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Press Release                                                             21st August 2012

Sangharsh demands UPA not to proceed with the undemocratic

Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament 

Thousands gather in Delhi for three days (21-23 August) in Jan Morcha against land grab and the anti-people ‘Right to Fair Compensation, R&R Bill 2012’

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi – “The UPA Government is trying to fool both the parliament and the people of India, by bringing on the “Right to fair compensation, R&R and transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, 2012”, stated Dr. Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh. Dr. Sunilam was speaking at the opening of the three day Jan Morcha in Delhi, organised by Sangharsh collective, against land grab, corporate exploitation and corruption.

“The government not only has betrayed the Aam Admi’s will, but also has effectively rejected the consultations and recommendations of the two Parliamentary Standing Committees on the subject”, added Roma of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW, Kaimur region, UP).

The public meeting and dharna organised at Jantar Mantar on the occasion of the Monsoon session of the Parliament challenged the government to try and pass the Bill in the current form. “The bill will face the same fate as that of the LAA Amendments Bill that UPA-1 tried to pass in Rajya Sabha in 2009”, remarked Madhuresh Kumar, National Organiser of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). “The Ministry of Rural Development is ridiculing the lives and struggles of people of this country whose fight has been to protect their precious land and resources and not for ‘better compensation’, he added.

Martyrs from several anti-displacement struggles, from Assam to Gujarat and Punjab to Muthanga, in Kerala were remembered by the Jan Morcha. At the event at Jantar Mantar, tombstones were erected with the names of valiant fighters who lost their lives to the brutal violence of the state police or corporate goons. Families of some of the Martyrs were present at the Dharna at Sansad Marg.  “We demand that the government has to first declare about the land already acquired, used and the fate of those who lost their livelihood. There can be no talk about new land acquisitions unless we talk of the historical injustices” (poorana hisaf saaf karo phir naye kee baat karo), added Shanta Bhattacharya, of Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Morcha.

The new draft bill, in its current form has gone against many reccommendations of people’s movements as well as the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC). Some of the key issues raised by the dharna are as following:

  • The centralised planning process for development projects must give way to participatory and consent based planning, whereby the Gram Sabhas and Basti Sabhas should have the primary say in deciding what kind of development is required for the area and what constitutes public purpose
  • The current bill legitimises land acquisition of most kinds and by anyone even for private profit, and is only trying to play with language of transparency and fair compensation
  • Agricultural lands of all kinds need to be excluded from acquisition. It is not a question of multi-crop or single-crop, nor is it an issue of amount of compensation
  • The government should not use the ‘principle of eminent domain’ and land acquisition powers to acquire land for Private projects of all kinds and Public Private Partnership projects (PPP)
  • All the 16 central acts, as suggested by the PSC, should be brought under the purview of the new comprehensive legislation
  • The present Bill is strictly a rural displacement related bill, since it completely overlooks the millions of urban working people impacted by urban projects and displacement. This needs to be urgently rectified before the Bill is placed in Parliament.

“It needs to be noted that nearly 100 million people have been displaced since independence and with a dismal 17-20 percent rate of rehabilitation, we had suggested that not only the retrospective application of the provisions of the new act but a National Resettlement & Rehabilitation Commission be established to deal with the claims of the projected affected people from various projects, stated Vimalbhai of MATU Jan Sanghattan, Uttarakhand.

The leaders and representatives of mass organisations who spoke at the Janmorcha included: Shanta Bhatacharjee (NFFPFW, UP), Jagdish Purohit, (Mansi Vakal Band Vistapith Sangarsh Samithi, Rajasthan), Mansaram Bhai (Narmada Bachao Andolan),Kalu Bhai (Chittorgarh, KKMS, Rajasthan), Bhupendra Singh Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi & NCR), Aradhana Bhargava (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, MP), Vijay Sharma, National Hawkers’ Federation, Kolkatta), Devjit Dutt (NAPM, West Bengal),Ganesh (Mansiwakad Dam, Rajasthan), Ranjan Singh (Sita Marhi, Bihar), Ghasi Bhai(Adivasi Kranti Sangattan, Odisha), Rajnish Gambhir (NFFPFW, Khiri, UP), Hansraj Pradhan (Fatehabad anti-nuclear struggle, Haryana), Maharaja Sangram Singh (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & NAPM), Mangu Singh (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti), Raj Singh Dawas(Bhoomi Bachao Andolan), Rajpal Sewali (Sonipat), Babu Singh Patel (Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, UP), Mohan (Odisha Chas Parivesh Suraksha Parishad) and many Delhi based intellectuals and supporters.

