Friday, July 24, 2015

Congress, Left, NGOs again return to one platform to "fight" land acquisition bill, hold public hearing in Delhi

Jairam Ramesh (Congress)
By Our Representative
A people's hearing, organized by the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of rights based organizations of India, and several NGOs, has "unanimously" rejected the Land Acquisition Bill 2015, and favoured the Joint Forum formed to campaign against it to "intensify" struggle against it. The hearing saw NGOs, Congress and Left return on one platform to fight against the Bill.
Those who participated in the public hearing included representatives of people's movements, landless labour unions and farmers’ organisations from 10 states. Sending a "strong" message to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which has heard views on the Bill, the hearing was carried out under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan.
Among those who provided details of "grave implications" of the upcoming bill for majority of the country’s population at the public public hearing included JPC member and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh (Congress), Vaiko (MDMK), Jitendra Choudhary and Sankar Prasad Dutta (both CPM).
The representatives of mass movement who participated in the public hearing were Medha Patkar, Vasavi Karo, Ashok Choudhary, Prafulla Samantara, Ramalingam, Hannan Mollah, Vimal bhai, Hansraj Gheora, KKR Lenin, Alok Shukla, Dr Rupesh Varma, Satyavan, Ulka Mahajan, Umesh Kumar, NK Shukla, Sriram Bharadwaj, etc.. 
They "shared" past and ongoing struggle experiences against land acquisition, NAPM said. Terming the land ordinance as the "biggest attack on farmers", the representatives were quoted as saying that, for the third time, despite JPC looking into the matter, "reflects disrespect for the committee’s efforts."
The NAPM added, "The unprecedented scale of land acquisition and the agrarian crisis are two sides of the same coin which is evident from projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor which will impact 31% of the country’s agricultural land."
The NAPM further said, "Multi-crop land and productive rain-fed, semi-arid and dry lands that ensure food security are at risk with no clear reasoning or facts behind the acquisition of vast tracts of land. The lack of a land use policy has also provided unlimited opportunities of misuse where land has been transferred into private hands for real estate and luxury projects."
According to NAPM, "Representatives shared their frustrations regarding repeated violations in tribal, biodiversity rich and eco-sensitive areas. Despite constitutional provisions tribals have suffered from large scale displacement due to acquisition for mining, dams and industries."
It added, "Utter disregard for informed consent, consultation and local governance processes have been countered by several successful struggles which are now being repressed with armed forces. A recent example is the illegal acquisition for Kanhar Dam project where police fired indiscriminately on several hundred Dalits and tribals and arrested key activists."
"Representatives felt that by moving towards greater power to the states in land acquisition processes, the government is shirking its responsibility since land is a concurrent subject where central governments have the final say. Various active state acquisition laws and massive capital development projects such as the AP land pooling scheme are testimony to this trend", NAPM said.
The hearing felt, said NAPM, that "the ordinance represents a corporate driven growth model that is not inclusive and will only impoverish large sections of the population. Recent census data shows that 1 in 3 rural households are landless and this statistic will only rapidly worsen with the proposed Bill."

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