Friday, February 27, 2015

Modi govt shouldn't "disrespect" farmers by saying land Act would sabotate national security

Delhi protest against land ordinance on February 24
By Our Representative
Top human rights activist Medha Patkar has accused India’s BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misleading” farmers by making “false interpretation and unjustifiable argument” by saying that if social impact assessment (SIA) and consent clauses are allowed for land acquisition, Pakistan would be able to “sabotage” the country’s proposed projects.
Saying that the real issue is “not any war between Bharat and Pakistan”, as finance minister Arun Jaitley has sought to interpret, and he should not have raised the bogey of “false threat to India’s security”, Patkar insisted, the statement is the outcome of “frustration in the ruling party led Modi.” She was talking with newspersons in Mumbai.
“How can seeking consent for a project developed by a private corporation be threat to the national security?”, she asked, suggesting the real threat has actually from the Government of India “allowing public private partnership (FDI) and foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence.”
Declaring that here the “real battle is between farmers and land grabbing corporates and the BJP, not between India and Pakistan”, Patkar said, if the Ordinance is allowed to be converted into an Act, it will “bringing back the colonial legacy.”
She added, “People’s movements were instrumental in getting the former UPA government to abolish the British Act of 1894 and to bring in the 2013 Act.”
Terming Jaitley’s view “disrespect to farmers”, Patkar said, “Forcible land acquisition has always been an issue of life and death for millions of people, including for farmers, agricultural laborers and fish workers. With the land Ordinance it has become a political hot-potato.”
Patkar claimed, More than 350 people’s organizations gathered at Parliament Street on February 24, with 25,000 people from Gujarat to Orissa to Assam, and from Himachal Pradesh to Tamil Nadu and Kerala”, which forced political parties “to take a stand on the issue and leading to heated debate and discussion on the floor of Parliament.”
She said, “The 2013 Act for the first time brought in the process of assessing SIA along with environmental impact assessment (EIA) in consultation with the affected people and the gram sabhas as well as appropriate urban units.”
She further said, “The consent of land losers was also an important clause at least for private and PPP projects to respect and give our farmers due role, space and primacy in development planning as against no level playing field situation between the monetary capitalists (the corporates) and the natural resource investors (farmers and others).”
Reiterating that the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is likely to “target” 3,90,000 hectares, Patkar said, “While thousands of hectares of Sardar Sarovar command area land in Gujarat is being diverted to companies, along with water, industrial corridors to mining, tourism, water and power projects profiting companies are now proposed to be granted land that can be forcibly acquired from farmers.”

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