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Archive for January, 2008

National Alliance of People’s Movements and Action 2007

 

Jattha Update: Day 5,6
January 30th, 31st

 

• Nandigram-Narmada-Gorai Jattha 2008 Reached Rewa In Madhya Pradesh,
After Visiting Jharkhand And Chhattisgarh

• Overwhelming Response From People In Raigarh And Rewa, In Solidarity
With People From Other Movements

• People’s Movements Show Collective Strength To Fight Against
Anti-People Policies And State Repression

 

On the 31st morning, the 6th day of the Jattha, more than 35 activists from Nandigram, Singur, Bokaro, Ranchi, Delhi, U.P., A.P., Orissa, Raipur and other parts of India reached Satna, Madhya Pradesh after covering some areas of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Sunilbhai of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Madhuribahen of Jagrut Dalit Adivasi Sangathan  and many other senior activists joined the Jattha  and proceeded to Rewa near JP cement factory, where not so long ago (Sep 2007), one youth named Rajendra Singh Patel, was killed and 30 others were injured including women, due to police firing.  Their only ‘sin’ was to demand jobs since their land had been acquired for setting up the factory. Till today the marks of the injuries are there in these people’s bodies.  The Kol adivasis were also injured in this firing.  The Jattha met the activists of NFFPW there.

The Jattha joined the meeting in the Jirah Village where people shared the realities of their life and livelihood and their agitations, and heard the powerful struggle of Nandigram.

The Jattha came back to Rewa where a JP cement company affected people and senior activists from Vindhyachal Jan Andolan Samiti and many other organizations including React, organized a meeting of hundreds of people.  The gathering was addressed by Sunilbhai, Madhuribahen, Sandhya Devi, Nandlalbhai and Medha Patkar, on behalf of the Jattha.

The people emphasized on strengthening the non-party politics of people’s movements and alternative to mainstream politics. They also promised to take this process forward with NAPM.

In the night there was meeting with about 25-30 representatives from various organizations, senior activists, veteran writers and intellectuals from the area who said that it was imperative to build a strong collective movement in the Vindhyachal area where large number of MOUs of National and Global industries and  investments have been declared, and been signed.

In the night, the Jattha boarded the train to reach Khandwa to proceed towards Badwani and Narmada Valley. From here the Jattha will move to Pune and the concluding programme is at Gorai on 4th February, where a huge SEZ project in planned.

DAY 5

Earlier, on 30th January, the Jattha was meeting people in Raigarh, where a large group welcomed the Jattha. After having a meeting at Agarwal Bhawan the Jattha reached the Samadhi of Satyabhama to salute this adivasi women activist, who died in Raigarh, during the indefinite hunger strike against Jindal – notorious for polluting rivers, indiscriminate mining of iron at the cost of life and livelihood of adivasis and other people. The members of Jattha also met her family members. The Jattha members were informed that the corporate state was conspiring to remove the Samadhi of Satyabhama but the people were ready to fight and protect her Samadhi, which is a symbol of struggle where she gave her life to protect natural resources against the mining giants.

This being the 30th of January, the punyatithi of Gandhi,  people visited the statue of Mahatma Gandhi to pay tribute  to him and took  resolution to challenge violence and to protest against any kind of violence.

Jattha then reached Gade Gaon in Kamnaar Tehsil of Raigarh where people are protesting against the mining by Jindal Company.

Ironically, a public hearing organized on Jan 4th 2008 for the mine-displaced people in the area was systematically sabotaged by the people hired by Jindal group, aided by the State government machinery.   As soon as people started public hearing, the corporate aided goons who came in trucks attacked the people. On the contrary, the innocent people were implicated for this and not the ones who attacked. No FIR was filed by authorities against those who injured the people.

The collector cancelled the public hearing by giving the justification that situation was tense and not appropriate for the Public Hearing.

However, as soon as people went back to their respective villages, the Public Hearing started with wrong people who were brought by the company in trucks. As suspected, they obviously cleared the mining project of Jindal. People were cheated not only by the company but also by the authorities that are supposed to protect their rights. Indeed, the people are angry and determined to get this fake public hearing cancelled.

