ML Update 32 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 32, 02 – 08 AUGUST 2011

Scrap LARR Bill 2011 –

Protect Agricultural Land By All Means

Jairam Ramesh, the UPA government’s Minister of Rural Development, has come up with a draft Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill that will replace the notorious Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The draft bill clearly seeks to legalise and intensify the ongoing corporate land-grab campaign in the country even as it talks about addressing “the concerns of farmers and those whose livelihoods are dependent on the land being acquired”.

Before being brought to the rural development ministry, Jairam Ramesh was in charge of the forest ministry where his greatest role was to give a green signal to the POSCO project in Odisha which seeks to acquire 4,000 acres of land in flagrant violation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. And now as the Minister of Rural Development he has declared a veritable war on agricultural land and rural livelihood in the name of urbanization, industrialization and infrastructure development.

The new bill gives complete freedom to all kinds of private companies to purchase land without even bothering about seeking any consent of concerned land-owners. The provision of seeking and obtaining the consent of “at least 80 per cent of the affected families” applies only when land is acquired by the government either for “immediate and declared use by private companies” or “with the ultimate intent of transferring it for the use of private companies”. And the government too is free from the consent clause when it acquires land for its own use whether for erecting dams, setting up nuclear plants, building military bases or constructing any project whatsoever.

The bill talks of carrying out social impact assessments (where acquired land exceeds 100 acres) and keeping irrigated, multi-crop land outside the purview of land acquisition, but only when land is acquired by the government. Who will determine whether some land is multi-crop or not? We have seen in the case of Singur how multi-cropped land was declared as mono-crop by the government. The bill promises compliance with existing land-related laws like PESA Act, 1996 or Forest Rights Act, 2006, or the land transfer acts in Schedule V (tribal-majority) areas. But the record of implementation of these two acts is marked by extensive violation as can be seen on the ground in states like Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat or Maharashtra. In Odisha, the central and state governments are bent upon evicting as many as twelve villages to hand over 4,000 acres of land to the South Korean steel giant POSCO even as villagers are insisting on their land rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

As for the Rehabilitation and Resettlement provisions of the bill, the corporate buyers will have to abide by them only when the size of the land acquired equals or exceeds 100 acres. The R&R provisions are also a big sham. It is common knowledge that sale deeds always hugely understate the market value of land and the new bill promises compensation to land-losers as multiples of average sale deed rate in the area. Apart from one-time compensation, the bill does promise annuity payment for twenty years, but an annuity of Rs. 2000 per month per affected family can hardly provide any meaningful assured income to a family that loses its all. There is talk of providing ‘mandatory employment’ for one person in every affected family, but if employment cannot be provided, a compensation of only Rs 200,000 will do! In other words, the UPA government’s ‘generous’ rehabilitation and resettlement package assesses agricultural income at Rs 2,000 per month and the value of employment at Rs. 200,000!

Global capitalism today is passing through bouts of severe recession. Many manufacturing sectors the world over are in deep crisis. Real estate and construction, mining and commercial agriculture (dedicated more to bio-fuel and horticulture than food production) remain the few most lucrative sectors in these recessionary times. No wonder then that capital is going all out to grab more and more land – the gateway to assured windfall gains in times of acute uncertainty and prolonged recession. This is the twenty-first century version of the predatory colonial occupation and brutal primitive accumulation of early capitalism.

In the name of repealing the land acquisition act of the colonial era, the Indian state has now taken upon itself the task of spearheading and serving global capitalism’s war on Indian land and Indian agriculture. The proposed LARR Bill 2011 is nothing but a manifesto of this war couched in deceptive phrases like ‘informed consent’, ‘rehabilitation and resettlement’, and ‘partnership in development’. Even where the state will not be directly involved in acquisition, the peasantry and landless labourers will be left at the mercy of unmitigated corporate coercion, unleashed by a whole network of intermediaries and facilitated by a pro-corporate state and its administration.

