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Press Release – Any Changes in the new Land Acquisition Act is UNACCEPTABLE

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316

Any Changes in the new Land Acquisition Act is UNACCEPTABLE to People’s Movements and will Face Stiff RESISTANCE

Consent and SIA Provisions are the Most Important Features of the Act

NDA Government Should Ensure Strict Implementation of the New Act

Ministry of Environment must Back Off from making amendments to the FC and EC Processes

Environment and Development are Matters of Livelihood and Basic Survival

New Delhi, June 28, 2014 : The news that two of the key provisions, ‘consent’ and ‘Social Impact Assessment’ of the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 is to be amended by the NDA government is completely unacceptable to the people’s movements and will face tough opposition across the country. It may well be reminded that the new Act was framed in the wake of protests across the nation at places like Nandigram, Singur, Kalinganagar, Kakrapalli, Bhatta Parsaul, where many people died and years of struggle by Narmada Bachao Andolan, Niyamgiri Suraksha Parishad and Anti SEZ protests in Raigarh, Jhajhar for repeal of the colonial act and enactment of a new development planning act marking people’s participation and provisions for livelihood based  R&R.

The consent and SIA provision was introduced to do away with the anomalies in the colonial act, since farmers and those dependent on the land were never consulted or made a participant in the process of development planning. Huge tracts of fertile land were acquired at throw away prices and given to private and public corporations in the name of public purpose and industrialization.  The stiff opposition to the land grab has led in past to cancellation of numerous SEZs and other projects and any discussion on the question of land for industrialization has to take in account.

Ministry of Rural Development should work on implementing the Act by drafting the rules for its implementation and get States to do the same. It is shocking that most of these states demanding an amendment have not even bothered to frame the rules for the new Act. As of now, Karnataka and Maharashtra are the only two states who have framed draft rules for the same, how can they demand an amendment?

It will be a retrograde step if we were to go to back to the colonial process of forced land acquisition and no regard for impact of land acquisition on the people, environment and democratic institutions which need to be consulted and their consent taken in the process of SIA. If any amendment has to be made to the act then it needs to be made more stringent in following terms :

1. Consent for the public purpose projects to be mandatory for the government projects too.

2. Limited definition of the ‘Public Purpose’. Infrastructure doesn’t equal development. We have seen how Reliance has been creating infrastructure for nation, they work for profit alone and in the process loot the citizens and arm-twist the government, prime example being Delhi and Mumbai Metro and KG Basin Gas projects  ?

3. Mandatory SIA provisions for the irrigation projects as well, given the huge displacement, in case of Sardar Sarovar dam the sword of displacement is hanging on 2.5 lakh people even after three decades.

4. Urgently establish a National resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission to deal with the grievances of 10 crores of people who have sacrificed their land and livelihood in the process of development.

Since, the time NDA government has come to power a slew of changes have been proposed to the existing provisions of environment and forest clearances, as if Ministry of Environment and Forests sole job was to clear projects and allow destruction of forests, wildlife, rivers and so on in the name of development. The government seems to be in a hurry but this mandate from people need not be confused as a license to trample upon the rights of the people and tinker with the existing laws which are to protect life, livelihood and environment.

NAPM calls upon progressive forces, people’s movements and political parties to join this fight against corporate loot of the natural resources at the cost of livelihood of the millions. The corporate designs of loot of the natural resources will not be allowed to succeed by the people’s movements and every move will be resisted by the farmers, workers, fisherfolks, forest dwellers, adivasis, urban poor of this country. The NDA government will do itself good to remember that the power of people have forced radical changes and overthrown parties from power in past, the good days will not last forever!

 

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan – National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Parishad, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelakandan – NAPM Kerala; Saraswati Kavula, P Chennaiah – NAPM Andhra Pradesh,  B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Rajendra Ravi, Sunita Rani, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M – NAPM, Delhi; Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh, Nandlal Master – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, Maj. Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere – NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Wanjale – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Krishnakant –Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, NAPM Bihar; Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar

For details contact : 9818905316 | email : [email protected] 

 

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Medha Patkar – ‘Curbing Agitations Absolutely Fascist’

FOTOCORP (FROM OUTLOOK 30 JUNE 2014)
INTERVIEW
‘Curbing Agitations Absolutely Fascist’
The Narmada Bachao Andolan’s spearhead on the recent government decisions

The first blow was the new BJP government’s unilateral decision to raise the wall of the Narmada Dam by 17 metres, something the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s spearhead Medha Patkar has had been fighting for years. Now it appears the government is set to clamp down on the NGOs that are active in opposing big business. Patkar spoke to Prachi Pinglay-Plumber. Excerpts from the interview:

What do you make of the recent IB report coming down on ngos run on foreign money?