The Jattha met many people here and heard their stories of despair, destruction and the spirit to struggle against injustice.  Many people offered to join the struggle for solidarity whenever there is a critical need.

Activists participating in the Jattha such as  Sandhya Devi  from Orissa, Radharani and Shaikh Sultan from Nandigram, Gautam Bandhopadhyay from Chhattishgarh, Romabahen from U.P., Medha Patkar from NBA, NAPM, Sri Janak Lal Thakur of CMM, representative of Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagruti Sangathan  and the representative of people struggling against Chauranga Factory, addressed the gathering.

 

 

Mukta Srivastava
National Alliance of People’s Movements

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National Alliance of People’s Movements

Jattha Update-29th January-4th day

Jattha Reaches Ranchi after Visiting Bokaro

Nandigram or Singur, Narmada or Damodar, The Reality Is Same:BrokenPromises, Violated Rights And Private Profits At Public Costs.

Reaching Bokaro on the third day of the tour, Jattha members visited the villages, including Mathuri and Kanari affected by the Bokaro Steel Plant.While in total 33,000 acres of land was acquired by SAIL, much of it without even following the process laid out under the British Day old Land Acquisition Act. During the acquisition process, more than 7000 acres of land was forcibly acquired by the authorities as the land acquisition process was left midway, but the acquisition done. In another instance of violating the rules, survey has been initiated for over 4600 acres of land but then the acquisition has
already been accomplished.

One could understand why people from the affected areas have been opposing the steel plant. The villagers shared many such instances where their lands and livelihoods are being snatched away under the pretext of setting of the plant. One was to witness for one more time, the sham of rehabilitation. The beautifully drafted policies and entitlements that remain only on paper and are not implemented anywhere. The displaced in this case were entitled for land worth one-tenth of acre and house plots. While the titles of the plots have not been transferred to their name, they are being asked to deposit money in order to receive house plots. One was to witness another instance of corruption, when the locals shared in details the modus operandi of how bogus names were included in the list of affected families, in this case 13,000, and now they have been given sundry jobs at the plant site, while the real affected families are to still await the fulfillment of the promises of providing jobs. Jattha members expressed their solidarity with the affected populations in the form of speeches and a song was sung by Sandhaya Devi.

Similar was the plight of the affected people of Tenu Ghat dam, a part of the Damodar Valley project, implemented long back but rehabilitation of the affected, still an unaccomplished task. At the periphery of the Plant are residences of those who work at the site. Employed as contract labourers, they are exploited and not given their due. Krantikari Mazdoor union is working with them on the issues of implementation of the labour welfare legislations such as Contract labour act, Minimum Wages Act etc.

A delegation, consisting of local activists accompanied by Jattha members Sandeep Pandey. Romabahen, Nand Lal, residents of Nandigram, met District Collector and confronted him on the above mentioned issues. It was decided to have a meeting again in the last week of February and if no decisions taken, an indefinite action programme will be initiated, in which affected people from other areas will also join.

On 29th, the jattha reached Ranchi where Jangal Bachao Andolan, Ulgulan Manch, Jharkhand Mine Areas Co-ordination Committee had organized a public meeting. It was addressed by veteran leader Ram Dayal Munda, Radha Rani of Nandigram, Sultan Meenal Panda from Singur, Romabahen and others. Speaker after speaker lamented the fact how Corporations and companies are in connivance with the governments, were encroaching upon people’s rights and resources. Social Activist, Medha Patkar gave a call of working towards the implementation of Article 243 of the Constitution, which would be a step towards Gram Swaraj.

The issues related to the mining undertaken by Uranium Corporation of India Ltd
were also raised by the local people. Sandeep Pandey shared how the Indo-US nuclear deal was to exaggerate these problems and convert the country into a military zone. The Jattha marched from Ranchi to Jamshedpur, where they joined the in-definite dharna of the local people. A mass meeting was held later on.

The Jattha will be moving on to Raigad on 30th, Chhattisgarh and to Reva by 31st.

