Posts Tagged ‘Sangharsh’
More than a thousand representatives from movements and struggles from across the country converged to Jan Mantar for a two day dharna. Objections and concerns about the amendments being introduced to the Land Acquistion Act (1894) and the draft Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill were presented by the movements from more than 15 states. Eminent citizen and activists like Kuldip Nayyar, Jst. Rajender Sachar, among others shared their concerns about the government’s (in)actions and intentions in trying to table these bills without any public debate or consultation.
The primary demands of the dharna were:
Abolish the Land Acquisition Act of British Legacy
Issue a White paper on Land Acquisition, Displacement and Rehabilitation for the last 60 years
Shelve the two Bills and hold a national consultation on the NAC approved draft along with the displaced people and the people’s organizations and
Institute a Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee for the discussion on the two Acts
The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill was introduced by the UPA government in the last session of their previous term; however, while it was passed in the Lok Sabha, it could not go through a vote in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill endorses the view that ‘private’ purpose, implying corporate and private commercial interests, is synonymous with ‘public’ purpose. The Bill in its current form negates the process of consultation that began with the National Advisory Council (NAC) and people’s movements, where a comprehensive Development Policy was drafted, keeping in mind concerns of the people.
Speakers underlined that the interlinked nature of the two subjects, land acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement was the basis on which the comprehensive Development Policy was drafted in a people centric manner following the consultations at the National Advisory Council. Voices from across the country opposed the plan to (re)introduce these two bills as regressive steps.
A people’s parliament, जन संसद, was organized on the second day of the dharna. People from different places presented their arguments on the idea of comprehensive development, land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement. Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar presided over a session of the Jan Sansad and expressed his continued support to people’s struggles for justice. Speaking from experiences of the havoc wrecked by various projects undertaken in the name of development, the shameless non compliance of current norms for land acquisition and rehabilitation was laid out in stark detail. The dharna ended with a crescendo of slogan decrying the government’s anti people action and a symbolic throwing of the draft bills in water.
Back in April I volunteered with Delhi Forum during a three day protest against the GoI’s policies on land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation, and the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) mushrooming around the country(side). It was an event with participation from more than 30 movements, organizations, and campaigns from across the country. Working with the team preparing the daily press release I got a taste of the effort and tact needed to get a press release out in such events. While each of the participants by themselves would not have attracted much media attention, the presence of the many regional and national campaign and movement leaders, and ofcouse Medhatai leading the dharna, seemed to be a fairly decent media attraction. And it was quite understandble that each of the participating groups wanted to see their issues & challenges projected in the press releases.
On July 2nd I was on the other side of a press conference. This one was organized by the Nandagudi Bhooswadeena Horata Samiti (Anti-land Acquisition Committee of Nandagudi). A ‘multi-product’ SEZ is proposed to be set up on 12,500 acres of fertile land leading to the displacement and loss of livelihood to more than a lakh people. The press conference was addressed by leaders from the Karnataka Rajya Raithara Sangha, CITU, CPI-M, and those from the Samiti. A new government had assumed power in the state less than a fortnight earlier and was planning to submit its budget within the following fortnight. The press conference was focused on getting the media to publicise the not so fruitful meetings with the new Chief Minister and the renewed declarations of solidarity by leaders of politically active bodies. Though the anti-SEZ campaign was the focus of the press conference, it was not the only one. The well attended press conference was also reconfirmation of the media’s attraction towards star power. After the press conference, Mr. Kenche Gowda a leader of the samiti and the KRRS leader Chandrashekar both made themselves available for interviews outside the venue. Once again, the local was not in much demand …