Uttar Pradesh – NAPM Statement against the land acquisition plans and attack on resisting farmers

May 12, 2011

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

New Delhi, May 11 : 165 Kms, Rs. 11,000 Crore Yamuna Expressway Project being built by Jaypee infratech is soaked with the blood of the Wstern Uttar Pradesh farmers. Starting from Aligarh Zirakpur, Tappal and now Bhatta Parsaul nearly 7 people have died including 3 police men – they too sons of farmers till date. What we are witnessing in Gautam Budhha Nagar in form of NOIDA, Greater NOIDA, Greater NOIDA Extension and construction beyond is the biggest land scam going on in the country today, much beyond the 2G spectrum. The corporate houses, politicians and real estate agents in active connivance of local administration is involved in naked loot and plunder of prime agricultural land irrigated by the upper Ganga canals. The police is being used to protect the capital interests of these groups and lakhs of marginal farmers, dalits and other farm communities are loosing their life and livelihood in the process. The farmers are being forced to sell their agricultural land and a situation has been created where it is impossible for them to continue farming. This needs to STOP immediately before the conflicts become much more severe.

What is ongoing in Bhatta Parsaul is a repeat of the situation last year in Tappal village, Aligarh. NAPM team members including the farmers of Kanjhawala village (protesting against the land grab in their village too), other activists and Medha Patkar and Bhupender Singh Rawat National Convener visited the village Bhatta on May 10th and spent time meeting the women, visiting the bereaved family and held meetings in the the nearby village Sadullapur in Greater Noida region who are protesting the land acquisition too.

Since the day firing happened leaders of different political parties have been trying to enter the village but the local administration has continued to refuse entry to any. Today somehow Shri Rahul Gandhi along with Shri Digvijay Singh managed to reach the village and held meetings with the villagers. The same scene was enacted last year in August where leaders of every party thronged to the venue but inspite of all the powers within their reach failed to negotiate or respond to the farmers when they were protesting for many days. The dharna at Bhatta village has been going on for nearly four months but none of the political parties made an attempt at facilitating dialogue.

In the Bhatta village till yesterday most of the men were away due to fears of being arrested, in the name of providing relief and building confidence district police is terrorising people and continues to be in revengeful mood. The police officials in our presence continued to harp on the point that how two of their colleagues died and their DM and another senior official is in hospital. There is no acceptance of the fact that beating of the women, men and elderly of the village and destroying their property is criminal and not justifiable. In this case the district police allowed the situation to aggravate and reach a stage where situation turned violent.

Women alleged that on past one or two occasions in the name of dialogue some of the village folks were detained and beaten up. They said it was the inability of the district administration to resolve the situation by providing them the adequate share in the revenue being generated by the state government in this whole project. They continued to reject their demand and didn’t try and negotiate in past four months when they were peacefully sitting on the dharna. Today the police is trying to manage the media and not let the news of their brutality come out in public. For the first two days none of the print or electronic media was allowed in and they had to report what the administration said.

What the farmers of this region like every other conflict place in the country need is support to the farming, no diversion of the agricultural land and dialogue to resolve their problems. Political parties trying to settle their political scores over the blood of farmers in extremely condemnable. It is unfortunate that every party is demanding only amendments on the line of proposed Land Acquisition (Amendment) 2009 rather than asking for complete repeal of the draconian law responsible for dispossessing millions of farmers till date and none seems to be concerned at all about the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2009. We demand REPEAL of Land Acquisition Act and enactment of a Development Planning Act which will protect the interests of the farmers, minimise displacement and provide relief to those already displaced or will be displaced. (details @ http://napm-india.org/node/326)

If the UPA government and other parties are interested in minimising the conflict then it is in every-bodies interest to strike the balance between the interests of the farmers and developmental needs of the country by enacting a development planning late, before it is too late.

Medha Patkar, Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Hansraj Ghewra, Madhuresh Kumar

Contact : 9818905316

*********************************************************

Uttar Pradesh – NAPM Statement demanding the repeal of the Land Acquisition Act

New Delhi, May 9 : The issue of land acquisition and agitation is at its violent peak again, on the outskirts of the Capital, in NOIDA and across Western UP. The British legacy and law (of 1894) is still being used to forcibly acquire land for the designs of the new masters even if in the name of public purpose and the farmers have realised the game. Land which has become gold and is leading to a mad rush by not just the corporate but the politicians – bureaucrats to all sections of our elite class, the neo-investors. It is forgotten that land is a life support of the farming population along with landless agricultural labourers, coastal fish workers to urban poor and necessary for food security of the nation. The ambitious plan of urbanisation and infrastructure are therefore taking a toll of the people’s capital : land with minerals, ground water, tree cover and forest to fish – the aquatic wealth as well as the living communities / habitats and their commons.

The land acquisition which the foreign rulers had to make forcible is now being challenged directly and indirectly by affected communities demanding “no forcible acquisition of land” or “replacement of resources ensuring alternative sustainable livelihood options” for truly public purpose projects. The urban elite to industrial investors earning huge profits out of the land which the state transfers to them for ‘development’ ‘activity’ are also questioned and a share in the supposed national development is demanded, rightly so.

The farmers of NOIDA, Aligarh, Nandigram, Jagatsinghpur, or Narmada all have raised questions regarding the purpose which indicates private interest when politicians too behave like profiteers. Time has, therefore, come not only to amend the Land Acquisition Act for further favouring the nexus but to repeal the age old British Act and grant the communities its right to plan development as also to accept or reject any proposal (from the state or investor) or proposal for the same.

Such a democratic principle goes well with the constitutional provision regarding ‘local self government’ which are further strengthened through Article 243 and further through PESA 1996-97 for the Scheduled tribe areas.

UPA Government, Ajit Singh, Rajnath Singh, Mayawati everyone is at the most talking of the package and amending the land acquisition act, getting it passed in the parliament at the earliest. This however, is no solution. It is the cure worst than the disease.

This amendment proposed since 2007 even if with rehabilitation policy – 2009 is trying to legitimise private purpose and interests as a part of the ‘public purpose’ as a category and will then further and facilitate acquisition cum purchase for the scale of displacement but not even do justice in terms of fair compensation, rehabilitation, security and livelihood.

It is unfortunate that many a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the XIV Lok Sabha, which gave a patient hearing to diverse positions, consulted various ministries and state government are not fully incorporated in the Drafts of the amended Bills of 2009. This is an undemocratic and unparliamentary action, which needs urgent correction before anything is placed in the legislatures.

Majority of the political parties demanding the amendments have not engaged critically and merely asked the government to revise it. It needs to be reiterated that it is not only a question of creating a win – win situation for farmers and industry which can be solved by doling more and more money, as it is being projected by political parties and certain politicians who are vouching for the Haryana model.

The fact remains that it is not only the landed farmers whose interest are involved and need to be protected but millions of farm workers, landless labourerers, dalits, adivasis who are dependent on land and other resources and it is a question of their right to life and livelihood. Any legislation has to protect their right to livelihood and ensure protection of the rights of communities over the land and common property resources.