Delhi – National Action against Land Acquisition Act, August 3-5

August 1, 2011

National Action against Land Acquisition Act, 1894
AGAINST Amendments, demanding new comprehensive legislation
TO PROTECT Jal, Jungle, Jameen, Khaneej & Livelihood Rights
Sansad Dharna 3rd – 5th August, 2011, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

Organised by Sangharsh collective

Forced displacements and land grab have been the curse of our country, since colonial days and which has continued even after ‘independence’ under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Today, the use of the legislation for land grab by corporates aided by the Indian state has got us on the verge of nothing less than a civil war in India. It is nothing but a national shame that we have democratically elected governments who neither know what has been the magnitude of the misuse of this legislation, nor understand the affected people’s plight. Movements who have been opposing LAA have also been for long demanding community control over natural resources and the right to livelihood – some of it achieved under comparatively progressive legislations like the PESA Act, 1996 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Unfortunately, these very legislations are today under threat of being not implemented or worse misused for distributing land titles to some.

Sangharsh collective has planned a National Action to be held at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi against Land Acquisition Act 1894, for repeal and replacement of the same with pro-people comprehensive legislation, along with other pressing people’s demands. The dharna will be joined by adivasis, dalits and other marginalized sections including farmers, forest workers & forest people, fishworkers and other marginalized sections of India’s rural people. The working class poor from the cities who face eviction on a daily basis from their dwellings and their livelihood and those who are threatened by various developmental activities too will join the dharna and so are the peasants whose land is constantly being taken by the urban development authorities for urbanisation.

We will be assembling at Jantar Mantar, from the 3rd to 5th August 2011, during the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, demanding the repeal of the existing colonial Land Acquisition Act and demanding its replacement by a comprehensive legislation that takes care of the need for land, the land use alterations that are required for genuine public purposes and for land reforms for distributive justice. The strategies of this national action were decided and discussed at various dialogues between the people’s movements working at different stages on the mentioned issues, the latest being the National Consultation held on May 6th 2011 on the issue, in Delhi.

The process of Sangharsh was initiated in 2006-07 by various people’s movements who were working on the issues of land rights and forced land acquisition. We came together with a charter of demands in Sangharsh 2007, which was one of the first such collective actions by hundreds of Indian movements together in front of the Indian parliament with a comprehensive political positioning. Since then, the collective has been also demanding a white paper from the government, on all the land acquired since independence along with a current status of all the displaced. We also have been demanding a moratorium on new acquisitions until a parliamentary review is complete.

If one just looks at the last decade, people’s movements have successfully resisted land grab in Kalinganagar, Niyamgiri, Singur, Nandigram, Sompeta, Jashpur, Latehar, Chandrapur, Haripur, Raigad, Karla, Kulu valley, Narmada Valley, Jagatsinghpur, Mumbai and hundreds of other places. Farmers, peasants, landless labourers and others have together fought to protect their land and livelihood rights. In the same vein communities dwellings in forests have fought to claim their rights over the land they have been residing for generations and earning their livelihood from. These farmers, adivasis, dalits and working class people have given their life, while trying to defend their right over the natural resources which supports their livelihood and to which they belong against the state’s notion of ‘eminent domain’ and development.

After recent incidents in the Greater Noida region, an environment has been created whereby every political party is demanding passage of amendments to the existing Land Acquisition Act and the UPA government proposes to do so in Monsoon Session of the parliament. However, UPA leaders from Manmohan Singh to Rahul Gandhi have not been making it clear as to how some superficial amendments will change the basic structure of this colonial anti-people process and approach. They are only exploiting the lack of clarity among the political parties on the issue and trying to turn a blind eye to the long standing demands of the people’s movements. They are also capitalising on the World Bank and DFID/USAID supported land policy documents backed by certain sections of the Indian civil society that similarly demand repeal the land acquisition act, but for the purpose of aiding the corporatization of land. Hence this dharna is more significant at this juncture when the government needs to listen to the clear voices from the ground. The recent announcements by the new Rural Development Minister Sri Jairam Ramesh accepting formulation of one comprehensive law and not two separate legislations is a welcome move, but this is only the first step.

Other than the general focus on Land Acquisition Act repeal and replacement with a comprehensive legislation, the dharna would also address specific issues around: Dams (in Narmada Valley, North East India, Himachal and Central India), Thermal & Nuclear Power projects, Urban displacement, Forest Rights and Community Governance, struggles against Corporations (POSCO, Jaypee, Adanis, Tata, Coca Cola, Vedanta, Mittal, Reliance, Jindal, etc), and protecting livelihood rights of rural and urban communities in the form of statutory government entitlements such as demanding a Universal PDS and adequate beneficial rights to BPL members and oppose any move at introducing cash transfers.

In this journey, apart from the initiators of the Sangharsh collective, last year Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti-Assam and some new groups joined the collective process. This year along with comrades from more than 15 states, friends from Narmada Bachao Andolan, Khandwa ; Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti-UP; POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Ekta Parishad, Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, Slum Janandolan, Karnataka and some farmers’ groups from NCR have offered to join Sangharsh, agreeing to the demands of the collective. They will also be mobilizing for Sangharsh 2011. We heartily welcome their participation and expect that this will strengthen the overall process.

We invite you all to join us in Delhi at Jantar Mantar from August 3rd to 5th to resist forced displacement and land acquisitions across the country and demand for a comprehensive legislation on development planning that will end the regime of forced displacements. Do send in your confirmations for the same and also support our efforts in whatever ways you can. We are looking for volunteers for various things and also resources for meeting the expenses of the programme. For details do get in touch. All the campaign documents are available at

In solidarity,
Akhil Gogoi – KMSS, Assam
Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey, J P Singh, Manesh Gupta – NAPM, UP
Ashok Choudhary, Roma, Munnilal – National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers
Bhupender Singh Rawat, Nanu Prasad – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & NAPM-Delhi
Bilas Bhongade – Gosi Khurd Prakalp Grasht Sangharsh Samiti & NAPM – Maharashtra
Chitranjan Singh – INSAF
Dayamani Barla – Adivasi Moolwasi Asthitva Raksha Manch, Jharkhand
Dr. Sunilam, Adv. Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, MP
Gabriela Dietrich, Geeta Ramakrishnan – Pennuruimai Iyyakam & NAPM-Tamil Nadu
Gautam Bandyopadhyaya – Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh
Guman Singh, K Upmanyu – Him Niti Abhiyan, Himachal Pradesh
Rajnish Gambhir, Ramchandra Rana – Tharu Adivasi Mahila Kisan Manch & NFFPFW, Lakhimpur Khiri, UP
Manju Gardia – Nawa Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangathan & PSA – Chhattisgarh
Mata Dayal, Rani – Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch & NFFPFW-MP
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan & National Alliance of People’s Movements
Prafulla Samantara – Loksakti Abhiyan & NAPM Odisha
P Chennaiah, Ajay Kumar, Ramakrishna Raju, Sarasvathy Kavula – APVVU and NAPM Andhra Pradesh
Rajendra Ravi – NAPM, Delhi
Shanta Bhattacharya, Rajkumari Bhuyian – Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & NFFPFW, UP
Shaktiman Ghosh – National Hawkers Federation
Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan & NAPM-Mumbai
Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM – Karnataka
Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor – National Domestic Workers’ Union & NAPM, Delhi
Ulka Mahajan, Suniti S R, Prasad Bhagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch & NAPM – Maharashtra
Vimalbhai – Matu Jan Sangathan & NAPM-Uttarakhand