If the foreign funds coming to them are legal, then there is nothing wrong with it. When you are talking about foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways, education, infrastructure and even defence, what right do you have to talk about foreign funds in NGOs? We do not take foreign funds as ours is a movement not an NGO. We get free legal services from lawyers, we take old computers and furniture and we work on very little money.

One of your organisations was also named? 

Ours is a decentralised outfit and small organisations are formed all over. Narmada Sagar may be named but nothing will come of it. This is an overarching strategy to intimidate voices of dissent.

So you think the real reason isn’t tracing funds sources but more to do with clamping down on the NGOs and spread fear?

 

“A government which is soaked in foreign funds is targeting us. There’ll now be false cases, harassment….”

Yes. They don’t want any barriers in their corporate agenda. NGOs and social organisations challenge that. So the authorities project it as if outsiders are coming and protesting against development projects. But they are merely representing locals—farmers, adivasis, the displaced. Also, if the organisations are protesting within constitutional and legal limits, then it is their right to do so. To curb the right to express and the right to agitate is going against the Constitution. It’s absolutely fascist. It is typically Modi’s style, not to say no on your face but employ other ways and means. For instance, look how undemocratically they decided on the height of the Narmada dam, despite clear SC decisions on the rehabilitation of the 2.5 lakh displaced people.

This talk of economic security is also flawed. Income generation has to increase but all the jobs are given out as contract jobs. I believe in self-reliance but in our country everything from nuclear energy to the education sector has foreign investments/involvement. We are importing technology for eve­ry­thing. How is this self-reliance?

What is your next course of action? 

We’ll have to challenge it. A government which is soaked in foreign funds is targeting us. There will now be harassment, false cases and anyone who opposes is going to be branded anti-development, anti-national. Today, it is the environment movements and NGOs. Next it will be the trade unions. There needs to be a wider alliance of all diversified forces. Even if they differ on some things, a cross-section of people should come tog­ether to resist this. That’s why we have called for a public debate on this whole development issue that this government is forging through.

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BJP wins Narmada battle #WTFnews

DC CORRESPONDENT | June 13, 2014, 05.06 am IST
  • Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben performs worship at Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River near Navagam on Thursday. After a wait of eight long years, the Gujarat government has got the final clearance to raise the height of the dam. 	— PTI
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben performs worship at Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River near Navagam on Thursday. After a wait of eight long years, the Gujarat government has got the final clearance to raise the height of the dam. — PTI

New Delhi: In a major victory for the Gujarat government within weeks of Narendra Modi taking over as Prime Minister, the Centre on Thursday granted it the much-awaited permission to raise the height of the Narmada Dam from the existing 121 metres to 138 metres, and allowed the installation of gates on the reservoir.

The Narmada Control Authority’s decision is politically significant as the demand to raise the level of the dam was pending before the Centre for the past nine years. A meeting of the NCA attended by secretaries of the water resources and social justice ministries, among others, decided to raise the dam level to 138.72 meters, saying the demanded was “justified”.

Soon after the decision was announced, the Narmada Bachao Andolan and its leader Medha Patkar alleged that the decision was taken in haste, and claimed that it would displace 2.5 lakh people.

But water resources minister Uma Bharti said at a press conference that the decision was taken after assessing all aspects. “According to the report of the social justice ministry, they (Narmada Control Authority) have done all the things they had to. The ministry has given a full satisfactory report at the meeting. That is why the decision was taken by the water resources secretary,” Ms Bharti told reporters.

“It was a collective decision,” she added.

Within minutes of its announcement, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel welcomed it and conveyed her “heartfelt gratitude” to Mr Modi, her predecessor as CM.

“The decision has come so swiftly. Achchhe din aa gaye,” she tweeted. The CM also tweeted that she was at Junagadh right now for Shala Preveshotsav, and would leave for the Narmada dam site at Kevadia.

“Not a single day should be lost in resuming work,” she said.

Water resources ministry officials added that the Centre had also given permission to the Gujarat government to put up gates on the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

The issue of raising the dam level is very close to the Prime Minister as he had doggedly fought with the erstwhile UPA government on raising the dam level and installation of gates. He had even undertaken a fast in 2006 asking the UPA government to allow Gujarat to increase the height of the dam.

Ms Patkar said it was an “undemocratic” decision and that the ministry should assess then ground situation first. “The question is whether Modi will act like the chief minister of Gujarat or as Prime Minister of India — will he take steps to ensure no condition is flouted and no family that has not got rehabilitation gets affected?” she asked.

