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Archive for July, 2009

Watch the videos from the protest side:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARmLRY1kZzo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liH4-bKFxK8

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Joint Statement

JOINT PRESS RELEASE

The UPA Government in its first term worked with a pro-people approach on certain aspects, initiating measures such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Forest Rights Act etc., while on the other hand proceeding full steam with policies and actions that explicitly turned control over natural and other resources (land, water, forests, energy resources, people and laws) into corporate hands. This fallacious two-pronged approach continues in its second ‘avataar’, with a move to fast-track more sinister measures in its 100-day agenda. 

The UPA has actually come to mean an alliance among all mainstream parties, promoting pro-corporate agricultural, economic and industrial policies that all ruling parties – present & past – follow, resulting in the loss of livelihood resources, displacement and dis-employment of farmers, farm-workers, adivasis, fisher-people, and factory workers in their millions. People are left with no alternative but to resist, often at the cost of their lives. That was the picture that emerged from the over one thousand-strong two-day Jan Sansad – with representatives from 15 states – held by the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements and other organizations at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 23-24 July ’09.

The Nadi Ghati Morcha and the Chhattisgarh Anti-Displacement Forum narrated the plight of the people of the resource-rich Adivasi state, who have suffered mass displacement and land alienation in the face of a ruling party-which uses a nefarious Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act to repress people, and openly promotes huge mineral extraction to aid private corporate interests.

In Orissa, explicit state repression has been used to turn over lands to corporate interests such as POSCO, Vedanta, Kalinganagar, most strikingly evidenced by the arrests of activists such as Abhay Sahu and more recently Biswajit of Rashtriya Yuva Sanghatan. But, the resistance continues and POSCO has been prevented from taking possession of their lands.

In Andhra Pradesh, people displaced by 60 years of Dam construction have not been rehabilitated, and yet, the Government has 35-40 new Dam projects that will displace lakhs of adivasis, dalits and poor. This is further aggravated by a string of bauxite and laterite mining projects. Also, SEZ projects such as the Reliance SEZ in Kakinada have been handed over a total of 8.25 lakh acres of land, while a massive coastal corridor plan consisting of Mining, Irrigation and SEZ components will affect communities of the 9 coastal districts.

In Maharashtra, the gains made by the people’s movements against the Raigad Reliance SEZ, through a referendum that was held has not been respected by the Government, so far. Other projects such as the LAVASA City project covering 25000 acres, represent the Government machinations of displacing the toiling people.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Ganga Expressway from Balia to Noida affecting 14 districts, has resulted in a very dubious land acquisition process, reeking of a huge scam.

The Pench River Diversion project that affects 31 villages and approximately 25,000 people in Madhya Pradesh is another case of mass displacement. Representatives from the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti and the Mahila Sangarsh Samiti, who continue their resistance there, revealed this before the gathering.

The Traditional communities in Uttarakhand such as the Gujjars have been threatened with displacement because the forest department plans to acquire their lands, with only likely rehabilitation for 10% of the affected communities. These facts were brought to light by representatives of the Gujjar Kalyan Samiti.

The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill sets the lower limit of project affected families at 200 families. The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, representing the concerns of peoples’ of Himachal Pradesh, revealed the absurdity of this measure, since, most parts of the mountainous state will always fall below this limit, due to sparse population density, preventing rehabilitation of affected communities..

And, this mass scale displacement does not stop at rural areas, but has now taken into its sweep the urban poor, whether it is the slum dwellers or the hawkers. The All Orissa Roadside Vendors Association highlighted the plight of  2 lakh hawkers and vendors of the state of Orissa (not including Bhubaneswar City), who, despite noises to the contrary have not been given vendor zones and hence, face dis-employment due to a massive surge in urban development projects. This is in light of the Government announcing a Street Vending Policy in 2004 that aimed at regularizing hawkers and vendors, something that remains unimplemented. And, now the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill 2009, which imposes very stringent requirements on the hapless hawkers, resulting in their eviction. In the wake of this direct threat to their lives, the hawkers and vendors have asserted that if their issues are not resolved they will start a mass movement starting February 2010 onwards.

As the Jan Sansad unanimously rejected these attacks on the people’s right to their resources, a similar voice was heard in the Parliament- with the Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee threatening to walk out of parliament, stating that she will remain unrelenting in her opposition to such ‘anti-people’ measures.

