      Yamuna, ICS Colony, Ganeshkhind Road, Pune 411 007,
      Telephone: 5537955, Email: Sujit Patwardhan <sujit@...>

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