Food security was a key promise of the Congress and the UPA in the last Lok Sabha elections. Today the notion of food security has been reduced to monthly supply of 35 kg foodgrains to families earning less than Rs. 15 per day in rural areas and less than Rs. 20 in urban areas. This is a complete mockery of any meaningful notion of food security for a country like India. If food security has to guarantee the nutritional requirements of 1.2 billion Indians, India needs to produce much more food, and this in turn needs more land for agriculture. There can be no public purpose which is bigger than this. Defending agricultural land from the clutches of capital and its state is therefore the greatest task today of every patriotic and democratic Indian. Not acquisition, but protection of agricultural and forest land by all means is the cry of democracy.

28 July: Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s 39th Martyrdom Anniversary

Odisha: On 39th smriti-diwas of CPI(ML)’s founder general secretary Comrade Charu Mazumdar, memorial meetings were held at various places across the Country. In Bhubaneswar, members of Bhubaneswar Basti Mahasangha, Rajdhani-Riksha Kooli Sangha and Party members assembled at Nagbhusan Bhavan to commemorate the anniversary. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Khitish Biswal (Odisha’s Party State Secretary), Radhakant Sethi, Mahendra Parida, Yusdhistir Mohapatra and Srinibas Nayak. The speakers called for strengthening the Party in Bhubaneswar and Orissa to realise the dream of Comrade Charu Mazumdar – the dream of a classless and truly humane society.

In Koraput around 500 members of the Party held a big rally raising slogans to fulfil the drams of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. On the same day, i.e. 28 July, Comrade Zaga, Hika who was arrested and incarcerated for two years after being labeled a Maoist during the land struggle of Narayan Patna, came out of the jail. The rally was also to celebrate his coming out of the jail.

Memorial programmes were also held at Gajapati, Puri and Kendrapara.

Puducherry: On this occasion a protest demonstration was held in front of the Head Post Office, Puducherry. The protest highlighted all round corruption, state repression and threats to our democracy. The protest also demanded scrapping of draconian laws like sedition, AFSPA, UAPA and MCDCA.

The demonstrations also demanded from the Govt. of Tamilnadu to withdraw false cases against comrades Motilal, National Councillor (AICCTU) and Puducherry State Committee member, M Venkatesan, CPI(ML)’s Villupuram District Secretary, S. Datchanamurthy, District Secretary (AIALA) Villupuram, A M Ismail, Vanur Taluk Secretary, CPI(ML).

The protest demonstration was led by P Sankaran, CPI(ML)’s Puducherry State Committee member, Balasundaram, CCM, Balasubramanian, State Secretary- CPI(ML), K Lenin, Central Committee member, RSP, S Saminathan, Puducherry Student Federation, Arumai Dasan, Naam Tamizhar Katchi, M A Kuppusamy, Tamizhar DKR Muruganandham, HRCPS, Shenbagavalli, AIPWA, Villupuram District Secretary, N M Tamilmani, Social activist and Advocate Jegan. The leaders also addressed the demonstration.

Bihar: GB Meetings of Party members on Ward Area basis was held on 28 July at different places in the State. Senior Party leaders attended and addressed the meetings at different places.

Comrade Tripati Gamango Released

Comrade Tripati Gamango, CPI(ML)’s Odisha State Committee Member, was arrested on 12th July by Odisha police who intentionally labeled him maoist and harassed him for 15 days in jail. Comrade Tripati Gamango is a popular leader of tribals and rural people. Protests were held in Bhubaneswar (State-level) and other districts demanding his unconditional release and action against the police officer(s) involved in this mala-fide intent leading to his 15 days incarceration in jail.

He was released on 27th July after a series of protests across Odisha.

AISA Demo at HPHalli Against Donations

AISA organized a rally and demonstration in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office at Harapanahalli in Davanagere district on 25 July 2011 demanding return of donations illegally collected from students during admissions. More than 250 students marched on the streets of HPHalli, led by the state convenor Prasad and district convenor Prakash, displayed remarkable sense of unity and fighting spirit. It is more appropriate here to note that donations collected by some college administrations from hundreds of students were actually returned to them after the most vigorous and consistent struggle by AISA in the beginning of academic year.

Com. Ramappa, State Secretary of CPI(ML) called upon students to fight against corruption in high places and asked them to join the 100-hour barricade in front of Parliament being organized by AISA. Many students also volunteered, on the spot, to join the barricade on 9th August at Delhi to fight corruption.

