Thursday, February 25, 2016

Withdraw "regressive" Land Acquisition Bill, 2015, during current session of Parliament: Bhumi Adhikar Andolan

By Our Representative
A massive rally, organized under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, has demanded that the NDA government should withdraw the “regressive” Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, and begin implementing the “progressive” Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013.
The rally was addressed by senior civil society and political activists attached with mass organizations, including Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Prafulla Samantra of theNational Alliance of Peoples' Movements, Hannan Mollah of the All India Kisan Sabha, Ashok Chowdhury of the All India Union of Forest Working People, and Yogendra Yadav of the Swaraj Samvad, among others.
Those attending the rally included people in different struggles such as tea plantations in West Bengal, the affected people of lower Suktel dam in Orissa, those affected by the Adani project in Chindwara, the power plants in Katni, and displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada in Gujarat.
The speakers stressed that the NDA government issued the land ordinance thrice, but each time it had to retreat. “We consider this to be a victory that amendment bill will be withdrawn during this budget session”, a BAA statement issued after the rally said.
The issues raised by representatives of different organizations included making attempts at diluting progressive laws like the Forest Rights Act 2006, increasing farmer suicides in different states, and “shocking” attacks in Chhattisgarh on adivasis and the increasing attack on educational spaces. 
It was pointed out that, today, there exists a nexus between the communal powers that preach hate politics and corporates that plunder our resources. They want to break the solidarity of people, who have taken a stand against on what is happening in India today.
The speakers pointed towards how whistleblowers, human rights defenders, journalists and activists across the country are targeted, beaten up and portrayed as ‘anti-national’ elements while defaulting corporations are given tax exemptions to the tunes of thousands of crores.
At the same time, it was noted, there have been efforts to paint environment laws and ‘hurdle to development’ by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, which suggests that the Government of India is indifferent towards the voices of the people.
In all, an estimated 5,000 people from different social movements, workers’ unions, fish workers, forest workers, and farmer organizations from across 15 different states of the country participated in the rally.
Asking the Government of India to stop states in their attempts to dilute the LLA, 2013, the rally demanded that the Government of India should take steps to stop forced land acquisitions in the name of land pooling and other means by various state governments.
Also asking the Government of India to stop tampering with the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and ensure its “effective and timely implementation”, the BAA demanded that there should be “effective” ways to tackle the agrarian crisis immediately to ensure remunerative support prices for farmers’ produce and compensate crop loss.
The BAA also demanded the Government of India should “stop attempting changes in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), rollback cuts in budget allocation and ensure 300 days work, even as providing Rs 300 wages daily.
Also asking the Government of India to stop implementing the TS Subramanian Committee’s “regressive” recommendations and changes to environmental laws, BAA also demanded there should be dilution of the labour laws relaxations.

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