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India's North-Eastern States opened up for "corporate loot", Assam being treated as chicken corridor: Land rights meet

By Our Representative
Arguing strongly against the Government of India allegedly curtailing the special category status to India's North-Eastern States, the country's well-known land rights apex body, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), has said that this is being done in order to open the region for corporate "loot and plunder."
Well-known civil rights activist Akhil Gogoi of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, speaking at a BAA meet in Delhi, said that Assam as also other North Eastern States are already in the throes of deep economic crisis because the special category status of the region has been "removed" by the Government of India.
According to him, this has resulted in "stopping the flow of central fund, centre-sponsored schemes and also limiting the state’s taxation powers by imposing Goods and Services Tax (GST)."
Gogoi said, "In the light of these changes the picture that emerges is that the government has deliberately halted the infrastructural and developmental activities along with the funds for government schemes to cripple the economy of the region and create a state of emergency."
Instead of the special category status, the Government of India, he said, was imposing special industrial policy for the North-Eastern states. While the North East Industrial Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), which accelerated industrial growth in the region with subsidies and incentives for small scale as well as big enterprises, has been suspended, it been replaced by the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS).
Announced recently by Central cabinet, the new scheme, he told the meet, imposed budgetary curbs to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore for the interim period till 2020 for all the eight states of the North East, further escalating the economic crisis. Those who are suffering the most, according to him, are marginal farmers and landless people, forming 32 per cent and 28 per cent of the population, respectively.
According to him, "There is no intention to implement land reform in the region, or a policy framework to address the flood and erosion problem of the state", Gogoi said, adding, instead the government is coming up with diversionary tactics like the citizenship amendment bill, "which tries to disrupt the social and cultural fabric of Assam."
Joining in, Jitendra Chaudhary, joint secretary of All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), member of Parliament from Tripura, said that that Assam "was once one of the most economically prosperous regions of the Indian subcontinent, but after the partition it has been reduced to being the chicken corridor due to neglect and underdeveloped.*
"The North Eastern region could have been a buffer for the country, we could have contributed more for the development of the country but the government is dividing the people against caste lines and it has no intention to address the issue of livelihood that they face", he said.
Former MP and senior CPI(M) farmer leader Hannan Mollah stressed on the need to intensify struggle. He informed the meet that BAA has now 14 state chapters and has initiated the process of state committee formation. "Our focus is on the need to have extended reach and bring together issues of farmers from across the country and form a collective strength", he added.
The meet condemned what it called "state-sponsored atrocities" in Tripura after the BJP government came to power, and in order to saffronize the politics and society, is actively seeking to eliminate any opposition and dissenting voices in the state. The ground situation has been worsening with vigilantes backed by the ruling BJP government breaking into CPI(M) offices and vandalizing property.

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