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National Alliance of People’s Movements

Press Release

26-27th January 2008

Nandigram-Narmada-Gorai Jattha begins amidst Heavy Rainfall

 

The First Meeting at 2.00 P.M. in Nandigram

Torch Light Rally During Late Evening


The much-awaited Jattha from Nandigram via Narmada to Gorai commences today, 26th Jan, The Jattha is expected to raise a number of issues related to violation of people’s rights, especially use of force against peaceful democratic agitations, coerced displacement, land rights, right to life and livelihood, inadequacy of the land acquisition act as also destructive
development and communal violence.

The first meeting of the Jattha will take place at 2.00 p.m. on 26th January, in Nandigram. A torch light rally, with the women of Nandigram, will take place in the evening. The team of about 30 activists is expected to reach Singur for night halt.

The participants include Amarnathbhai of Sarva Seva Sangh, Romabahen, Gautambhai of Nadi Ghati Morcha, Nandlalbhai of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), U.P., Sajeevan bhai of NCDHR, Sandhya bahen of Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Kalyanbhai Sen Gupta of Gana Mukti Parishad, Sudiptobhai andMuradbhai of Hawker Sangram Samiti, Arunbhai Bhattacharya and Debjitbhai ofNAPM West Bengal, Satyenbhai of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Mauryabahen of GharBachao Ghar Banao Abhiyan, Mumbai, Girishbhai of Delhi Support Group andSangharsh 2007 and Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and NAPM.

Ramdayalji Munda and his cultural team also reached at Nandigram from Jharkhand and he raised the issues of people struggle through traditional adivasi Music and dance.


Rs. 50,000 will be donated to Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee for rehabilitation of severely affected people and also as a mark of commitment to raise sufficient funds towards the cause.

The torch rally in Audiogram will be led by Radar Rani Adi, who suffered violence during the CPM-led recapture of Nandigram.

 

The Jattha then reached Singur and the members of the Jattha met the Krishi Jami Raksha Samiti and discussed the present situation in Singur,

27th Jan 2008

Today morning people had discussion with the M. L. A. of the area and raised issues with him on human rights violation, displacement and devastation in Singur due to wrong development policies which is leading to usurpation of resources including fertile land at the cost of life and livelihoods of farmers and those dependent on agriculture.

Meanwhile, Bhupendra Rawat, Activist working with people struggling against demolition of so called “un authorized colonies’ in New Delhi, joined the Jattha.

The Jattha also visited Kana river, where they were informed by the local people that about 80 per cent of the total land is being irrigated under the Damodar Valley irrigation plan.

Meetings were held in 4 villages including Ghoppada, Gopal Nagar, Bazbhelia and Beraberi. In Bazbheria and Beraberi people came in large numbers to attend the meeting.

They asserted that despite the recent judgment, they are determined to fight because this is the question of availing justice and not judgment.

While sharing their experiences many local people from Singur said that they had to question the State, The corporate and the Judiciary on the anti people policies that affecting their lives and livelihood.

Representatives from various movements in the Jattha were shown the Tata shed and the rich, fertile and green fields surrounding the area. They also showed the representatives, samples of the large potatoes that are grown in those fields.

From here onwards till Gorai (concluding place of the Jattha) Radha Rani , Uma Panda, Pratap Padi, Nibha Panda, Manoj Panda, Badal Bera and Sheikh Sultan from Nandigram, and Basudev Das, Ram Das, Milan Khada, Shyam Padkole, and Amita Baag from Singur have joined the Jattha.

The Jattha will reach Bokaro, in Jharkhand tomorrow.

From here onwards till Gorai (concluding place of the Jattha) Radha Rani , Uma Panda, Pratap Padi, Nibha Panda, Manoj Panda, Badal Bera and Sheikh Sultan from Nandigram, and Basudev Das, Ram Das, Milan Khada, Shyam Padkole, and Amita Baag from Singur have joined the Jattha.

The Jattha will reach Bokaro, in Jharlkhand tomorrow.