Read more here – http://www.deccanchronicle.com/140613/nation-current-affairs/article/bjp-wins-narmada-battle

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Press Release – Can Sardar Sarovar Height be Raised in Violation of Law?

  • Are ‘Vision of Inclusive Development’ Truthful ?

  • NDA Government must hear the People’s Organisation from Narmada Valley, before decision on SSP

Mumbai / New Delhi, June 12 : Today seems to be critical day for Narmada. When Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has expressed his commitment to take the country forward with his ‘Vision of Inclusive Development’, it is an absolutely obnoxious contrast that the new government has not given us any hearing nor has it taken any time nor made any attempt to know the ground reality, before deciding to go forward with Sardar sarovar Dam construction to its final height.

Sardar Sarovar Dam at its present height itself has 2 lakh people in its affected region, so if the height is raised by installing 17 meters high gates, the densly populated villages in Nimad Madhya Pradesh with houses, farms, shops, temples, mosques, standing crops etc. will face a watery grave. Adivasi villages in the hills in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat habitating hundreds of families are also to be further submergedd. Altogether not less than 2.5 lakh people, farmer, fishworkers, potters, shopkeepers will face a deluge and devastation, without rehabilitation, if the height is raised from 122 meters to 139 meters!

Will NDA Government permit such an injustice to be caused in violation of Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award as well as Supreme Court judgements? Anandiben Patel, CM, Gujarat has announced that today, in the NCA meeting, “verbal permission” will be granted and then the formalities will be completed within a week’s time. She has claimed that no party state has any objection to raising the height. This is obviously neither true nor transparent. None of the concerned new ministers, Uma Bhartiji, Paraksh Javadekarji or Thavarchand Gehlot have looked into all the reports, detailed data as well as the ground level situation. While two of them belong to Madhya Pradesh and one to Maharashtra. Will it be wrong to expect that they, give us a hearing and also assess the reality themselves. Their visit to the valley could go a long way.

How could the government deal with such a grave situation and go ahead just because Mr. Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister. May we remind all the Ministries that they have to first appraise the social and environmental impacts and judge serious non-compliance themselves. The latest news is that Mrs. Patel, CM has reached the dam site in Gujarat as if the decision is already taken….what a political expediency and breach of every principle of democracy and justice.

Medha Patkar,  Meera,  Nurji Padvi,  Kailash Awasya,  Bhagirath

 

*************************
Narmada Bachao Andolan,
Narmada-Ashish, Off Kasravad Road,
Navalpura, Badwani,
Madhya Pradesh – 451551
Ph: 07290-291464; Fax: 07290-222549
E-mail: [email protected] ;
[email protected]National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014;

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi – 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 2435 4737
E-mail: [email protected]  | [email protected]
Web : www.napm-india.org

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NAPM calls for dam and human safety in wake of Beas disaster

 

New Delhi, June 9: The unfortunate death of 25 students in the flash flood in the river Beas caused by sudden release of water from the 120 MW Laarji Hydropower project has once again brought in focus the question of dam safety in the country. However, it is not yet clear on what prompted the sudden opening of the dam gates, one can assume it must be rains in the higher altitude. However, this is not new. Incidents like this keep happening and our systems to manage dam gates, water release, warning systems, upkeep of dam and so on continue to be neglected and unplanned in absence of monitoring from Central Water Commission or Ministry of Environment and Forests. This incident reminds us of the flash floods in Uttarakhand in 2012 and 2013, which claimed countless lives. While, whenever incidents like this happens there is an attempt made at portraying them  as natural disasters, as with last years’ Uttarakhand floods, the role of unbridled constructions, dams, deforestation and other measures creating such situations is not discussed. Monsoons are approaching and one can only pray that nothing like last year will be repeated, given that we refuse to learn and implement lessons thrown up by these disasters.

 

Till date, more than 4,500 dams have been constructed in India, out of which approximately 4,000 are operational, and, roughly 400 new dams are coming up. A fair number of India’s dams are over 100 years old. A list compiled by the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows at least 114 dams in this category. There are roughly 400 dams which are 50-100 years old. According to Madhya Pradesh government, the state has 168 dams which can be called “distressed dams”, out of which 63 are less than 50 years old.  Since 1917, 29 dams have reportedly been damaged. Such breaches of dams have affected the lives and property of hundreds of people, and, the number of those killed and injured in such accidents has reached thousands.