Vijoo Krishnan of All India Kisan Sabha spoke at the gathering in support of demand for a comprehensive bill. The Janmorcha also witnessed a powerful cultural performance by the Delhi based theatre group, Asmita.

For details contact Sangharsh Media team: 

Sanjeev – 99958797409 | Shweta – 9911528696 |Vijayan – 9582862682   

Sangharsh is a struggle platform and process since 2007, comprising of various people movements and national organisations fighting anti- people policies and working towards a just and egalitarian society

c/o: 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi – 110014   # 011-26680914, 24374535 /9818905316

for photos and other details, email : action2007@gmail.com Web : http://napm-india.org/node/326

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NFF Demands separate Ministry for Fisheries at the Centre: 

Delegation meets ministers to demand stopping of anti-fisherpeople projects including Kudankulam Nuke project and the pipeline project in Kerala

New Delhi 17th Dec 2011: A delegation of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and support groups in Delhi met with the union ministers at the centre and demanded that a separate central ministry for fisheries be immediately formalized by the UPA Government. Speaking to media persons after the meetings, Shri T. Peter, Secretary, NFF reminded the UPA that this was going to be the most contentious issue since Congress and other UPA partners have often supported this demand of fishworkers, without any concrete action being taken to materialize the same. “we demand establishment of a separate Fisheries Ministry in the Government of India as this sector involves more than 25 million people, vitally contributes to the food security of the country and is still neglected”, added Mr. Peter.

The delegation comprised of leaders of NFF, along with Vijayan MJ of Delhi Forum, Madhuresh Kumar of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), Ashok Choudhary of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) and Amar of National Hawkers’ Federation (NHF), met with Prof. KV Thomas (In-charge, Minister of state, Ministry of Agriculture), Mr. KC Venugopal (Minister of State, Ministry of Power) and submitted memorandums to Shri. AK Anthony (Defence Minister), Shri. Sharad Pawar (Agricultural Minister) and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The delegation met with the Power Minister Shri Venugopal to demand that the coastal gas pipeline project in Kerala – from Kochi LNG Terminal to Kayamkulam Thermal Power Plant, be scrapped by the Centre. The delegation briefed the Minister about the threat posed by such a project, since it destroys the sea, the coast and the livelihood of many fishworkers in Kerala’s coast. The Minister assured the delegation that the government will not take any decision that will negatively impact the lives of the fisherpeople of Kerala.

The other demands made by the delegation included:

  1.  Stop Free Trade Agreements and Foreign Direct Investment in retail trade in the Fisheries Sector and that the Fishworkers must be consulted before entering into any trade agreement involving the Fisheries Sector.
  2.  Stop the building of Nuclear Power Plants at Kudankulam, Gorakhpur and Jaitapur.
  3. Stop setting up of thermal power plants with captive ports on the coast and also setting up of new private ports.
  4. Object the imposition of Marine Protected Areas with blanket ban on fishing at Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Malvan in Maharashtra, Gulf of Munnar in Tamil Nadu, Gahirmata and Bhitarkanika in Orissa and Sundarban Tiger Reserve in West Bengal; and demand consultation with and participation of the coastal fishworkers in the proposition and management of ecologically sensitive coastal areas.
  5. A comprehensive legislation to rationalize the fisheries sector with reference to fishing vessels, gears, efforts and fish resources ensuring preferential access of small and traditional fishers to the stock of fish in Indian waters.
  6. Ban on Bottom Trawling and Purse-Seining in the territorial waters. In Maharashtra and Gujarat Bottom Trawling and Purse-Seining should be prohibited even   well beyond the territorial waters, where traditional fishing takes place on large scale.
  7. Ratification and implementation of ILO Convention No.188 for Work in Fishing for all coastal fishworkers of the country.
  8. Immediate implementation of Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 with reference to all fishworkers of the country.
  9. Implementation of remaining 40 recommendations of Mandal Commission for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
  10. Implementation of reserved electoral constituencies for coastal fisherpeople as recommended by the Mandal Commission

NFF leaders and support groups were in the city to join the Parliament Rally on the 15thDecember and to also participate in the founding conference of the ‘National Federation of Traditional Workers’, a national coalition force of natural resource based traditional community organisations and working people. The Conference was held at Mavlankar Hall on the 16th of December 2011.

