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Archive for February, 2009

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Dear Friends,

Forest Rights Act (formulation of ground rules) has been in operation since 1st January 2008. It is more than one year since it was supposed to be in operation all over the country except J&K. The act was supposed to be an effective tool to empower crores of forest dwelling communities in getting their constitutional and democratic rights in an around forest areas and to eradicate “historic injustice”. But it is evident now that the scenario at the state level is not like what it should have been. Whereas the forest people and its organisations are very enthusiastic with the Act, there is a lack of sincerity from the state governments and the officials (with some exceptions) in actual implementation of the Act. The central government has also not shown keen interest in this regard except some lip service. It had happened also with other progressive Acts like Zamindari Abolition Act 1950, Land Ceiling Act 1960, etc.

In February 2008, a collective effort was initiated by NFFPFW, known as National Forest Rights (Implementation) Campaign. Many activities and action programmes have been taken in the campaign in different states like Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Jammu region and also in other states. In this one year we have many rich experiences in different regions. It is now pertinent to review the activities in the changing political context both at the centre and the states and also to work for comprehensive strategy for effective implementation of the Act. It is more important now given the coming general election where the Campaign must put its efforts to make the issue of forest rights as one of the major issues on which political parties must make their position clear especially on the question of implementation of FRA. We need to involve non-UPA and non-NDA parties to play an active role in the Campaign. We must strive to make the Forest Rights a real national issue.

In this context we invite you to participate actively in the national consultation to be held on 25th & 26th February 2009 at Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, (Behind Saibaba temple) New Delhi. Kindly reach Delhi by 25th morning as the programme will start by 1.00 p.m. We will also invite some important Members of Parliament on the 26th afternoon which is also the last day of this Parliament.

Please confirm your participation,

Yours in solidarity,

Munni Lal

Email: vangram@gmail.com , nffpfwnzone@rediffmail.com.

(M) 09412990913

Ashok Choudhary

Email: ashok.chowdhury@gmail.com (M) 09868857723

Delhi contact: Email: nfrc@delhiforum.net / delhiforum@delhiforum.net

Phone: 011-26680883/26680914

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A delegation of women textile mill workers met Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state for PMO, at the Parliament House today. Mr. Chavan assured them that personally he will speak to the Maharashtra Chief Minister on their housing demands and will see it resolved soon. The women workers demanded that the textile workers should be allotted at least 175 acres of land for 2.5 lakh textile workers.100 women textile workers from Mumbai had staged a day long dharna at the Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi today under the aegis of Girni Kamgar Sangharsha Samiti and Maharashtra Girni Kamgar Union. The delegation was led by Datta Ishwalkar, Jaiprakash Bhilare, Pravin Ghag, Vaishali Girkar, Kalyani Jadhav, Vijaya Mantri. Mr. Ramdas Athawale, MP, was also present and supported the workers demands.Mr. Surendra Mohan, veteran socialist leader also extended his support.

Bharatkumar Raut, MP, raised the issue of mill workers in the Rajya Sabha during zero hour and said that it not a mere issue of workers. It is an issue of son of the soil. Local people must be given employment and housing rights. He also visited venue of dharna and extended his support. Mohan Rawle, MP (Shiv Sena) and Tapan Sen, MP (CPM) also visited the venue of dharna and extended their and their party’s support to the cause of textile workers. Surprisingly, Congress MPs from Mumbai kept themselves away from the dharna. This resulted in anger amongst women mill workers.

The demand included at least 175 acres of land should be given to mill workers housing, Government should bear the cost of construction of the houses, strictly implement the amendment under which each mill worker or one member from each mill workers family should get employment in the jobs generated on mill lands after redevelopment, Occupancy/residency rights to workers living in chawls on mill lands to be protected and conserve and protect the iconic Bharatmata theatre which has tenant status on mill land.

Friends from Delhi Solidarity Group, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, & organizations like NTUI, Centre for Education and Communication, The Other Media, NAPM- Delhi, Inter Cultural Resources, NCCI-Delhi, Focus on the Global South, Indian Social Institute, IDS, Nirantar, and Delhi Forum worked hard to make it successful.

(Datta Ishwalkar)                                              (Jaiprakash Bhilare)

President                                                            Secretary

Girni Kamgar Sangharsha Samiti         Maharashtra Girni Kamgar Union

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Press Conference and Public Meeting: 200 Women Textile Mill Workers will march to Delhi and hold dharna demanding rights to housing and livelihood from Smt. Sonia Gandhi on 20th February 2009. The women will observe a day long fast and will rally to Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

Veteran Journalist and Rajya Sabha MP Mr. Bharat Kumar Raut, Former Minister and Maharashtra Congress Spokesperson Mr. Hussain Danwai, President of GKSS Mr. Datta Iswalkar, Freelance Journalist Mr. Jatin Desai and Women Leaders.


