Archive for the ‘Himalaya Niti Abhiyan’ Category

Our Country is not for Sale !


In opposition to the New Land Acquisition Bill

For Land Rights and Consent of Gram Sabha in Development Planning

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi | 21-22-23 August

Various Programmes, Marches, Demonstrations Across the Country too …

Comrades, Zindabad!

For many years now, the government has been trying to bring in a bill on land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation. The country’s farmers, fishermen, landless workers, Dalits, tribals, rural folks and urban poor have been consistently giving their feedback and suggestions regarding this and engaged the government in negotiation on its provisions. The struggles for protection of natural resources continue in every corner of the country. No part of the country has been untouched by people’s struggle including Narmada, Tehri, Damodar, Koel-karo, Singur, Nandigram, Sonebhadra, Chhindwara, Lakhimpur, Bhavnagar, Mundra, Kashipur, Raigarh, Srikakulam, Wang Marathwadi, Fatehabad, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, mining areas of Central India, Mumbai, Patna, Delhi, Bangalore and other urban settlements. The list of martyrs protecting their own land from the government is steadily increasing and the number of our friends in jail is also on the rise. Thanks to mass struggles, the government and corporate interests have not been successful in their nefarious intentions.

As a result of mass struggles, land acquisition has now become a political issue. What we need now is a law that emerges out of political consensus, not a biased pro-capitalist law with a superficial name change that only increases land acquisition. The Ministry of Rural Development has introduced a combined bill and named it “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparent Land Acquisition Bill, 2012”. Trying to reflect the commitment of the government, the Bill claims to provide a legal guarantee to project affected people and ensure transparency in the land acquisition process. However; these claims are nothing but empty !

Showing complete disdain the Ministry of Rural Development has rejected the suggestions of people’s movements and recommendations of the all party Parliamentary Standing Committee. Our struggles are not only for protecting land, water, forests and minerals but over the years been proposing a truly democratic Development Planning / Land Protection ActThe government will have to understand that infrastructural development and the foundation of urbanization cannot be laid on the graves of citizens of this country.

We reject the proposals of the Ministry of Rural Development which are in complete contrast with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, such as :

  •  Government will acquire land for private projects and for PPP. We believe government must not have any such role, it can’t transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of ‘public interest’ and ‘public purpose’at the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society.
  • · Only multiple crop agricultural land will not be acquired. Since, 75% of the agricultural land in India is rain fed and most of it single cropped, mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms and so it t is essential to protect them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture.
  • The provisions of new act will not apply to 13 out of 16 central Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act. This means that the forcible land acquisitions and injustices will continue unabated.
  • If the acquired land is not used for five years then it will go to State Land Bank. Concept of land banks are illegal and land unutilised must go back to owners or distributed among landless people.
  • In key decision making bodies and processes, participation and consent of Gram / Basti Sabha is not recognised by the Ministry. We demand that consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in every project, including public projects for public purpose.
  • The provisions of Act will not apply retrospectively which means nearly 6-8 crore people who have not received proper R&R in various cases of displacement will not get justice. We demand that a National R &R Commission be formed to look in to all unsettled claims of R&R since independence.

Unfortunately, Once again the Bill has no provisions for the Urban Evictions and Displacements …

Neither the Ministry nor the Standing Committee Report has actual looked at the displacement in urban spaces. Most of these are not directly land acquisitions but they are cases of forceful evictions in the name of urban infrastructure development and beautification. We have witnessed large scale demolitions and evictions without any resettlement and rehabilitation in metros and smaller cities as well. In the name of real estate large tracts of land occupied by urban working class is being acquired, negating all provisions of the urban land ceiling act. We demand that let there be separate act which addresses the specifics of the urban conditions and ensure protection of land rights in the urban areas. Since, this Bill fails to deal with the urban situation, let this be called a ‘Rural Bill’ only.

So once again struggling mass movements from across the country will join in theLokmorcha in New Delhi from August 21 to 23. Programs will be conducted by the Gram Sabhas and movements on those very days in respective areas warning the government against bringing anti-people laws and our resolve to protect the country’s natural resources from acquisition for private profit. The government must bring out a white paper with information of usage of all the land acquired since Independence, people displaced as a result, rehabilitation efforts and details of incomplete land reform and only then there can be any discussion on the land use changes even for public purpose. We won’t let the sacrifices of those martyred protecting land, water and forests in various struggles go waste, their families will be part of the country wide events and we will hold the government accountable.

