NAPM on Tuesday started a three-day demonstration at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against the draft Land Acquisition Bill and demanded revision of the draft to incorporate changes suggested by a Parliamentary panel and civil society.
NAPM has organised the dharna in association with several other land rights and anti-displacement movements — like the National Forum of Forest people,Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and Forest workers — under the banner of ‘Sangharsh\\\’.
A Janmorcha was held on Wednesday as part of the ongoing protest in which many political leaders also participated.
Here is the press statement by NAPM:
“Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has lived its life, served its colonial and exploitative purpose for the capitalists and Rulers of the country. It must be repealed. The business as usual of handing over large tracts of land to public and private corporations for non-public purposes can\\\’t continue anymore.
Hence, any new Bill has to be in light with the existing political realities and waging conflict over natural resources in the country led by millions of farmers, workers, forest dwellers, fisherfolks, and those dependent on the natural resources for livelihood.
The redrafted Bill titled, ‘Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition’, though accepting certain provisions as suggested by the social movements, is pro-market and pro-investment and will only further the land conflict”, said Medha Patkar of National Alliance of People\\\’s Movements, in a message to the ongoing Janmorcha at Jantar Mantar. “Mr. Jairam Ramesh’s bill definitely falls far too short of democratic expectation”, she added.
“Jo Jameen Sarkari Hai, Woh Jameen Hamari Hai” (slogan originally given by Dr. Ambedkar, meaning ‘the land that belongs to the government, rightfully belong to the people of this country’) was heard all over Jantar Mantar on day-2 of the Sangharsh Jan Morcha dharna.
The dharna received further boost by the joining in of people from Mumbai’s Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Birsa Munda Bhoo Adhikar Manch (Madhya Predesh), Satark Nagrik Sangathan (Delhi), and Bhoomi Bachao Andolan (Kanjhawla, Delhi).
Ashok Choudhury, General Secretary of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) said that people have not come to Jantar Mantar to beg for anything and instead representatives of various struggles have come to give a warning to the government to mend its ways.
He said that if the Forest Rights Act can talk about correcting the historical injustice done to forest communities, the new land bill should premise itself around correcting the historical injustice done to all the oppressed and marginalised communities of the country who have been displaced in the name of development projects. Agreeing to Com. Ashok, the Member of Parliament from Robertsganj, Shri. Pakauri Lal Kol (Samajwadi Party) said that he and his party agree with the demands raised by Sangharsh.
Government will acquire for the provision of land in the public interest for private companies for the production of goods for public or provision of public services, says the Bill. “Is the government a real estate agent? What right does it have to disrobe self-sustaining community, which feeds the nation to take their land and hand it over for real estate development in the name of urbanisation through various City Development Authorities. Nearly 43,000 Hectares of land are to be acquired by the Greater Noida Development Authority alone.
Between 2000-2005 more than 17,73000 Hectares of agricultural land has been diverted for non-agrarian use, the previous parliamentary standing committee report mentioned. If this continues then we are headed towards food insecurity, inflation, large-scale malnutrition and no half-hearted measures like Food Security Bill will be able to salvage that. Will people in new India eat concrete, highways and electricity”, asked Bhupendera Singh Rawat of Jan Sangharsh Vahini and Bhomi Bachao Andolan that leads the struggle of farmers in Delhi.
Corporate lobbyists wants the government to acquire land for them, since nearly 70% of their projects are stuck due to opposition of the people towards land acquisition and other illegalities committed by them. “If Ratan Tata, Azim Premji, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and Naranyanmurthi of the India Inc are all for fair business, competition and growth then they don\\\’t need to hide behind government in the name of public purpose. You stand for profit and primitive accumulation and nothing else.
While 42 percent of children below 5 years of age are malnourished India Inc is busy playing its IPLs and developing Expressways, Airports, Golf Courses, High Rises and Power Plants. We will not let this happen, let this be very clear to India Inc. We will not allow the new land acquisition bill to make matters easy for you”, said Kamla Yadav of Narmada Bachao Andolan fighting for 27 years now in Narmada valley against Sardar Sarovar dam and struggling for livelihood based rehabilitation of the displaced.
Members of Parliament and leaders of political parties who spoke at the dharna and extended support to Jan Morcha included: Com. Amarjeet Kaur of Communist Party of India (CPI), Tarun Mandal MP (independent), Atul Anjan (former MP – CPI), SP Singh Baghel (General Secretary, BSP and Rajya Sabha MP) and Pakauri Lal Kol MP (Samajwadi Party).
The leaders demanded that the LAA 1894 be repealed and the new comprehensive bill incorporate the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and that MoRD do fresh consultations with mass organisations and people’s movements on the bill.
Nikhil De of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS, Rajasthan), and several other solidarity organisations spoke at the dharna. Nikhil demanded that the UPA government respect the decentralised democracy and bestow the right to planning development on the Gram Sabhas.
The Sangharsh participants joined the Candlelight Vigil that was organised in the eve at India Gate, in solidarity with the targeted communities of North East and other parts of India, who are victims of ongoing communal and ethnic conflict in many parts of the country.