New Delhi, September 4 : Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and resettlement Bill is yet to be passed by Rajya Sabha and before that UPA and NDA in a rare show of unity have decided to dilute some of the progressive provisions of the Bill. The news that Social Impact Assessment (SIA) will not be applicable to irrigation projects, land for land provision, though minimal, will not be applicable in irrigation projects is highly condemnable. This is being done in the backdrop of three decades of struggle against 30 big dams, 135 medium dams and 3000 small dams on the Narmada & its tributaries in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Together these dams are affecting nearly 5 million people in three states and as of now not in a single project the satisfactory resettlement and rehabilitation has been done by the government. Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award, 1979, which mandated 5 acres of land for land to every major sons for the Sardar Sarovar Dam affected families, a principle later accepted for some other dams too, is now under attack in collusion with Central and State government.
Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM condemns this anti-people move and vow to challenge this at every level. According to South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) and other sources 5,500 big dams have together displaced nearly 5.5 crore people and submerged 44,00,000 Hectares of land in 4,528 dams. Nearly 47 percent of those displaced by these dams are adivasis / indigenous people. In such a scenario a move to leave out the irrigation projects from the realm of SIA and land for land provisions will be extremely unfortunate and a move which will hurt the farmers, workers, dalits and tribals most.
The Land Bill passed by Lok Sabha has been a much diluted version from the original draft brought out by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2011, which itself was a watered down version of the NAC approved 2006 draft. The draft Bill was a step forward but two steps backward, since it legitimises the acquisition of the land for private corporations for their profit in the name of public purpose and also left out 100 million displaced persons since 1947 due to development projects and other causes. It is a historic opportunity missed since, after 119 years an Act has been enacted recognising the right of those displaced by a development project. Setting up of National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission, to deal with past cases, would have been a right step to address the sufferings of those who lost their land for SAIL plants, Damodar Valley Hydro Electric Projects, Bhakra Nangal dam, Hirakund and others.
Rather than doing that, UPA government is diluting even those provisions, and continues to hid behind the poor in the name of inclusive growth. Lok Sabha passed the ‘National Food Security Bill’ earlier but the new land bill will divert more agricultural land. For decades people’s movements have been struggling against the forced land acquisition, without any recourse to satisfactory R&R.
Today, in an atmosphere, where everything from roads, hospital to tourism, mining, electricity developed by public or private corporations, is considered as public good, we feel that Bill will continue to betray the faith of people in development process.
The attempt to repeal the 1894 Act was initiated in the context of the killings and land conflict in Nandigram and Singur, but today the whole debate is centred only around the growth and industrialisation. Political and elite class of this country is driving this hype at the cost of alienating large section of population, who will only have the option to resist and challenge forced acquisition of their land and natural resources by corporations in name of development and growth.
Nation expects Parliament to tend for majority of the people, for whom this development is planned and not worry about industrial houses alone and concerns of Madhya Pradesh government alone.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Swami Agnivesh, Bandhua Mukti Morcha; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Ulka Mahajan, Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch and NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelakandan – NAPM Kerala; Ramakrishnan Raju, Saraswati Kavula, P Chennaiah – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor – NAPM, Delhi; Akhil Gogoi – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM, Assam; Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Wanjale, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai; Dr.Rupesh Verma – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, UP; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat
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