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Jharkhand's 10.56 lakh acres handed over to corporates without consent, 81% belonged to tribal areas

A left-wing demonstration against "anti-people" policies of Jharkhand govt
By Our Representative
Out of the total land bank of 20.56 lakh acres in Jharkhand, more than 50% of the land, or 10.56 lakh acres, have been earmarked for corporates, with whom the state government signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during the Momentum Jharkhand, held in February 2017.
Revealing this, a civil society note, sent to Counterview as email alert, said, 8% of this of this “falls in the Fifth Scheduled Area” and has been acquired after the Raghuvar Das government took over the reins of power in the state in 2014.
Most of this land, the note, signed by tens of civil society representatives and concerned individuals, says, was either common lands of forest-dwelling adivasis and moolvasis, such as such as rivers/rivulets, village roads, ponds, places of worship, burial grounds and so on, or extremely productive farmland, which in most cases went to the land bank “without the consent of respective gram sabhas.”
Pointing out that this is directly affecting people’s livelihoods, the note says, land acquisitions have been taking place despite “widespread protests against amendments in the land acquisition Act, which have finally been approved by the President”.
It underlines, “The most crucial amendment is the waiving off of social impact assessment (SIA) for government acquisition for specific ‘public’ purposes such as setting up schools, colleges, railway line, electrification and so on. For such purposes, the government empowers itself to forcibly acquire even fertile multi-crop land.”
According to the note, “Social and environmental impact assessments are to be done by independent agencies and their reports are to be placed before the concerned gram sabhas for consent. Waiving off the assessments will make it easier for the government to acquire land without people’s consent. And it is only a matter of time before the government uses this amendment to acquire land for private institutions of education, health etc.”
The note believes, “Forceful acquisition of land will have a direct impact on the livelihoods of the adivasis and will literally violate their right to life. Not to mention, this is also a direct attack on the adivasis’ constitutional right to self-governance.”
Pointing out that this is happening alongside “negligible focus on welfare programmes such as the public distribution system and social security pensions”, the note says, this has led to at least 12 persons succumbing to starvation since September 2017.
It adds, “The immediate causes of these deaths include denial of subsidised rice due to absence of a ration card, cancellation of ration card not linked with Aadhaar and failure of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication at the ration shop.”
It continues, “It is true that some starvation victims were also ill, but they would probably not have succumbed to the illness if they received adequate nutrition and medical care. Denial of social security pensions and absence of work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) further contributed to the destitution of the starvation victims and their families. For every person who has died, hundreds other languish with hunger, undernutrition and illness.”
Stating that the government is “also repressing voices of dissent”, the note says, “Damodar Turi, convenor of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, was arrested on February 15, 2018 on charges of being member of the illegally banned Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) and for celebrating the anniversary of the Russian Revolution.”
At the same time, the note says, “There are also growing incidences of communal violence in the state. At least nine persons were lynched in the name of religion or cow protection in the last four years. Recently, two Muslim youths, accused of stealing buffaloes, were killed by a mob in Godda. In June, Nagri and Bero blocks of Ranchi also witnessed communal violence.” Against this backdrop, it demands opposition parties of Jharkhand “to stand with the people against the continuing attacks on their right to life”.
Those who have signed the note include prominent development economist Jean Dreze, Right to Food Campaign’s Ankita Aggarwal, environmentalist Aseem Shrivastava, People's Union for Civil Liberties’ Kavita Srivastava, representatives from National Alliance of People's Movements, New Trade Union Initiative, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Jharkhand NREGA Watch, National Federation of Indian Women, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, concerned citizens, scholars and researchers.

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