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Our Country is not for Sale !

Janmorcha

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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DEHRADUN DECLARATION

12 June 2009

During the process of enactment of the Forests Right Act (in 2006), the National Forum for Forest People’s and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) passed two important resolutions in the second National Conference held at Ranchi: 1) Establishment of community governance over forest resources

2) To resist commodification of forests and related resources

Over the last 2-3 years, in many states including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal, we have taken significant steps in realising these resolutions. In many villages we have been successful in forming Forest Rights Committees on the basis of Forests Right Act (FRA). On10-12 June 2009, we forest peoples; adivasis, forest workers and other forest dwellers, from 16 states of India have converged at Dehradun, the forest capital of India – discussing, debating and uniting to send a strong message to the whole world. The following is the declaration from the conference on‘Resisting commodification of Forests; Establishing community governance over forest resources’, adopted as ‘Dehradun Declaration 2009’.

We, the forest people of the world – living in the woods, surviving on the fruits and crops, farming on the jhoom land, re-cultivating the forest land, roaming around with our herds – have occupied this land since ages. We announce loudly, in unity and solidarity that let there be no doubt on the future: we are the forests, and the forests are us and our existence is mutually dependent. The crisis faced by our forests and environment today will only intensify without us.

This is no ordinary crisis. Not merely, a climate crisis – or in your words this magnified self-created monster of a financial crisis. We believe it’s a crisis of Civilizations. It’s no ordinary clash but a fundamental clash between our knowledge systems; of being, of nature and your wisdom, technology and the demonic tendencies. Your world rests on ideas of power, territories, boundaries, profit, exploitation and oppression and you try to own everything, including Mother Nature. This is what drives your civilisation. You need this world of oppression and exploitation; to survive and feel good. If you want to include us in your world by ‘civilising’ us, we will happily choose to remain uncivilised. Call us savages, we do not care! We have learnt amidst these trees, this water, this air, and other forest beings- a life of freedom, of being without boundaries, and yet never forgetting the boundaries of nature. You need your legal monoliths, and structures of governance to attempt to tide over this crisis but for us the laws of nature, learnt and assimilated over generations are sufficient.

You talk of attaining Independence on August 15 1947… What’s that ? We, the forest people and the forests have been independent since ages. You tried enslaving us; by trapping us in your illusion that believes in converting living beings into slaves – hollow occupants of servile bodies – a life of death; by capturing our forests, establishing your false laws of oppression and exploitation – contradicting the fundamental laws of nature. We know the way you exploited and enslaved our native American comrades in other parts of the world. Let us remind you that you behaved no differently than those feudal and imperialist ancestors of yours. We, therefore, reject your unnatural law, your civilization of tyranny and cruelty. What freedom? We see no freedom, in being driven out of our forests, separated from water, land, fields, trees, air, and friendly animals, to the ecosystem to which we belong. What freedom, which doesn’t forget to chain its own brothers and sisters. False Freedom! We see no truth in a society that remains haunted by the prosperity of a few capitalists, whilst, never forgetting to oppress the workers, adivasis, dalits, women and poor of the world! We reject you!

Forest Rights Act, you need it more than us. If you think you are bestowing rights on us, then you are wrong. We have lived with these forests for ages. Our ancestors, gods, goddesses, friends and life lived in this and will continue to live here. We don’t define rights, we know what is ours and to whom we belong. We are the forests, forests are us. Out of necessity, if you want to talk the language of rights, we are ready for it. It’s your need to recognise our rights over the forests and correct the historical injustices and exploitation. However, if by granting pattas (land titles) over a portion of forest, you conspire to control, commodify and sell the rest of the forests, then you are wrong. We understand your vested intentions and are determined to save the forests from your corrupt desires of exploitation, developmentalism, ill-sighted conservation and technological fixes.

If you think the ghosts of commodity capitalism are going to chain our minds and souls for eternity, then you are mistaken. From the forests, the nature we have learnt that power is not infinite, exploitation is not infinite too. We, the labouring workers, adivasis and dalits don’t treat the forest a resource to be exploited but as something which lives and supports life.

There is a climate crisis around and no amount of free trade, capital or technology will eliminate the roots of this crisis. You forget that the crises has emanated from the way your society is structured – an edifice based on an unending desire for resources and a way of life that sees nature as an object of exploitation and extraction. Fools! You are doomed to bear the brunt and suffer the pains of your actions, but we ask you – Why must we suffer? You have intruded in our lifestyle, in the rhythm of Mother Earth. You have corrupted the environs by your vehicles, industries, arms, and development and your actions have created a crisis in our homes. You have sinned against the essence of our being, and amidst our rage and tears, we reject the basis of your being: a thought – of mistrust, of control, of vicious self-interest, of injustice, and blame.

