Archives of Contemporary India

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Dunu Roy Papers

Dunu Roy Papers

"The people of the slums transform the land, they transform our products, they transform our lives – can we but imagine what they would transform if they were to have a say in democratic governance? If we discard the values we take for granted and see the slum for what it really is, the choice of whether to improve or clear is not really for us to make."

A leading social activist, political ecologist, social scientist, and Director of the Hazards Centre (New Delhi), Anubrotto Kumar (Dunu) Roy (born 1945) worked for over four decades in both rural and urban scenarios on land and water management, secure settlements, safe work, environmental planning, leadership training, and pollution control.

Dunu Roy is a Chemical Engineer, he obtained a B.Tech in 1967 and M. Tech in 1969 from the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay. He gave up his career as a chemical engineer to join the students’ movement in the 1970s and work for the betterment of rural areas and take development initiatives on their own.

He joined FREA (Front for Rapid Economic Advancement) on a meagre salary with an objective to set up a strong institution that would provide professional assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. He was associated with FREA for four years and worked with Gandhian organizations, various institutions and independent groups spread over fourteen locations.

In 1975, Dunu Roy along with like-minded friends, started an experiment named Kaam aur Kamai in the Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh and performed significant social work while earning a living within the community. The outcome was the Vidushak Karkhana, a small workshop to repair rural machinery. The Vidushak Karkhana slowly evolved into the Shahdol Group, focussing on Environmental Planning and Environmental Education. The Shahdol Group became a centre attracting students, academics, activists, journalists not only from India but also from all over the world.

After being associated with Shahdol group for two decades, Dunu Roy moved to Delhi in mid 1990s. He joined the World Wide Fund for Nature, New Delhi and created a cell to monitor the effects of pollution. In 1997, Dunu Roy established Hazards Centre at New Delhi, a research group for the specific purpose of providing professional services to community and labour organisations in identifying, understanding, and combating the hazards that beset them. The organisation assists urban and rural communities in research and action programs related to shelter, livelihood, services, governance, etc.

Dunu Roy served as the Dean of Research at the People Science Institute, Dehradun. He is also a consultant to various agencies in the private and public sector on resource management, environment, biodiversity and disaster preparedness in several states of India.

For his outstanding work in spreading environmental awareness and rural development, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Bombay in the years 1975 and 2000. The Satyendra K. Dubey Memorial award was also conferred upon him by IIT Kanpur in 2008.

In 2013, Dunu Roy was engaged by the World Bank for inspection of the 444 MW Vishnugad-Pipalkoti hydro-electric project in Uttarakhand and its ecological and human concerns.

Dunu Roy has contributed various articles to the print and electronic media on environmental issues, social development, science and society, labour law, housing, etc. Some of his publications include Vampanth Mein Roti Aur Beti Ka Sawaal, and Communist Party Aur Samuh.

About the Collection: Dunu Roy papers are a valuable collection of documents of Shahdol Group relating to environmental impact of mining in Madhya Pradesh, environmental planning, Local History Project, and development programmes. Several articles, research papers, pamphlets and booklets by Dunu Roy on environmental issues, social development, science and society, Narmada Bachao Andolan, dams and displacements, earthquake/floods, technology and development, tribal movement, labour laws, housing projects are a part of the collection making the papers a useful source material for the study of the impact of science and technology on the social and rural development in India. (Catalogue available)

Donor: Dunu Roy
Acquisition: 2021