Distribute Kulpi Vested Land to the Landless, Not For Shipyard
Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) welcomes the State Government's move to declare about 500 acres of land bought illegally by benamicompanies as vested in the Kulpi block. We are however concerned about the future of this land.
We have been informed today by newspaper reports that Bengal Shipyard, a 50-50 venture of the Apeejay Surrendra Group and Bharati Shipyard, plans to set up a marine cluster, with ship building, repair, unloading and loading facilities etc. and that they propose to take the land vested by the Government on lease for this purpose.
We would like to remind the ruling party that they had won on the slogan of "No Agricultural Land for Non Agricultural Purposes" and "No Acquisition of Land by The Government for Industry". Vesting the Kulpi land and giving it to a shipbuilding company amounts to breaking of these promises. It virtually amounts to acquisition of agricultural land for industry. The Government must instead distribute the land to the landless in Kulpi.
This land in Rangaphala and Tangra Char villages was forcibly acquired by the land mafia from the land owners, bargadars, and pattadars. Force, intimidation, threats of use of firearms had all been used to suppress protests in the villages.
Due to the Samity's movement, the police stopped protecting the land mafia and the illegal fencing of people's land. The Samity also helped 5 registered bargadars- - Jabdali Peyada, Alauddin Jamader,Aipan Beowa, Badal Sarder and Sabur Ali Jamader-to move Diamond Harbour court and to get the right to till their land. Thus in 2012, these bargadars farmed over 25 bighas of land within the so-called project area, and are at present harvesting their crops. The government also initiated an enquiry after receiving written complaints from the Samity.
In a complaint given on 6th August 2012 to the Chief Minister and Industries Minister , PBKMS had stated that about 1500 bighas of land had been purchased by a cartel of 40 companies. On investigation we had found that many of these companies exist only on paper and were probably being used as fronts to circumvent the ceiling on purchase of agricultural land. For example, 10 of the companies were registered at the same address. The so-called project remained shrouded in secrecy, leading to suspicion that only land speculation will take place with no economic gains for the local people. No local consultation had taken place about the project. Even the lawyer (RN Ghose and Associates) of the so-called buyer/company had not revealed details of the so-called project in its letter to the administration. Many illegal methods had been used to purchase land and occupy it by the benami buyers, who have put forward a set of middlemen ("arrangers") to do these transactions. Complaints about this, including 11 specific instances were put forward to the BLRO, BDO and OC at their request. Initially, no action was been taken. Instead the police provided protection to the "arrangers" to illegally fence the land of people who had not at all sold it or who were registered bargadars. The purchase of land had meant extensive loss of income and employment for fish-workers and agricultural workers in the areas.
We would like to remind the State Government that the first claimants to any vested Government land should be the landless. We therefore demand that this land be distributed amongst landless agricultural workers and fish workers in the area. In addition, all bargadars andpattadars should have their land restored.
(Anuradha Talwar) (Swapan Ganguly)