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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest > Delhi Protest of 24 Feb 2015 Against Dilution of Land Acquisition Law - (...)

Delhi Protest of 24 Feb 2015 Against Dilution of Land Acquisition Law - photos and statement(s)

24 February 2015

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two photos by Mukul Dube:

see more at: http://tinyurl.com/qaodlox

See photo below by Joe Athialy

see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeathialy/sets/72157651000927802/

see also : https://www.flickr.com/photos/122398182@N04/sets/72157648688355213/

o o o

[24 February 2015]

Anger pours out on the streets of the capital against unconstitutional, anti-farmer Land Ordinance

Over 350 organizations, twenty thousand farmers-workers from across country threaten intensified stir

Delegation met President today at 6 pm:

No compromise on core demands to repeal Black Ordinance

Delhi: Fury and frustration rocked the capital today, as nearly twenty thousand farmers, adivasis, workers, fisher people and others dependent on land for their livelihood converged from the length and breadth of the country and warned the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government that they shall intensify their stir, if the unconstitutional Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 Act is not dropped in toto. From amidst songs and slogans, flags and banners, representing the diversity of the social movements from across the country, the voice that emerged was clear and united – Drop the Ordinance: Stop Land Acquisition, Ensure Land Rights.

More than 350 organizations and networks of farmers, workers, tribals from all the states of the Country including National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), All Indian Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajoy Bhavan), Ekta Parishad, Kisan Sagharsh Samiti, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Yuva Kranti, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Sanyukt Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, INSAF, Delhi Solidarity Group, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Agragami Kisan Sabha, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, National Fish workers Forum, Punjab Kisan Union participated in the protest action today.

The farmers questioned the Prime Minister as to what kind of “Ache din” does he envisages for the millions of small agriculturalists of the country if lakhs of farmers are displaced by mega projects, thousands of hectares of land is handed over to private companies and corporates and the food-security is threatened by acquisition of multi-cropped farmland. Despite a roaring protest at the Parliament Street by thousands of farmers, the Govt. has introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to legislate this Ordinance. This, the farmers said is condemnable and undemocratic.

Anna Hazare, who sat all day along with the activists of the different movements said that farmers and workers will have to prepare for a long term struggle and be prepared to even go to jail. He called for a nation-wide movement against the corporate loot of the land, which feeds the whole country. Government must withdraw the ordinance is what we all demand and they must do it.

Addressing the massive gathering, Medha Patkar challenged the ‘electoral promises’ of the ruling party, which was part of the parliamentary process leading to enactment of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013. Now in ‘power’ it is seeking to sniff away the soul of the Act, by removing the key provisions of “consent” & “social impact assessment” and manipulating the definitions of “private entities” and “public purpose”, purely to promote business interests. Stating that the interests of farmers is supreme in a agricultural economy like India, Anna Hazare gave a clarion call to the farmers that this is nothing less than a Do-or-die’ battle, it is the second war of independence, a war for freedom from repressive government, oppressive laws and corporate control over natural resources.

Hannan Mollah, spoke about the need for united movement and said that the BJP-led NDA Government had brought the draconian Ordinance to suit the interests of the Corporates and Land Mafia. He said the BJP Government’s move will be defeated and struggles will be launched at all sites of unjust land acquisition.

Atul Anjaan, said this Protest Rally is just the beginning and there will be need to launch a prolonged struggle. He said the BJP Government which is a Government of the Corporates, land mafia and builders’ lobby has dared to bring an Ordinance worse than the British Colonial Act of 1894. He said it was a political battle and also emphasized the need to speak to all Political Parties to defeat the Government move in Parliament too.

Representatives of numerous farmers organizations, tribal rights groups, workers movements vented their rage at the Modi Govt’s anti-people agenda and open invitation to profit-makers and looters to plunder the country’s resources- land, coats, rivers, fish, minerals etc. Thousands of farmers also shouted out slogans that they do not need “crumbs of compensation”. The Ordinance nullifies the most significant provisions of the 2013 Act and takes it back to the pre-1994 days. The same is unacceptable, they said. NDA government has only been launching schemes for the corporates and private businesses but nothing of significance for farm sector and farmers, it was felt.

