SC order to raze Khori Gaon is a jarring example of coercive environmentalism

This is return to an era of green imperialism, wherein forests around the country are routinely handed over for capitalist profiteering while the landless poor are displaced in the name of restoring ecologies.

By Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli, The Indian Express

Structures being razed at Khori village. (Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Read the entire article at The Indian Express.


The razing of Khori Gaon is a jarring example of forest conservation models that frame forests versus people. While our environmental institutions keep reestablishing this framing, projects done by ecologists and social activists have tried to break down the hard boundaries between these constituencies. The Forest Rights Act was enacted to restore the dignity and place-based rights of Adivasi communities and forest workers. Policies for the relocation of people even from protected areas and tiger reserves now eschew forced evictions and encourage voluntary rehabilitation. Yet, this middle ground of humane approaches to conservation keeps getting hijacked by top-down, coercive models the state is used to.

Poor and migrant workers in cities have little choice but to make homes on public land because the state simply will not provide for them. The state governments that are ever willing to extract their labour loathe to spend on their housing and welfare. The people of Khori Gaon are acutely aware that they are unwanted by the political and bureaucratic establishment that gave them voter IDs, Aadhaar cards, ration cards and other identification. But it has come as a jolt to them that the Supreme Court of India has abandoned them.