Countercurrents.org, 16 June 2015, New Delhi : On June 15, National Alliance of people’s movements (NAPM) delegation led by Medha Patkar and comprising of comprising Advocate Sanjay Parikh, Sowmya Datta, Vimalbhai, Madhuresh kumar, Kailash Meena, Hasraj Ghevra, Shabnam Shaikh deposed before the 20 member Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.
The delegation presented the overall perspective on development, Land and other resources as well as acquisition, displacement and rehabilitation, along with analyzing each section in the amendment Bill. Medha Patkar beginning the presentation, declared NAPM’s rejection of the bill since it’s regressively taking land acquisition enactment backward towards the British Days, Act of 1894, rejecting the role and space granted to the farmers for the first time in the Indian history of land acquisition.
Clause by clause presentation was also made before the committee, explaining the detailed written submission.
The exemption granted to most of the projects in the name of development, is unacceptable since after years long people’s struggles, social impact assessment and consent process was brought in effectively to provide due participation and rights to the farmers to opine on any development plan. Exempting almost all projects would exclude Gram sabhas and Basti Sabhs who have been Constitutionally mandated a role in development planning. Infact, the consent clause should also be extended to the Government projects too. Infact, it was demanded that rather than limiting the scope of the SIA, it should be expanded to include the irrigation projects, big dams and so on, since they cause large scale displacement and social costs are huge, as has been witnessed in the case of Sardar sarovar dam.
The deletion of clause limiting multiple crop lands diversification, with no sensitivity to its impact on food security, amending the clause recommending return of the unused land to the owners after 5 years are illegal, these clauses could have been used to fulfill the agenda of land reforms directly or indirectly.
The constitutional framework of values, principles, fundamental rights and three tier panchayat raj is to be respected and no changes to this can be tolerated by the people. Hence gram sabhas (rural) and basti / ward sabhas (urban) are bound to be the basic units of planning as is recognized in the Article 243 of the constitution as well.
Adv. Sanjay Parikh presented the case for food security demanding a white paper on the agriculture land diversion over last few decades. At least 150 lakh hectares of agricultural land diverted to non-agricultural purposes within 10 years. Soumya Datta raised a serious question about the land for projects like DMIC and other industrial corridors that have target as large scale of land like 39000 hectares each. Vimal bhai, Kailash bhai and Hansraj Bhai narrated in brief the scenario created with massive land acquisition that is to follow.
Ms. Medha Patkar with others concluded that the committee or subgroup of the MP’s may visit the areas where serious conflict or struggle over years is going on, that will enrich the proceedings of the Committee. This would give them the firsthand knowledge about how the projects getting delayed.
Committee gave a patient hearing and NAPM extends its gratitude to them and hopes that they would take its presentations earnestly and include them in its recommendations.