Speakers also said that similar to the British, the present Government is trying to “divide” the farmers and rulers in the interests of the Adanis and Ambanis, who have fuelled the election campaign of the BJP. However, we shall stay united in our demand for a complete revocation of the Ordinance, they said. If Ambani, Adani are your side, Birsa, Munda are on our said, roared an adivasi woman leader. All the protestors expressed a common resolve that “We will not let Modi-Govt. snatch our rights and take India back to pre-independence days”.

Various speakers condemned the unparliamentarily ‘Ordinance Raj’ in every sector, be it land, coal, mining, insurance, motor vehicles and derided the Governance through Ordinance mechanism, by-passing both the Parliament and the People. Leaders and representatives of various political parties and their affiliated organizations also expressed their solidarity with the demands of the farmers and demanded that the Ordinance be revoked. Retd. Jst. Rajinder Sacher, Adv. Sanjay Parikh and many other academicians, advocates, activists visited the dharna site and expressed solidarity.

Protest actions to continue through the Budget Session:

Various Farmers Organizations including Akhil Bhartiya Kisansabha, Agragami Kisan Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union etc. and People’s Movements have resolved that the struggle against the Ordinance shall continue, rather intensify in the days to come in every state and every district. While hundreds of Gram Sabhas across the country have already passed resolutions, thousands more shall do so shortly. “We will not allow NDA Govt. to legislate this Black Ordinance by brute force, “they resolved.

Delegation Meets President:

The farmers leaders also said that while President’s statement in his budget speech that his “government attaches paramount importance to safeguard the interest and well-being of farmers and families affected by land acquisition”, is welcome, his ‘approval’ of the Ordinance, which is fundamentally anti-farmer is unacceptable. In the same speech, he has liberally endorsed the “Make in India”, “Single-Window Clearance” and “Ease of Business” and “Smart City Programme” as hallmarks of ‘his Government’. All these approaches will sound the death-knell of the farming and working classes of this country and destroy our natural resources, to the detriment of generations. A delegation including Hannan Mollah, Atul Kumar Anjaan, Medha Patkar, Sunilam, Roma Malik, Rakesh Rafik, Vijoo Krishnan and Harpal Singh met the President today evening and exhorted him to resolve the ongoing impasse in the interests of the toiling peasants of the country and use his “highest constitutional office” to ensure that the Ordinance is not legislated. The President expressed sympathies for the Farmers in distress and said he would send the Memorandum to the Government (Copy of the Memorandum is attached).

The protest also witnessed the participation of a large number of young people and women, small farmers and tribals signaling that this movement shall be led by these people in the coming days Simultaneous protests and demonstrations, burning of the Ordinance etc. were organised across the country in Patna, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Bhubaneshwar and many other places.

For details contact : 9958797409, 9810423296, 9818905316, 9911955109 | email : napmindia at gmail.com

Photos from Dharna https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeathialy/sets/72157651000927802/ Credit Joe Athialy

[The above statement release on the occasion was recieved via
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 24374535 Mobile : 09818905316]

Statement issued by the New Trade Union Initiative (India)

New Trade Union Initiative
B-137, First Floor, Dayanand Colony | Lajpat Nagar - IV | New Delhi - 110024

Repeal the Land Ordinance

Stop the Amendment to the LARR
Defend the Right to Livelihood and Right to Dissent

24 February 2015, New Delhi: The Ordinance issued by the Union Government altering the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR) and the efforts to introduce the amendments in the budget session of parliament are an unambiguous attack on the right to livelihood, to food security and to dissent of working people. It amounts to an attack not just on those directly dependent on a particular stretch of land but is an attack on all working people. The LARR 2013 created a mechanism for land acquisition while it also recognised that landowners and those who derive their livelihood from land must enjoy the right to mediate their rights and seek justice including adequate compensation, relief and rehabilitation. The 2013 law recognised that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 that gave government complete power to acquire land, and therefore all natural resources, for ‘public purpose’ under the ‘eminent domain’ without the consent of the people dependent on it didn’t take into account the nature of land-relations in democratic society. The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and the consent clause of the LARR provided a framework for collective bargaining with all peoples dependent on the land to be acquired – landless agricultural workers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, fish workers, artisans etc – and not just the owners of the land.