 

In 1979 about 2000 persons lost their lives when the Machhu II (in Gujarat) dam gave way. Other dam failures in the country include Ashti Dam in Maharashtra (this dam gave way twice, first in 1883 and then in 1933), Tigra Dam in Madhya Pradesh (1970), Panchait Dam on Damodar River in Jharkhand in 1961, Kadakwasala Dam in Pune (Maharashtra) in 1961, Nanak Sagar Dam (Uttarakhand) in 1967 and Chikkahole Dam (Karnataka) in 1972. A list of some of these accidents are attached.

 

The incident has once again thrown up an opportunity for the Central and State governments to seriously address the issue of dam safety and ongoing construction of various dams in the country. The serious crisis at the door step of the Narmada Valley must be an opportunity for holistic review, not just from the angle of dam safety but from the wider perspective of costs and benefits of mega projects like the Sardar Sarovar. With a population of 2.5 lakh in 245 thickly populated village communities in the submergence of a single dam (SSP), the valley with a cascade of mega and medium dams, is a disaster-in-waiting. With flawed back water level surveys, imminent seismic risks, unregulated release of water from upstream dams; the valley is facing a virtual death noose; the Union and state governments have a critical role to play – if human life, nature and the exchequer matter.

 

There is a draft Dam Safety Bill brought by the UPA government in 2010, on which Parliamentary Standing Committee gave its report in June 2011 but it was never taken up after that. The Bill needs to be taken up again, however, it needs to be changed to include these kinds of operational failures and also bring in independent monitoring and reporting at each stage. Today there is none. We also need operational rules for each project in monitoring of which the downstream community representatives must have a role. It is then only that existing dams will be safe and not act as a death threat for downstream communities. Meanwhile, we urge the government that the concerned dam authorities must be made to face criminal and civil charges. Criminal for deliberate murder and levied exemplary fines to be paid to the families of the deceased students. NAPM  mourns the loss of precious human life and offers its condolences to the family and shares their grief.

 

Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Vimal Bhai, C R Neelakandan, Vilas Bhongade, Suniti S R, Dr. Sunilam, Arundhati Dhuru, Gabriele Dietrich, Suhas Kolhekar, Saraswati Kavula, P Chennaiah, Kamayani Swami, Mahendra Yadav, Sister Celia, Krishnakant, Anand Mazgaonkar,  Bhupender Singh Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Seela M, Madhuresh Kumar, Meera

 

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#Sundayreading – Soni Sori ,Dayamani Barla and Medha Patkar in India Elections

No time for parties

These three women in the electoral race have fought for change from outside the system.

The exhilarating process of elections has begun. There is genuine and understandable apprehension about the future. But there is also hope. Because in this election, an element has been injected that has attracted more interest in it than in several pervious general elections.

That new element is the kind of individual that has now entered electoral politics. There have been instances in the past when non-politicians have either joined mainstream political parties or stood as independents and fought elections. But this time, thanks largely to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the range of independent-minded non-political individuals in the fray is much larger.

I personally find the presence of three women to be particularly significant. There are many women who are contesting. And some, like those from the film fraternity, are drawing media attention. Nagma, Gul Panag, Kirron Kher, Smriti Irani and, of course, Rakhi Sawant, are a magnet for television cameras.

The three women I want to write about are also celebrities but in a completely different way. Their life and the struggles they have undertaken over decades have been appreciated. They have received awards. They have been extensively interviewed and written about.

Yet, their entry into the electoral race as AAP candidates marks a significant change. Whether they win or lose is not so important as the fact that people have a chance to see and hear women like them who have fought for change from outside the system.

The women I refer to are Soni Sori from Chhattisgarh, Dayamani Barla from Jharkhand and Medha Patkar from Maharashtra (although her work has been all over India).

The least known of the three is Soni Sori, a 39-year-old schoolteacher from Jabeli village in Dantewada, Bastar, in the state of Chhattisgarh. Soni shot into limelight when she was picked up by the police in 2011 allegedly for being a Maoist, was brutally tortured because she refused to sign a false confession that would have implicated others, and finally released on permanent bail by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Her account of what she went through during her time in jail, which included horrific sexual assault, is chilling. Four of the six cases against her have been dismissed. She still has two pending.

Elections cost money. Soni has only a few hundred rupees in her bank account, Rs.424 to be exact. But support for her from outside has gathered pace ever since her candidature was announced and the funds are coming in. Still, the total is nowhere near the Rs.70 lakhs per candidate permitted by the Election Commission. And given the size of her constituency of Bastar, she will certainly need that money to reach out to her constituents, even if just to inform them about her name, her party and the party symbol.

