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Unformatted text preview: PERSPECTIVE Economic & Political Weekly EPW JULY 17, 2010 vol xlv no 29 39 Primary Accumulation, Capitalist Nature and Sustainability Sirisha C Naidu, Panayiotis T Manolakos Sirisha C Naidu ( email@example.com) is with the department of economics, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Panayiotis T Manolakos ( ptmanolakos@gmail. com ) is a writer and social activist based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The relationship between capital and nature gravitates towards a policy of primary accumulation. This article provides an analysis of the imposition of capitalist property rights over natural resources in India as processes of primary accumulation. These processes are evidenced by the construction of large dams and mines, in addition to the proliferation of free market environmentalism. Moreover, the scope for primary accumulation remains substantial in view of the hydel potential and new circuits of accumulation emerge under the auspices of free market environmentalism. Are the desiderata of ecological sustainability and human development realised under the logic of primary accumulation and a neoliberal commitment to economic growth? I ndian political and economic elites ap- pear to be quite optimistic on various economic, social and environmental questions: there is a satisfactory rate of economic growth; the promulgation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 aims to remedy historical injustices against adivasis; and the country is a leader in the growing market for certified emissions reductions ( CER s) that aspires to address global cli- mate change. In addition, capitalist mecha- nisms have proliferated with the aim of averting environmental disasters whilst providing profitable investment opportuni- ties. “Free market” environmentalism (i e, green neoliberalism) as this approach is known, promotes the ideology of a “win- win” solution such that economic growth is compatible with environmental protection. This view is opposed to certain earlier ap- proaches that framed the environmental question as a trade-off between economic growth and environmental conservation (Lele 1991). Yet there have been dilutions of the pro- visions in environmental impact assess- ments ( EIA ) in the EIA Notification (Ministry of Environment and Forests 2009); the undemocratic character of mining-related memoranda of understanding in central and eastern India has become evident; and the struggles in places such as Kalingana- gar and Niyamgiri raise substantial doubts about human development, ecological sus- tainability, and democratic d ecision-making. Certain social groups benefit and others bear the brunt of military, paramilitary, and vigilante offensives for their partici- pation in social movements against con- servation and development policies. Free market environmentalism is fraught with the contradictions of capita list develop- ment leading to economic growth at the cost of land dispossession, the loss of access to natural resources, and human relation-...
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