Monday, September 3, 2012

Bhartiya kisan union on the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (LARR) 2012

Bhartiya Kisan Union
Bhartiya kisan  union on the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (LARR) 2012

We understand that the LARR bill has gone to a Group of Ministers after diluting the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing committee and allowing acquisition of land for private industries. This is not acceptable to us. Although the MoRD has accepted many suggestions from the people it is still using the language of transparency and compensation to justify government using its powers to take people's land in the name of public purpose and then handing it over to private industries. Already the UPA government has proven itself to be biased towards corporates as evident in its attempt to bring in FDI in retail, the various scams benefiting private players such as 2G spectrum and coal- gate. We cannot trust the government anymore and want to see a strict land law that will prevent any possibility for profiteering millionaires to grab peoples scarce resources.

We are not shocked that the government is setting up a law to permanently establish itself as the land broker for corporate players. Corporate profit is not public purpose. Projects that are geared towards elite consumerism – even if PPP or public are not “public purpose”. Steel plants, formula one race tracks and elite housing complexes  are not public purpose but highly profitable ventures. Multi lane highways are not benefiting us- why are no roads being built in the villages instead?  We stress that local government – gram sabhas and basti sabhas should give full consent to decide if a certain project is public purpose or not- merely consulting them is not enough. Also all other acts that deal with acquisition- such as mining, railways etc should be brought under this one act. Hundreds of agricultural lands are tbeing acqiured and converted under these acts.

As farmers we reiterate our concerns  of who will feed the nation.  Are we planning to kill our farmers or turn them into unemployed or laborers and then import food from corporations abroad? Is it sensible for our country to set up policies that will undercut our own ability to feed ourselves? Why are we still a nation with the most shameful hunger and farmer suicide statistics? It makes no rational sense to allow government acquisition of any kind of agricultural land for industrial purposes. Why is the government showing such desperation to industrialize and not the same urgency to feed our people and stop farmer suicides? Agriculture cannot wait and industrialization needs to wait!

Although proper compensation is a very important issue for us, so is proper rehabilitation. Waving money at farmers and then destroying their livelihoods is not acceptable. Proper rehabilitation which means an alternate sustainable livelihood and land for land must be provided. This too must be monitored and implemented by the gram and basti panchayat.  Also those who have already suffered due to previous displacements and not yet received rehabilitation must  receive it. The new law should apply to them all. We also demand that all ongoing acquisitions be stopped unless and until the new law that reflects peoples true development needs comes into being.

We cannot accept the violent method in which governments have responded to our genuine protests. Recently in MP the government arrested and jailed hundreds of farmers that were legitimately trying to protect their livelihoods and lands. Instead of entering into serious dialogues the government just lathi charged and jailed us. We are not going to tolerate such an authoritarian attitude and criminalization of our democratic right to protest.

We would like to state that we are not against industrialization as many have tried to portray us as backward and anti development. We are not against a development or industrialization which will provide sustainable livelihoods to our people, which will give us education, health and food in our communities or roads in our villages. But we are definitely against such a development model which prescribes rampant industrialization without considering the well being of the masses and in fact causes inequality, dispossession and climate change. We cannot discuss any land law without discussing its impact on overall development – they both go hand in hand.

We will be organizing a meet of many farmers organizations in Bangalore on 9 September to further analyze this act and discuss our future course of action.

Signed by:
Rakesh tikait (Spoksman) Bhartiya kisan union