Social activists like Sandeep Pandey and many others will join the Jattha in
the coming days. The Jattha culminates at Gorai, in Mumbai on 4th February 2008

Gautam Bandopadhyay (098261-71304), Medha Patkar (094239-65153)

 

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Call for Jattha

From Nandigram to Narmada to Gorai : Linking People & Struggles

 The Nandigram struggle has created history. The adverse impact of imperialist globalization  and the primacy of capital and market on India’s polity is clearly visible not only in  Nandigram struggle but also from  the struggle by farmers, workers, Dalits, Adivasis across the country. The illusory development slogans churned out by this process facilitates assault not only on our natural resources and cultural heritage but also destroys the ethos of equity, simplicity, democracy and sovereignty.

  

Women, farmers, workers are engaged in major struggles to protect their lands, livelihoods, water resources   and lifestyles all over the country. The struggles sprung up all over the country to fight for sustainable development, for employment-generating village-industries , self-reliant agriculture and decentralised democratic development-planning alternatives. But the arrogant and indifferent governments are hell bent on crushing this people-centric development by approving over 600 SEZs across the country. Innumerable SEZs are devouring not only pristine agriculture, natural wealth but are also destroying people’s lives and livelihoods without providing any rehabilitation.

 

We have been left with no choice but to  challenge the whole process of globalization resulting in suicides of farmers (over one lakh now) which in no way could be called suicides-in fact they are being murdered in the name of developmental   economic fundamentalism,  by  all those who are forgetting their socialist commitments and the sanctity of the Indian Constitution. The present mainstream political parties are not ready to admit the above, since the majority of the mainstream political party leaders have compromised with imperialism, capitalism and western consumerist ideology.

 

 Democratic socialism, sustainable development with  people’s  participation in decision making are our fundamental commitments, which we all want to uphold. People are questioning and seeking solutions,  as they very well  know that they can survive only when they are able to save  human relationships, sustainable environment, democracy and socialism .

    

Under such circumstances, we need to relate& link not only with different struggles and organizations seeking solutions not only   in India but also beyond.

We have received a fresh lease of   inspiration from struggles in  Nandigram, Maharashtra, Goa and Orissa etc..          

  

Keeping this in mind, the  Comrades of NAPM and Action- 2007, from Nandigram, Singur,  Jangal Bachao Andolan,  Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Nadi Ghati Morcha, NFFPW & Others are to march through various states, where they will join the local  struggles.

 

We seek co-operation of one and all who could join in this Jattha.  This is the way to take a break through from the present injustice and create the positive polity for a wider collaboration of all concerned.

 

Nandigram , which has now achieved the status not only of the protest against the economic domination and state repression,  but a symbol of martyrdom, will be the starting point of our Jattha to start on 26th Jan 2008 and will pass through Jharkhand, Chattisgarh , Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra  and will conclude on 4th February 2008 in Gorai, Mumbai .

 

 People and people’s representatives  who are struggling against commercialisation, globalization, fundamentalism, communalism, & for an alternative economy & polity, will join this Jattha.

 

A detailed schedule is enclosed alongwith to give you an idea of the route.

 

We request many of you all to join the Jattha from Nandigram itself during the launch of the yatra. Please confirm your arrival to Nandigram soon. Please reach Kolkatta by 25 th  Jan 2008 late evening or 26th Morning .

 

Venue for stay in Kolkata on 25th :

 

 Maulali , Yuva Kendra,

  Maulali Cross Road , Near Sealdah Railway Station, Kolkata

 

Contact: Saktiman Ghosh- 033-22196688, Sudipto 09433972662 for Logistics in Kolkata

 

CONTACT NUMBERS FOR THE TOUR :-

Gautam Bandopadhyay (098261-71304), Medha Patkar (094239-65153)

 

Sincerely Yours,

 