Another tribal woman, much better known, is the former journalist and human rights activist Dayamani Barla, also known as the Iron Lady of Jharkhand. Dayamani is the candidate from Khunti in Jharkhand and the “Iron Lady” tag comes from her battle against steel giant ArcelorMittal. She successfully scuttled plans by the company to build what would have been the world’s largest steel plant. Together with a captive power station, the plant would have displaced people living in 40 villages. Whether the people saved from eviction will actually vote for her in these elections remains to be seen. What is significant is that she has taken the step of moving from agitation from the outside to attempting to influence policy from the inside.

The third woman is Medha Patkar, who needs little introduction. Her decades-long fight against the Narmada dam might not have prevented the dam from being built. What it did do was bring into the conversation about development the concept of sustainability from the perspective of the environment and people.

Medha is the AAP candidate from Mumbai Northeast, a constituency with a mix of urban poor and middle class. Everyone ought to know of her given her presence in the public realm since the 1980s. Yet, a week before she filed her nomination papers, many people living in the slum settlement of Gautam Nagar, which falls within her constituency, had not heard of her or of AAP. Only those who watch television news recognised her, or at least knew of the party and its symbol.

Like the other two, Medha faces an uphill battle. She does not have the funds required to carpet-bomb her constituency with fliers, posters and banners. She does not have enough volunteers who can reach out to all the constituents. And her own time and strength is limited, given that she is also in great demand in other parts of India.

Yet, as I said earlier, it really does not matter whether these three women win or lose. Their presence is a relevant reminder that politics in a democracy is not the sole property of a handful of families and their progeny; it does not belong to crooks and criminals; or to those with a casteist or communal agenda. The very fact that people like Soni, Dayamani and Medha believe they should enter the election arena, represents a sliver of hope for the future of Indian democracy.

sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

 

Read more here — http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/no-time-for-parties/article5906355.ece

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I can’t imagine us not supporting Medha Patkar- AAP

Medha Patkar:  Nagpur December 1, 2010

 

 

 

I hope, Medha would allow us to support her!
Friends, no dilemma can be greater than to decide whether to support your colleague of more than two decades for doing what you always wanted her/him to do or not: we always wanted Medha Patkar to stand election, but looking at the votes we got, she was always against electoral politics, but, finally, as she agreed this time, unfortunately, we find ourselves on different ground! While, we still supports her stand on: alternative development; globilisation and privatization, her party, AAP’, stands in stark difference with us on this.
We never had any dilemma on supporting her; not even, when she had taken her fight against Sardar Sarovar to the level of deciding to sacrifice her life.
I know Medha personally; there is no match in AAP, to her personality, political standing, credibility,  commitment, experience and sacrifice.  I have fought many battles with her since 1990 as a co-activist and learnt a lot from her. She is the fighter, and, the only one in the people’s movements, having national standing; who shook the national conscience in the decade of 1990, when she made a fight against Sardar Sarovar  a symbol of alternative development, much before Arvind Kejriwal even entered the public life. For the first time, in the Indian history, after Gandhi and Lohiya, she established the concept of ‘Alternative Development.’ She was the one who first raised the issue of the transfer of KG basin to Reliance; always opposed privatization and globilisation.  She is the one to first challenge Narendra Modi on SSP and got bashing in Gujrat.
But, suddenly, when all the policy of so called development; globilisation; privatization had last its credibility before Aam-Admi, and it was time for Medha to use her credibility to launch nationwide agitation, on this, with people’ movement across the nation , the Aam Party sprung from people’ movement (?)  to provide it all the legitimacy by citing ‘corruption’ as the main issue.
We know many good people like Jaypal Reddy in Congress, but we could never support him as a Congress candidate. Before we decide to support her, she will have to make her party’s stand clear on: development; globilisation and privatization. When our grassroot activists like Fagram, Mangal and Rajendra are asking about Medha’s stand on this, we had no answer.
Winning a losing has been always more important than the principal we stand for; this is what battle against SSP dam taught  me.
I am still hopeful, Medha will come out and make her stand clear to me and many grasroot activists lik  Fagram, Mangal and Rajendra  and  thereby, allow them  to support her.  I can’t imagine us not supporting Medha Patkar.
Anurag Modi
Samjwadi Jan Parishad

 

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AAP, Medha Patkar, Soni Sori and Corporate Funding

Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)

 

 

By Joe.M.S.

