Indian tribals blockade World Bank Delhi office

15 December 1999

In late November more than 300 people from mass and tribal organisations from the Indian state of Madya Pradesh, blockaded the World Bank office in Delhi. They covered it with cow dung, mud, posters and graffiti, and sang slogans and traditional songs. They were protesting about the impact of World Bank forestry projects which have threatened their rights to land and forest and fishing produce.

They are particularly concerned about the Bank-funded Madhya Pradesh Forestry Project (MPFP), a conservation project which aims to reduce to a minimum the dependence of forest dwellers on the forest. The protesters described the World Bank’s oft-expressed concern for people’s participation, joint forest management, transparency and tribal welfare as “farcical” given the lack of consultation and the failure of the Bank to comply with its operational directive on the rights of tribal peoples.

The protesters also made broader points about the Bank and the WTO strategies to open up native forests to logging by multinational companies.

They demanded that the Bank:

“stop its attempts to take over our forests. The Madhya Pradesh Forestry Project and other such projects only intensify the colonial takeover of our forests that began with British rule in our country. We will fight the new form of colonialism that you represent with all our strength.”

More details from the Bretton Woods Project.