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"Failing" to get permission to protest, Gujarat farmers, tribals join counterparts in Maharashtra to oppose DMIC

By Our Representative
In a major show of strength in Talasari, Maharashtra, around 50,000 farmers, tribals, fisherfolks and workers gathered to oppose the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) under the banner of Bhoomi Putra Bachao Andolan. Mainly belonging to Maharashtra and Gujarat, the civil society-sponsored rally marked August 9, the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, for highlighting their fears and apprehensions regarding DMIC.
Non-political farmers' organisation, Khedut Samaj Gujarat, leader Sagar Rabari, one of the top participants, told Counterview that one major reason why people from Gujarat decided to go to Maharashtra was, the the state government does not give permission to take out rallies.
Other civil society organizations which planned the rally included mines, minerals & People, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Bhoomi Sena and Kashtkari Samgathan.
"The government adopts every tactic to ensure that people do not protest, curtailing their democratic rights in every possible way", Rabari said, adding, "The moment any effort is made to protest, participants are detained in Gujarat."
The Talasari rally saw participants -- in which representatives also came from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, as these states would also be affected by the proposed corridor -- insist that the length of 1,483 km with an influence region covering 4,36,486 sq km would see unprecedented land acquisition.
In a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adopted at the end of the rally, said, "A project of this magnitude, which aims at setting up a six lane dedicated freight corridor, 150 km either side industrial corridor comprising industries and industrial regions of minimum 200 sq km, investment regions of minimum 100 sq km, will inevitably mean diverting land, forests, coast, water etc."
Pointing out that infrastructural amenities like electricity and roads would be diverted for industrial purpose and away from the already established occupations like agriculture, fishery, forest-related occupations, the memorandum said, "DMIC is a policy in the name of economic development that was never discussed in Parliament".
"The stretch from Mumbai to Delhi which is proposed to be developed under the DMIC is already one of the most heavily industrialised and urbanized parts of India. The influence area proposed under DMIC also covers about 17% population of the country i.e. approximately 21.5 crore of which about 8 crore is work force", it added.
Also opposing the bullet train project, apart from the plan to further intensively industrialize the already industrial hubs along the whole stretch by putting up new port projects like Vadhvan, Nargol, Dahej, etc., the memorandum said, all of it would "result in the physical, social and cultural upheaval of communities that live in relative symbiosis with nature".
"The process of land acquisition has begun for some of these projects. The consultative provisions under the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act are being reduced to a farce, as the resolutions opposing the projects that have been passed by the Gram Sabhas are being over-ruled by the authorities in a blanket manner", the memorandum said. 
It further said, there is a "blanket over-ruling of the resolutions of the Gram Sabhas, reducing consultation to mere lip-service, defeating the very intention of the legislature", adding, a major legislation that is being undermined in the process is the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which requires that land in tribal areas "is to be acquired only under exceptional circumstances and in no case without the consent of the Gram Sabha".
"Local tribals and farmers and other citizens are up in-arms against the proposed projects", the memorandum tells Modi, adding, many Gram Sabhas have "passed resolutions opposing the projects. To register their disagreement many protest meetings and demonstrations have taken place".
Pointing out that DMIC has been proposed in a water starved area, the memorandum wondered, "How more water will be produced for rising population and heavy industrialization? Even at present, irrigation water is diverted to industries and areas under irrigation are being de-commanded in Gujarat. In such a scenario, where future need of water, food security and fresh air (environment) is not planned, can we call it planning or development?"
Asking Modi to carry out "a comprehensive and composite participatory review of the multiple projects" under DMIC, the memorandum wants that "a committee be setup to look into the cumulative impacts of the proposed DMIC and it be discussed Parliament and respective state assemblies before any further investment or implementation."

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