Sunday, April 24, 2016

Oversee industrial corridor funding by World Bank, others: People's groups seek Parliamentary panel intervention

Anti-industrial corridor protest in Raigad
By Our Representative Stepping pressure against five major industrial corridors sought to be built by the Government of India -- Delhi-Mumbai, Amritsar-Kolkata, Vizag–Chennai, Chennai–Bangalore and Mumbai-Bangalore, a high-level meeting of several people's organizations have decided to begin a Corridor Virodhi Sangharsh Abhiyaan in October, which will undertake a nation-wide yatra preceded by regional meetings.
Senior activists of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Indian Community Activist Network; Sarvahara Jan Andolan; Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti; Mines, Minerals & People; and Delhi Solidarity Group, participated in the two-day conclave, which took place in Delhi.
Speaking at the conclave, NAPM's Medha Parkar said, “Overnight, the government declares that the home and fields of an adivasi or a farmer is now part of an industrial corridor. Even after days and months no one comes to visit her home or village and she is left to wonder who are these people deciding her fate, without ever seeking her consent.”
“How can the fate of people in this country be deciding on the growing web of industrial corridors in the country today is an undemocratic ploy to take away the sovereign rights of the people and its public institutions”, she wondered.
Ulka Mahajan of Sarvhara Jan Andolan, Raigad, said, “Even though notifications for acquisition of 67,000 acres of land from 78 villages were issued for the development of the Dighi Industrial Port area, no one had a project plan in hand to share with the communities.”
“There was completely opaqueness over the projects proposed, investments or industries expected, still the notifications were issued”, Mahajan said, adding, “The reality is the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) or any such projects are big real estate projects. Even planners have no idea but they want the land, water, forests and everything for themselves.”
“It is the financialisation of economy in favour of big corporations that is being facilitated by the government with active help from the governments of Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, UK, Germany, US or other developed countries who are exploring the possibilities for expansion of their own corporations”, insisted Anil Chaudhary of the Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti.
Sagar Rabari of the Gujarat Khedut Mazdoor Samaj said, “We have forged alliances with all caste groups and cut across the traditional boundaries of the trade unions and farmers to oppose the corporate loot of the natural resources in name of development, and we have had successes in challenging the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and Mandala-Becharaji SIR.”
“Contrary to the image that land acquisition in Gujarat is easy, it is one of the most difficult places to acquire land in the country. Likewise, as against the claims of creation of jobs, Gujarat, despite numerous special economic zones (SEZs) in the past decade has created the fewest jobs”, he added.
In a statement, the conclave activists said, the development of the five together “have an influence area covering 50% of the land area”.
“Together with the Sagarmala, Bharat Mala projects, the Industrial Corridors are a massive infrastructure plans.” Yet, there are no plans for “comprehensive social and environmental impact assessment” regarding “millions of people dependent on the natural resources, farmers, adivasis, fishworkers, artisans, pastoralists”, it added.
“Projects and plans are being prepared by consultants and to be implemented by special purpose vehicles and specially appointed authorities, which override powers of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations”, the statement said.
Demanding formation of a parliamentary oversight over the loan agreements signed by the government with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other financial institutions, the statement insisted, “All the agreements, projects, plans, feasibility studies and every document related to the Corridors must be put in front of the public voluntarily, as per Section 4 of the RTI Act.”
It also demanded the Parliamentary Standing Committee studying the Industrial corridor Policy framework to “respond to the groups who have approached for a personal hearing.”
The statement also demanded abrogation of “the labour and land laws brought in by the Rajasthan and Gujarat government", calling them anti-democratic and anti-constitutional, asking the President not to give assent to them.

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