Outlook, July 3 2015, New Delhi: Left-backed farmer’s outfit Bhumi Adhikar Andolan and NBA chief Medha Patkar today accused UP government of “forcibly” acquiring land for “illegal” Kanhar dam project in Sonbhadra district and sought immediate release of people arrested for planning protest against it.
Alleging that there is a little difference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav when it comes to offering land rights to public, the outfit said its members were arrested on “fake” charges and misbehaved with.
The Akhilesh Yadav government is currently working on the dam on the Kanhar river in Sonbhadra district of the state.
Before the members of ‘Bhumi Adhikar Andolan’ and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) could hold protest on June 30, they were arrested on “fake” charges, the Andolan leaders said here.
The Andolan leaders also alleged UP Irrigation Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, younger brother of Samajwadi Party chief, was behind attacks on Andolan members. They alleged that the rights of locals will be affected by the “illegal project”.
Asserting that there should be no forcible land acquisition for the work, they demanded the project be stalled until it has requisite environmental clearances and affected people are compensated.
“UP politicos are pushing for a project pros and cons of which have not been analysed. There is no environment impact assessment done. They don’t want any question to be raised against the project. Shivpal Singh Yadav is behind all this. The government did not like the strength Roma and her colleagues gave to the local villagers. Then what is the difference between Mulayam Singh and Modi?” Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan asked.
Patkar said that if the government continues to push the project ignoring provisions of 2013 Land Acquisition Act and met out locals “worse treatment” than Britishers, then its consequences will reflect during upcoming Assembly polls in the state.
“The Andolan has taken a stand which Samajwadi Party is expected to on land acquisition act. If it is ignoring the 2013 Act and goes ahead implementing the project, then it will be clear politically that he is against people’s land rights,” she said.
Patkar warned the party that it is committing a “big mistake” by ignoring people’s land rights.
Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who was part of the fact-finding committee formed after attacks on locals during earlier protests in April this year, accused the police of brutality against locals.
She added the project is being pushed to facilitate water for power plant operators in Singrauli district in Madhya Pradesh.
“There is a nexus between corporates and government. We condemn it. Government can’t achieve anything launching crack down on us. The more it will try to oppress us, stronger we will emerge,” she said.
Ashok Choudhary of AIUFWP claimed the policemen targeted women, whose number he said is on rise in protest against land acquisition bill.
“Government is becoming intolerant and hence, oppressing the agitations,” he said expressing concern that “no big” political party in the state was coming out against the “illegal” project.
CPI (M) politburo member Hannan Mollah said the Andolan members were not opposed to the project, but the manner in which it is being pushed.
“We want the state government takes due environmental clearances and ensures rehabilitation of locals first,” Mollah said.
The Andolan leaders also demanded stern action against policemen for their alleged brutality against protesters.
Anil Choudhary of INSAF, Prem Singh Gehlawat of CPI (ML) also addressed the press.