Therefore, whether it is the violent attempts at acquisition of land in Singur and Nandigram, the innocent resisters’ blood that was spilled in Kalinganagar, POSCO, Vedanta, the continuous forceful displacement of adivasis in Jharkhand, the massively expensive coastal corridor project in Andhra Pradesh, the story is the same, only the minor details differ. Across the country, the masses are building resistance against the anti-people and mass displacement model.

The current UPA Government cannot continue with such blatant anti-people measure and must:

  • drop the proposed Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bills that it wants to rush through the Parliament
  • suspend all land acquisition projects that displace people and only provide cash compensation
  • put into practice its announcements regarding Special Economic Zones that agricultural land, projects that cause displacement will not be approved
  • enable removal of all obstacles in the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act, especially those created by the Forest Department at the local level
  • Implement its own stated objectives of not proceeding with any project without the consent of the Gram Sabha, and allowing for an options assessment by the concerned Gram Sabha/ basti Sabha.
  • Uphold the right of all communities to the principle of prior-informed consent.

The overwhelmingly unanimous resolve of the Jan Sansad was to resist these machinations at all levels – through local struggles, through state level programmes and at the national level. This coordinated programme will include:

  • indefinite dharna in Mumbai starting on 30th July ‘09
  • local level programmes in each displacement-affected area whether it is Kakinada SEZ, Eluru dam project or Coastal Corridor project in Andhra Pradesh, the Raigad SEZ or Lavasa City projects in Maharashtra or those in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh, in August ‘09
  • meeting and lobbying with MPs and MLAs in each state
  • State-level programmes in September
  • a meeting of researchers, policy makers, intellectuals in Delhi
  • a Maha-Sansad / Maha Sammelan in October/November in Delhi
  • A Rashtriya Yatra against Displacement

Medha Patkar         Gautam Bandopadhyay                         Shaktiman Ghosh                

NAPM                     Nadi Ghati Morcha            National Hawkers Federation

 

Ashok Chowdhury & Pushpa           Bhupendra Rawat              Suniti S R   

NFFPFW                                           Jan Sangharsh Vahini       Visthapan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti 

 

Rajendra Ravi        Simpreet Singh                                   Dayamani Barla      

NAPM, Delhi    Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan                INSAF                  

 

P Chennaiah     Gabriele Geeta / Ramakrishnan                 Venkatesh

APVVU                      NMPS                                                   NAPM, Karnatak  

 

 Sandhya Devi                                  Ulka Mahajan                             Vimalbhai                                     

Kalahandi Mahila Samiti     SEZ-Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti          MATU                                                    

 

Anand Mazgaonkar            

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti  

 

 

Contact: Rohan (09953078167)                       Madhuresh (09818905316)

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PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS TO DENOUNCE FORCIBLE LAND GRAB

SHELVE THE LAND ACQUISITION AMENDMENT BILL AND NATIONAL REHABILITATION BILL

BRING IN DEVELOPMENT PLANNING ACT WITH RIGHTS TO THE PEOPLE

People’s Movements to present their position before Public, Parliament and Government

Dharna and people’s parliament at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 23-24 July, 2009

ALL ARE INVITED

THE UPA GOVERNMENT IS AGAIN TRYING TO put up the two Bills, amendment to the Land Acquisition Act and the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill before this Parliament.

The amendment is worse, since it incorporates ‘private’ purpose into ‘public’ purpose and rehabilitation offered is without any guarantee of land and alternative livelihood to those displaced.

The Acts would not bring in fair and just rehabilitation but push and facilitate more displacement than ever!

The Draft Development Planning Act, approved by the National Advisory Council and its Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi in January 2006 had consent of the people’s organisations but that is shelved and weak anti-people draft is brought up by the ‘Empowered Group of Ministers’ including Kamalnath, Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar and others. WHY? We must ask.

Let’s gather in large numbers at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on July 23rd and 24th to assert our right to land, water, forests, fisheries and minerals.

Demand a decentralized development planning based on Article 243 of the Constitution, PESA 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006.

We should compel the Government to:

  • Repeal 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.
  • Institute a Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee for the discussion on the two Acts.

The detailed Invite, background documents and contact details follow.

