PEOPLES’ COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO PUNE DAMS, LAND DEALS & TRANSFERS AND DISPLACEMENT ANNOUNCED
Medha Patkar and displaced – activists withdraw fast and Dharna after 8 days.
After 8 days of intense mass action, thousands of displaced and affected people of various dams and projects from across Maharashtra; adivasis, dalits, farmers, fish workers, farm labourers, unorganized workers, hawkers and basti dwellers, who have been raising their demands for justice and rehabilitation and opposing the current paradigm of destruction and displacement in the name of development declare the withdrawal of their fast and Dharna, with the announcement of a Peoples’ Commission of Inquiry into the land deals & transfers and displacement of the dams and Projects in the Sahayadri region.
The displaced, who were agitating at Azad Maidan since 14th October, 2008 met the State Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Shri R.R. Patil and later the State Rehabilitation Minister, Shri Patangrao Kadam and had a detailed discussion on many of the issues and Shri Kadam took a decision to institute a high level official investigation by the Secretaries of the concerned Ministries, including the Revenue, Rehabilitation, Forests and Irrigation Departments.
The Committee was supposed to have been headed by Ms. Neela Satyanarayan, Additional Chief Secretary and comprising of Shri Ramesh Kumar, Secretary, Rehabilitation; Shri Dange, Secretary, Revenue and was required to invite Report from the District Collector, Pune and Divisional Commissioner, Pune. It was decided that all allegations of force, fraud and unlawful practices in the land acquisition and rehabilitation of the displaced in the cases of the Tata dams (Siravta, Somwadi, Valvan, Bhushi, Thokalewadi and Mulshi) and also the Pawana, Kasarsai, Malwani, Andhre, Jadhavwadi and other dams and Projects like the Lavasa City and Sahara City. All these decisions were taken in the presence of displaced farmers and adivasis and Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan and other activists. We state that we agree with these decisions and dimensions.
However, the official Minutes did not have a mention of the major issues that were discussed and decided during the Meeting, in particular the high level investigation, promised visit to the affected areas and return of excess land acquired for projects. Faced with such a situation, Medha Patkar, along with six other activists decided to continue the Dharna with a 48 hour fast, taking strong exception to the lack of integrity, clarity and consistency in the ministerial promises and firm that decision taken should be recorded in writing honestly and faithfully.
A massive torch light rally was held at Azad Maidan on the first day of the fast raising our demands. Many prominent activists and supporters have attended the ‘Anshan Sthal’ and expressed their solidarity in the past two days and earlier, including senior adivasi rights champion Shri B.D. Sharma, Sanjay Mangala Gopal & Ulka Mahajan of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, Sampat Kale and Rifat Mumtaz of National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Senior activist, Manav Kamble, Surekha Dalvi, and Indavi of Shoshit Jan Andolan, Snehal from ICHRL, Bryan Lobo of Kashtakari Sanghatan, Avinash Patil and others activists from Dhule.
We express our dismay that the concerned Ministers, in particular the Rehabilitation Minister has not shown the expected faithfulness, sensitivity and accountability towards those who have been displaced since decades through illegal and inhuman means. There was no final response even after 48 hours which prompted 100 more agitators, people affected by the Tata and Pavna dams in Pune and Lonavala, and the displaced in Narmada as well as the urban poor to undergo a day long fast from dawn to dusk.
In this context, various people’s organizations, concerned and involved with the issues including India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Mumbai, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Shoshit Jan Andolan, Maharashtra, National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune and Manav Hak Abhiyan, Pune decided to initiate a People’s Commission of Inquiry with Shri Arvind Kejariwal, Right to Information and Anti-Corruption Activist, Magsaysay Award Recipient, Shri Y.P. Singh, Advocate, High Court of Mumbai (Former CBI Official), Shri S. M. Mushrif, Former Inspector General of Police, Mumbai and Shri Nirmal Suryavanshi, Senior Advocate, Dhule as members of the Commission.
We hope that this new phase of the people’s movement in Maharashtra would be a challenge against illegal and unjust displacement, land and resource plunder by the State and corporates in the Sahayadri region and we hope the Report will establish the truth and expose the political vested interests and pave a meaningful and humane way to ensure the people’s constitutional and human rights are protected.
With this move, the Tata Dharangrasth Samithi, Lavasa Lake City project affected, Ghar Bacha Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Sahayadrai Bachao Andolan, Narmada Bachao Andolan and other organizations decide to withdraw the fast and the Dharna. However, all the organizations and agitators are determined to continue this struggle.
We also declare that we shall wait for a concrete and just response from the Government for a month from today (i.e. from October 21st, 2008 to November 20th, 2008), in the absence of which, we shall intensify struggle and embark on Jameen Haq Satyagraha i.e the displaced and the Projects affected people of the various dams and Projects shall establish their rights over the land.
We also welcome the arrest (although delayed) of Raj Thackeray and feel that when there is violence and criminal regionalism spread by MLAs and their supporters in Maharashtra, the State must clamp down such forces with the full application of the law and restrain violence and defend people’s rights.
We continue to defend the secular forces and combat communalism as well as unjust development.
Mukta Srivastava Simpreet Singh Bhanda Thakar Leelatai Thunya
TERMS OF REFERENCE
Peoples’ Commission of Inquiry
To Inquire into the land deals, land transfers and displacement due to dams and Projects in the Sahayadri region
Terms of Reference:
1) To investigate into the issues and complaints of land acquisition, compensation and the land lease deals related to the Tata dams (Siravta, Somwadi, Valvan, Bhushi, Thokalewadi and Mulshi) and also the Pawana, Kasarsai, Malwani, Andhre, Jadhavwadi and other dams and Projects like the Lavasa City and Sahara City.
2) To review the land acquisition and the extra land acquired, but not used for the Project and assess the illegalities involved in the transfer of the acquired lands from the Project affected family to the State or from the State to the statutory agencies; such as the Krishna Khore Valley Development Corporation.
3) To appraise the use of water and water bodies of the above mentioned dams, their planned and attained use and the resultant violation of the rights of the dam-affected and suggest the appropriate ways to use the water in the favour of the Project affected,.
4) To review the situation of the resettlement and rehabilitation of the people affected by all the above mentioned dams and Projects and recommend appropriate means to defend their constitutional and human rights.
5) To recommend legal action against all those responsible for the illegality in the land deals and land transfers related to all the above Projects.
Modus Operandi of the Commission
· To study and investigate the data and documents from the official sources, affected people, and non-governmental agencies.
· To visit the affected areas of the concerned Projects and hold Public Hearings in small and large groups and communities.
· To hold dialogue with the officials and other concerned parties.
· Any other means and media which the Members of the Commission may deem appropriate.
Members of the Commission:
1. Shri Y.P. Singh, Advocate, High Court of Mumbai (Former CBI Official)
2. Arvind Kejariwal, Right to Information and Anti-Corruption Activist, Magsaysay Award Recipient
3. Shri S. M. Mushrif, Former Inspector General of Police, Mumbai
4. Shri Nirmal Suryavanshi, Senior Advocate, Dhule
Period of Inquiry: Two months – From 1-11-2008 to 31-12-2008
Ø India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Mumbai
Ø National Alliance of People’s Movements
Ø Shoshit Jan Andolan, Maharashtra
Ø National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune
Ø Manav Hak Abhiyan, Pune
Ø Shri Anna Hazare, Veteran Social Activist
Ø Justice H. Suresh, Former Judge, High Court of Mumbai and Human rights Activist
Ø Aruna Roy, Magsaysay Award Recipient, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan
Ø Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Award Recipient
Ø Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences