New Delhi, November 6 (Press Release): A cacophony of voices, from corporate houses, leaders of political parties to Ministers in the NDA government are demanding and announcing amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013, even before it has been fully implemented. The Act was enacted after going through several rounds of consultations with all stake-holders and debated by two Parliamentary Standing Committees headed by senior BJP leaders, Shri Kalyan Singh (2007) and Smt Sumitra Mahajan (2009). It was done in the background of the violent clashes in Nandigram, Singur, Kalinganagar, Bhatta Parsaul and many other places across the country, lest it be forgotten.
If the win in Maharashtra and Haryana has further boosted the confidence of BJP that they are talking of bringing an Ordinance, then let there be no confusion, people’s movements are not going to sit silently and watch these changes take place. People of this country will teach the political class a lesson, as they have done in past. If Mr. Modi is too keen to fulfill the agenda of Ambani and Adani then what about the agenda of the people, who have voted them?
The proposed changes in the Act, to remove the consent clause and Social Impact Assessment for land acquisition, will take away two key provisions of the law. Without these, the law will be a replica of the colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894, now repealed. The law will become like the proposed Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act, 2014, now with a Select Committee of Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha, a draconian law, making any dissent a criminal offence. Mr. Jaitely, cited principle of ’eminent domain’ but as a lawyer he also must be aware of other provisions of the Indian Constitution which guarantees people right to object and dissent, or else the Supreme Court could have declared the 2013 Act ultra vires.
Farmers and project affected families by Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada valley or in Chhindwara have already declared themselves as the rightful owner of their land, acquired but not used or taken possession or having not accepted compensation, as per the clause 24 of the Act. Many other are following suit in different parts of the country.
Similarly, NDA government is proposing changes to NREGA into a policy, make changes to Forest Rights Act, 2006, amend National Food Security Act, and bring significant changes to labour laws, in a bid to boost their campaign ‘Make in India’. This is not acceptable to us and we will challenge it. These laws have been framed after years of struggle by people’s movements.
Agricultural crisis is writ large and in 100 days of NDA government 4600 farmers committed suicide and another 46,000 to 69,000 attempted. In the same time nearly 2 lakh ceased to be farmers, has Mr. Modi provided created those many jobs ? We know the answer! The India is not shining and there is no achchhe din for aam aadmi!
Over past few months NAPM, along with Pension Parishad, Right To Food Campaign (RTFC), and Rashtriya Mazdoor Rozgar Morcha (RMAM) have been discussing all these developments and decided to undertake a process of movement’s convergence. It is in this context that on December 2, we are organising a massive rally joined by people’s movements from across the country. We urge social movements, community groups, progressive political forces and others concerned about these changes to join the gathering in big numbers.
There may not be an opposition in the Lok Sabha but we are everywhere and in every nook and corner of this country and will not allow the government to make these changes.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelakandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi