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

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.