The Kerala government has decided to share profits with the Palakkad adivasis of Kerala. Suzlon had erected windmills and according to allegations had usurped land from the adivasis.
There is some uncertainty regarding the actual land in dispute. Chief minister Oomen Chandy said, “The ownership will rest with the adivasis. Besides getting a share in profit, they will also be allowed to conduct their farming activities.”
No other community is perhaps more neglected in India than the tribals and this is a laudable step in the right direction. By making them a party in the development and sharing profits with them is a step to ensure they will continue to preserve the biological diversity of the area.
According to Suzlon, the land under contention is 82.5 acres while adivasis say that it maybe as high as 180 acres. Three months have been given to authorities for getting details.
India is already a signatory to the Nagoya protocol which takes profit sharing one step forward. What the Nagoya protocol does is to provide a framework for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of the genetic resources. It covers both derivates and pathogens which maybe used for developing drugs. It basically means that if an MNC wants to create a vaccine using a pathogen from India, it has to share profits with the locals.
As was the case with the Kyoto Protocol, USA has been hesitant to join it and the next step will be to bring the country into its fold.
The adivasis are not a inhibitory factor to development but should be viewed as a party that can facilitate and play a pro-active role in the development process. If this is done, the development can occur faster and smoothly ensuring satisfaction of local communities too.
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