20th February, 2009. (Friday) at 3pm


7, Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi

Background:

Women from more than 7 districts in Maharshtra have marched to the Capital to share their angst against the Congress led Maharashtra Government with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. In 1982 textile strike, more than one lakh textile workers were thrown out of the industry, illegally. In 1991, under the pretext of modernisation and reduction of losses to the mill owners, the Maharashtra Government amended the law making it possible for mill owners to sell the mill land to generate interest-free capital. On 23rd March 2001, an amendment was made saying that 50% of the land to be received by MHADA should be given for mill workers housing, and appropriate employment to be provided. As per this amendment, 200 acres of land was to be available for worker’s housing, but now due to the government’s capitalistic policies favouring mill owners subsequently the Supreme Court gave a ruling against workers and the municipal corporation. In a sitting with the mill workers, ex- Chief Minister Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh admitted that the land available was unfairly reduced and granted an FSI of 4 for mill workers housing and promised to make more land available towards housing. In the last assembly too, government declared that they will provide 55 thousand houses to mill workers. Two years later, the government is yet to act on its promises. The last three generations of mill workers who have contributed to the development of Mumbai, have been left in lurch by the government as well as the mill owners forcing hundreds of women workers to appeal at 10, Janpath.

For more information, contact:

Datta Iswlakar – 9869077718

Jatin Desai – 9322255812

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More than 700 farmers under the banner of Bhumi Bachao Andolan along with people from different movement and support groups including Jan Sangharsh Vahini, National Alliance of People’s Movements – Delhi, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, National Domestic Workers Union, National Workers Federation, National Kisan Mazdoor, Jhuggi Jhopari Kalyan Morcha and Delhi Solidarity Group participated in a rally which was from Rajghat to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The women farmers from Kanjhawala, Tikari Kalan, Tikari Khurd and from Puth Khurd came in large numbers and they demanded to return their land which was acquired by the Government for industrial purposes. The farmers are not ready for any compensation and they are happy to work on their ancestral agricultural land.

After paying tribute to the father of nation Mahatma Gandhi the farmers began there rally and shouted slogans like “Kisanon ki Pushtaini Zameen Vapas Do”, “Zameen Adhikaran Kanoon Lagoo Karo” etc. The rally was joined by eminent social activist Medha Patkar. Walking down from Rajghat to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the farmers were stopped at Jantar Mantar and they did a sit in there and had a public meeting.

The Public meeting was addressed by Eminent Journalist and Human Rights Activist Shri Kuldip Nayyar, as he said the government has no rights to take away the land of the farmers from them without consulting them and if the farmer is willing to give his land then only the government can take it and this is what the new Land Acquisition Act says, he also encouraged the spirit of the farmers and had asked them to continue with their demands until they are meet.

The Women Farmer leaders Smt. Kalavati and Smt. Nirmala Behn also mentioned that whatever may be the reason but they will not give up their struggle until their demands are met.

Joining to the voices of the mass Medha Patkar also referred the Kanjhawala struggle with Nandigram, Singur, Chengara, Sonbhadra, Jharkhand and many other areas where land is being forcibly acquired, she also mentioned that forceful acquisition is wrong.

Bhupendera Singh Rawat of Jan Sangharsh Vahini said, our constitution says India is a welfare state but the government policies seem to be contrary to the same. It reflects in the policies of land acquisition of the farmers whose fertile lands are being acquired  at the throw away prices without ever seeking their consent to hand it over to greedy industrial houses. Similarly, in the name of beautification as well as development and extension of Delhi as well as National Capital Region, the government is hell bent on land acquisition without caring for the future of both the farmers as well as the people living in the resettlement colonies as well as slums. With the Common Wealth Games round the corner to be organized in the city in 2010, the authorities did not care to speak to the people before acquiring the huge track of agricultural land and demolishing virtually 1700 years old villages of Kanjhawala, Tikari Kalan, Karala, Tikari Khurd, and Puth Khurd where it has acquired over 1500 acres of land on a price which is much below the market rate.

Similarly, the government is now planning to dislocate thousands of people from resettlement colonies, and slums in Delhi to hand the land over to industrialists and capitalists to develop shopping Malls, arcades and hotels for the tourists.  Mr Rawat mentioned that today nobody is secure in Delhi whether it is the land of the farmers which they had been tilling since 1700 years or the dwellings of the workers which they developed after their hard earned money.

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