Matanhy Saldanah         Rambhau Patil

Chairperson                            General Secretary

 

Contact for details: 09868165471

 peter.ksmtf@gmail.com,

vijayanmj@delhiforum.net

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Unified struggles against United aggression:

National Federation Formed to Step up Struggle

To Protect Rights of Natural Resource Based Traditional Communities

New Delhi, December 16 2011: “The fish in the sea would not have been there, if not for the rain, and the rivers, produced by the hills and the forests. The fishworkers of this country cannot sustain ourselves without identifying with and struggling together with the forest people, the handloom weavers, the women vendors, the bamboo workers, etc of this country” T. Peter, National Secretary of National Fishworkers’ Forum said.

Peter was speaking at the national conference of traditional livelihood and natural resources based communities organized today in Delhi’s Mavlankar Hall, aiming at bringing together the diverse groups dependent on natural resources to build a National Federation of Natural Resource Based Traditional Communities and Organizations, at the national level.

“The issue of forest rights for forest dwellers is not that of the last five years. Communities have been demanding it for the last many decades. Having achieved that five years back, what we are facing now is a total failure in its implementation”, K. Krishnan, activist of Adivasi Solidarity Council, Tamilnadu said. “The governments of the left and the right, have failed in catering to the core issues of the traditional working people of the country. We cannot remain silent anymore” he further said.

A growing sense of anger and frustration marked the commemoration of the five years since the enactment of Forest Rights Act 2006. Speakers at the national conference reiterated that themovement to effectively implement the Forest Rights Act is an inalienable part of the struggles for democratic governance.

They said, today the struggle for the implementation of Forest rights is not just important for the forest dependent people or communities, it is equally important for the other natural resource based working people like fish workers, mineral dependents, agriculturalists, bamboo workers, handloom weavers and artisans who are partly or indirectly dependent on forest and other natural resources and also the larger society.

“The challenge before us is to make the government accountable to the people. What it does now is hobnobbing with the corporations, who are bend upon plundering the natural resources, and help them amassing profits. This has to change. The political class should show courage to speak for the people and stand by them,” senior activist Ashok Chowdhury said. “The sea, forest and mountain dwellers’ coming together is not just for the sake of it. It is to move towards making a new world order,” he said.

Large number of adivasis, dalits and traditional workers, representing 18 states attended the national conference. Key speakers at the conference included: Jarjum Ete of Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Commission, Subhash Ghayali of Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee, Guman Singh of Him Niti Abhiyan, Gautam Bandyopadhaya of Nadi Ghati Morcha, Ashim Roy of New Trade Union Initiative, Anuradha Talwar of Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity, Vasantha of National Adivasi Alliance and Munnilal of National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers.

“The need of the hour for all people struggling to protect their natural resources is to come together as a federation to coordinate and amplify the struggle in a better way,” Shanta Bhattarjee of Van Sramjeevi Manch, Uttar Pradesh said. “Women needs to be at the leadership of this federation, as women are the ones who bear the cost of losing rights over natural resources disproportionately,” she said.

The call for the Parliament rally yesterday (Dec 15) witnessed support for the cause from different quarters, including political parties, mass movements and organizations from different parts of the country.  At a time when the government is fighting one corruption charges after another, skeletons of its ministers falling from the cupboard, it should not forget the basic rights of the people and the promises made to them, speakers at the rally warned the government.

The national conference was a rare confluence of several movements, the forest struggles, the fishworkers forum, the anti-mining struggles of Jharkhand, the affirmative land struggles from Kerala, UP and AP, the Dalit movements from South and North India, etc. This was pegged as a part of preparing a platform to discuss, share and brainstorm politics, movements, strategies and alliances.

Press Contacts: Roma: 9868217276, romasnb@gmail.com,

Vijayan 9868165471, vijayanmj@delhiforum.net

Office: 011-26680883, 26687724

 

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New Delhi, 4th August 2011: Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramash was told forcefully by a delegation from Sangharsh that the issue of land aquistion is political and is one of the most burning issues of the country and that cannot be passed with a political process and discussion in the country. The minister was reminded about the large number of people hitherto displaced by various developmental projects and demanded a white paper on it. The minister was further told that the people displaced by the massive projects in the urban areas are not covered under this Bill and they will left high and dry.

