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'India is not for sale': Land rights movement plans nationwide agitation on August 9-10

By Our Representative
Following an online conference, India’s top land rights network, the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) announced that on August 9-10, 2020 it would hold a nationwide day of protest across the country under the slogan ‘India Is Not For Sale’ in view of the changes introduced to dilute environment conservation efforts through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020.
The slogan ‘India Is Not For Sale’ was adopted adopted the conference, in which 150 representatives of people’s movement groups participated. The August 9-10 protest would also focus on fresh moves reportedly being made to decimate the processes of social impact assessment and consent for land acquisition amidst Covid-19 crisis. In the meanwhile, it was decided to reach out to the people who might be affected by he Government of India move.
The day of protest would be preceded by a nationwide campaign on July 23 at block and tehsil levels to agitate people for land reforms, demand royalties for the use of natural resources as their rightful due, support working classes’ opposition to changes being introduced by the government in labour laws, and pressure government to take adequate steps to solve the crisis faced by migrant workers on their lives and livelihoods.
A communique issued by BAA following the virtual meet said, “The 73rd amendment to the Constitution gives credibility to the assertions of peoples’ movement groups. Hence it is important that it is implemented in adivasi areas in its letter and spirit along with implementing the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996” (PESA) and Forest Rights Act (FRA)”, insisting on the need for “peoples’ movement to emerge as pressure groups for this purpose.”
Participated, among others, by Hannan Mollah (All India Kisan Sabha), Medha Patkar (National Alliance of People’s Movements), Ulka Mahajan (Sarvahara Jan Andolan), Dayamani Barla (Adivasi, Moolvaasi, Astitva Raksha Manch), Ashok Shrimali (Mines, Minerals and People), Ashok Chowdhury and Roma Malik (All India Union of Forest Working People), and others, speakers shared the challenges faced by working people expressing concern on the government’s “non-collaborative nature” in deciding what is good for the country.  
Amidst Covid-19 crisis, instead of focusing on public health or social security, the government is seeking to indiscriminately sale natural resources to corporate groups
The BAA note said, “In the name of rhetorical development, the Union government has made natural resources a commodity for exploitation.” Referring to Covid-19, it added, “Even in the times of a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude, there has not been focus on public health or social security but on the indiscriminate sale of natural resources to corporate groups.”
The note stated, “The conference focused on the plight of working caste-class groups who continue to suffer immensely due to the negligence of state and union governments”, adding, “It has been amply clear that this regime is against the interests of common people and does not care about them.”
“In the time of a pandemic, when people are unable to come together and express their opposition, the imposition of various amendments and ordinances in the management and control of natural resources points to their high-handedness in the matter”, the note insisted.
Held in four sessions, discussions ranged on the changes in labour laws, challenges faced by migrant workers on their lives and livelihoods, commercialization of coal mining, negative impacts on agriculture, changes introduced to dilute environment conservation efforts through the introduction of EIA notification 2020 and the virtual decimation of the processes of social impact assessment and taking consent for land acquisition.
It was pointed out at the conference that the increasing attacks on forest dwelling communities by forest departments and atrocities by police as a widely used method of state violence had emerged as a major cause for worry. Speakers focused on the fact that the Union government has used the pandemic as an excuse to impose “anti-people” laws, seeking to hand over public resources to private players rather than take efforts to improve the conditions of people.
The note said, “Opposition to the government policies has been criminalized, and it was realized that a united opposition must be built for democratic movements to take shape”, adding, “While the government won elections with the slogans that they would not let the resources of the country get out, it is working overtimes to do the opposite and sell out natural resources to national and international capitalist groups.”

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