How dare you blame us for a climate crisis? It is the product of un-natural practices, and it has devastated our lives. How could you- cut our trees unthinkingly? Temperature is increasing, rainfall is diminishing and the forests are burning- consuming themselves in pain. Now you want us out of our habitats in the name of conserving our forests! You kill, unsparingly, relish in “terrorizing” busts of tigers, decorating your mantelpiece – all pointing to your moral sensibility – and – yet you have the audacity to tell us to leave the forests so that you can protect the Tigers! What law do you know? Who are you to teach what is legal? You are illegal – contradicting the very law of nature – of coexistence. You have no solutions – you only destroy.

You may not care of our times, but, spare a thought for the coming generations, their inheritance. Do you wish to present to them a world of chaos and destruction? Are you so blinded by your greed? At least, now – in this crisis – we need to unite, all civilizations, and forest people of the world, to resolve the crisis, to restore our relationship with nature.

Today, at Dehradun, we call for and welcome the solidarity and harmony of all world’s forest people; workers, adivasis and fellow travellers, on this journey to realizing the fulfilment of our existence, in communion with our forests. We warn your civilization that we are a people, united in struggle against the structure of capitalism – of greed, thievery and profiteering. We warn the nations of the world, that you must not forget to honour our existence, or else – from deep within our hearts – we shout out loud: NO MORE SILENCE! We will rise from the ashes of your devastating fire! To resist your order, undeterred by your traps. We will rise – a united forest people – together, in strength and solidarity, to challenge the very fabric of your civilization, and become one with nature, again!

Arise! Forest People of the World Unite! Zindabad!

National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers, India

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1) NFFPFW resolution condemns awarding of Golden Peacock to Vedanta Alumina Ltd.

12th June 2009

People from 15 states representing several people’s movements who have gathered under the banner of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers’ National Conference, being held at Dehradun from 12 to 14 June 2009, condemn presentation of the ‘Golden Peacock Award for Environmental Management-2009’ to Vedanta Alumina Ltd. (VAL) by the World Environment Foundation (WEF). This award is to be presented at the annual conference of WEF to be held at Palampur, Himachal Pradesh from 12 to 14 June 2009.

VAL is being presented the Golden Peacock for its alumina refinery in Lanjigarh in Orissa despite the fact that this industry has been responsible for widespread contamination of ground water, uncontrolled air pollution in the region and countless misery to the local residents. Blatant environment and human rights violations by the said company and its subsidiaries are well known in the international arena. Vedanta has been blacklisted by the Ethics Council of Norwegian Government Pension Fund, who withdrew their stakes from company, citing in their reports ‘serious malpractices and contraventions of environment norms and ethics by the Vedanta Management in the past wherever they operate’. The OSPCB (Orissa State Pollution Control Board) has issued at least three notices to VAL so far for violating pollution norms at its Lanjigarh plant.

It appears that the World Environment Foundation and the jury members of this award are “unaware” of these or have chosen to ignore the struggles of local communities against the operations of the company in different parts of India. There cannot be a more travesty of truth by rewarding a company that is globally notorious for adhering to such business standards and values that incriminatingly and visibly translate into ruthless decimation of the people and irreversible destruction of the environment which the same people have kept inviolate for millennia. The WEF is itself a body set up by corporates and represents their interests. It is an attempt at green-washing the environmentally disastrous and unethical practices of expropriation of natural resources from local communities. This is not the first time that the Golden Peacock has been given to companies with poor track record on environment, social responsibility and ethics. Satyam, Coca-Cola and NHPC are other such examples.

We condemn the award being given to Vedanta and we denounce such fraudulent award functions that are meant to give a clean chit and image makeover to companies known for their lack of ethics and scruples.

Participants at NFFPFW National Conference

Dehradun, India 10-12 June 2009

NFFPFW Open letter to President, Peru

Forest people from Solidarity with the Indigenous peoples’ struggle of Peru

12th June 2009

Dear Mr. President Alan García,

We, the Forest People from 15 states of India representing several people’s movements who have gathered under the banner of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers’ National Conference, being held at Dehradun, India from 12 to 14 June 2009; stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are protesting against the Amazon rainforest industrial development policies of your government. We will struggle, as the united forest and indigenous peoples’ of the world, against the divisive, exploitative and false culture of capitalism. We reject the illusions you provide: a development that extracts, a freedom that chains our limbs, a culture that is for sale, a society of mistrust, a democracy of fear, a history of oppression, a language of servility, a justice that is false. And, this oppression and injustice has lit a fire of anger and tears. It will not die down, until the governments of the world recognize our natural, inalienable right to the forests.

