August 24, 2012
MoRD Minister Jairam Ramesh refuses dialogue
– MPs support People’s movements, denounce the Bill by the ministry –
Sangharsh concludes the dharna in Delhi with Rally to Parliament
August 23, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi: Union Cabinet Minister in charge of the Ministry of Rural Development, Shri. Jairam Ramesh refused to meet the people’s representatives from across the country who are in Delhi to protest against his ministry’s diluted version of what should have been a comprehensive Bill to replace the Land Acquisition Act 1894. The people’s organisations and unions, under the banner of Sangharsh criticised the minister for refusing to engage with genuine people’s concerns on the proposed bill titled ‘Right to Fair Compensation, R&R and Transparency in Land Acquisition’.
Leaders from movements and political parties critiqued the way the ministry has gone ahead in finalising the draft bill rejecting most inputs from the Parliamentary Standing Committee and the people’s movements. The Sangharsh participants took out a symbolic rally to Parliament on the concluding day to end the three-day dharna and Jan Morcha.
Leaders of different political parties visited the Dharna and addressed the gathering, in support of the demands ofSangharsh. Shri. Dileep Singh Bhuria (former MP) demanded that people’s voices against displacement and struggles against destructive projects be taken into account while replacing the colonial Land Acquisition Act. “Large number of the development projects and industries will displace adivasis and dalits from their only livelihood source, land. It is unfair that they are being ill-treated by the planners and the companies. They have a legitimate right to be part of the development planning process”, he asserted.
Shri. Thirumavalavan (Member of Parliament, Viduthalai Chiruthikkal, Tami Nadu) spoke in support of the people’s struggle against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant and joined cause with the dharna against Land Acquisition and proposed new legislation. He also assured the people that their concerns will be raised in the Lok Sabha.
MP from Kerala, Com. P Rajeev (CPI-M), who was also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development, said that the process followed by MoRD was against the spirit of democracy and violated the rights of the parliament and its members. He wondered how is it that the minister could openly proclaim that they will not accept some of the key recommendations of an all-party committee on the subject. “This is nothing but a mockery of our parliament and an attack on our democratic polity”, the MP asserted. Pointing to the CAG report on PPPs and ‘Coalgate’, Com. Rajeev said that UPA government has lost all moral authority to continue in power. He said that CPI-M will support the struggle and oppose the Bill in Parliament and outside.
Women representatives from Sonbhadra narrated the struggle against land acquisition in Kaimur forest region. “We are facing atrocities by the state daily, but now we are responding to them. When we take out rallies, they then come and take away our bows and arrows, they should not blame us tomorrow, if we start doing the same to them – snatch their guns”, said Hulsi and Sukalo. “The guns are anyway used to protect the companies and the feudal lords” added Lalti Devi. Rajmukari, the leader of the Kaimur Kshetra Adivasi Mahila Mazdoor Sangathan stated that the people have learnt the lesson that the state only protects the rich.
Community leader Niveta Devi from Dudhwa National Park, UP of the Tharu Adivasi Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch narrated the movement experiences in the struggle against Forest Department’s attack on the people hand-in-glove with the forest mafia. “I lost the fear about police, once they took out the worst violence on us. We were thrashed and my forehead was broken by their lathis, but that helped us understand that they could only use brutal state power, break our bodies and not our movement. The police and forest department cannot detract us from our struggle to protect the forest and reclaim our community rights”.
Jameel Bhai of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, who spent more than two weeks in jail resisting evictions in Sion Koliwada, said nearly 60% of Mumbai lives in slums and bastis. They are being evicted in the name of urban beautification and real estate. He demanded that a urban working people’s protection of land and habitat rights should be brought before the Parliament. Talking about the issues of urban poor in the capital city, Nanu Prasad Gupta of the Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi said “The government is assisting the builder lobby at the cost of the low income group people and communities, whose labour sustains the city. The police is acting like the goons of this real estate mafia”. Ishwar bhai associated with Shehari Mahila Adhikar Manch said that the lives of urban poor are worse than it was during the times of British Raj. He said that livelihood of street vendors were being destroyed by the police and that people are evicted from the banks of Yamuna, to give space to elite malls and real estate. Kamla Behen (Narmada Bachao Andolan) asserted that only people’s sustained struggles can sustain the poor and unheard communities. Balkeshwar, Kaimur Kshetra Mukti Morcha from Bihar stated that their movement is fighting the state forces and the Maoists at the same time. “We will fight our battle democratically and defeat the politics of gun”, he said.
Ridiculing the government allocation of 12000 crores in the name of Adivasi Welfare, Shri. BD Sharma (former SC & ST Commissioner) said that the UPA government was not interested in the indigenous people of this country and was ridiculing the people by their reference to the “poor adivasis”. “The adivasis are the richest people, who own and live on rich land, minerals and water”, he pointed. “The UN declaration in 2007 makes it clear that the indigenous people are the rightful owners of the over-ground resources and underground minerals. But our government feels that adivasis can be thrown out of their habitats and their land and resources can be easily handed down to corporations and companies”.
“Political parties will have to come out and make their position clear with regard to proposed Bill and join hands with us”, asserted Guman Singh of Himalaya Niti Bhiyan. People’s representatives affected by proposed nuclear projects likeKoodamkulam, Jaitapur, Haripur, and Gorakhpur along with struggles against thermal power projects from Maharashtra joined the struggle on the last day of Dharna. The other prominent people and leaders who spoke at the public meeting included: Shri. Umesh Babu, (Economist), Munshilal from Rewa (Birsa Munda Bhoo Adhikar Manch, Padhya Pradesh), Maqsood Alam & Shanta Chauhan (Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – Mumbai) and Master Umesh Singh (Gorakhpur Parmanu Pariyojna Virodhi Manch).
Sangharsh is a struggle platform and process since 2007, comprising of various people movements and national organisations fighting anti- people policies and working towards a just and egalitarian society