Lokshakti Abhiyan Updates from Maharashtra
Brahmapuri, Chandrapur Dist. February 12 : LokShakti Abhiyan entered its 7th day today and arrived in Brahmapuri in Chandrapur district, Nagpur. The team has been growing as we moved along starting from Mumbai on February 6. Om Vathiji, Ved Vathiji, Raj Singhji from Kanjhawala village in Delhi who have been fighting for land rights over their farm for over 4 years now, Roshanala Agarwal from Chattisgarh, Nagesh Tripathy from Unnao, Vijay Balvi, Mansaram Kaka and Ratan Bhai from Narmada Bachao Andolan, Gyaneshwar Shedge and Prasad Bhagwe from the anti Lavasa struggle in Pune, Madhuri Shivakar from Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan in Mumbai, Vaibhav from Goa, Suniti SR and Suhas Kolehkar from Pune, Sawantji and Mahesh from Yusuf Meherally Centre in Panvel, Dr Sunilam, Adv Aradhana Bhargava, Rakesh, Patel ji and many more from anti Adani Power Plant Struggle in Chindawara and Seela, Madhuresh, Ashu, Anjali and Gee Ameena are now all part of Lok Shakti Abhiyan team. In Nagpur Bilas Bhongade, convener of Gosi Khurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti and Nishant Mate of National Forest People and Forest Workers joined the Abhiyan.
At Brhamapuri Bhumi Haqq Andolan hosted a Bhumi Haqq Parishad which was coordinated by Suhdakar Mahadore and many others from the Gadchiroli region joined in too. The Parishad discussed the problems arising out of the construction of the Ghosi Khurd dam, approved as early as 1982 and subsequent displacement by the construction of canals in the area. The dam and the have been constructed at a cost of around 500 crores. Among the farmers who have been given compensation, only 10% of the total market value of the land has been given. There is a sizeable number of farmers who are yet to receive compensation after the forceful acquisition of their land. Bhumi haqq parishad also demand -
- The proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. There is a huge population of Gond adivasis, nomadic tribals and OBCs who are struggling for Forest Rights Act to be implemented.
- Pattas/land titles have not been given to the community of farmers. The lack of documentation of their rights over their land has made it difficult for the farmers to claim their rights with the government. The three generation proof for most of the traditional forest dwellers is not allowing them their rights.
- Compensation to be given to the rest of the farmers who are yet to receive compensation from the government. The difference in market value of the compensation already given to be paid.
After the Parishad Abhiyan team went to Pavani taluk in Bhandara district where the main issue is over the waste disposal of Nagpur being directed into The Vain Ganga river, affecting their livelihoods and the quality of their lives in the region. Medha Patkar and team spoke about the struggles that they have fought for and given solidarity to and pledged support to the farmers, adivasis and other communities fighting for their land rights in these areas.
Aurangabad, February 11 : Lokshakti Abhiyan arrived in Aurangabad on February 11 from Pune. In morning the team went to Bidkin village in Aurangabad to talk to farmers about land rights and land acquisition and to understand their struggle in Bidkin. Farmers in Bidkin village are affected by the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between Delhi and Mumbai. The Government of India has announced establishing of the Multi-modal High Axle Load Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) between Delhi and Mumbai, covering an overall length of 1483 km and passing through the six States - U.P, NCR of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, with end terminals at Dadri in the National Capital Region of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai. This corridor will be equipped with an array of infrastructure facilities such as power facilities, rail connectivity to ports en route etc. Approximately 180 million people, 14 percent of the population, will be affected by the corridor’s development. As with any other mega development projects that we have seen the government approve and implement, there are serious issues of displacement with this DMIC project.
The project incorporates Nine Mega Industrial zones of about 200-250 sq. km., high speed freight line, three ports, and six air ports; a six-lane intersection-free expressway connecting the country’s political and financial capitals and a 4000 MW power plant. Several industrial estates and clusters, industrial hubs, with top-of-the-line infrastructure would be developed along this corridor to attract more foreign investment. Funds for the projects would come from the Indian government, Japanese loans, and investment by Japanese firms and through Japan depository receipts issued by the Indian companies. It is estimated that implementation of DMIC Project requires an investment of US$90Billion for developing projects that can be implemented through Public Private Partnership (PPP) and for projects that need to be developed through budgetary resources.
Development projects such as these displace farmers, adivasis and other working class communities without providing any rehabilitation packages that are even close to being fair. Rehabilitation as a concept itself is flawed when talking about communities like adivasis and farmers ,dependant on natural resources and having a long standing relationship of dependence on their environmental habitats. The farmers in Bidkin spoke about how they are affected by the DMIC project and Medha Patkar spoke about the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the need to stand together and put up strong resistance to such detrimental “developmental” plans. Whose development is at stake here? Who are the players in such deals who reap profits and whose voices are silenced by force?
Abhiyan joined the public meeting at 3 pm at Gandhi Bhavan attended by over 500 local people and supporters where we spoke specifically about the DMIC project and also other struggles over land rights happening in other parts of the country.
Pune, February 10 : On 5th day we arrive early morning in Pune from Goa. The Lokshakti Abhiyan team went to Sinchan Bhavan, to meet officials from the Krishna Kore development authority and engineers. The main issue discussed was the Lavasa Hill City developed by Lavasa Corporation Limited and the Special Planning Authority given to the company by the government. The Lavasa Corporation Limited has shown on official documents that the work for Hotel Fortune was started in 2004 and completed in 2008. The Lavasa Corporation was given SPA status in June 2008, and the Hotel building was approved in the same year. The work of the Hotel was however completed within one month of the approval date for the project!
There are also other issues like illegal construction work being carried on in other buildings like the Country Club, Convention Centre , Portfino Apartments, Retail and Hostel. It is clear in this case that the post facto approval was given by the government illegally. Lavasa Corporation has also included 1236 ha of disputed MKDVC land. Wrong figures in building sections to fit permissible heights for such buildings specified by hill station by laws are also a serious offense. To get larger frontage of water body to the buildings under Lavasa’s construction, they have also reclaimed land under dam. This has affected the capacity of the dam. The demands of the team who went to meet the Collector also later with community people and other supporters and activists are -
- Special Planning Authority should not be given to any private company
- All approvals given to Lavasa Corporation Limited be treated and declared as null and void.
- Strict disciplinary action should be taken against Lavasa Corporation Ltd so that it acts as a detriment to any future such deals being made between the government and private companies.
The day ended with a public function at SM Joshi Memorial Hall at 4 p.m in which local activists, Lokshakti Abhiyan team and supporters participated.
Suhas Kolhekar, Suniti S R, Prasad Bagwe, Nagesh Tripathy, Seela Manswinee , Gee Ameena Suleiman, Madhuresh Kumar
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