Sunday, January 25, 2015

Land acquisition ordinance: Calling it "anti-democratic", people's bodies decide to start united struggle

By Our Representative
In yet another effort to unite, trade unions and political parties came together with peoples movements in protest against the latest ordinance amending the land acquisition Act, 2013. Calling it “an attack on the constitutional rule of law”, the two-day national convention at the Nehru Yuva Kendra, New Delhi, on January 23-24 agreed that the ordinance was introduced by the government to “boost corporate loot of the land and other resources.” The participants also agreed to organize protests across the country during forthcoming budget session, starting in February third week.
Organised by the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, the Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, the INSAF, the Delhi Solidarity Group, the Right to City Campaign and other groups, representatives of farmers and workers' organisations from UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, uttarakhand, Rajashtan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and other states joined the convention.
Highlighting how parliamentary procedures were bypassed by promulgating the ordinance through the backdoor in order to avoid any debate or discussion in both houses of Parliament, even when the parliament sessions were scheduled in a month’s time, an NAPM statement at the end of the two day meet said, “The 2013 Act was passed after arriving consensus of all stakeholders over a period of nearly seven years. It is a shameless attempt by the government with gross violation of Article 123 of the constitution, which allows for ordinances to be passed for only ‘urgent’ and ‘extraordinary’ situations.”
NAPM further said, “The government has dismantled the already limited rights of citizens recognised over natural resources including land, water, forests and minerals to ease the way for the process of land acquisition, even when government land banks have lakhs of hectares of unused acquired land in every state, to acquire more of productive agricultural land, putting food sovereignty and the lives of the majority of its population at risk.”
The top apex body of tens of people's organisations pointed out, “Although the amended act of 2013 was also the law for acquisition, and not for its fair use, redistribution or much needed land reform, it still, however, recognised the constitutional consultative and self-determining role of local self-governing institutions in the process of land acquisition, with the consent of 70-80 per cent of the farmers.”
It added, “The 2013 Act envisioned a life of dignity for people being affected by land acquisition for development projects, with provisions for the social impact assessment, recognising the requirement of assessing the impact on the society prior to the sanction of land for projects.”
In sharp contrast, NAPM insisted, “The ordinance passed by the Modi government has generously exchanged these provisions in favour of the vested corporate interests and has brought the progressive legislations such as the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and Forest Conservation Act in its ambit, diluting other provisions which have recognised the natural and constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people to life with dignity – an inviolable part of Fundamental Rights.”
Expressing the danger that the ordinance “would free every processes of acquisition and encroachment of land by corporations and government of legal intervention”, the NAPM said, “The convention chalked out the following programmes for the protests against the ordinance –
  • Resolutions would be passed in Gram Sabhas across the country against the land acquisition ordinance on 26th January. 
  • Copies of the land ordinance would be burnt across the country on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, January 30. 
  • Dharnas in protest of the ordinance would be organised at district HQs, State Capital, and BJP offices across the country. 
  • Dialogues would be established with leaders of ruling parties in non-BJP ruled states to pass resolutions against the ordinance in their respective state assemblies. 
  • Coordinated programmes to be organised for a day (Feb 22 or 23) at all district headquarters in protest during the budget session of the Parliament, along with a huge dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
  • Nation-wide yatras to be organised from 20th March to 8th April 2015 to create wider participation and support from people across the country. 
  • People's movements to release a white paper on land acquired, used, land bank, proposed acquisitions etc. as has been demanded by the movements over a period of time. 
Those who addressed the meeting included Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Kavita Krishnan of the CPI-ML, Hanan Maula of the CPM, Captain Ajay Rao of the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav, Pandey of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, Dr. Prem Singh of the Socialist Party of India, Roma of the AIUFWP, Vijay Panda of the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, among others.

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