May 11, 2012
WHAT : FOURTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL FORUM OF FOREST PEOPLE AND FOREST WORKERS
WHEN : 26-28, MAY 2012
WHERE : DEHRADUN, UTTARAKHAND
CONTACT : Vikalp @ 91-132-2661276
It is our great pleasure to invite you to the 4th National conference of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers. Delegates from constituent groups/organizations and fraternal organizations from 20 states, representing more than 50 forest regions will participate in the conference. A number of the national trade union leadership is also invited to this conference. Delegates from the neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan will also attend. A number of international organizations are also invited.
Dehradun is the capital city of state of Uttarakhand. 65% of the state is forest area and there have been many historic forest right movements in Uttarakhand during the colonial period and also in Independent India. Dehradun is well connected by railway from Chennai, Trivandram, Vijaywada, Nagpur, Itarsi, Bhopal, Jhansi, Gaya, Agra, Delhi, Haridwar, Lucknow, Howrah, Mumbai, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Indor, Ujjain, Kota (Table number 75, Trains at a Glance). The nearest major railway junction is Saharanpur for the Northeastern, eastern, and western regions. There are regular bus connection from Delhi (Anand Vihar I.S.B.T) and two daily flights from Delhi. Since May will be tourist season for the hills, we would request you to book your ticket at the earliest.
On 26th May, a one day public hearing will be organized on the issue of “National Parks and Forest Rights Act”. Formal proceeding of the conference will start after the Public Hearing. As you may be aware, the forest rights movement today is passing through a critical phase. This is also a very challenging period that will decide the fate of forest peoples and forests in India, i.e., whether the forests and forest people should remain under the domain of Indian state, which is seized by big corporations under the neo-liberal regime, or be within a democratic framework under a system of people’s governance. With the passing of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, forest-based working communities have come under increasing attack from the forest bureaucracy supported by mafias, local feudal and vested interests (including illegal mining contractors), in a very organized manner across the country. This attack is also supported by the dominant political class. There is also a deepening environmental and ecological crisis threatening society. Therefore, the question of ecological justice vis-à-vis profiteering and capital accumulation is a pertinent question of the hour. This has given rise to significant growth of resistance movements against such attacks across the country. This resistance movement in some areas has grown in developing alternatives against the present dominant regime. There is a direct conflict of interests between the communities and the Indian State on the issue of forest governance. It is also evident that there is unprecedented growth in political consciousness of struggling people, manifesting in newer methods of resistance and in creating alternatives for the protection of resources, of livelihoods, and for the future organizational processes. Such struggles are going on in Kaimur region (of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh), Rewa, Tarai region bordering Nepal in U.P. and Uttarakhand, Assam, Himanchal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, and Javari hills in Tamil Nadu. Along with this, strong resistance movements are going on in Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. Another significant process that has been started independently by women to attain their forest rights was the formation of “women’s forest rights action committees”. Women in many areas are giving new dimensions to the forest rights movement by creating alternative models of community forest governance through a collective effort. Along with this, the movement of fish workers’, tribal struggles against illegal mining, peasant movements against SEZs and land acquisition are creating new political space against the neo-liberal regime.
NFFPFW recognizes this historic process and resolves to take appropriate action so that it can provide a sustainable political leadership to the forest rights movement through a dynamic process. Such a situation has also necessitated basic changes in the structure of organization building as new forces are emerging in creating new forms of leadership, especially among the women and youth. These new forces are challenging the state and working towards a radical change instead of traditional ways of pleading and lobbying. This phenomenon must urgently and consciously be incorporated into the organization building process. The present political challenges demand some major changes in the organizational process also. The emerging consciousness of the community leadership must be reflected in the organizational structure, so that the movement and the leadership correspond to each other realistically. Symbolic community leadership will not be effective. The leadership that has grown in the struggle needs to be brought to the forefront. The emerging new leadership from the communities and especially that of women and the youth has to be strengthened in the organizational process.
In this context, the national conference of NFFPFW will emphasizse :
1. Setting the political agenda for the collective struggle by the natural resource based, traditional, working people against the neo-liberal regime;
2. Strengthening the self strengthening process of community leadership in the forest rights movement and in the organization process to create an alternative forest governance system under community leadership across the country;
3. Strengthening women’s leadership at all levels in the movement and in the organization from local to national level;
4. Propagating and strengthening the collective process of production and reproduction of natural resources, i.e., forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and mining;
5. Strategic alliance building with other natural resource based working people’s organizations focusing on vulnerable areas and with the workers’ movements.
These serious political and organizational issues in regards to forest right movement need to be discussed within the organization and it is equally important to discuss all such issues with fraternal organizations who are working in the field of natural resources and with the working people in general. As you may be aware, on 15 December 2011 a mass protest rally on forest rights was held before the Parliament and was followed by the formation of “Federation of Natural Resource Based Traditional Working People” during a convention on 16 December 2011 at Mavlankar Hall, New Delhi. The strengthening of Federation will be a crucial issue for discussion in the national conference of NFFPFW. The national committee has taken a decision to involve fraternal organizations and other alliance organizations in future programmes so that formation of a wider alliance of the working people could be developed. An organizing committee for the fourth conference of NFFPFW has been formed with representation from all the struggling areas that also needs to be expanded with the consent of other comrades.
In this context, we understand that your participation will be very crucial in this conference. We cordially invite you to participate in this conference and help the process to take forward in facing the challenges of neo-liberal regime attacking our natural resources.
We will appreciate an early confirmation from your end. The details of venue will be followed in the next letter. Kindly block your dates in advance. We will take care of boarding and lodging. Kindly bear your own travel cost.
In Solidarity on behalf of Organizing Committee,
Munnilal (convenor NFFPFW Uttarakhand), Gautam Bandhopadhaya (M.P/ Chhatisgarh), Ganga Arya (Uttarakhand), Matadyal, Rani (M.P and Bundelkhand UP), Rajnish, Shanta Bhattaracharjee, Roma, Ashok Choudhury, Ramchandra Rana, Ramesh Shukla, Nathu Kol, Rajkumari Bhuiya (Uttar Pradesh), K. Krishnan, Amni (Tamil Nadu), Guman Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Janaki (Chandigarh), Sushovan Dhar (West Bengal), Kishore Thapa, Shiva Sonwar (Gorkhaland), Vijay Jena, Arjun Bhai (Odisha), Sarang Dhabekar (Maharashtra), Roy David, Kaveri (Karnataka), Sanichar Agaria, Vasavi Kiro (Jharkhand), Mamta Kujur (Chattisgarh), Vedanta, Mridula (Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Assam).