Hence, we reject the Peruvian government‘s recent decrees, violating constitutionally guaranteed rights of indigenous peoples. Your government‘s declaration of State of Emergency is unacceptable. We also strongly condemn your government’s use of Special Forces to suppress peaceful demonstrations in the Amazon. We stand in solidarity with the indefinite general strike called by the indigenous peoples of Peru.

It is unacceptable that your government has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the US against your peoples’ will through an undemocratic, secret process. It is now using this agreement as a pretext to most aggressively roll back legal protections for indigenous peoples and to open the Amazon rainforest to permit oil, mineral and timber by multinational corporations. Your government‘s actions violate your mandate to represent the interests of your peoples.

Therefore, we expect your administration and the Peruvian Congress to:

1. Uphold the constitutionally guaranteed rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to their ancestral territories, and to free and prior consultation and consent over any policies and activities that affect them.

2. Repeal the series of contested Decrees associated with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

3. Withdraw from all such bilateral and multilateral negotiations which will lead to a similar undermining of the rights of indigenous peoples.

4. Suspend the State of Emergency, withdraw your Special Forces and decriminalize peaceful protests.

5. Enter into a meaningful process of dialogue, in good faith, with indigenous peoples’ leaders to resolve this conflic 

We condemn your path of development, which sees nature as a commodity to be traded; we assert the right of forest and indigenous peoples over our land and forest; we assert our responsibility to protect and nurture these forests amidst which we live, and challenge your legitimacy to control what is ours.

Forest and indigenous peoples of the world are watching and awaiting a complete reversal of your draconian actions. And, the fire your actions have ignited, will continue till the dawn of a new day, when we as a people will live in communion with our forests in a society that realizes the ideals of freedom, justice and equality.

Truly,                         

Participants at NFFPFW National Conference

Dehradun, India 10-12 June 2009

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National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers

National Convention

June 10-12, 2009, Dehradun, India

The struggle for establishing community rule and control over the forest resources got a new boost when the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, was passed in 2006 by the Indian Parliament. It was a historical moment for the struggling communities despite some inherent lacunas and problems in the Act when finally on December 31 2007 the Act was notified and procedures led out for its implementation all across the country. This is also a historical event, for the first time ever rights of forest dwellers over forest has been given a legal and political acceptance by the State and their role in conservation and development of forests recognised. Today, after more than 60 years of independence, for the first time, these communities feel independent having suffered exploitation and humiliation at the hands of Forest Department and feudal & elite forces, all due to this Act, which promises liberation and dignity.

However, the numerous problems encountered by the communities in implementation of the provisions of the Act are well known since it challenges the domination and interests of forest department and other feudal & elite forces. These forces have been creating problems of various kinds and also colluding with the machinery of State to deny the rights due to communities. This has been duly recognised by the communities and in past two years there have been innumerable instances of conflict and resistance against the ill machinations of the forest department and feudal interests. This is going to be a bitter and long struggle for the communities to achieve community control over the forests, which has been clearly enunciated in the preface of the Act itself. Hence, the biggest challenge in front of the communities and social movements today is how to achieve Community Governance over the forest in these circumstances,which will ensure community control over natural resources in the long term. Movements need to decide collectively about how to build up Peoples’ Institutions for community governance.

Our experience says the strategies to deal with the circumstances can only be formulated by the activists and awakened leadership of forest rights movements in the country and none else. The wisdom and knowledge of the communities engaged in struggle for their survival and conservation of forest has to play an important role in these strategies. This also requires that the local organisations need to be strengthened so that they could actually implement the mandate thrust upon them – of conservation and sustainable livelihood – by the Act in long term. These people’s organisations, autonomous bodies and cooperatives of the forest dwellers have to be run by them under their leadership alone.

It was in this context that the NFFPFW’s second national conference in Ranchi in October 2006 passed two important resolutions which would determine the future strategies of the struggles :

  • To establish control over the forests of the communities dependent on them.
  • To oppose commercialisation of the forests.

In last two years important steps have been taken to implement these two resolutions in some of the regions. It was also decided in the Ranchi conference that to counter these challenges it is imperative that community leadership in the movements has to be strengthened and struggles given new energy and direction which is arising from the aspirations of the people.