The delegation also raised concerns about widening the definition of public purpose, which under the new Bill could easily include private interests as well. They rejected the formation of a committee which would include experts to decide whether a project will benefit the people of the area.  It was reinforced by the delegation that only the gram sabha and the basti sabhas who will be affected have the right to decide whether the project will be beneficial or not.

The minister was reminded that it is incorrect impression that is being spread is that farmers across are ready to give their land if provided with higher compensation. It was asserted that people do not want to give up their land under any circumstances.

The Sangharsh National Action against Land Acquisition Act, 1894 demanding a comprehensive National Development Planning legislation entered the second day with more people from Odisha, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh joining the dharna at Jantar Mantar, bringing in added vigour and spirit on a rain washed day. Even as the dharna addressed urban issues, energy policy and forests rights, separate delegations held meetings with the Ministers of Environment and Forests, Social Justice and Empowerment and Rural Development.

“The Constitution of India is made by the people and for the people, and the government will have to accept the demands of the struggling marginalized people” said Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court while expressing solidarity with Sangharsh dharna.

Addressing a gathering of thousands of struggling people from across India, Socialist ideologue and leader of movements from Odisha, Prafulla Samanthra, referred to the Supreme Court judgment on POSCO and said “We reject the judgment. Irrespective of what Court says, people will continue their struggles to protect their lives and livelihood till the very end. Repression in a democracy is unacceptable”.

He further demanded that agricultural lands should not be handed over to industries or any non-agricultural activities. He said that the gram sabhas must be the primary level of decision making on all issues of development. “We are not against industrialization. We support small and non-polluting industries and those which do not cause displacement,” he added.

Movements from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana rejected the government’s energy policy which is focusing on nuclear energy. They warned the government about the disastrous consequences of nuclear and thermal plants and demanded that instead of exposing the people to such impacts the country should opt for decentralized and renewable energy sources.

Dr.Banwarilal Sharma, leader of Azadi Bachao Andolan said, “Gram sabhas should be above the Lok Sabha” and called upon the people to be steadfast in their commitment in their struggle.

Fresh energy was infused into the dharna by the joining of Slum Jana Andolan from Karnataka which has been militantly battling for the rights of urban deprived for land rights and dignity in the cities of Karnataka. The dharna was also joined by Tharu Adivasi Mahila Kisan Manch from Lakhimpur Khiri, Uttar Pradesh.

While the morning session was devoted to urban and energy issues, the contentious issue of Forest Rights Act (FRA) was discussed and debated in the afternoon session.

Forest based communities have always been demanding community ownership and governance rights over forests whereas the state governments have been resisting the implementation of FRA. At most they are ready to grant only pattas and individual rights which is a subversion of the landmark provisions of the Act said community leaders from Sonbhadra and other forest regions. Speaking about the struggles in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Roma of NFFPFW said “Today the Forest department stands as the biggest stumbling force in the effective implementation of FRA. It is unfortunate that neither the Ministry of Environment and Forests nor the Ministry of Tribal Affairs have reigned in the Forest Department which acts like a landlord of 24% of India’s landmass.”

Prominent among the national leaders attended the dharna includes, Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Dr.Binayak Sen, Chitranjan Singh (INSAF), farmers’ leader Dr.Sunilam, forest workers leader Ashok Choudhary, Akhil Gogoi of KMSS, Assam, Ajit Jha of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, and Swami Agnivesh.

 

Contacts:

 

Vijayan – 9582862682 / 9868165471,
Madhuresh – 9818905316
Joe – 9871153775
———–

For daily updates on the dharna: http://sangharshblog.wordpress.com/
For Podcasts: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sangharsh-dharna-aug-3-5-2011
Follow us on Twitter: #sangharsh
For images: http://www.flickr.com/joeathialy
For higher resolution photos of dharna, contact: +91-9871153775