  • ACTION 2007  &   National Alliance of People’s Movements
  • Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee
  • Krishi Bhumi Raksha Committee
  • National Hawkers Federation
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan
  • National Fishworkers Forum
  • Nadi Ghati Morcha
  • Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Madhya Pradesh
  • Manav Adhikar Suraksha Samiti
  • Ekvira  Jamin Bachao Sangharsh Samiti , Lonavala , Maharashtra
  • Tata Dharan Grasth Sangharsh Samiti, Lonavala , Maharashtra
  • Dharavi Peth Bachao Samiti , Gorai, Mumbai
  • Jharkhand Krantikari Majdoor Union, Bokaro  
  • Jangal Bachao Andolan, Jharkhand  
  •  Paschim Bang Khet Mazdoor Samiti
  • Ulgulan Manch , Jharkhand
  • A.P. Agricultural Labourers Union & Others

 

 

 

 

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‘ADB FACES BOYCOTT AS IT SUBVERTS ENVIRONMENT, RESETTLEMENT AND INDIGENOUS SAFEGUARD POLICIES’
———————————————————
PEOPLES FORUM AGAINST ADB (PFAADB) – PRESS RELEASE 15 January 2008

New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) begins its South Asia consultation, in the city tomorrow, on the revision of its safeguard policies on social and environmental impacts of its projects. The revision is claimed towards mitigating adverse impacts of its investment on people and the environment. The draft will be reviewed in consultation to be held with South Asian groups from 16-18 January 2008 at the Hyatt Regency and Taj Palace hotels.

Quite in contrast with ADB’s high expectations of acceptance of its invitation to participate, over 50 representatives of diverse social action and civil society groups have decided to boycott this process. A boycott call issued by the Peoples Forum Against the ADB (PFAADB) has been endorsed extensively and it states that ADB’s Draft Safeguards Policy,

‘Overlooks more than a decade of global campaigns to strengthen national and international social and environmental policies to prevent the disastrous impact of development projects on local communities – especially indigenous people’.

Organisations from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh have boycotted the consultation. These include Sri Lanka based Movement for Land and Agriculture Reforms (MONLAR), South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE) and Collective Initiative for Research and Action (CIRA) from Nepal and Coastal Development Partnership (CDP) and Banglapraxis from Bangladesh, who have received specific invitations to participate. They are backed by Indian groups such as the National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers, National Alliance of Peoples Movements and Indian Social Action Forum.

The ADB had circulated its new Safeguard policy in October 2007 for public response. Commenting on the policy, groups have already raised serious concerns that this draft is opposed to indigenous peoples’ rights and subverts environmental considerations. The draft under review collapses, and thus dilutes, three earlier policies on Environment (2002), Involuntary resettlement (1995) and Indigenous peoples (1998) into one flaky ‘statement’ of principles.

It further introduces ambiguity in project review, allowing for investments to proceed even as environmental and social impacts have not been fully assessed by promoting a weaker set of standards through its so-called ‘country systems’ approach. The ‘country systems’ approach, first advocated by the World Bank and now being adopted by ADB, has come under extensive criticism as a policy that deliberately supports weak regulation of investments by taking advantage of inadequate environmental and social standards in-country.

On ground experiences reveal that the ADB’s track record on preventing social and environmental upheaval through its projects has been dismal with its projects causing extensive environmental and social damage. In the Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh, for instance, the ADB’s private sector investment front is financing a massive coal mining project by the UK based Asia Energy PLC. Mining 15 million tones of coal every year over a 30 year lease period will devastate the fertile Phulbari agricultural region, causing irreversible ecological damage to its wetland ecosystems. ADB itself has confirmed that this project would displace over 50,000 people directly, whereas independent researchers put the number as several times more. Massive resistance against his project has been quelled with the ruthless use of police force and has already caused the death by firing of three community members. Yet the ADB has not found any reason to reconsider its decision to invest in Phulbari.

People of Phulbari had this to say to the ADB Board:

‘The long struggle of people of Phulbari and the sacrifices made for this cause firmly state that open pit coal mining in a densely populated region like Bangladesh will not be accepted by the local people’.

Another instance of ADB’s reckless financing is the Kali Gandaki Hydroelectric project in Nepal which was completed in 2004. Prem Majhi who is a project affected person says,

‘Many indigenous Bote fisher folk families (one of the indigenous Nepali Communities) were given a month to shift and after six years the project finally built houses for us. Only that, it was two families per house and in no time the houses developed cracks and leakages’.