Even as we plan to meet in Dehradun, after the General Elections, Congress led government is already formed at the Centre. However, it need to be understood that the Congress led UPA government has got majority support from all the sections of society but they could not attain absolute majority, since poor people of this country are too aware that none of the political parties actually stand for pro-people politics and development and they can’t be trusted. History stands witness to the fact that Congress has been always supported by the feudal and capitalist classes and that’s why they have always represented their interests in favour of the millions of the poor who keep reposing their trust time and again. The newly formed UPA has to face many challenges now to keep its promises to poor classes. We must know that in future the capitalist economic agenda will be pushed with much more force by UPA government necessitating a re energised protest from the people’s movements all across the country. We will have to collectively embolden our struggles and ensure communities control and rule over the forest and weaken the forces of the capitalism.

We need to understand that the failure of all the parties in opposition (national or regional) with exception of few can be attributed to the fact that they failed to build any substantial opposition and movement on people issues, which would have earned them support from people. Since there was no viable alternative available in front of people they voted for Congress, which was not a majority vote. There is a lesson inherent in this election for all other political parties and also for the Congress. It is to be observed that this time Congress is neither giving much weight to the allies within UPA nor making any attempts at formulating a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) as they did in the previous government. The congress might have to pay heavy price for not constituting the CMP in near future, since CMP is not only about the agreed mandate of parties within the government but is directly linked with the aspirations of the masses. Therefore it is very clear that CMP simply means that the government doesn’t want to leave any political manoeuvring space on the political and social matters for social movements.

In such a situation we need to understand that the people’s movement can’t wait for the government for stricter and effective implementation of the historical Forest Rights Act. As there is lot of pressure on the present government from environmentalist lobby and the Forest Department, therefore it is very necessary that we will have to build up the struggle and strategize for establishing the communities control over the forests by sustained pressure on the government machinery. The year in which this Act was passed by the government the efforts at commercial exploitation of the forests were also enhanced, and this needs to be conveyed to the people. It is only when we are aware of the government’s intentions and initiatives at commercialisation that we can formulate strategies for establishing governance mechanisms which will stop the commercial exploitation and degradation of forests.

The need of the hour is that the active supporters and activists of the movements of the forest dwelling communities struggling for forest rights sit together and work towards developing strategies which can ensure community control and also stop the commercial exploitation of forests. In this process only we can strike a long term collaboration of the forest rights movements, climate justice movements and other rights based movements. Today there is a sense of fragmentation within the larger movement which is giving space to capitalist forces to extend their influence over the forest and other natural resources which is creating wider environmental and social crisis in the society. The capitalist forces in their effort to maximise profit are trading the environmental crisis for their narrow economic gains rather than finding sustainable long term solutions.

It is to counter the influence of these capitalist forces that the around the world the toiling and working classes are mobilising themselves, be it disrupting the gathering of G-20 in London or ASEAN’s meeting in Bangkok, or UNFCCC 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. This year thousands of workers, indigenous people, women and marginalised masses raised slogans at various deliberations at the World Social Forum, Belem demanding climate justice for everyone and demise of capitalism. In India also there is a need for internal cohesion at various fronts amongst the numerous movements against the capitalist development and also a greater need for establishing linkages and coordination with the movements at the global level.

It is to discuss these important issues that NFFPFW is holding its annual convention. Today the government of India is executing all kinds of trade and commercial agreements with capitalist nations worldwide which impacts the millions of working and toiling masses. However, information on none of these agreements are available to people, the convention will critically discuss such agreements and other international matters of direct relevance to forest people.

In addition to the constituent groups of NFFPFW, other organisations, friends and supporters working on forest rights are also invited to this convention so that a more informed dialogue can take place and effective strategies could be formulated.

The agenda of the convention will focus on following issues :

  • Effective implementation of Forest Rights Act by the community led groups and organisations establishing community rule and control over the forests and other natural resources.
  • Building effective and sustainable community led groups and organisations.
  • To strengthen campaigns against the commercialisation of the forests and oppose G-20, European Union, WTO, ASEAN and other international bodies pushing capitalist agenda globally.
  • To organise masses for achievement of the fundamental rights enshrined in the national constitution and international rights charters etc.
  • To unite the groups all across the world struggling against capitalist development for climate justice.
  • To establish effective coordination and understanding with the global movements for climate justice.

With revolutionary greetings !

National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers

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National Forest Rights (Implementation) Campaign

[National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)& constituent mass organisations]

Press Release                                                              19-12-2008


Forest Rights Assembly and Public Meeting concludes in front of Parliament

People vow to defeat political parties, if Forest Rights Act not implemented effectively

  • Thousands reaffirm resolve to struggle;
  • Adivasi, Dalit Aam Sabha (assembly) calls for people’s caution against political misuse;
  • State Elections reflect the victory of parties who are implementing FRA;
  • Left leaders to support demand for amendments in the Act;
  • Adivasi and Dalit Forest Dwellers from eight states participate in the Rally and Assembly;

A People’s Assembly was organised with adivasi and dalit forest dwellers from eight central Indian states, by the National Forest Rights (Implementation) Campaign, on the 18th December 2008 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. More than 400 forest dwellers from Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar participated in the People’s Assembly (Aam Sabha).

