Assam: It was a heart wrenching sight for everyone. A three months’ old baby elephant lay whimpering near the corpse of his mother who died after falling into the ditch dug for construction of Baba Ramdev’s much touted ‘Food Park’ in Assam.
“It is very painful to witness such a sight, but what’s more painful is when those in power remain unmoved and chose to ignore the pang of these harmless animals just for sake of money,” said an Assamese villager.
On 7 November this year when Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonwal laid the foundation of Baba Ramdev’s Rs 1000-crore Patanjali herbal and mega food park, which the yoga guru claimed would generate employment opportunities in Assam, barely did anyone realize who would pay the price for this ‘development’.
It’s been about two weeks and the catastrophic outcomes are out there already, killing one elephant and leaving two others injured after they fell into a deep pit at the construction site on 23 November.
Situated in the Ghoramari area of Assam’s Sonitpur district, the project site, according to environment activists, is an animal corridor and using it for industrial purpose is detrimental for the wild animals.
“The entire vicinity of the proposed site is surrounded by the Kaziranga National Park which ascertains that it cannot be used for industraial purpose under any circumstance,” said Lakhyajyoti Gogoi, President of Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), which is a sister organisation of the fire-band Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS).
KMSS has been leading massive protests across the state against the allotment of land to Patanjali and construction of its multi-crore project. Gogoi alleged foul play on part of the Assam’s BJP government, which has wilfully decided to ignore stern warnings about the site’s hazardous impact on the environment.
“Though the government on paper showed the area isn’t marked as animal corridor but herds of elephant striding everyday through that area and eventually yesterday’s fateful incident leaves the government stand exposed”.
Ramdev is considered close to the Modi government since he canvassed openly for Modi during 2014 elections and since this government came to power the Yoga Guru has been receiving large tracts of lands at throw away price in many BJP ruled states.
There are allegations that the BJP governments in several states have been quick to reward him by allotting lands to enable him to expand his business empire.
The BJP’s reign at the Centre has coincided a phenomenal rise in Ramdev’s business empire with his partner, Balkrishna, making to Forbes’ list of 100 most richest Indians for the first time. According to reports, Balkrishna holds more than 90% stake in Patanjali, which is known for buying media space on several Indian news channels.
Now the duo is busy building a new ‘Food park’ outside MIHAN in Nagpur and for their proposed products the forests of Vidarbha are going to be thrown open for them.
One dreads to think what havoc this ‘fastest growing white goods and consumer company’ of India is going to cause to our already besieged forest cover?
All our local powerful politicians are already sold to the notion that Patanjali is going to be beneficial for our farmers, and media will not speak up for fear of losing ads!
God alone can protect our wild life from these commercial marauders.