AIALA Demo on ‘Bagairhukum’ Land Issue

Davanagere unit of AIALA organized a two day long demonstration in front of the District Commissioner’s office at Davanagere on 28 July 2011 and also on the subsequent day demanding regularization of lands that are being cultivated by peasants for decades, yet not regularized or issued pattas and land records. The demo on the first day was attended by more than100 farmers and on second day farmers went to meet the DC but in vain. They resolved to resume the demonstration soon until the DC come and meet them at the demo spot and promise to resolve the issue.

Workers’ Unity Defeats Management and BJP-JVM

On 20 July workers under the banner of Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union affiliated to AICCTU began a strike at Koderma Power Project on the demand of implementation of central minimum wages for the workers constructing the power plant. All of the 4000 workers went on strike at this under-construction power plant at Banjhedih in Koderma district. The management tried its best to break the strike by roping in the local BJP MLA Amit Yadav and JVM leaders. But they could not demoralize the workers. Finally on 27 July the management agreed to pay the workers as per central minimum wages.

To defeat this movement the BJP even tried to create a rift among the workers by fanning the issue of ‘local’ and ‘outsider’. They even went to the extent of creating terror among Bihari workers forcing them to run away. Most of the workers here are from Bihar. But JVM-BJP had to taste defeat in the face of workers unity. This is not the first time when a workers’ union affiliated to CPI(ML)’s trade union has been victorious at this plant but for the first time the management has been compelled to pay the workers as per central minimum wages. This incident has created confidence among displaced people who see our party as fighting for their rights. The JVM-BJP is not giving up its dirty tricks and false rumour mongering to create divisions among workers.

People’s Convention against Corruption, Loot and State Repression Held Across States

A series of public conventions against corruption, loot and state repression were held across states at Bokaro, Lucknow, Delhi and Begusarai. The conventions at Begusarai, Lucknow and Bokaro were addressed by Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. While the Delhi convention organized by Student –Youth Against Corruption and AISA was addressed by several noted personalities of Delhi, CPI(ML) CC member Comrade Swapan Mukherjee and AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai.

Bokaro: Convention was held on 31 July and was also addressed by Vinod Singh (Party’s MLA from Bagodhar) and state secretary Janardhan Prasad. The community hall located at sector 12 was packed beyond its capacity demonstrating people’s readiness and unity to take up fight against corruption and land plunder. After a long time local villagers have shown such enthusiasm and mass participation. Corporate houses have not shown even a scant regard for abiding the law and continue to plunder rural land. Whether it is the Mittals or PSUs like ONGC and SAIL, all are equally defrauding the displaced people. Tens of thousands of acres of land is being acquired at throwaway prices by deceit and con and no authority is willing to lend their ears to the peasants. At this moment when CPI(ML) is spearheading the fight against land loot has earned the trust of the rural communities to intensify their movement. Large number of people including women and tribal participated in the convention (about 700).

Begusarai:The convention was organized on 25 July at Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh Bhavan on the topic Anti-Corruption Movement and the role of the Left. Apart from party general secretary, the convention was also addressed by Central Committee member Dhirendra Jha and Prof. Rishikesh Jha of Sanskrit Dept. of Mithila University. Com Dipankar said that mere mention of things like corruption has always has been there, or capitalism in itself is a corrupt system means ignoring the specifics of today’s corruption. In the current phase the nexus of government and ministers with corporate, global and foreign capital and bureaucracy has become stronger than before. Today the economy of public-private partnership is being laid out and government wealth is being looted. Due to this loot of government fund a Chief Minister like Madhu Koda has become the owner of wealth amounting to 4000 crores!

Delhi: The Student-Youth Against Corruption and All India Students’ Association (AISA) on 28 July, 2011 organized a Convention titled ‘Corruption, Corporate loot and Challenges before Democracy’ at Seminar room, Hindu college. The speakers included Vandana Shiva, noted environmentalist, Prashant Bhushan, noted Supreme Court advocate, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, senior journalist, Prof. Pulin Naik, Delhi School of Economics (DSE) DU, Swapan Mukherjee, CPI (ML) Central Committee member, Dr. Maninder Thakur, JNU, Shamsul Islam, Principal Satyawati College DU, P.K Vijayan, Hindu College, DU and Ravi Rai, AISA General Secretary.

