20 March 2012, New Delhi: The three-day Rashtriya Jan Sansad (National People’s Parliament) has been set in motion in New Delhi with 350 People’s Parliamentarians from 20 states across the country. The peoples’ parliament commenced with a reading of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution and an appeal to the citizens of India to come together to restore the true spirit of the constitution and the parliament.
The thematic issues that were covered during the day included 1) Community Rights over Land, Water, Forest, Minerals and Right to Development Planning & 2) Growing Inequity: unprotected/unorganised sector workers and labour issues along with price issues. The Saansads belong to diverse communities and geographical locations, thereby bringing to the Jan Sansad issues faced by different underprivileged, minority and discriminated communities. The issue of rampant acquisition of land and other natural resources emerged as one of the most crucial problems faced by natural resources based communities.
Hansraj Rana from Bhumi Bachao – Kissan Mazdoor Talmal Committee, Haryana said that the development agenda is focussed exclusively around industrial production, despite it catering mostly to real estate business. But this government does not understand that if they promote agriculture and primary industries, they would not only reduce the cost of development but also reduce environmental destruction. He stated that battle lines were clearly drawn between people who wanted to defend their land and a government who wanted to give land to the big companies. Protecting the land is a responsibility of the peasants, not just a right, he said.
Shantabai Kale from Mumbai spoke for the Rights of Slum dwellers. The slum dwellers occupy marshy lands and over the years they make the land liveable and then the same people are removed. In 2004, their slums were demolished rendering them homeless, till today they live on pavements. Kishori Das from Patna also talked about slums and the fraud around rehabilitation. He talked about governemnt wasting huge sums of money to prepare Detailed Project Report (DPRs) but at the end the slums dwellers are not getting any benefit.
Jan Saansads coming from various states spoke on the community rights over natural resources, land, water, forests and also regarding the ‘growth’ agenda of the present Indian Parliament. It was pointed out that despite 65 years of independence, India had only a colonial law to displace citizens and nothing to provide rehabilitation or justice to affected people. S.C.Behar, former bureaucrat, from Chhattisgarh said that we need to have a Law on “Natural resources utilisation as per consensus of peoples Act”. Adv. Sanjay Parikh said that we should use the Directive Principles of State policies. Public intellectual and writer C.R.Neelakandan, referring to the struggles of Koodankulam and many others in the South, pointed at the systemic flaws involved in the development policy decision making process – as to who decides, what technology and who pays the price for the so called development model’. Justice (Rtd) Tewatia, said that things are not happening in the interest of the people. Everything is happening in collusion of politicians, bureaucracy, and corporates.
The second presidium had Nandlal Master, (Lok Samiti Varanasi), Kiran Shaheen, Swami Agnivesh, Gabriele Dietrich Pennurumai Iyyakam, Tamil Nadu) and Kamla Yadav (Narmada Bachao Andolan). The Panel consisted of Ranjeet, (Jan Jagran Abhiyan, Bihar), Santhosh Thorat, Tiwari, Leelavati, Jaishankar, Sandeep Pandey and Prof Madhu Prasad. The day also witnessed songs by Salsabel students (Kerala) and Asmita, a Delhi theatre group.
Lok Shakti Abhiyan, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement
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