Call to join dharna against displacement

Call to join dharna against displacement
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Join hands to raise our collective voice against displacement & undemocratic, unjust, anti-people & pro-corporate The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 2007 and The Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2007

Join Dharna at Jantar Mantar, Delhi

28 - 30 April 2008

Today, as the State continues with the mad frenzy in the name of
'development' and 'economic growth', rural and urban poor face displacement and dispossession at an unprecedented scale.

Not a day passes by when newspapers or channels in India does not have a story on yet another land acquisition, another resistance against corporate land grab or police atrocities on peaceful demonstrators. The government seems to have abdicated all responsibilities, even the pretence, of a 'Welfare State'.

It is now nothing more than a puppet of industrialists and capitalists, snatching all natural resources away from the people. On the other hand, for the multitudes-Dalits, Adivasis, agricultural workers, farmers, fish workers, artisans, forest dwellers- who have been facing the harsh reality of displacement and complete dispossession for years, there doesn't seem to be even the hope of rehabilitation now.

But be it in Nandigram or Jagatsinghpur, be it against uprooting people in the name of SEZs, mining or big dams or against the 'illegalisation' of urban poor, our country reverberates with voices of protest and struggle like never before. People are resisting the snatching away of the means of their lives and livelihood. They are resisting the theft and transfer of natural and common property resources into private hands for private profit. They are resisting the gross undermining of democracy and social justice that goes on in the name of development. It is in the midst of all this that the Central Government has brought forth two Bills-The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 and the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2007. Introduced purportedly to strike a balance between the need for land for development and other purposes and protecting the interests of the persons whose lands are statutorily acquired, both the Bills will have far reaching impact if enacted. In effect, these Bills sanction displacement and loot of more and more land from the people for the profit of corporations and private investors.

The Land Acquisition Bill allows land to be forcefully acquired in favour of private companies and investors, thus including private purpose in the definition of 'public purpose'. It is more regressive and anti-people than even the original Colonial Act! While the government talks of protecting the rights of those whose lands are acquired, it is mere lip service. The R&R Bill doesn't even guarantee basics like land for land and alternative livelihood-based rehabilitation. The issue of urban displacement has been completely side-stepped yet again Today the demand of people's struggle across the country is one - a decentralised development planning process which ensures 'development' that is truly people centric and bases itself firmly on the principles of democracy, social justice and equity. Since concerns regarding development planning, land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation are intrinsically linked with one another and cannot be addressed in isolation, people's movements and organisations have, for several years now, been demanding the enactment of a Comprehensive Legislation on Development Planning,

No enforced displacement, and Just rehabilitation. In fact a draft of the same has also been prepared based on 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments which, in the true spirit of democracy, vest gram sabhas, municipalities with the right to formulate district and metropolitan level development plans. Ignoring these demands, the Government is keen on pushing these two Bills that, instead of ensuring minimum and no enforced displacement, endorse displacement.

There is no doubt that these anti-people legislations have been brought forth under the influence and for the benefit of big corporations and private industrial and capitalists interests. It is imperative that we, the people's movements and organisations, challenge and oppose this move. It is important that we, the rural and urban poor, those struggling for just rehabilitation and those who oppose forced displacement and destruction carried on in the name of 'development', join hands and raise our collective voices. We must question our elected representatives and bring them to understand and voice our positions on these issues. We must challenge the Central government and compel them to heed.

We call on you to join us for a massive dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi from 28-30 April 2008.

We request friends and comrades from across the country struggling on diverse issues to reach Delhi on these dates to discuss and voice their questions, issues and concerns at the national level. It is critical at this juncture that we come together and raise our collective voices against displacement and for a just development planning.

Please do let us know of you participation and details regarding arrival and departure in order to help us plan better.

We sincerely hope you will join us in this very important struggle!

In Solidarity,

Ashok Chaudhary, Roma (National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers)

Gautam Bandhopadhyay (Nadi Ghati Morcha)
Shaktiman Ghosh (National Hawkers Federation)
Ulka Mahajan (SEZ Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti)

Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan & National Alliance of People's

Gabriele D (Pennurumai Iyyakam & National Alliance of People's Movements)
Mukta Srivastava , Simpreet Singh (Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan)
Rajendra Ravi (National Alliance of People's Movements)
Sr. Celia (National Alliance of People's Movements)
Sandhya Devi (Kalahandi Mahila Samiti, Orissa)
Bhupendra Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini)
Suniti S R (Vishthapan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti)
Geetha D (Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam)
Subhash Bhatnagar (NCCUSW)

Sandeep Pandey (Asha Parivar and
National Alliance of People's Movements) --------------


To read this posting in Hindi language, click here