Opposition will shut down Jharkhand if amendments to land bill are not scrapped

Opposition parties, social organisations and anti-displacement groups have termed the land amendment Act by the BJP government a ‘death warrant’ and united themselves in order to ‘uproot’ the BJP from the state in the 2019 general elections and assembly elections. If the amendments are not scrapped, a statewide shutdown will be enforced by the opposition on July 5.

Jharkhand CM
Ranchi: Jharkhand is on the verge of a civil disobedience movement as President Ramnath Kovind agrees to the amendment in a crucial land acquisition law. The opposition has united against the amendment and believes that it is being implemented by BJP to loot tribal land for crony capitalism.
“Jharkhand Mukti Morcha General Secretary and Spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya also alleged that the change in the land bill was being done by the ruling BJP alliance only to promote loot of tribal land in Jharkhand. “Now, this is a battle of do or die for us as permission for looting the tribal land could not be given to anybody,” said Bhattacharya. ‘Dharna’ is being staged at all district headquarters in order to mobilize people in our favour to make Jharkhand bandh on July 5 a success, he added,” reported the New Indian Express.
The federal law — Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 — put in place stricter conditions for land acquisition.
“Opposition parties, social organisations and anti-displacement groups have termed the land amendment Act by the BJP government a ‘death warrant’ and united themselves in order to ‘uproot’ the BJP from the state in the 2019 general elections and assembly elections,” reported The Wire.
“At a meeting convened by Hemant Soren, leader of the opposition and executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on June 18, the Congress, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), Left parties and several social organisations decided to form a joint coordination committee to ‘expose the BJP’s hidden agenda’ on the Land Act amendment. The united opposition has announced numerous programmes to oppose the amendment of the Act. They have also composed slogans like ‘jamin bachao,’ ‘jiwan bachao, Jharkhand bachao’ (save land, save life, save Jharkhand) and ‘Jal, jungle, jameen ki loot, nahi kisiko chhoot (No freedom to loot land, forest and water) – which will perhaps become catchphrases for contesting the 2019 elections against the BJP,” the report added.
The report said that Jharkhand is a mineral-rich state, with 40% of India’s mineral deposits. “Many mining and industrial houses have their stakes here. Though the amendment says that lands under this Act would be acquired for public purposes like ‘school, college, university, hospital, panchayat bhawan, rail, road, waterways, irrigation, pipeline, transmission and other government buildings’, leaders don’t quite believe that the lands will not be acquired for industry and other public purposes,” it said.
The new bill also does away with the need of consent of 70 per cent of landowners for such projects. Only in scheduled areas would consent of gram sabhas be compulsory.
Catholic groups have joined the opposition parties and indigenous people in Jharkhand in the fight against the amendment. They held a protest on Thursday to show their solidarity with the landowners.
“The approach of the current government is more pro-rich rather than strengthening the poor,” said Auxiliary Bishop Telespore Bilung of Ranchi, who like other Christian leaders, believes the move dilutes a stricter federal law,” an independent Catholic news source stated. “Catholic Church will stand with the indigenous people, “Because they are poor and uneducated, said Bishop Bilung.
“The amendment allows the state government to alter a five-year-old federal law that aims to protect the rights of farmers and indigenous people when acquiring their land for state development purposes. The conditions include the need of an assessment on the social impact of a project for which land is taken, and permission required from the gram sabha or village council for the acquisition of agricultural or tribal land,” according to social activist Father Xavier Soreng, SJ. “Both conditions, especially the village council’s permission, makes it hard for the government to acquire farmland as villagers mostly oppose such moves,” the Jesuit said.
If the government fails to scrap the move, the opposition plans to hold a state-wide shutdown on July 5.
Sabrang India has consistently reported on how land acts are being subverted in Jharkhand and tribals are losing their land because of various murderous tactics employed by the local government bodies, state bodies and the ruling government at the centre.
“The Jharkhand government is all set to completely sideline and subvert the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) or PESA Act of 1996 that empowers the elected Gram Sabhas and gives them clearly defined powers. Instead, the Jharkhand government plans to give greater power to ad hoc Gram Vikas Samitis which do not have any transparency or accountability. Through a mere oral announcement by the chief minister of Jharkhand, an ‘Adivasi aur Gram Vikas Samiti (GVS)’ is to be set up in all the 32,000 villages of Jharkhand in view of bringing about ‘development’ in each village. In view of the land grab record of this government, it is anybody’s guess what this ‘model of development’ is likely to be!” an article by Stan Swamy for Sabrang India said.



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