NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS
National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316
· The Real Political Question is Land, and Political Class Must Address This
· New Land Acquisition Act will Increase Land Conflicts, Destroy Land and Livelihood, Need for Urgent Amendments
· Call for an United Land Rights Struggle for Decentralised Development Planning and Against Resource Grab
New Delhi, November 20 : After years of struggles by the people’s movements in the country, the colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has been repealed and a new law titled, Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, been enacted. The impetus to repeal the LAA was derived from the nationwide opposition to the land acquisition and deaths of farmers and workers while opposing the land acquisitions. However, none of the political parties have made this an issue in the coming Assembly elections in five states. The new Act has come but it will not end the land conflicts nor provide relief to the millions who have been displaced and hence there is a need to bring urgent amendments to the Act and also give inputs to process of rule making for Act, said, Medha Patkar, leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM. She was speaking at the two day national meeting on “Struggle for Land Rights and New Land Acquisition Act”, joined by representative of many of the social movements from more than ten states at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi.
The meeting was joined by Prof. K B Saxena, Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Anil Chaudhary, Arun Khote, Smita Gupta, Clifton D’Rozario, Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara & Lingraj Azad (Orissa), Nandlal Master, SP Singh, Arun Khote (Uttar Pradesh), Aradhana Bhargava, Rajkumar Sinha & Meera (Madhya Pradesh), D. Gabriele (Tamilnadu), Clifton D’Rozario & Sister Celia (Karnataka), Mahendra Yadav (Bihar), Ramakrishna Raju, K Rajendra (Andhra pradesh), Vivekanand Mathne, Vilas Bhongade, Akhlak Qureshi (Maharashtra), Bhupender Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi (Delhi), Capt. Deep Singh (Rajsthan), Gurwant Singh (Punjab) and many others.
Lingraj Azad, leader of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Orissa said that the struggle is for protecting life and livelihood.Our lives are intertwined with the nature, which even Supreme court accepted in our struggle. Unfortunately new Act doesn’t recognize this and attempt is at promoting cash based compensation. Movements and struggles across the country might differ in their nuances but are somewhere all very closely related. All the movements are based for the struggle to survive and are not ‘anti-development’. Our reading is that to counter the empowering laws as the PESA, FRA or the Vth schedule, the new act has been passed. The nexus between the politicians and corporates for money and political power has led on the path to destruction. We will struggle and survive over periods of time for this.
Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, said that housing complexes and industrial units take advantage of the rise of prices and earn huge profits but that’s shared with the farmers who loose the land. Benefits must be democratically decided and distributed and take ownership over the land, unfortunately Act makes an attempt but its not adequate.
Smita Gupta of Communist Party India (M) said the new Act is a step towards abolishing the concept of common property itself. There is an attempt at giving role to Gram Sabha and public consultations at many stages but unfortunately, the government can easily override the Social Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Assessment and are not made binding in that sense.
Consent has been made very redundant and no particular provisions to define and understand are illustrated. Mani Shankar Aiyar, member of Parliamentary Standing committee, lamented the fact that our suggestion to improve the preface of the Act was accepted but the intent was negated. Gram Sabha, an elected body has been made subservient to the executive authority and Collector has become once again the key figure in the new Act, which is unfortunate.
KB Saxena, former Rural Development Secretary, Government of India, said the previous attempts to make amendments to the Act have been half hearted, and only when it was very the benefit of companies in 1984 major amendment to the old Act was done. In 2002 when the first time National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy was drafted under pressure from movements but more importantly from World bank. Hence, the democratic pretention in the new Act is a façade, government has appropriated Veto power on several occasions in the new Act.
Anil Chaudhary, INSAF, said the issue of land is extremely grave that the Parliament did not even properly listen to the standing committee. This shows the gravity of the situation and the powerful influence of people involved in the matter.Thus, the hunger and greed is not merely about a few projects but to a larger process. Corporate houses today are floating on non-existing floating capital. The fight in the future is going to be directly with the companies.
Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, said we have to reject this Act and strengthen the andolan. Within the possibilities of the law and scope of its improvement through guidelines – bureaucrats will misuse this law in favour of corporate lobbies, knowing the law in spite of not agreeing to it will help us fight against those groups, showing the flaws of the law and merge the ways together.
Prafulla Samantra, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa said the things we have gained is through the andolan only and that too is diluted, and other than that there is not much to gain with the law. It is also a concession given to powerful classes to grab more lands – and also favour mining and other groups which earn huge profits.
Prof. Amit Bhaduri, speaking in the concluding session said that the important issue today is pursuit of an investment model based on the form of free or very subsidized natural resources. This is the thing to be fought and unless this can change we will continue to witness this fictitious growth promoting inequity and injustice.
Demand for decentralized development planning has not been considered. As long as decentralization process is not activated in the process of development planning and implementation, it will not be possible to realize the dreams. The two day meeting agreed to take forward the struggle against the land acquisition and chart a new agenda for land struggles linking up the struggle in rural, urban, coastal and forest areas and forming a broader front across sections and classes keeping the agenda for justice and equity for dalits, adivasis, landless workers, farmers and peasants.
Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M, Shweta and Sanjeev kumar
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