The assembly was organised after the successful rally of forest workers in front of Indian Parliament on the 17th December 2008. The rally was attended by more than 3500 Adivasis and Dalits from the central and northern Indian states. People from forest regions including Lakhimpur Khiri, Sonbhadra (Kaimur), Raipur, Mahasamund, different regions of Jharkhand, Rewa, Manikpur, Saharanpur, Dehradun, Badwani, etc were joined by supporters of the struggle from Delhi.

Political leaders from the left parties including Com. D Raja, MP and National Secretary of the Communist Party of India and Com. Abani Roy, MP of the Revolutionary Socialist Party joined the rally and addressed people. They extended their support to the continuing struggle of the forest people and workers for rights over land, forest and other natural resources. Opposing the misuse of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006, the leaders demanded effective and pro-people implementation of the Act in all the states.

Leaders from NFFPFW from several states, including Munnilal, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Pushpa Toppo, Manju Gardia, Braj Kishore Chourasia, Sanjay Basu Mullick, Roma, Ajeet Ekka, Haneef, etc also addressed the gathering at Parliament Street Police station. Addressing the rally, Ashok Choudhary, national leader of the NFFPFW and convener of the National Forest Rights (Implementation) Campaign warned the Central and state Governments against the misuse and violations of the Act by Forest Department officials and state bureaucracy. Roma, leader of NFFPFW Kaimur region stated that people will be forced to take over land, if the states fail to implement the FRA.

The Assembly discussed the achievement of the FRA and its implementational issues and submitted memorandum to the Prime Minister, including demands for pro-people amendments in the 2006 Forest Rights Act. Copies of the memorandum was submitted also to Lok Sabha Speaker, Minister for Tribal Affairs and Minister for Social Justice & empowerment. Along with effective implementation of the Act, other demands included;

  • Traditional and community forest governance systems to be brought back
  • Immediate stop to evictions in the national parks and sanctuaries by the Forest Department and police
  • Community rights over minor forest produce
  • Stopping commercial and profit motivated use of forest resources
  • Representation of all forest dwelling communities in the Forest Right Committees at the village level
  • Reaching education, health facilities and water and other infrastructural progress to the forest communities
  • Conversion of Taungiya and other forest villages into revenue villages
  • Representation of people’s organisations working with forest communities in thhe state level monitoring committees and district level committees constituted under FRA
  • Social security to the unorganised sector workers including forest dwellers/workers
  • Allot government land to landless people, especially the landless workers belonging to the poorest sections
  • Forest communities like the Van Gujjars to be protected against all forms of evictions from National Parks and Sancturies
  • Remove the unfair provision of other forest communities having to prove three generational documentary evidence of traditional rights and make the provision similar for al forest communities

On Behalf of National Forest Rights (Implementation) Campaign:

National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (NFFPFW), Birsa Munda Bhoomi Adhikar Manch, Nadi Ghatti Morcha, Jharkhand Jungle Bachao Andolan, Nava Chhattisgarh Mahila Sanghattan, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM-Delhi), Delhi Solidarity Group and others

(986821(9868217276, 9868857723, 26680914/ 26687724 – Fax)

C/o F-10/12, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi – 110017

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Dear Friend,

The Forest Rights Act has been passed by the Indian Parliamnet in 2006. But the implimentation and awarness process about this Act is being followed by the few State Governments of India.

This is the Historical Act which can empower our marginalized, dalit and adivasi communities if it is implemented in a better way as per the rules. This is the time when we can support them in their struggle so that they can get their rights on natural resources.

More than 2500 people form various states are here to present their demands under the banner of National Forest Right (Implimentation) Campaign.  The demands are attached with the mail (in hindi).

Therefore we call upon you to join the mass rally on 17 December 2008 and for the People’s Assembly ( Jan Sabha) on 18 December 2008.

Programme:

17 December 2008 rally from Mandi House (in front of JNU city centre) to Jantar Mantar and thereafter the public meeting.
The rally will begin at 11 am and the public meeting will start by 1 pm at Jantar Mantar.

18 December 2008 People’s Assembly (Jan sabha) will begin at 10.30 am at Jantar Mantar.

NB: Only 300-400 (representatives from forest areas) people will be attending the People’s assembly.

For more details contact – Bipin Rai (9999046469), Jibin R (9899967964), Vijayan MJ(9868165471)

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