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New Delhi: August 3 – Over 4500 people from around 15 states univocally demanded immediate repeal of the archaic Land Acquisition Act 1894 (LAA) and replacement of it with a comprehensive National Development Planning Act. They vowed never to desert their land to the government or private builders.
They have joined the Sangharsh dharna at Jantar Mantar, where nearly 80 organisations from 15 states have come to raise their issues. They have invited Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of Rural Development, and the proponent the present draft of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill to come to the dharna and hear firsthand what the farmers, adivasis, dalits and other sections of the people who are land-based have to say about their land.
Responding to the draft by Jairam Ramesh, which got widespread meida reporting, Sangharsh said that today when the ministry of rural development has brought out the first draft of the ‘comprehensive’ Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, they at Sangharsh, stand vindicated. This has been a demand of people for the last many decades. They said, “Today, what we dreamt about, the repeal of the LAA and the replacement by a more pro-people comprehensive legislation is closer to being a reality. The struggling people acrossIndia, from Koel Karo to Nadigram and fromNarmada to Kalinga Nagar and Niyamgiri have lots to cheer in what we have in hand.”
The new draft legislation precisely falls short of its biggest claim of being ‘comprehensive’. All the packaging nor the repeated claim of being ‘comprehensive’ can hide its actual limitations.
The present draft, put forth along with a foreword by Ministry of Rural Development, for the purpose of nationwide consultations, has opted to restrict itself to dealing with Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. While being a political retraction, it also amounts to utter injustice to the entire process that went on in this country since 2004.
The Congress led UPA, instead of progressing from its previous positions has actually retracted to its pre-2006 position through the draft. It has also gone back from the promises made by the UPA Chairperson, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, in 2006, while agreeing to the National Advisory Council (NAC) draft of the legislation. The NAC Draft, in hindsight was far more progressive and comprehensive as it referred to the draft legislation for ‘Development Planning, Minimum Displacement and Just Rehabilitation’.

It is an irony that Jairam Ramesh, who has introduced this draft, was part of that NAC team. 
Summing up the general sentiment of the people, Medha Patkar said, “We are here not to beg, but to ask for what is rightfully ours. Nobody can eat electricity or money. To ensure survival, save agriculture land.” She further asked the UPA government to make it clear that the government is in support of the repeal of LAA in toto, while propounding a new Land Bill and remove the veil of confusion.

Prominent among the national leaders attended the dharna includes, Dr.Binayak Sen, Janaklal Thakkur (Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha),farmers’ leader Dr.Sunilam, forest workers leader Roma, PUCL general secretary Kavita Srivastava, Dr. Banwarilal Sharma of Azadi Bachao Andolan, Ajit Jha of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Ashok Chaudhary, Akhil Gogoi and Swami Agnivesh.
Gautam Bhandhyopadhya, leader of Nadhi Ghati Morcha from Chattisgarsh said, “It is time to take a stand on who will have ownership rights over land and natural resources.” He focused on the struggle of the farmers, workers, fish workers who are determined not to let go of their land and rights. He mentioned that it is important to discuss how developmental projects such as dams and power plants acquire and utilize large tracts of agricultural and forest land.

Addressing a full house at Jantar Mantar, former National Commissioner of SC/ST Dr. B.D. Sharma said, “If farmers are trapped in the lure of money, they will be deprived of land, and hence their livelihood. Death of large number of the farmers are not suicides – they are driven to death by the wrong policies of the government, which devalued the value of farmers and farming.” He called the people to insist on Hamara gaon me hamara raj (self rule in the villages) to end mindless exploitation.
Member of Parliament from Samajwadi Party, Mohan Singh said, “The issues are so pertinent that you need national support from all progressive political parties. A better communication and understanding between people’s movements and political parties is the need of the hour, rather than any distance between the two.” He further said that no fertile land should be usurped for private purposes.
A delegation of Sangharsh is meeting the Tribal Affairs Minister, Kishore Chandar Deo as well as Kamalnath, Minister of Urban Development late in the afternoon to discuss issues pertaining to tribals.
The Sangharsh action is being held inDelhi on the 20th anniversary of economic reforms. It is evident that the neo liberal paradigm is collapsing from within as the nation is rocked with scandals on land, telecommunications, mining and infrastructure projects. People across the country are rising up against the corporate led model.

For daily updates on the dharna: http://sangharshblog.wordpress.com/
For Podcasts: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sangharsh-dharna-aug-3-5-2011
Follow us on Twitter: #sangharsh
For higher resolution photos of dharna, contact: +91-9871153775

 

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People’s Power Vs Builder Shahi : More Join in Struggle from Across the Country

May 24, Mumbai : Someone once known as ‘one man demolition army’, G R Khairnar, who took cudgels against the land mafia and the builder lobby twenty years ago as Deputy Commissioner (Special – Demolitions) between 2000 – 02 today joined Ghar Bhachao Ghar Banao Andolan’s ongoing dharna in Ganesh Krupa Society, amidst the debris of broken houses by government authorities in collusion with Builder Lobby. He said, “the fight today led by Medha Patkar and this movement is an important fight. What he did as someone being in the authority is now being taken up by ‘people’s power’. This struggle needs support and everyone needs to join hand in this.” Even as people lent support and they resolved to fight for their rights demolitions continued in Powai, Mankhurd, Worli, and a couple of other places.