The LARR 2013 made Social Impact Assessment (SIA) mandatory prior to land acquisition in order to arrive at a more complete inventory of those affected, placed restrictions on acquisition of fertile, irrigated and multi-cropped land and provided a justiciable dispute settlement authority along with an immediate machinery to deal with malfeasance. The ordinance and the proposed amendments seek to do away with mandatory SIA for amongst others infrastructure projects, industrial corridors and industrial clusters, and projects under public private partnership all of which are already only defined opaquely under the LARR. The SIA is the primary mechanism for identifying those affected by land acquisitions who are not land owners. In the absence of the SIA the non-land title holders will have limited if any ground to stand on for determining their rights before the dispute settlement authority. Doing away with the SIA will make the identification of affected peoples impossible hence even the relief and rehabilitation envisaged for them under the LARR will be done away with it. The power to prosecute in the event of malfeasance would now be based on prior-permission from government which reduces people’s autonomy, undermines the deterrent against widespread malfeasance and continues to place excessive discretionary powers in the hands of the executive. Furthermore the ordinance and the proposed amendment widen the definition of ‘private entity’.

What the 2014 ordinance and the proposed amendment do in effect is to allow the private sector free and undeterred acquisition of land entirely of their choosing leaving no room for objections and justiciability so long as monetary compensation is paid. Beyond those directly dependent for their livelihood on land, the freeing up of double, multi-cropped and irrigated land places a burden on food security. We are already in a situation where there has been a decline in net cultivable land over the past two decades.

Alongside the Ordinance and the proposed amendments to the LARR, government has also begun to put in place changes on six key environment protection laws as recommended by the quick fix ‘High Level Committee’ (also known as the TSR Subramanian committee). There are also proposals to do away with the approval of the Gram Sabha as required at present under the provisions of the hard won Forest Rights Act. In fact these steps will amount to an attack on the Fifth Schedule of the constitution that provides special protection to tribal peoples.

All of this the government is going under the banner of ‘ease of business’ which it claims will contribute to higher investment and therefore more jobs. This has been the slogan under neo-liberalism not just in India but, across the world. The past two-and-a-half decades under neo-liberalism have brought to the fore the inescapable logic of capital – that capital invests if and where it sees a market and if and where it receives an adequate subsidy to speed up it returns and raise the level of its profits. The present ordinance and the amendments to the LARR are merely the avenue through which this capital subsidy will be provided for access to land and natural resources. The attack on land rights is one of the two key measures of the BJP government to protect, institutionalise and legislate capital subsidy.

The other attack is already underway. Attacking workers’ right to freedom of association, undermining collective bargaining and thereby lowering wages is all in the name of ‘ease of business’ which marks the other key measure of the BJP government’s capital subsidy.

The BJP government has signalled one thing loudly and clearly. It shall not tolerate dissent. It shall not tolerate trade unions or landless workers organisations or peasant organisations who seek the democratic space to articulate, press and militate their case. And to this end it will undermine and remove every mechanism that exists in law for democratic collective bargaining be it a tripartite mechanism under the Industrial Disputes Act, a Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act or the dispute resolution authority under the LARR.

Let there be no doubt that the BJP government is for the few who will profit at the cost of the many. To serve its few it will not stop even if it means undermining the constitution and the basic fabric of this democracy.
The New Trade Union Initiative stands in solidarity with its affiliate the All India Union of Forest Working People and the other progressive organisations of peasants and agricultural workers amongst many others who mach to Parliament on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 in defending the right to livelihood and the right to dissent, demanding:

Repeal of Ordinance No 9 of 2014

Stop the Proposed Amendments to the LARR

Robust Implementation of the LARR including the Setting up of Tribunals to adjudicate Land Acquisition