"Land Ordinance has provided the right ammunition for the people and parties to come together against this government with authoritarian tendencies, said Sharad Yadav, senior JD(U) leader. He was speaking at the day long consultation organized at the Constitution Club, New Delhi by NAPM on the issue 'Land ordinance, Corporate Land Grab and Green Field Capital for Andhra Pradesh'.
Echoing the sentiment, D Raja, Rajya Sabha MP (CPI) said that we must have faith in the democratic framework of our country and auhtoritarianism doesn't have a place in this country. Left along with other opposition parties will mobilise inside the Parliament and we hope people's movements and farmers workers organisaitons will mobilise outside and complement each other and give NDA a fitting reply. They say of calling a joint Parliamentary Session, as a threat, but we know parliamentary procedures and it is not going to be easy, not only one but many Ordinances are at stake here, he further added.
Mr. Jairam Ramesh and Yogendra Yadav sent their solidarity messages and offered support but could not join the meeting due to some other engagements.
In context of the Ordinance the consultation focused on plans for the New Greenfield Capital of Andhra Pradesh. M G Devasahayam, retd IAS, and head of the Fact Finding Team constituted by NAPM, made a detailed presentation on the AP Greenfield Capital Development plans, farmers resistance and windfall gains built in for real estate developers and complete transfer of autonomy to a Singapore firm. He said, that the Capital Sitting Committee had clearly specified that least possible dislocation to existing agricultural practices should take place and that moreover did not favour a green field capital city. But in complete disregard to these recommendations the region chosen, Guntur District near Vijaywada, has a thriving agricultural economy of Rs. 1000 Crore and 120 different crop varieties. The region has 85 percent small and marginal farmers and also has women entrepreneurs who earn Rs.200-700 per day. The planned Capital will take 30,000 acres of multi crop farm land from 29 Villages affecting 2 lakh plus population. The land pooling scheme, meant to be voluntary, is being used to forcefully acquire land from farmers.
Mr. C Ramachandraiah, Leader of Opposition, AP Legislative Council, said that the MoU with the Singapore is done without any knowledge to CB Naidu's own cabinet colleagues, so what to talk of the MLAs and MLCs. Mr. Naidu is following exactly the same style of functioning as Mr Modi is following in the Centre. The APCRD Act has no people's support and is a clear case of tyranny of majority. There is absolutely no space in the Assembly to even discuss the Sivaramakrishna Committee report or discuss the plans for the green field capital.
Mr Ramakrishna Raju, NAPM Convener, who visited the area along with K Babu Rao, senior scientist and NAPM member said that farmers and workers do not want to give land but are being coerced into doing so. More than 1000 police personnel have been deployed in the region and people are being forced to sign away their land. Minimal cash compensation is being provided. The implicit reasoning behind the large amount of land needed is to convert it into real estate will benefit only the developers. All at the cost of a thriving agricultural economy that feeds and provides employment to people. As Devashayam commented, "Make in India is about unmaking rural India and making urban India"
In the morning session K B Saxena, former Secretary to GoI, and Usha Ramanathan, legal researcher and expert said that the land ordinance has taken us back to the 1894 act. And possibly a worse situation, with no system of checks and balances. The ordinance has diluted a range of consent provisions as well as opened up the field for all forms of private and PP partnerships. It has also taken out the provision for SIA - where there is no way to judge efficacy or even do a cost-benefit analysis. Ramanathan also said that common lands are owned by people, state seems to believe that they have sovereign rights over all land, including commons. Democratic spaces are becoming smaller and the nexus between corporates and politicians- served by the bureaucrats- land is becoming real estate.
Ritwick Dutta, environmental lawyer commented that the ordinance needs to be seen in conjunction with changes and dilutions in the environmental regulations as suggested by the T S Subramanian Committee. These dilutions will have far reaching implications since they exempt almost every project from the provisions of the public hearing and consent in the name of national and strategic importance.
Swami Agnivesh, Vandana Shiva, Harikesh Bahadur (ex MP), B Satyanarayana, Babudin Khan, Preeti Sampat, Mira Shiva, Rupesh Verma, Col Balhara, Col S P Singh, Bhupender Singh Rawat, Sunil Fauji, Ameena Shervani and many others contributed to the meeting and discussions.
Farmers and peasant groups Sanyukt Kisan Sagharsh Samiti, Delhi Grameen Samaj, from the NCR region and APVVU from Andhra pradesh also joined the meeting and presented their plan of action. Protests are being planned at Jantar mantar on the 1st February against the ordinance as well as Left Kisan Sabhas will also be protesting on 30th of January at jantar Mantar.
To follow up on the today's meeting and discussions NAPM, All India Union of Forest Working People, Delhi Solidarity Group, Jan Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti and other groups are organising a national convention on January 23-24th in Delhi to chalk out future programme and mobilisation strategy to take the struggle forward.