The ongoing Southern Transport Development Project (STDP) in Sri Lanka has been a case replete with violations of ‘ADB safeguards’. For instance in 2007 seven people were killed at the project site due to gross negligence by project authorities.

The Indian Government has been a strong advocate for the ‘country systems approach’ claiming that this is in respecting sovereignty. However, if it’s recent review of social and environmental policies and legislations is any indication, it reveals that the intent is to push for investment at any cost. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has come under fire for diluting the Environment Impact Assessment Notification under its so-called “re-engineering” programme financed, ironically, by the World Bank. Under the new norms it is easier to clear large dam and mining projects on long term leases, even if they involve submersion and destruction of forests. For instance, the Lafarge mining project in Meghalaya has been approved and cleared on the basis of fraudulent environment impact assessment reports and without in any manner conforming even with the new and diluted EIA Notification.

ADB has been repeatedly exposed as an institution that has leveraged its investment and return on investment over every other consideration. World over as technologies have improved in meeting higher safeguard standards, investing agencies have abandoned support for problematic or poor technology. However, in Assam state of India, ADB continues to fund the embankment projects for river taming, a technology that has been abandoned world wide.

Seen in this light, the current review of ADB’s safeguards policy, read with the promotion of “country systems” approach is a duplicitous effort in negating higher social and environmental standards – standards that have been painfully secured due to the struggles of hundreds of communities. The net effect is increase in development induced violence against forests, agricultural and marginalized urban communities by projects financed essentially from enhancing the revenues of private developers and their financiers.

Such regressive measures are gaining strength even as some very strong efforts are being made to protect human rights and the environment. Leading Indian Parliamentarians recently promoted reform of draconian anti-tribal laws to restore a semblance of justice to communities long wronged by enacting the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. However, in the very regions that are likely to benefit from the implementation of this Legislation’s progressive features, the ADB’s current Safeguards Policy review disturbingly promotes powerful investment lobbies who are keen to negate such legislative safeguards by taking advantage of weaker policies of international financial institutions. In protecting such investments, many Indian states are invoking draconian legislations such as the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act and West Bengal Prevention of Criminal Activities Act that brutally encroach on human rights of local communities protesting such inhuman and ecologically destructive development.

The Delhi boycott is the latest in a series of actions against ADB which began at it’s 39th Annual Governors Meeting in Hyderabad in May 2006 when the PFAADB was constituted by over 100 groups from across Asia.

The boycott call categorically states:

‘We need to let the ADB and our Governments know that we reject their attempts to manipulate and dilute our rights. Boycotting the ADB’s consultation meetings…. will be a crucial first step towards collectively formulating a strategy to achieve genuine accountability on the part of the ADB as well as governments’ (Ends)

For more information contact Peoples Forum Against ADB secretariat:

INSAF, A-124/6, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi 110016. Tel: 91-11-65663958 Telefax: 91-11-26517814 – Email: insafdelhi@gmail.com

 

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TATA-FIATS SMALL CAR HAS KILLED LIFE &

LIVELIHOOD IN SINGUR

CAR DISPLAYED WITH ELEGANCE, WHILE HUNDREDS PROTESTS WITH ANNOYANCE 

Speakers at Press Conference at Press Club – Medha Patkar,Anuradha Talwar, and people from Singur 

The House of Tatas were voted to be the 3rd most transparent and accountable corporation in the world by the One World Trust on 20 December 2007. Three days earlier Shankar Patra (45) of Khaser Bheri hung himself in his cow shed. This has been the fourth suicide in the project affected villages where land has been taken over for the one lakh rupee worth small & cheap car project of TATA-FIAT consortium 

