Monday, 2 March 2015

Foot March from Vardha to Delhi against the anti-farmer Land Acquisition Ordinance

The Central Government had tabled the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (also known as Land Acquisition Act of 2013) to bring in transparency in land acquisition procedure and to ensure that adequate compensation is paid for acquired lands. The Congress led UPA government was in power in the center and the Bharatiya Janata Party was in the opposition when both ruling and the opposition parties passed the bill unanimously in 2013. Then the BJP did not oppose the bill. The provisions that were in bill when it was passed and the changes that Narendra Modi’s new government made in it by issuing an ordinance will become clear from the following chart:
Sr. No
The Act of 2013
New Ordinance
The Government cannot acquire land for industrial purpose if a minimum 80 % of the farmers do not give consent to it. Democracy means the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therefore, provision in the bill to ensure participation of 80% people was important.
The ordinance does not make it mandatory for the government to acquire consent of 80 % people. It can acquire lands of farmers as it wishes and allot them to industrialists. This shows how attempts have begun to kill the democracy and bring in dictatorship worse than that of the British. Not taking consent of the farmers who own the land is anti-democratic.
Lands where farmers cultivate 2-3 crops a year (irrigated lands), increase national produce, will not be acquired for industrial purpose.
This provision has been deleted and the ordinance makes provision to acquire even irrigated lands for industrial purpose. This is unjust to the farmers. In an agrarian country like India, giving irrigated land to industry is grave injustice to farmers.
If the industries fail to use the acquired lands within five years, the land would be returned to the farmers.
As per provisions of the ordinance, acquired land will not be returned to farmers. The land will remain in possession of the industrialists or government till the industrial project is completed. There is no condition of completing project in five years.
If the government acquires land of farmers by force and if the farmer wishes to approach the court against the injustice, the bill allowed him to move the court.
If the government acquires land of farmers for industrial purpose by force and if the farmers wish to move the court, they will have to seek approval of the government. Shutting the doors of the courts for people wanting justice is dictatorship worse than that of the British. What is the difference between the dictatorship of the British and the government?
There was provision of holding ‘Jan Sunwai’ (Public Hearings) while acquiring lands of farmers to gauge social reaction.
The provision of holding ‘Jan Sunwai’ (Public Hearings) in accordance with democratic process while acquiring lands of farmers was deleted.  The government says Jan Sunwai is not required. This is anti-democratic.
There was no provision to acquire land for building private schools or for educational institutes or to develop housing projects for homeless.
Plans are afoot to take away lands of farmers in the name of schools, educational institutes, housing for homeless and give them to private parties. This clearly shows that this is aimed at grabbing lands of farmers using the law and provide them to supporters and industrialists in good books of the government. Possibility of injustice against farmers from land mafia increasing due to this cannot be ruled out. This is already happening in several cities of India including Mumbai and Pune.

Narendra Modiji kept on giving assurances from time to time till he came to power. There can be no democracy without people’s participation. However, under the Land Acquisition Bill, the government is going to take away farmers’ lands in absence of the participation or consent of the people. The anti-farmer ordinance is grave injustice against farmers. Narendra Modiji does not walk his talk.
Farmers Organizations and farmers from various states all over the state staged massive agitations against this injustice at Jantar Mantar and Parliament Street (Sansad Bhavan Marg) in Delhi on February 23, February 24 and February 25, 2015. Because of that, Narendra Modi’s government promised to the people that if the ordinance is anti-farmers, it will be amended. Now the Modi Government has prepared a new bill to replace the Ordinance.  However, there is no difference in the Ordinance and the new proposed bill.
The farmers are forced to commit suicide because although 68 years have passed since the country attained the independence, the agricultural produce is not being provided rates based on the expenditure made. If the proposed bill is converted into the law, the possibility of farmers suicide increasing cannot be ruled out. Besides, it may intensify the conflict between the government and the farmers. Therefore, the government must adopt cordial approach and take decisions needed to ensure that the bill is not unjust to the farmers.
Narendra Modiji has reiterated on several occasions that there would be no true democracy without participation of the people. Therefore passing a law giving more powers to the Gram Sabhas is required. However, Modi government is not willing to think on these lines. The village owns the water, forest, land and other natural resources in it. Democracy will prevail in true sense only if a law is made to ensure that the Central or State Government will not be able to acquire any resource from the village without obtaining the consent of the Gram Sabha.
Though 68 years have passed after India attainted freedom, no land survey has been made in the country. Acquiring lands without any opposition would become easier if such a survey is made, lands are classified in class I, II, III, IV, V and VI and law is passed to ensure that only Class IV/V/VI lands can be acquired and Class I/II/III lands cannot be acquired for industrial purpose. However, the industrialists and the government are eyeing lands in vicinities of cities.
In an agrarian country like India, the government must consider the interest of farmers. Why does it not allot the land it provides to industrialists among farmers on lease? Similarly, there must be participation of farmers in industries to be set up on acquired lands so that the financial condition of farmers would improve and they would not be driven to suicides. Besides, such measures would help achieve the principles of social and economic equality in the constitution. Today the poor are becoming poorer and rich are becoming richer.
Some of the farmers’ organizations have met and discussed measures to be taken to spread public awareness against the new bill, which is unjust to farmers, and to protest against it. The decision of taking out a foot march from Sevagram (Gandhi Ashram) at Vardha to Delhi. The foot march will go on for a period of two and a half months to three months. When it reaches Delhi spreading public awareness on its route, a Jail Bharo (Court Arrest) agitation will be held at Ram Leela Ground in Delhi. Schedule of the foot march and date of Jail Bharo (Court Arrest) agitation will be finalised at a meeting to be held at Sevagram on March 9, 2015.
A general appeal is being made to people to organise Jail Bharo (Court Arrest) agitations at every village, Taluka, District and state to coincide with the Jail Bharo (Court Arrest) agitation at Delhi. These agitations must be totally non-violent and peaceful.
Farmers, farmer’s organizations and people must view this agitation as the second freedom struggle and participate in it in large numbers. Volunteers from farmer’s organizations, NGOs and youth clubs would be needed to ensure discipline during the foot march and look after arrangements for lunch and night camping of the protestors participating in the foot march. Besides, volunteers would be required to coordinate with the organizations all over the country by phone, email and correspondence while the foot march is on. Volunteers having knowledge of Information Technology will be required to assist during the entire three months period while the foot march goes on. Trucks will be needed to transport beddings and other belongings of the protestors participating in the foot march. All those who can prove of any help are requested to cooperate and help.
Thanking You.


K. B. alias Anna Hazare

Those interested in volunteering help should contact on the following address:
Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jana Andolan Nyas

A/P Ralegan Siddhi, Tahsil- Parner,

District- Ahmednagar. Maharashtra
PIN – 414302, Telephone – 02488-240401

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