The resolve to fight was joined by other people’s organisations who visited the dharna and gave their solidarity messages and also sang songs of struggle against corruption and injustice. Republican Panthers, Ekveera Sez Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, Tata Dharan Grast Sangharsh Samiti, farmers from Malegaon, Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, Shramik Janta Sangh, India Against Corruption, Brihan Mumbai Niwas Abhiyan Samiti, SUCI, Lok Jagran Manch, Brihanmumbai Nivara Abhiyan Samiti, and may others. The dharna has become a meeting ground for many of the anti corruption activists not only from India Against Corruption, whose 15 members sat all day but also anti corruption activists like Bhagwan Das Ryani, Sharad Gayakwad and others.

Earlier in the day Deputy’s Collector’s office sent doctors and his representative requesting Medha ji to call off her fast, but Medha ji refused to be attended by them. Yesterday, the doctors who came to attend to her were the same ones who tried to influence people injured in the earlier demolitions on behalf of the Shivalik Builders. She is weak but her condition has been mostly stable today and continued to boost the morale of the people.

12 people arrested on May 19, released on bail

It brought cheer to the people present at the dharna site as they heard that the twelve of their comrades who were arrested while resisting demolition on May 19th are going to join them late in the evening after being released from the Arthur Road jail with the determination to save their houses at any cost.

Domestic Workers and Hawkers along with Anna Hazare and Swami Agnivesh join in support in Delhi

Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh, Arvind Kejriwal etc were at the Delhi Dharna in front of Maharshtra Sadan along with more than hundred others representing: NAPM, National Domestic Workers Union, Delhi Solidarity Group, Shahari Gharelu Kaamgar Union, SUCI, PUCL and others. On the request of Anna Hazare and Swami Agnivesh, Shri. Bhupendera Singh Rawat, National Convener, NAPM who was to start a solidarity hunger strike in Delhi, postponed it, subject to action from the state government. Anna Hazare said that he is in touch with Prithviraj Chauhan and Medha Patkar and is trying to resolve the issue. He added that he is concerned about the health of Medha ji and would like this situation to end soon. Swami Agnivesh, Arvind Kejariwal and others including Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor, BS Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, N D Pancholi, Vimalbhai, Preeti Sampat, Seela M Mahapatra, Jawahar lent their support to the ongoing struggle in Mumbai against evictions.

Aurangabad too Joins in

Aurangabad Social Forum, a coalition of different progressive organisations joined the struggled against evictions and demolitions in Mumbai today at 11 am and submitted a memorandum to the Divisional Commissioner. Similar to the eviction at Golibar region Mumbai, a large scale eviction of the poor inhabitants on the riverfront of Kham river has been started by the district administration and the Municipal Corporation at Aurangabad. This brutal eviction too was condemned by the gathering and they decided to continue their fight against the evictions.

Apart from Delhi and Aurangabad, demonstartions were also held in Thrissur and Calicut. Similar events are being planned in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and other places. Supporters have also started an online petition addressed to Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prime Minister and Smt. Sonia Gandhi, President INC. International support is also being mobilised and emails are being sent to the CM demanding for putting a moratorium to all demolitions until an independent enquiry is held in to the 3k clause related projects and SRA is completely reviewed.

Even as we write this, a citizens delegation is trying to meet the Chief Minister, Shri Prithvi Raj Chavan.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh
For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Simpreet Singh 9969363065

Facebook users can click on the link to see the Delhi action:

 
 
 

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People’s Movements issue ultimatum to Jharkhand Government;
Demonstration at Delhi’s Jharkhand Bhawan demands immediate halt to ongoing evictions

New Delhi, 19th May 2011 – Mass organisations, Trade Unions and different city based activist groups today demonstrated outside the Jharkhand Bhawan, demanding immediate stopping of the inhuman evictions that are going on in different parts of Jharkhand. The groups were led by National Alliance of People’ Movements (NAPM), National Hawkers’ Federations, SUCI-Delhi, AISA, AICCTU, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), INSAF, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Shahri Mahila Kamgar Union and Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union.