Let us come together at Jantar Mantar, in front of the Parliament; and in our farms, villages, districts, cities and struggle areas and tell the government that we will not allow displacement in the name of development and will not allow the legislation of any destructive or pro-capitalist laws in our name. Do join in force with your banners, flags, slogans, struggle photographs, films, and literature. Let us show the capitalists and ruling classes that sacrifices for community control over natural resources will continue whenever they will attempt forcible acquisition !

We will fight for our freedom, for our community rights!

Required for the program: Volunteers for different tasks and support for food, tent, organising, etc. Please stay in touch for more information.

In solidarity, SANGHARSH members

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Ashok Choudhary, Munnilal – National Forum of Forest people and Forest Workers (NFFPFW); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, NAPM, Odisha; Roma, Shanta Bhattacharys, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, UP – NFFPFW; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Guman Singh – Him Neeti Abhiyan, HP; Ulka Mahajan, Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch and NAPM, Maharashtra; Dr.Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; Shaktiman Ghosh– National Hawker Federation, NAPM; Bhupendra Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor – Jan Sangharsh Vahini and NAPM, Delhi; Akhil Gogoi – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM, Assam; Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Banjale, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai;Mata Dayal – Birsa Munda Land Rights Forum and NFFPFW, MP;Dr.Rupesh Verma – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, UP; Manish Gupta– Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Maatu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh– Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Rajneesh, Ramchander Rana, Kadma Devi, Tharu, Aadivasi, evam Tarai Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch, UP, NFFPFW

For more details contact : – Sangharsh, C/O, NAPM 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110014

Sheila – 9212587159/9818411417, Sanjeev – 99958797409, Shweta – 9911528696

email : action2007@gmail.comnapmindia@gmail.com


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Criticise the current resource intensive, anti-people model of development centred around Hydropower, Cement industry and real estate

Resolve to resist projects and Policies that grab land and privatize community resources

Bilaspur, 10 April 2009 : A day after the Himalaya Bachao Rally, representatives of movements of project affected communities from across the state, deliberated on the current model of neo-liberal development and its impacts on the people of the state. This development policy which is now being centred around developing hydropower, cement industry and real estate projects is at an enormous cost to local natural resource based communities, their economy and ecology. Even thriving agricultural economies like that of Gagret in Una district are viewed as dispensable for projects like SEZs which will generate little local employment and displace more than 14 villages.  “It is shameful that the government –
bureaucracy, politicians and companies are all serving each other’s interest and displacing people of their lands” said Narinder Parmar of the Matru Bhoomi Sangarsh Samiti, Gagret. He said that the people of Gagret had resolved that they will not part with an inch of their lands for such vulgar projects that are meant for serving real estate interests of the neo rich in India.

“The scale and attitude with which hydropower projects are being implemented have left little scope and time for reviewing their impacts on local people, local economy and ecology and possible alternatives” said R. S Negi, from Him Lok Jagriti Manch. The entire Sutlej Basin in Kinnaur is full of tunnels running within the mountains and the impact will be irreversible, he added. Those displaced by Bhakhra, Kol, Pandoh and Pong dams shared the callousness and apathy of the government and administration in carrying out the rehabilitation and compensation plans for these projects. “The State level Rehabilitation Committee on the Kol Dam has not had any meetings in the past four years despite our repeated demand pointing out the need to do justice to the displaced people” said Prakash Kumar of the Kol Bandh Visthapit Sangarsh Samiti.

The representatives of the various displaced communities repeatedly warned the affected persons from the proposed Renuka Dam project that they must not part with their lands as there is no previous experience or example of just rehabilitation. The imposition of the urgency clause section 17/4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 by the Himachal Government for the purpose of acquiring land for the dam itself is an indication that the government cares two hoots about the consent and concerns of the people. In the context of the Renuka Dam, Sreedhar, from Mountain Environics Trust, added “Half of Delhi’s water problems are because of seepage from the pipes and loss of 50% of the water due to poor water management. There are other solutions to dealing with Delhi’s water requirements which should be explored instead of forcefully displacing 37 villages in Sirmaur”.

The discussion and presentations by various project affected repeatedly highlighted that there was a deliberate effort from the side of the government to conceal information about the projects. “While one hand the government plans a public hearing for a project, on the other it refuses to part with the Project related information. On what basis are people expected to make a decision about the project when the facts and intentions of the project are not being shared” said Pushpal Thakur of the Jan Hit Sangarsh Samiti in the context of the controversial Ski Village Project proposed for Manali.

The other development that has angered the people of Nalagarh has been the Masterplan proposed for the Baddi- Barotiwala-Nalagarh-Development Area. “Whether you call it SEZ or Ski Village or Masterplan under Town Country Planning – there is one single objective of grabbing land and transferring it for real estate purposes to private companies. It is shocking that while the Masterplan talks about areas for shopping malls and industries but has no mention of the farmers who inhabit the land”, said Dukhiya Singh of Him Parivesh.