With regards and In Solidarity,

Medha Patkar, Anand Mazgaonkar, Ashok Chowdhary, Gautam Bandopadhyay (09423965153) (02640-220629) (9868857723) (9826171304)

Guman Singh, Simpreet Singh, Madhuresh, Vimalbhai

(9418277220) (9969363065) (9818905316) (9891814707) **********************************

Proposed Land Acquisition (Amendment) And Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bills Will Only Accelerate Displacement Not Rehabilitation

People’s Movements to present their position before Public, Parliament and Government

Dharna and people’s parliament at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 23-24 July, 2009

Thursday, July 23 2009

12 noon – 200 pm : Inauguration of the Dharna.

Remembering the movements, peoples, martyrs in the anti-displacement movement in past 62 years since independence.

Surendra Mohan to light the torch of Resistance.

Medha Patkar to give an introductory history of resistance covering the struggles since post independence and talking about very well known and also less known important struggles, remembering people and their courage.

 Sharing on the struggles and the key questions raised by the anti displacement movements across the country. Ashok Chowdhary, Gautam Bandopadhyay, B D Sharma and others. Kuldip Nayar, Rajendar Sachar, Ramaswamy Aiyar, Prashant Bhushan, Usha Ramanathan and other supporter friends from Delhi to join.

 Lunch 2-3 pm

3.00-6.00 pm : Assembly of Movements

Movement groups to narrate their experience of the displacement, struggles, and the displacement.

7.00 pm onwards Dinner and film screening

Day Two : July 24 Friday

Peoples parliament / Jan Sansad Begins 9 am onwards Starting with a presentation on the points from the Bills and our proposals for the National enactment. Presentation to be made by Vimal Bhai MPs from different parties to join too.

Movement groups to make presentation linking LAA and R&R Bills with the Forest Rights Act, Agriculture Policy, Coastal Zone issues, Tribal policy, Trade and Climate Change.

2.00 – 3.00 pm Lunch

3.00 – 4.00 pm Further strategy planning

4.00 – 5.00 pm Press Conference

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FISHWORKERS DELEGATION SCORES CMZ VICTORY;

Fishworkers to be consulted prior to any new legislation/notification,

Separate Fisheries Ministry under consideration

The Ministry of Environment has agreed to drop the proposal to replace the current “Coastal Regulation Zone” (CRZ) notification with a controversial “Coastal Management Zone” (CMZ) notification. Minister Jairam Ramesh conveyed this to a delegation of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), which met him in Delhi on July 02, 2009. The delegation took up a number of issues pertaining to India’s 20 million strong traditional fishing community with Ministries of Environment and Forest, Agriculture, Labour and Home, and the ILO. The delegation also met the President of India.

 Shri Jairam Ramesh told the delegation that the Ministry is willing to drop the current CMZ notification that lapses on July 22, 2009 and will start a dialogue with the fishing community on the best way to manage the coast. He has agreed to a series of five consultations in Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Cochin, Goa and Mumbai with fishing community representatives of all the nine coastal states before August 31, 2009. He assured that the Ministry will respect the customary rights of the fishing communities.

 The NFF delegation met with the President of India, Ministers of Agriculture, Environment, Labour and Home, MPs of coastal states, key officials and representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This visit by a NFF delegation was a follow up of their Kutch-Kolkata march along the entire coast last year and the subsequent agitation in Delhi over a charter of 16 demands. These demands include the scrapping of the new Coastal Management Zone notification, enactment of a comprehensive legislation to regulate fishing in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the ratification of the ILO’s “work in fishing” convention and the waiver of the debts of fishermen and fisherwomen on the lines of the debt waiver granted to farmers.

 The delegation insisted on the MoEF implementing the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests headed by Rajya Sabha M.P. Dr. V. Maitreyan, which submitted its report to the Parliament on March 20, 2009. The standing committee has recommended an elaborate consultation with the fishing communities as a pre-condition for any legislation or regulation by the MoEF. It has also recommended  a comprehensive legislation (on the lines of the Forest Rights Act) that protects the rights of the fishing communities rather than the issue of a mere notification by the MoEF.

  Parliamentary Standing Committee has clearly stated the following:

1. Almost everywhere, it was asserted before the Committee that CRZ is still a preferred piece of legislation to CMZ Notification, 2008 because the former has succeeded in containing pollution and encroachment along the coastal areas to a large extent, whereas, it was felt that CMZ Notification is a replacement/substitution of CRZ Notification in its

amended form with greater possibilities of misuse. One of the greatest apprehensions about the CMZ Notification was that it proposes legalization and encouragement to industrial corporate activities along the coasts in the garb of management methodologies. It was widely apprehended that this Notification will significantly curtail the accessibility of the local community to the shore and sea resources and serve the economic interests of the corporate sector/large investors like tourism industry, refinery, mining etc.

