8th August, 2009
Time for UPA to bring back and legislate NAC-approved Draft Development Policy
The conflict in the UPA Govt. over the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 is absolutely justifiable and must only lead to a complete review on the two Draft enactments, if UPA is indeed committed to protecting the livelihood security of the aam aadmi and aurat, beyond the 100 days employment guarantee as also to ensure just and fair rehabilitation of the millions of the displaced.
While Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress have had to take the lead in stalling the hasty process of the two bills coming before the Parliament, in place of the much approved Draft sanctioned by the NAC and discussed by people’s movements, due to their mandate from West Bengal against land acquisition for the corporate and for rehabilitation of the already displaced, the other parties and MPs also must know that in their own constituencies (electoral and social), these are the major issues on which people are agitated and are questioning the powers-that-be. These are also the tests of our commitment to the constitution and democracy that should grant the communities’ right to development planning, including allocation and redistribution of natural resources as well as the value-additive processes, such as agro-industries.
It is however, shocking to know from the alert media as to how UPA made all attempts to privately circulate the Bills to MPs out of public agenda. It is also necessary to know that many of UPA’s and NDA’s own MPs have probably not looked into the specific clauses of the Bills and have not given serious thought of their impact on the farmers, agricultural labourers, fish workers, artisans and other natural resource based communities. All those who would do it will understand the attempt to legitimize the corporate grab of resources going much beyond the British regime by incorporating the private interest into the definition of public interest. The Parliament is also probably unaware of certain recommendations of its own Standing Committee (Rural Development) of the 14th Lok Sabha where the Bills were passed without any debate and discussion, as it was probably conspired during the last day of this session, i.e yesterday, as well.
It is also obvious that the rehabilitation offered in the current Bill is not to all whose lands would be acquired, but with many riders (such as there must be minimum 400 families to be displaced by forcible acquisition etc.) and no alternative land or livelihood guaranteed. A weak rehabilitation with offered extra cash compensation is again to lead to further displacement without livelihood security. The Bill also does not talk about the lakhs already displaced by the ongoing projects and yet to be rehabilitated.
The people’s movements across the country appreciate the intervention by the Trinamool Congress and warn the UPA Govt. against any attempt to subvert the rights and resources of the communities, including the Gram Sabhas and facilitating the corporates’ encroachment upon those.
Even as the UPA’s 100 days ‘revolutionary agenda’ – a statement of tall promises is yet to be fully elaborated to and understood by the common people of this country, this process can certainly be further delayed to accommodate a healthy public debate on such a crucial issue of land acquisition, rehabilitation and displacement. Since land acquisition and land use for various sectors including agriculture and industry is crucial to the planning of natural resources, affecting a large majority of our population let the process not be such as to smell of secrecy and conspiracy against the toiling millions, but fully transparent and consultative.
The UPA Govt. should also not avoid but bring into public domain the Draft National Development Policy approved by the National Advisory Council (NCA) chaired by Sonia Gandhi herself in 2006, which was a better attempt towards resolution of conflict within UPA and across the country. The opportune time is here and now and hence our appeal with a warning to the UPA Govt. to take the right and just steps by declaring a white paper on this issue, calling for regional consultations inviting people’s movements and putting the NAC approved draft before the people and the Parliament.
Medha Patkar Anand Mazgaonkar Suniti S R P Chennaiah D Gabriele Debjit
(09423965153) Gujarat Maharshtra A. Pradesh Tamilnadu W. Bengal
Dr. Sunilam Vimal Bhai Bhupinder Rawat Rajendra Ravi Gautam Bandopadhyay
Madhya Pradesh Uttarakhand Delhi Delhi Chattisgarh
Contact : Madhuresh Kumar 9818905316 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vimal Bhai : 09891814707