Besides a huge number of people who were injured in police baton charges and teargas shell firing, there have been 7 deaths so far in Singur. These include the gang rape and murder of Tapasi Mullick, the death due to police atrocities of young Raj Kumar Bhul, the starvation death of Bimala Khamaru and three other suicides. In repeated police action large numbers of people have been arrested for protesting against the Tata-Fiat project. In 3 incidents alone up to 4 February 2007, 153 people were arrested, 54 among them being women. The police have consistently refused to give them custody memos and have filed a large number of false cases against them. There has also been an attempt to terrorise people by continuous bombings and police patrolling at night. The state machinery has consistently furthered the interest of the Tatas & the Italian company FIAT International by using brutal state power. The Government of West Bengal is wooing the government & multinationals of Italy for huge investment in many sectors for the state and hence the Singur project was pushed in utter violation of human rights, UN Conventions as also manuals & codes of conducts publicized by both TATAS & FIAT Internationals. 

Many of the workers and their families are complaining today of hunger, loss in income and indebtedness. Officials of the West Bengal Industrial Development Industrial Corporation have tried to bribe the agricultural workers with promises of free houses, better roads etc. The workers have so far rejected their promises, asking them instead to guarantee them work for 11 months a year, the amount of work they used to get on the land taken over for the Tata Motors Project. Till today the farmers of Singur (owning about 400 acres) have refused to take cheques and part with their land.  TATA Motors as well as the left front government of West Bengal have neither shown the sensitivity nor the courage to hold a dialogue with the agitators, united as Krishi Jamee Raksha Committee (Farmland Protection Committee). They have neither consulted the Gram Panchayat nor the Gram Sabhas and have stuck to the plan of occupying the best of multiple crop agricultural land of Singur, inspite of the decision of the UPA government (April 2007) against this practice.  

The project is pushed ahead and no doubt all the land (1000 acres) is today occupied, but not yet fully used. Infact, the expert opinion is that the project could manage with maximum 350 acres, while the extra land is being grabbed by the TATAS, as in other states such as Orissa & Kerala, The car displayed in the Auto-expo in New Delhi today, however, is not manufactured at Singur, but was produced at the TATAS factory in Pune district. It is thus clear that the peoples’ struggle is still on and determines to save their right to land, livelihood and democratic participation in development planning. 

It is encouraging to note that the International Metal Workers Union including the unions of FIAT workers and various other peoples organisation, movements & intellectuals as also some Members of Parliament have protested against FIAT’s involvement in the project with violation of human rights.  

In Singur, today protest actions are on by KJRC and supporting organisations such as PVKMU, NAPM, and other students organisations.

While the Singur farmers and agricultural workers are tethered at the brink of ruin, Tata Motors reported a rise in its consolidated revenue in the first half of 2007-08 at Rs.15836.51 crores, an increase of 9.56%. It is obvious that Singur plant which is a part of the larger small car project of TATA-FIAT is a result of Corporate Social Irresponsibility. All the concerned citizens and the people’s organisations must question both TATAS & FIAT International as well as the state government of West Bengal on state sponsored violence and injustice unleashed on the people of Singur. The beautiful and highly publicized cars thus have stains of blood of the toiling people of Singur which may be noted by those who would jump to have at their door step. 

To stop the State cum Tatas sponsored violence and injustice unleashed on the people of Singur

We Demand from the Tatas: 

  • An immediate stop to the project till all issues related to it can be discussed clearly with the persons affected
  • Land be returned to all farmers who have not accepted cheques, and to farmers who want to return their cheques, as they had accepted them under duress
  • Land must be returned in its original condition and farmers must be paid compensation for crop loss from the date of forcible fencing
  • The families of those who were compelled to commit suicide and of Taposi Mullick, must be compensated immediately.
  • For all agricultural workers and unregistered share croppers who have suffered loss due to the project, a proper mutually agreed upon rehabilitation package , including guaranteed employment.
  • The police force must be withdrawn from Singur and intimidation through CPM party cadres must be stopped.

National Alliance of People’s Movements; Delhi Solidarity Group         INSAF Pashchim Banga Khet Mazdoor Union  (Affiliated to New Trade Union Initiative) 

Contacts – Sridevi: 9868099304 & Rakhi: 9911599955

 

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