In the face of mounting protests against the Comprehensive Wasteland Development Project (cwdp), the characteristically intractable chief minister (cm) of Tamil Nadu (tn), J Jayalalithaa, has been forced to climb down partially. The state government's ambitious programme has been in the eye of a storm ever since it was conceived two years ago. Panchayats, political parties and civil society groups are bitterly opposed to the cwdp because in its current form it favours corporate houses and big landowners, at the same time being loaded against local communities (see box: Points of discord). The discontent is so widespread that despite the cm's rethink, the project may well go to seed.
Jayalalithaa unveiled the cwdp during a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (cii) in July 2002 (see box: The sell-out). The project seeks to regenerate two million hectares (ha) of wasteland