Neoliberalism and the nature of the Polavaram beast - How the project will affect the Koya settlements in the Eastern Ghats

Fascism of the beginning of the twenty first century is the articulation and translation of racism and ethnicity into politics. Political developments in the nineteen nineties and the first years of the twenty first century demonstrate the determination to control the peripheries and the 'third world'. The specific feature of the contemporary form of fascism is that it does not overthrow forms of parliamentary democracy. It finds a convenient place within global capitalism displaying old and new forms of fascist consciousness. The new form of fascism as a political movement is different from fascism in the twenties and thirties when its main adversary was the Comintern and left social democracy. Margit Köves, 2004

The Koya community has been aflutter with anxiety and consternation from the time they have heard about the Polavarm project. As this would not only submerge large number of Koya settlements, but parts of the Eastern Ghats forests on which many still depend. The Koya, like most Indian tribes are a reticent community, a numerically significant group transitioning to settled agriculture from hunting, subsistence from forest produce and podu (shifting) cultivation. Indignation slowly dawned from the unthinkable:  “Projects that affect life and the future of our children and the tribe as a whole cannot be decided by anybody other than us”.

 The Polavaram-Indirasagar project has been planned and pursued by successive A.P. state governments determined to harness the Godavari river waters, even at huge social and irreparable environmental cost. It is expected to cause more massive displacement of people, destruction of forests and loss of livelihoods, than any other project in independent India.

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