Key Concerns raised: The demolition and eviction of slum dwellers, low income group colonies, hawkers and other such working poor populations in Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Giridih, Jamshedpur and other small and large places (urban to semi urban and  rural) from the public lands where they have been residing since birth or for more than three decades has brought in extreme deprivation or even death. In one stroke, the Jharkhand Government, on the basis of High Court orders, has made thousands of families shelter-less and a large number of people have lost access to livelihood as well as the basic services and amenities in life including education, water, sanitation, health facilities and even their belongings. The destructive and fast paced demolition drive began since early April and has been brutal. The state government literally unleashed police as well as special/rapid action force for the same. Notorious as they are, these forces have made inhuman attacks on hapless and unarmed people, including the women, children, young and the aged. The evicted people’s plight today is pathetic: lying in the open, under hot sun, with no relief from the state government or the agencies that usually perform relief actions.

Evictions, without providing constitutional rights – Without doubt, these evictions, performed under the HC orders, are the worst man-made calamity that has struck Jharkhand in many years. Where they could have made available provisions of law to protect the lives and livelihoods of large masses of urban poor (including by providing rehabilitation or alternate livelihood – prior to starting of “anti-encroacher drive”), the HC and the Government machinery, both opted to shut their eyes to the realities of these working people, which make them ‘encroachers’ in public lands. The evictions have been a total violation of the constitutional right  to shelter which is also the part and parcel of the right  to life under Article 21 and also the  United Nation’s Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development Based Evictions and Displacement including  the principles enshrined UN economic social and cultural rights.

Public Land vis-à-vis Government claims – The reality of Jharkhand and many parts of India is that landless people live and work on public lands, not owned by them under private property laws. The conflict in most places is between communities residing in such lands and a faceless government that claims these lands to be ‘governmental property’. In states like Jharkhand, these have been largely tribal owned, community lands and traditional commons. It is ridiculous that the government is making a claim over it, considering that the state itself was formed only a decade back.

Injustice to Adivasis as well as non-tribal poor populations; games by land mafia and government – It must be mentioned here that in some lands, the land mafia led by religious groups and vested interest politicians have used poor workers from outside the region as buffers to capture adivasis lands and convert them as markets or other livelihood sources. Some adivasis groups have also been demanding that such lands be now returned to the original owners, the tribal communities who were evicted or displaced from their ancestral lands. We consider this to be the time to correct mistakes of the past and rectify injustice done to any community or group in the past. It is also time for the working people to stand together against both the repressive state and the urban land mafia. Today, Jharkhand’s adivasis and rural poor are fighting for their lands with the corporations and the police led state and the urban workers are trying to protect their land and livelihood by resisting the police and an irresponsible state. It is time for these forces to come together and forge alliances. It is also the time to remove vested interest groups, political crooks and religious leadership from converting these battles for their benefits.

Punish the guilty, save the victims – The deaths that occurred during firing in Ranchi, Dhanbad and firing that caused shock related death in Dhanbad are not yet enquired into. The people are not even being heard by the authorities nor are they provided even the basic relief amidst serious health and medical issues and threat of mass epidemics. Students in thousands have missed their examinations in March-April and the sick, aged are not being attended to.

Through a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister (through Resident Commissioner of Jharkhand Bhawan, Delhi), the activists demanded that:

1. Stop the ‘anti-encroachment’ drive immediately
2. Provide emergency and ‘war footing’ relief to all those impacted by the present set of evictions that have been happening
3. Provide rehabilitation (land, shelter with livelihood sources) to all those evicted from public and private lands in the state
4. Property rights to be given to all slum dwellers by legislation as prescribed by Rajiv Awas Yojana of Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
5. Enact a new law on Rehabilitation of slum dwellers as part of State Slum Act. Incorporate the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development based Evictions and Displacement in the State law.
6. Implement the National Policy for Street Vendors in the urban areas as directed by the Supreme Court in Gainda Ram & Ors. V. MCD and Ors. Ensure the legal space for hawkers in roads as per the policy. Compensation need to be given to all the hawkers whose goods were confiscated without taking into account the National Policy for Street Vendors.
7. Jharkhand Government immediately pass an ordinance to the above effect

For more information Contact : Rajendra Ravi : 9868200316, Shyamal : 9868573409, Kavita Krishnan : 9560756628

To see the photographs of the demolition in Jharkhand click : https://picasaweb.google.com/maju.varghese/DemolitionsInJharkhandApril2011#

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