 

18 February, 2014
Countercurrents.org

 

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) fiasco culminated with the resignation of Kejriwal , another media spectacle, which was like running away from the responsibility of tall promises they made, on flimsy grounds to portray them a martyrs. After this, the AAP has even declared publicly for the first time it’s economic policy, which is not against capitalism as such, but only against crony capitalism. Thus the appearance of the movement as radical for some ultra intellectuals and hopefuls, proved to be a mere displacement anticipating capitalistic economic determinism in the last instance, as Zizek would have put it.

 

It is astonishing, even at this juncture of neo liberal predatory capitalism, that there are takers for the theory that capitalism can exist with a human face and is susceptible to control, and that the so called developed western capitalism is dissociated from world ecological destruction and wars.

 

Meanwhile, intellectuals are working overtime to save the likes of Kumar Vishwas, by sophisticated media theories, to present him as a victim, turning a blind eye to their own feminism, indirectly trampling the rights of nurses and women.

 

In this context, the declaration of Medha Patkar and Soni Sori as candidates of AAP, in effect works as an exercise in revamping, to lend credibility to the sullied image of the party, after the allegedly xenophobic attack on African women. Though some Gandhian post-colonial intellectuals, are bending over backward, to defend the stand of AAP on this racist attack, the party has not yet come clean on this issue. Many progressive feminists and leftists intellectuals have raised doubts about the sincerity of AAP and their defence of their law minister. The AAP’s stand not to believe any other persons apart from their party members is strange to say the least. Some post ideological AAP defenders behave like old soviet Marxist party, which in their economic reductionism, relegated all other questions of language, gender and race to the side-lines. After all, just because of the fact that the allegations against Modi and 2G spectrum are made by corporate media does not mean than they have no substance. Thus the AAP stand that media is targeting them for their supposedly anti corporate politics does not hold good.

 

So one can say that, the action of Medha Patkar to allow her name to be associated with AAP as a candidate, not seems to be a right move. The fact that she is not only a living legend with impeccable records but the embodiment of world ecological movement may lend credence to a party like AAP, though however detached an attachment to the party she holds. The record of AAP on racial equality can be used even by anti progressive forces the world over to malign the ecological movements. This is especially so, when many rightist Paleoconservative forces are active . So what ever be the anti-Reliance corporate rhetoric of AAP, until they come clean on the alleged racist raid on Africans, it would have been better for a person of Medha’s stature to be a bit more cautious in her espousal of AAP’s cause. This is exclusively so when ecological politics remains the only hope for a rejuvenation of world left, when almost all existing left parties in the world are pro-development oriented. (See the stand of Communist party of India (Marxist) which even supports the right wing forces to oppose pro-ecological Gadgil report ). A time when Medha’s ecology should be guiding light of left politics over and above Marx, she should not be seen advocating soft capitalists like AAP.

 

When Kejriwal’s own past views on caste based reservations has been questioned from various quarters, the party’s suppression of dissenting women members and their rejection that there is not even an iota of truth in the complaint of African women, in the times of Justice Varma Committee report, is not in the least progressive. AAP defenders hope that they could easily pass their legislations to control corporates ( even if sincere it will only be a move to sanitise Indian capitalism and to make it like it’s western counterpart) and would be not facing any opposition is ridiculous. And their critique of every scepticism posed by the left in the past against limitations of parliamentary politics is meaningless. So it would be opportune for people like Medha to understand the complexities of the situation because racial equality should go hand in hand with ecology . Then only can a new progressive ecological politics garner the support of the subaltern all over the world.

 

Joe M S, is a social science teacher from Kerala. Worked in various places of India, now residing in Ireland.

 

Read more here —  http://www.countercurrents.org/joems180214.htm

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE- NAPM to Intervene into Electoral Arena as Complementary to non-electoral Politics

  • People’s Movements to Intervene into Electoral Arena as Complementary to non-electoral Politics

  • NAPM Convening Team Holds Dialogue with AAP Leadership

New Delhi, January 17 : National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) held its two day National Convening Team (NCT) meeting on January 16-17 at its national office in Delhi to discuss the need and repurcussions of direct intervention in to electoral politics as well the issue of support to Aam Aadmi Party. The meeting was in continuation of the NAPM Western region meeting on January 12 in Mumbai and NAPM Bihar, Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal and other state level meetings.

NCT discussed the issue of ‘active support’ to Aam Aadmi Party, mechanism to ensure dialogue with the movements by AAP, and social movements intervention in the electoral process by contesting elections.

