SACW | 2 Feb 01
- South Asia Citizens Wire
2nd February 2001
#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
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. Its 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
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@...>
From: Farhan <fanwar@...>
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  in Karachi today (Wednesday 24) over its
>> > plans to drill for oil in one of most beautiful and precious areas of
>> > Pakistan . Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment, one of the
>> > green organisations behind the court case, today called on "investorsdates
>> > 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
>> > back to 3500 BC.last
>> > 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
>> > year - amended the local wildlife laws to allow pipeline constructionin
>> > the park. Final permission for drilling will have to be granted byand
>> > 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
>> > its people. We see no alternative."public
>> > 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
>> > to take up the issue with Shell investors such as pension funds andBut
>> > 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.
>> > now this massive corporation is using its influence, and contacts withbe
>> > 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
>> > nothing but hot air.date
>> > 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:
>> >  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
>> > for the hearing (January 4th) was postponed because Shell complainedhave
>> > that it was "not ready".
>> >  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
>> > 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)
Indian Express column. January 31, 2001.
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
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
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
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 payers 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.
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"
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
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Please add Rs. 15.00 for outstation cheques.
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