Day 2: 9th March

On Day 2 of the Feminist Week of Resistance and Reflections (7th to 14th March), marking International Women’s Day and remembering Savitribai Phule, NAPM reflects on the impact of varied forms of displacements and disasters in urban and rural areas, onwomen and people of other marginalized genders, especially belonging to Dalit, Adivasi, Vimukta, Bahujan, Muslim and other oppressed communities, already living with scarce access to resources for sustenance.

The recent flash floods in Chamoli, Uttarakhand are among the numerous examples of ‘nature-based’ disasters, which are in fact exacerbated by human intervention leading to climate crisis, sea level rise, and land use change. The floods caused large scale destruction in surrounding villages and the loss of more than a hundred lives, mostly of migrant workers, employed in upcoming dam projects. This disaster could have been avoided to a considerable extent if the State had heeded to the concerns expressed by local communities and experts opposing the mega hydro-electric projects due to its adverse socio-environmental impacts in the eco-sensitive region.

Disasters in the recent years in Kerala, Hyderabad, Assam, Bengal, Bihar and elsewhere etc also owe at least part of their impact to human interventions which do not consider environmental sustainability and lack of human preparedness. At the same time, response to such disasters fails to account differentially for the disproportionate impact they have through loss of access to shelter, and means of sustenance, on groups already vulnerable, especially on grounds of gender.

Similarly unheard in their opposition to the social, environmental and livelihoods impact of proposed ‘development’, thousands of Adivasi villagers, with women prominent among them, continue to protest the Kulda coal mines in Odisha, ever since the project was proposed over a decade ago. The Baghjan gas leak in Assam last May caused deaths and injuries, destruction of homes, displacement of over 3,000 predominantly indigenous people.

Thousands of adivasis in the schedule adivasi area of Bastar, Chhattisgarh have been protesting multiple proposed destructive projects in recent times, be it the mining of the sacred Nandraj mountain or the mega Bodhghat Dam, which is likely to lead to massive displacement in the region, especially when the claimed ‘benefits’ of irrigation are held to be dubious. This would almost be a disastrous repeat of the Polavaram Project which is also designed to submerge the homes of lakhs of adivasis and dalits in Andhra Pradesh.

These movements are some of the countless examples of socio-environmental justice conflicts across India, where people are fighting against ‘development’ at the cost of their deprivation, displacement and even death, often state-induced. Women have been at the forefront of these protests, facing repression, including sexual violence, but continuing to mobilize against the long-lasting consequences of such mammoth infrastructure projects.

Movements in Narmada, Niyamgiri and anti-POSCO (Odisha), Mallanasagar (Telangana), Polavaram (Andhra Pradesh), Melauli (Goa), Mikir Bamuni and Dibru Saikhowa (Assam), Netrahat (Jharkhand), Lavasa (Maharashtra) as well as in many other parts of the country, in particular the central Indian forested states with huge adivasi populations have demonstrated years of fierce resistance. They have opposed forced land acquisition and displacement, often for corporate interests, while raising sharp questions about the entire ‘paradigm of development’, including at whose cost, for whose benefit.

The experience of ‘rehabilitation’ has also, however, been far from satisfactory, in violation of the already weak legal frameworks, denying quality arable land, sustainable livelihoods, housing with adequate resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) amenities etc. Invariably, displacement precedes fair and just rehabilitation, in violation of the Supreme Court’s directives that R&R is part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Monetization of R&R packages and non-consultation of women in the entire process have also resulted in large-scale corruption and loot of the communities by middlemen and officials. This impacts in particular adivasi, dalit, bahujan, landless, who are often not conversant with the market economy.

Across the country today, forests, coasts, wetlands, commons are under intense attack at the hands of aggressive industrialization and corporate gain, adversely affecting lakhs of forest-dwelling, fishing community and nature-dependent people, in particular women. From the fragile Himalayan region, to the Western Ghats, to the North East, the imposition of irreversible developmental interventions will irretrievably alter people’s already uncertain livelihoods and jeopardize women’s access to life-sustaining resources.

With the onset neo-liberal model of ‘growth’ and of crumbling rural economies, lakhs of people from vulnerable backgrounds have been pushed to undertake distress migration to cities, in search of work, only to find themselves living in informal settlements, where the lack of recognition as slums means they are deprived of essential amenities. The country witnessed the most poignant images of migrant workers during lockdown, while these ‘invisible populations’ have existed and survived for decades, building and toiling in the cities, but with barely any security of shelter and livelihood. Many of these workers, as well as those living in the slums for years, experience multiple evictions, even as they barely manage to find dignified livelihood. Evictions, in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Varanasi, Bhilai, Dehradun, Patna and across the country, frequently without prior notification, deny already oppressed communities the basic right to shelter and livelihood.

Women and people marginalized on grounds of gender, young people and at times elders and children face constant risks, police violence when they demand their rights as citizens. They also face daily discrimination by the employers and the State. Many of them, employed as construction workers, daily wage workers, and other migrant workers are evicted without notice and live in a perpetual state of precarity, whereas women are subjected to sexual harassment that is hardly impossible addressed. ‘Resettlement’ most frequently means relocation far away from existing work, especially for domestic workers, who have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and whose varied levels of exploitation at the hands of their employees already render them vulnerable. Similarly, in spite of the Street Vendors’ Act coming into effect 7 years back, street vendors, most of whom are impoverished women, are at constant risk of losing their meagre livelihoods, and remain at the mercy of local police and municipal authorities. While many of these communities have organized themselves, into unions and housing rights movements and fight for their rights, they continue to face uncertainty of livelihood and shelter.

National Alliance of People’s Movements stands in earnest solidarity with all people, especially of those oppressed and marginalized on grounds of gender, sexuality, caste, ethnicity, religion, disability, demanding access to information and rightful participation in all planning and decisions concerning governance of their natural resources, homesteads and livelihood bases. We remain opposed to all forms of involuntary displacement, forced evictions and attempts to destroy people’s livelihoods. We continue to support their threatened rights to organize, protest, and dissent, in the face of state excesses and corporate greed.

Should you wish to send us any feminist materials during this week from your struggles / organisations that you think needs to be amplified, please e-mail them to or send them over whatsapp to 7618835699 as soon as possible or latest by 10th March (8 pm).Additionally, you can also tag us with these materials at our social media links on the scheduled date of each theme. Do follow for updates.

NAPM India