Counterview, Feb 14 2015, Bhubaneshwar: The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) has estimated that the new Ordinance amending the 2013 Land Acquisition Act will lead to the “seizure” of 3,90,000 hectares (ha) of agricultural land from farmers for the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). Calling upon a rally at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on February 24, the NAPM has added, the Ordinance was introduced by the BJP government “so that industrialists, Indian and foreign, and builders can construct industrial corridors, open mines and accumulate real estate profits in the name of building cheap housing for the poor by grabbing farmers’ lands.”
India’s one of the biggest apex bodies of rights-based organizations, the NAPM said, already, following the Ordinance, “bulldozer attacks on slums of cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ranchi are increasing at an alarming rate.” It added, “Thousands of hectares of land belonging to the public are being looted to increase the breadth and lustre of smart cities.”
The NAPM statement came alongside its supporters in Odisha, in alliance with about two dozen anti-displacement people’s movements and rights based organizations of Odisha , organizing a mass protest rally on February 14, 2015 in Bhubaneshwar against the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014. The rally demanded its “immediate withdrawal”.
Calling it “undemocratic and anti-people”, a statement issued by the rally organizers, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), demanded that the Odisha government should not implement the Land Acquisition Ordinance. The protest rally was addressed by Prafulla Samantara, convener of the NAPM, Rabi Das, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, Trilochan Punji, Bilua Nayak and others .
The statement said, “The UPA government had brought new land acquisition Act in 2013 after consistent people’s struggles across different states against draconian land acquisition Act of 1894 of the British period, introducing a democratic process of social impact assessment (SIA) and public hearing. The very fundamental right to consent and prior information of 80 per cent and 70 per cent of land losers was mandatory for Land Acquisition for private and public partnership projects (PPPs).”
However, it added, the NDA Government under leadership of Narendra Modi “has brought land acquisition ordinance in December 2014. The new land acquisition ordinance will lead to forceful acquisition by the state which has no such authority in the constitution.”
“The provision of Social Impact Assessment followed by Public Hearing was the essence of democratic process of Land Acquisition in 2013, which has now been totally abolished for various sectors, and land acquisition will now be done for any private entity without any restriction”, the statement alleged.
The statement said the Ordinance was brought in though it was to come into force in January 2015, and not a single project anywhere in country had been stalled because of the Act. It also condemned the Government of India for “violating” the Gram Sabha’s authority established under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in diversion of forest for non-forest purposes.
Following the the protest rally, a memorandum was submitted to the President of India through the Governor of Odisha. Soon thereafter, the organizers announced that on February 24, 2015, during Parliament session, a mass protest rally would be organized in Delhi and “the anti-people Ordinance would be burnt.”