Bhumi Adhikar Andolan
Unanimous rejection of Land Acquisition Bill 2015, Joint Forum to Intensify Opposition
Representatives of people’s movements, peasant unions and farmers’ organisations from across country reject the bill as anti-farmer and undemocratic at public hearing
Strong message to JPC to oppose anti-constitutional Land Bill
New Delhi, 23rd July 2015: A public hearing was organised by Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, a nationwide movement for land rights, that saw representatives of people’s movements, peasant & agricultural labour unions and farmers organisations from ten states come together to share their struggles against land acquisition. The hearing, following the submission of recommendations to the Joint Parliamentary Committee, was organised in light of the committee’s failure to undertake wider ground-level consultations with mass organisations.
Representatives of various mass movements such as Medha Patkar, Vasavi Karo, Ashok Choudhary, Prafulla Samantara, Ramalingam, Hannan Mollah, Vimal bhai, Hansraj Gheora, KKR Lenin, Alok Shukla, Dr. Rupesh Varma, Com. Satyavan, Ulka Mahajan, Umesh Kumar, NK Shukla, Sriram Bharadwaj, etc. shared past and ongoing struggle experiences against land acquisition and the grave implications of the upcoming bill for majority of the country’s population. JPC member and Rajya Sabha MP Shri Jairam Ramesh (INC), Vaiko (MDMK), Jitendra Choudhary (CPM) and Sankar Prasad Dutta (CPM) participated in the hearing and expressed support.
Terming the Land Ordinance as the biggest attack on farmers, representatives highlighted the fact that promulgation of the Ordinance for the third time despite the JPC looking into the matter reflects disrespect for the committee’s efforts. The unprecedented scale of land acquisition and the agrarian crisis are two sides of the same coin which is evident from projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor which will impact 31% of the country’s agricultural land.
Multi-crop land and productive rain-fed, semi-arid and dry lands that ensure food security are at risk with no clear reasoning or facts behind the acquisition of vast tracts of land. The lack of a Land Use Policy has also provided unlimited opportunities of misuse where land has been transferred into private hands for real estate and luxury projects.
Representatives shared their frustrations regarding repeated violations in tribal, biodiversity rich and eco-sensitive areas. Despite constitutional provisions tribals have suffered from large scale displacement due to acquisition for mining, dams and industries. Utter disregard for informed consent, consultation and local governance processes have been countered by several successful struggles which are now being repressed with armed forces. A recent example is the illegal acquisition for Kanhar Dam project where police fired indiscriminately on several hundred dalits and tribals and arrested key activists.
Representatives felt that by moving towards greater power to the states in land acquisition processes, the government is shirking its responsibility since land is a concurrent subject where central governments have the final say. Various active state acquisition laws and massive capital development projects such as the AP land pooling scheme are testimony to this trend.
It was unanimously felt that the ordinance represents a corporate driven growth model that is not inclusive and will only impoverish large sections of the population. Recent census data shows that 1 in 3 rural households are landless and this statistic will only rapidly worsen with the proposed Bill.
Participants vowed to intensify opposition to the Bill through this broad struggle that has brought workers and farmers to a common forum and placed the issue of land rights at the centre again. Representatives of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan concluded the hearing with a proposal based on the sharings by the various groups that will be submitted to the JPC.
National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajay Bhawan), All India Kisan Sabha (Canning Lane), Akhil Bhartiya Krishak Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Jan Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti, Chhatisgarh Bachao Aandolan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samilti, INSAF, Delhi Solidarity Group, Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, VTMS, Matu Jansangathan
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