The arrests of hundreds of Adivasis, rights and environmental activists, criminalisation of the land rights and Pathalgarhi movements point to the desperation of the capital to illegally facilitate plunder and loot of people and natural resources.
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New Delhi: National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) organised a conference on Monday at Gandhi Peace Foundation to uncover and challenge the regressive and anti-people amendments being made to land, forest, environment and other laws infringing on people’s sovereignty and rights.
“Since the passage of the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (also known as land law 2013), several attempts have been made to amend, dilute or negate the provisions which work in the favour of project affected people, protect the rights of the farmers and workers. One of the first things which NDA government did after coming to power was to bring out an Ordinance to amend the 2013 land law, which didn’t become a law primarily because of intense opposition by the people’s movements, farmers and workers organisations, and the political parties. However, the defeat at the central level has led to a shift in their strategy. The BJP ruled states got on to amending the central law and thereby incorporating all the changes which Ordinance was proposing to make. On that basis, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and some other states have made those changes. In addition, the State rules have also tried to undermine some of the positive provisions of consent, options assessment, social impact assessment, compensation and R&R provisions, return of land to original owners, protecting land rights and so on,” the invite by the groups said.
The demand for land and land acquisition has become essential to many of the grand infrastructure projects like Industrial Corridors, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, Smart cities, Bullet trains etc, planned by many of the state governments. This has meant changes in the land laws, environmental laws, mining laws, forest right act, labour laws and so on. All this has also close links to the reforms being carried out in order to improve the ease of doing business rankings and the expected foreign investments from international financial institutions and other sources. These retrograde and anti-people reforms are facilitating assault and harassment on farmers, workers, activists, journalists and overall on the nation’s sovereignty itself. The lack of political will and the insecurity of the State is more than evident in the non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006, through bureaucratic delays and denial of claims on frivolous grounds in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and the hill states of Himachal and Uttarakhand.
“The recent increase in violence and police firing leading to the death of more than 12 people in Tuticorin, six people in Mandsaur, six people in Hazaribagh few years ago, arrests of hundreds of Adivasis, rights and environmental activists, criminalisation of the land rights and Pathalgarhi movements, they all point to the desperation of the capital to illegally facilitate plunder and loot of people and natural resources,” the invite stated.
The day-long meeting has been organised to understand these changes and then strategise to challenge this.