The members present felt that today the many of the existing political parties have agreement on a common agenda on the anti-people reforms, criminal and corporate loot of natural resources, use of money and muscle power in elections, complete negligence of the people’s issues and absence of political propriety and tolerance for divergent views and diversity in life. People’s power is denounced by most of the political parties and politicians in violation of the constitutional rights and privileges. This has resulted in a situation where the space for democratic movements and dissent have been decreasing, State repression has increased leading to victimisation of activists and non-violent democratic movements. Fundamentalism and communalism has also been on the rise leading to rising fear among minorities and secular sections.

This has necessitated a need for those engaged in the ‘alternative movement politics’ to also now intervene in the electoral processes by contesting elections on the platform of socially conscious and pro-people political parties. This ‘alternative electoral politics’ is to be seen as a part of our wider movements for social and political transformation. The relationship between the State and its people; the character of the politics need to be changed, making the governance pro-people.

In this scenario AAP have enthused people and shown a ray of hope to many by raising people’s issues reflecting values of equity and justice and has attempted developing a new vocabulary of change and politics on the agenda of governance and anti-corruption.

Late in the evening on January 16, Yogendra Yadav and Ajit Jha of Aam Aadmi Party held deliberations with the National Convening Team of NAPM, and Shri Prashant Bhushan earlier, and had extensive dialogue on the different issues arising out of the meeting. NAPM team raised and sought clarification on AAP’s position on certain issues related to adivasis, dalits, displaced, urban poor, farmers, women and their livelihood issues. After the meeting it was resolved that :

  • Most of the people’s movements allied with NAPM believe that and welcome AAP as a process towards an alternative politics. They will extend support to those AAP candidates that concede with the local people’s issues and support people’s organisations.

  • Every people’s organisation allied with NAPM has its own individual identity and hence decisions regarding its relationship with electoral processes and intervention will be their own. Those organisations like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) of Assam, which don’t intend to intervene into electoral politics will continue to tread the path of movement.

  • Those movements groups who are in support of AAP will actively :

    – take part in membership drive of AAP

    – be part of committees at different levels

    – and contribute to the process of manifesto making.

  • A certain number of senior activists with strong mass base and experience of constructive work to social action will seek extensive consultation with their movement comrades and wider populace in their area before filing applications for candidature in forthcoming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections through AAP and will contest if selected through democratic process.

  • A collective mechanism with AAP would be evolved in the due course of time where a process of dialogue and negotiations on the key social issues and policies can be held.

NAPM also resolved that an internal monitoring committee will be established for accountability of those members of people’s movements who will join the party and contest elections so that they remain true to ideals held by NAPM.

It was also reiterated that National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a non-party political platform, will continue to retain its independent identity and struggle against injustice, inequity and discrimination and work for peace, justice and freedom as always.

The meeting was attended by Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan-NAPM), Arundhati Dhuru and CM Yadav (NAPM-UP), Ashish Ranjan (Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar), Prafulla Samantara (Lok Shakti Abhiyan), Dr. Sunilam (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, MP), Akhil Gogoi (KMSS, Assam), Dayamani Barla (Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, Jharkhand), Sumit Wajale (Ghar bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai), Prasad Bagwe (Ekvira Jamin Bachao Andolan, Maharashtra), Kailash Meena (NAPM Rajsthan), Bhupender Singh Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi), Vimal Bhai (Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand), Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M (NAPM Delhi).

A meeting of NAPM and other movement groups are scheduled to be held on January 23-24th in Wardha, Maharashtra where some of the issues of people’s movements and electoral politics will be discussed.

 

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Press Release – People’s Movements Extend Support to AAP

 

Mumbai, January 13: People’s Movements for years have been striving in non-violent, democratic ways for a broader social and political transformation. These struggles at times manifest is changing government policies and laws and raise broader questions of alternative development and address questions of societal values. For years and decades long struggles have evolved consensus among various sections of farmers, workers, labourers, fish workers and across classes, including the middle class in the cities and villages. The movements are in alliance across the country and have achieved many things, in the form of protecting people’s rights, livelihood and resources as well as changing their relations with the rulers, the power holders. We have always stood for people’s power !

 

However, the movements have over years witnessed the changing face, culture and approach of political class to people’s issues and priorities. The mainstream parties in power have just not been insensitive to people’s demand but also been insulting the people’s power, role and violating rights. Corruption – as misuse & misappropriation of monetary and natural resources – is hitting not only the micro level livelihoods and downtrodden but the macro economy of the nation as well. When the politicians are engaged in loot and don’t care for the large majority of common people, they resort to caste-religion and other bases to gain vote bank and distribute notes, freebies, liquor  to regain and retain political power. This needs to be condemned. People’s movements have always faught against these fraudulent ways and means that defeat democracy and become barriers in achievement of the goal of peace, justice and development of the country.

 

Today a new context and content has been provided to the people in the movements by the ongoing churning among the common masses, emerging beyond the non-electoral processes. People are eager and full of confidence, courage and commitment to bringing in change, distinct and deep.

A number of attempts by small and large parties and fora to create an alternative to the mainstream politics, creating space for those at margins by the power holders have played a role in the past. Earlier it was JP Movement (post-emergency rise of new alliance of parties) and again with V P Singh that such churning happened. Once again and with a difference, the concern of the masses has led to formation of Aam Aadmi Party reflecting a need for changing the political cultures and system. The people’s movements have found their issues and visions reflected in the position of the AAP, that includes :

 

  1. Decentralisation of power and governance to grant primacy to people and the lowest smallest unit of democracy – gram & Bastis.
  2. Rooting out corruption from bottom to top though not only legal but social political processes.
  3. Due place and scope for alternative economic and technological solutions rooted in the land of India and Bharat.
  4. Rising above caste, religion, gender based divisions and discriminations while retaining positive discriminatory measures such as reservations.
  5. Resolutions of conflicts between the state and people, may those be farmers, dalits, adivasis or urban poor; through due democratic processes and on the basis of the constitutional values and principles
  6. Solutions to inequality, injustice, corruption and water, energy crises.
  7. Working for an alternative political culture for the political class.

 

Arvind kejariwal and the team of youngsters, with Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Prof. Anand Kumar, prof. Ajit Jha and many experienced intellectual activists took a lead and have made a dent into the electoral politics. Their achievements through innovative strategies, principles of transparency and accountability in realm of governance have raised hope for everyone today.

 

We consider the attempt of AAP as a movement and appreciate the endeavour to fill in the political vacuum. It’s because the AAP is following the movement ways, giving regard to mass participation and bringing in simplicity and selfless service into politics that many comrades and colleagues in various people’s movements have decided to extend our active support to AAP.This is a decision taken through dialogue to deliberations within movements in states taking note of diverse opinions with a common ground. Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (Maharashtra), Jan Sangharsh Vahini (Delhi), lok Shakti Abhiyan (Orissa), Kosi Baadh Prabhavit Sangharsh Samiti and Jan Jaagran Shakti Sangathan (Bihar), Unorganised Sector Workers federation (South India) and many others.

 

The decision is based on our viewing AAP as an evolving political vehicle for people’s movements. With Indian Constitution as the guide with fundamental rights to directive principles and ‘we the people of India‘ as our resources, we feel AAP is committed to both. Hence, without any dogmatic views and traditional dilemmas, we see a hope and extend our support and contribute to ideological strengthening of the Party pogrammes and policies. We appeal to other movements too to join and support. The victory in Delhi should be taken forward to all states, villages, hamlets, bastis and cities in the country.

 

We are however, yet to discuss some aspects – ideological to strategical – with AAP leadership and ensure a mechanism to establish a relation of the party with the people’s movements. Many of us are part of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a non-party political platform, which will continue to retain its independent identity and provide input to programmes and policies and also lead struggles on people’s issues as done always. We see AAP itself as a movement that bring in complementarity and hence we confide in its leadership to evolve such process and spaces within for the long term struggle to clean politics and bring in an alternative politics and political culture..

 

We will announce forms of support and our interventions into the political arena with AAP with all formalities and processes after our dialogue in Delhi on 16-17th of January and look forward to a new era of politics – electoral and non-electoral as strengthening each other and the Indian society with democracy, unity in diversity and equity.

 

Medha Patkar, Kailash Awasya, Meera, Narmada Bachao Andolan

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Orissa

Geeta Ramakrishnan, Unorgnaised Sector Workers Federation

Pasharul Alam, Aadivasi Jameen raksha Samiti, West Bengal

Ramakrishna Raju, United Forum of Right to Information, Andhra Pradesh

Gurwant Singh, Small Scale Industries and Traders Association, Punjab

Smipreet Singh, Sumit Wajale, Santosh Thorat, Poonam Kanojia Ghar Bachao Ghar banao Andolan, Maharashtra

Prasad Bagwe, Ekvira Bachao Andolan, Maharashtra

Rajendra Ravi, Sanjay M G, Ramdas Bhatkal, Chandrshekhar Architect, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M – NAPM Maharashtra and Delhi

Mahendra Yadav and Kamayani Swami – NAPM Bihar

Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, New Delhi

Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chattisgarh

Rajkumar Sinha, Bargi Baandh Visthapit Sangharsh Samiti, MP

C R Neelakandan, Geo Jose, Hussain Master – NAPM kerala

 

 

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