The participants at the Convention stressed that in addition to anti-corruption legislation, there is an urgent need to hit at the roots of corruption – which lie in the pro-corporate policies of the governments. The Convention held that the resignation of the Karnataka CM after being named in the Lokayukta’s report on illegal mining was a victory for the anti-corruption movement. It held that the Prime Minister and Home Minister, who have been named by the main accused in the 2G scam, must also resign.

Participants in the Convention rejected the draft of the Lokpal Bill that has just been approved by Cabinet, saying that in fact this Lokpal Bill makes the Lokpal a tame pet of the Government; it keeps the state-level corruption as well as the PM and judiciary out of the Lokpal’s purview; it threatens complainants with jail for ‘false complaints’ and refuses to protect whistleblowers; corruption in PDS, panchayats, MNREGA etc has been kept out of the Lokpal’s purview. Such a toothless Bill has been drafted by Ministers – Chidambaram, Sibal, Pranab Mukherjee – who are themselves tainted and accused of corruption.

P K Vijayan spoke of how corruption in India is a predominantly elite, ruling class phenomenon, in which the rich and powerful benefit at the cost of the rights of the poor and deprived. He emphasised that while anti-corruption legislation is required, laws alone cannot eradicate corruption, just as the Constitution of India has not been enough to guarantee equality and justice.

Vandana Shiva spoke of how in times of liberalisation, laws of the land meant to protect farmers and the poor are being undermined to benefit corporate interests. ‘Regulators’ are actually ‘deregulators’, and the very same corporations which are need regulation, have actually infiltrated the regulatory bodies. Thanks to corruption, land, seeds, water, minerals is being grabbed from the people and handed over the corporations.

Ravi Rai, General Secretary, AISA, spoke about the intensive campaign undertaken by students and youth – in favour of an effective Lokpal Bill, and also for a reversal of the policies of privatisation that are breeding corruption. He called for all citizens to participate in large numbers in the 100-hour Student-Youth Barricade at Parliament Street from 9-13 August.

Prashant Bhushan, member of the Lokpal Bil drafting committee and noted advocate and activist, analysed the examples of the Bellary scam, the Reliance oil-and-gas scam and the 2G scam, to explain how privatisation of natural resources has paved the way for megascams. He said that if the policies of liberalisation continued, India would become a failed, mafia state.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta described how the Bellary brothers – mining mafia of Karnataka – have been bleeding the mines of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh thanks to a nexus that involved both BJP and Congress leaders in these states.

Swapan Mukherjee, Central Committee member of CPI (ML) Liberation and General Secretary of the AICCTU, said that in times of liberalisation, struggles of the workers, peasants, tribals are being brutally repressed when they stand up to resist corruption, corporate plunder and violation of land, forest and labour laws by corporations and governments. He called for students and youth to join the 9 August Barricade at Parliament and also to reach out to the people’s movements going on all over the country.

The speakers in the convention emphasized on the fact that corruption today was not a moral issue, rather corruption today is legalized and institutionalized by the government itself. In conclusion, Ravi Rai thanked the participants and called upon all to make the 100-hour Student-Youth Barricade from 9-13 August a success.

AIKM Protest in Nainital

As part of the national programme of All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) on 1 August the AIKM organized a dharna and public meeting at Lal Kuan (Nainital district) against land grab and for saving peasants and agriculture. After the meeting memorandums were sent to Chief Minister and Prime Minister.

The activists of AIKM marched in the form of a rally and upon reaching the Lal Kuan Police station they burnt an effigy of Uttarakhand’s BJP Government against the new ‘disaster and rehabilitation policy’ that does more long term harm than help to the victims of calamities in this Himalayan State.

Addressing the meeting the AIKM’s Nainital dist. President, Com. B S Jangi described the policy as downright anti-people. Under this policy the government will acquire agricultural land at the existing circle rate and offer the landholders of 233 affected villages only residential plots. In the hills of Uttarakhand agriculture and animal husbandry are traditional and ancestral professions. This policy will create issues of survival if the evicted people are not given land elsewhere in return for their land. Also without providing them cattle grazing grounds and basic facilities of forest panchayat land this policy is a kind of land grab. Therefore AIKM demanded that a new pro-people calamity and rehabilitation policy be reframed. On this issue the Congress, BSP and UKD are shamefully silent.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

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