I’m going to say a few words based on our community’s understanding— if a murderer comes to kill you openly, it can perhaps be fought against, but the possibility of escaping is high. However, if the same killer comes in disguise, it would be difficult to get away.
We are experiencing a similar situation now. The emergency that Indira Gandhi had brought into force was straightforward— it was visible and therefore we could protest it and organise against it. What we have now is also an emergency. But this is an emergency in disguise. This could be called the ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’, the symptoms of which can be seen throughout the country today.
The Chennai-Salem expressway is one example of it. What does it mean to not have allowed Yogendra Yadav, Lingaraju and Balakrishnan, who were not violating any laws, to meet the affected farmers? All of them, including the farmers were detained instead. Are we really living in a democratic country? That’s why I said that this is a ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’.
We have to think about whether or not the Chennai-Salem Expressway was inevitable. When Salem and Chennai are already connected by three roads, what is the need for another road? We have to raise this question. If this new project is undertaken, thousands of trees in the eleven reserved forests that fall in its path will be destroyed. Isn’t it an absolute devastation to destroy forests and build a road in its place? The High Court has passed a stay order. But it does not even count! There is no consent from the farmers whose lands are at stake either. The central government has set out to do this project tyrannically.
When seen in the light of this background, the only thing that seems to be at the heart of this is the stench of the conspiracy of commission deals on the Rs.10,000 crores budgeted road making project and the business of timber from the destroyed forests. Getting loans from somewhere under the garb of making roads only to make commission deals, destroy the wealth of the forests and burden the common people with this debt is what is being called development today. What needs to be understood is that it is because of exploiting nature under the garb of development that calamities like cloudburst tsunamis are happening. And it is because of these cloudburst tsunamis that the so called ‘developed’ roads have been washed away in Kerala and in Kodagu right in front of our eyes. Have we still not learned? Even now, while it still can, the central government should become wiser and let go of this tragic project.