 Parliamentary Standing Committee has clearly stated the following:

1. Almost everywhere, it was asserted before the Committee that CRZ is still a preferred piece of legislation to CMZ Notification, 2008 because the former has succeeded in containing pollution and encroachment along the coastal areas to a large extent, whereas, it was felt that CMZ Notification is a replacement/substitution of CRZ Notification in its amended form with greater possibilities of misuse. One of the greatest apprehensions about the CMZ Notification was that it proposes legalization and encouragement to industrial corporate activities along the coasts in the garb of management methodologies. It was widely apprehended that this Notification will significantly curtail the accessibility of the local community to the shore and sea resources and serve the economic interests of the corporate sector/large investors like tourism industry, refinery, mining etc.

2. Local coastal communities almost unanimously voiced that protection of coastal ecology and recognition of basic rights and livelihood of the local communities over the sea and the coast should be at the heart of any coastal zone planning. The fishermen were of the view that coastal management plan should be framed by taking them into confidence and that mere mention in the Notification – “There would be no restriction of fishing or fishery related activities of local communities” is not enough to instill confidence among them. They need to be involved, included and integrated in the future opportunities related to the Coastal Zone. The Committee also feels that in a democratic country like ours the preferred approach should be bottom up – public participation in planning and development rather than top down – decisions made by Govt. and not involving people in inclusive growth opportunities and practices in matters which have far reaching consequences on a vast population solely dependent on their tradition vocations and way of life. It is primarily keeping in view this concern that peoples’ participation in policy formulation becomes all the more important and inevitable.”

The NFF sought the intervention of the MoEF in the issue of the Jambudweep fishermen displaced by the unfair implementation of the Forest Protection Act and the imposition of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) without consulting the fishermen. The Minister has agreed to sympathetically review these.

The NFF delegation was assured by the Minister for Agriculture Shri Sharad Pawar and Prof KV Thomas (MoS) that the Ministry has agreed to consider the waiver of bank loans for small scale traditional fishermen and women. The Ministry sought more details on the bank loans provided by banks to small fishworkers.

The Labour Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge has promised to ratify the ILO Convention on Fishing and enact required legislations.

The delegation met the President of India Smt. Pratiba Patil and presented to her the demand to set up a separate Ministry for fisheries. This is in view of the current situation that decision making affecting the fisheries sector and fishing communities are spread over a number of Ministries and departments. The President listened with interest to the various problems faced by the fishing communities and enquired in detail the problems faced by Maharashtra fishermen on account of the increased drilling for petroleum in their traditional fishing grounds.In the meeting with the representatives of the ILO, the delegation sought ILO’s collaboration in ensuring the ratification of the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188) and the enactment of national and state level legislations to bring the benefits of the ILO convention to Indian fishwoerkrs. The ILO agreed to facilitate the process ofdiscussion with the concerned Ministries, state Governments and the Central Trade Unions.

NFF understands this round of negotiations on key issues as a success of its organizational strength and legitimacy of its demands. However, it believes that the process will be ongoing and at every point, NFF will raise the voice and concerns of the traditional fishworkers of India. While NFF has agreed to be part of the consultations by MoEF towards improving CRZ mandate, it is clear that quality community participation in good strength alone can make sure that the concerns of fishworkers are not by-passed.

Hence, while agreeing, NFF is clear about the strategy to start fresh round of agitation on the issue of CMZ and others, if the fishworkers are not satisfied with the consultation procedure, after two rounds of the same.

The NFF delegation was composed of the following persons: Thomas Kocherry (EC Member), T. Peter (Secretary) – Kerala, Vasudev Boloor (Secretary) – Karnataka, RK Patil (EC Member) – Maharashtra, Sagar (senior member) – Gujarat, Ramesh Dhuri & Naredra Patil (EC Member) – Maharashtra. The delegation was accompanied by members of environmental, labour and human rights groups working together under the banner of Delhi Solidarity Group for NFF along with representative of South Indian Federation of Fishermen’s Societies (SIFFS).

T. Peter (09846063461)                                                                     Vasudev Boloor (09923241641)

Secretary, NFF                                                                                   Secretary, NFF

For more information or to speak with members of the NFF delegation you can contact the Delhi Solidarity Group @ 26680914/26680883 / 9868066195 / 9953078167

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