That the existing laws that protect the interest of the Himachalis are being completely violated in the process of this transfer of resources was discussed extensively. “How can the government use the colonial Land Acquisition Act for transferring lands to the corporates and also grant them blatant exemptions under section 118 of the Himachal Land Reforms Act – a legislation that has played an important role in protecting the land rights of the local people” added Kulbhushan Upmanyu.

There was also a discussion on the ill-effects of the web of transmission lines coming up in the state due to the various power projects. Impacts of the mining and cement industry were discussed as people from Sundernagar, Al Sindi (Karsog), Bilaspur and Solan strongly criticized the establishment of this destructive industry in a mountain state like Himachal. Discussions also touched on strengthening the existing rural and smaller subsistence economies instead of falling for the trap of larger projects which generate few jobs, provide no alternatives for the displaced communities and concentrate wealth in the hands of a handful of people.

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Project affected communities from across Himachal Pradesh come together under one banner

Medha Patkar and Sunderlal Bahugana throw their weight behind Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Bilaspur, 9 April 2009 : More than 3000 people affected by dams, mines, urbanization and destructive development projects in the state of Himachal Pradesh came under one banner of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and held a historical rally in the streets of Bilaspur shouting slogans of “Aaj Himalaya Jagega – Loootne wala bhagega” and “Vikas chahiye vinash nahin”. The rally which happened despite the rains playing havoc all morning and a hot afternoon sun later, culminated with a public address by social and environmental activists, Medha Patkar and Sunderlal Bahguguna as well as the leaders of the various movements.

“There is a historical significance of holding the Himalaya Bachao Rally in Bilaspur – the region which was witness to the largest and oldest displacement in the country and the State – that of the Bhakhra Dam. The displaced persons of this project are yet to be rehabilitated in a just manner and are still without titles on land” said Bhagat Singh one of the convening members if the Himalaya Bachao Rally. Nand Lal Sharma, the leader of the Bhakhra Oustees Sangarsh Samiti started his address with a quote that the Bhakhra Dam once refereed to as a “Mother state” has been reduced to a “beggar state” as a result of the Dam.

“It is shocking that the courts and government justify the displacement by other big dams citing Bhakhra as an example and quoting that it has benefited the local communities and made their lives better – where as the reality on the ground is opposite and the rest of the country does not know this” added Medha Patkar. She slammed the current development paradigm for the nexus between the state and companies that are transferring people’s resources for private interests. She emphasized that the “constitution of India recognizes that planning has to come from the villages” and this should be implemented so that people can plan their development according to their needs and their environment.

Sundar Lal Bahuguna focused on the need for Himalaya specific development model which is based on forestry, forest based agriculture and preservation of water sources – the only way that the water crisis for the entire country can be addressed. He condemned the growth of mining projects in mountain states fir the havoc that they play with the mountain ecology and people’s lives.

Chitranjan Sen, National organizing Committee member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties lent his weight to the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and promised to provide all national support ot be able to make the campaign successful.

Guman Singh, convener of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan said that it was high time that the movements and agitations fighting in various corners of the state came together with their common demands on the issue of displacement, land grab and environment destruction.

Leaders of movements against the following projects were present at the rally and public meeting:

Bhakhra Dam Oustees, District Bilaspur, H.P. and from Hissar, Haryana

Proposed Harish Cement Plant, Sundernagar, District Mandi

Jaypee Cement Plant at Baga, District Bilaspur and Solan

Industrial Hub at Nalagarh, District Solan

Proposed Himalayan Ski Village, District Kullu

Hydroelectric projects in Kinnaur District

Proposed SEZ in Gagret in Una District

Beas Satluj Link Project, Pandoh and Sundernagar, District Mandi

Tower Lines and Power Grid project at Banala

Renuka Dam project, Sirmour

A people’s manifesto was announced at the end of the public meeting with a list of demands which will be discussed with representatives of the political parties on 11th April, 2009 as a part of a 2 day conference being held in Bilaspur.

Some of the demands in the people’s manifest include proper rehabilitation of Pong, Pandoh and Bhakra dam oustees; scrapping of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894; withdrawal of the section 17(4) Urgency Clause Notice issued for the Renuka Dam project; implementation of the Forest Rights Avt 2006; evaluation of the cumulative environmental and social impacts of hydro-power projects in Himachal and a moratorium on all such projects till such an assessment is done; scrapping of the SEZs in the state; a complete halt on mining and mine based industries in Himachal; strict implementation of Section 118 of the Himachal Land Reforms Act and; strengthening mountain specific development policies for the state.

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