Skip to main content

India's opposition streams show rare unity, speak out against the Centre's "anti-people" land ordinance

Sharad Yadav
By Our Representative
In a rare occurrence, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of rights organizations, succeeded in bringing together different opposition streams in Delhi. The event was a discussion on the land ordinance promulgated by the NDA government, and how it has already begun to impact one of the most important projects being implemented – of having a Greenfield capital for Andhra Pradesh following bifurcation of the state and formation of Telangana. The NAPM had called for discussion those parties which disagree with the Government of India move.
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, speaking up on the occasion, said, the land ordinance had provided “the right ammunition for people and parties to come together against this government with authoritarian tendencies”. Speaking in a similar tone, D Raja, Rajya Sabha MP, CPI, said “authoritarianism doesn't have a place in this country”, promising Left support to “other opposition parties” to mobilise people against the NDA to give it a “fitting reply”. Congress’ Jairam Ramesh and Aam Admi Party’s Yogendra Yadav sent in their messages offering support for a united move against the ordinance.
MG Devasahayam, retired IAS official who headed the Fact Finding Team constituted by the NAPM, said the project would prove to be a “windfall” for the real estate developers. Already, a Singapore firm, he pointed out, has been given complete rights. According to him, “The Capital Sitting Committee had specified least possible dislocation to existing agricultural practices, and it did not favour a Greenfield capital, yet this was completely “disregarded”.
“Guntur district near Vijaywada, has a thriving agricultural economy of Rs 1,000 crore and 120 different crop varieties. The region has 85 percent small and marginal farmers and also has women entrepreneurs who earn Rs.200-700 per day. The planned capital will take 30,000 acres of multi-crop farmland from 29 villages affecting two lakh-plus population”, Devasahayam said, adding, “The land pooling scheme, meant to be voluntary, is being used to forcefully acquire land from farmers.”
C Ramachandraiah, Leader of Opposition, Andhra Pradesh legislative council, said that the MoU with Singapore was done “without any knowledge to chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s own cabinet colleagues, not to talk of MLAs and MLCs”, adding, “Naidu is following exactly the same style of functioning as Narendra Modi is following at the Centre.”
Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM convener, who visited the area along with K Babu Rao, senior scientist, said, “Farmers and workers do not want to give land but are being coerced into doing so. More than 1,000 police personnel have been deployed in the region and people are being forced to sign away their land. Minimal cash compensation is being provided. The implicit reasoning behind the large amount of land needed is to convert it into real estate will benefit only the developers.”
Speaking on the ordinance, KB Saxena, former Secretary to the Government of India, and Usha Ramanathan, legal researcher, said that it has “taken us back to the 1894 land acquisition Act, with “no system of checks and balances”. He added, “The ordinance has diluted a range of consent provisions as well as opened up the field for all forms of private and public private partnerships. It has also taken out the provision for social impact assessment”.
Ritwick Dutta, environmental lawyer said that the ordinance needs to be seen in conjunction with changes and dilutions in the environmental regulations as suggested by the TS Subramanian Committee. “These dilutions will have far reaching implications since they exempt almost every project from the provisions of the public hearing and consent in the name of national and strategic importance”, he said. Others who spoke included Swami Agnivesh and senior environmentalist Vandana Shiva.

NAPM Statement

An NAPM statement said, “An immediate fallout of the ordinance is the large-scale land grab proposed in the name of development of a new Greenfield capital city of Andhra Pradesh near Vijayawada in Guntur District.” It added, “Chandigarh, which is the most acclaimed Greenfield capital city only, acquired less than 9000 acres in Phase 1, and less than 6000 acres in Phase 2. This low-rise-low-density city has a population of just over one million six decades after the commencement of its development.”
Wondering what is the need for acquiring 52,000 acres, which can go up to 1 lakh acres, NAPM said, “The impression has gathered that the ‘massive capital city’ of Andhra Pradesh and the Central ordinance give out one clear message – that people's consent and rights will not be respected in order to facilitate real estate development and profit for corporate houses.”

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.