Friday, 2 Mar 2001

RAIPUR, India

Today I have to catch an evening train back to Delhi. Before leaving, I have plans to meet some of the local groups working on environmental and other issues in this region.

I have a breakfast meeting with Goldie and Durga George, who work on industrial pollution. We discuss the problems associated with area steel mills and how Toxics Link can help them with information and follow-up work in Delhi. They tell me about a strategic meeting of various NGOs organized by the Indo-German Social Services Scheme.

At noon, I arrive at the meeting and introduce myself to the organizer, Mr. Jose. He introduces me to the grassroots groups and asks me to make a brief presentation about the work of Toxics Link. In the meeting, I learn about the Indo-German Social Services Scheme’s work and regional environmental issues. All the groups feel that credible, scientific information is the most important tool to strengthen their campaigns. However, most of these groups work in remote areas, where they have no access to the Internet or to other sources of information. I get their addresses to add to our database, so they can receive our fact sheets and newsletters. I also assure them that we will provide informational help from Delhi.

During lunchtime, I meet with Indu Netam, who is trying to get a mining lease for a tribal co-operative, an effort that is the first of its kind in India. According to India’s constitution, no tribal lands can be transferred to non-tribals for exploitation of resources. Indu tells me about the problems faced by the tribal community in fighting for their own resources.

I call my office, as I am eager to find out the status of the endosulphan spraying in Kerala. Madhu tells me that the local community was able to get a stay order on the aerial spraying, which is a big victory for them.

It’s time for me to rush to the station, as my train is at 5:30 p.m. After a hectic day, the train journey gives me the opportunity to relax with a book.