NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS (NAPM)

Documents of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
email: napmindia@gmail.com
Web : www.napm-india.org
Facebook : www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia

National conveners
Andhra pradesh : Ramakrishna Raju;
Asaam : Akhil Gogoi,
Bihar / Jharkhand : Kamayani Swami and Mahendra Yadav;
Gujarat : Krishnakant,
Kerala : C R Neelakandan;
Madhya Pradesh : Dr. Sunilam;
Orissa : Prafulla Samantara;
Tamilnadu : Gabriele Dietrich;
Maharashtra : Suniti S R and Vilas Bhongade;
Uttar Pradesh : Arundhati Dhuru;
Delhi : Bhupinder Singh Rawat

Advisors
Medha Patkar, P Chennaiah, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Sister Celia, Anand Mazgaonkar

Special invitees to the National Convening Team
B.D. Sharma, Aruna Roy, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey as

National organisers
Shrikanth, Vimal Bhai and Madhuresh Kumar

Call for details : Madhuresh 9818905316, C R Neelkandan 9446496332

20 farmers and activists begin an "indefinite fast" against Land Acquisition for SEZ - Fierce Resistance continues

20 farmers and activists begin an "indefinite fast" against Land
Acquisition for SEZ - Fierce Resistance continues

Date: 18th July 2007 onwards
Time: 10.30 a.m.
Venue: Outside Tehsil office of Pen
The Centre has permitted Maharashtra to go ahead with issuing notices,
under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, in 29 villages failing
under the Maha Mumbai Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) proposed by the
Reliance group in Raigad district. Section 6 is a declaration that
land has been acquired for a public purpose.
More than 20 farmers and activists from 24 villages in Pen Taluka,
District Raigad Maharashtra, faced with the its fertile agricultural
land being acquired for the Mumbai SEZ will be starting an indefinite
fast from 18th July outside the Tehsil Office in Pen, opposing and
condemning the continuing Land Acquisition for the Mukesh Ambani-led
Reliance group's 10,000-hectare Mumbai SEZ. It is ironical that even
after the assurance of the Chief Minister Shri Vials Rao Deshmukhji,
to the activists and the affected villagers during their meeting on
12th Dec 2006, this illegal process of serving notices is continuing.
The farmers will fast to demand for:
· Exclude 24 villages, of Pen, Raigad, Maharashtra from the SEZ.
· Investigate thoroughly the fraud cases against Reliance
· Protect the environment of the coastal area and protect the
livelihoods of the fisher people.
· No acquisition without the proper certification by the full village
Panchyat.
· Due to the polluted acidic water seeping in the farms by IPCL of
Reliance Industries, the harvest has been totally destroyed. We demand
just investigation in the pollution issue and the farmers must be
compensated for their loss.
· Release the water from Hatvane Dam for agriculture to the farmers
Immediately
· Repeal SEZ act.
You are cordially invited to cover the event.
Sincerely Yours,
Anant Patil , Subhash Mahtre, Ulaka Mahajan , Surekha Dalvi
( 24 Gaon Sangharsh Samiti & Jagatikaran Virodhi Kruti Samiti )
Contact: Ulka Mahajan: 09869232478 E-mail: mumbainapm@gmail.com

*R&R Policy, can it be an excuse for more displacement?*

*R&R Policy, can it be an excuse for more displacement?*

The issue of the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) policy has been
hotly debated of late within the corridors of power, in the context of
Special Ecnomic Zone (SEZ) embargo. Since the Prime Minister, Manmohan
Singh, made his statement at the FICCI seminar, the news is that the SEZs
are being kept on hold in order to finalise the R&R Policy. According to
the PM, that was to be done within 3 months, hence, within the next few
days from now. Sitaram Yechury, CPM leader also has openly voiced his
support to SEZs recently, but also for finalization of R&R policy. This
push however may land up not in a fair and just R&R policy, nor it is to
ensure actual implementation of R&R policy.

Many who have been watching news, statements and gestures might consider it
as a humane intervention to resolve the conflict between the State and the
people, as it erupted from one SEZ area to another, from Maharashtra to
West Bengal.

It may however be noted that UPA government is trying to push a very weak
R&R policy ignoring and sidelining the Draft proposed by People's
organizations which, though after few modifications, was also accepted and
approved by National Advisory Council (NAC), chaired by Sonia Gandhi.

We want not only a rehabilitation policy but a policy on Development
Planning, to be brought after abolition of Land Acquisition Act because
for
any or every family to be displaced, can there be real rehabilitation? This
question has been asked, time and again, by thousands of those, who have
been displaced. Teams of representatives of people's organizations have met
the Minister of Rural Development and made him aware of the flaws and
drawbacks of the proposed policy while no political party has looked into
the proposed policy draft or the one submitted by people's organizations
that discusses at length- how to minimize displacement and to plan use of
resources with most appropriate technology.

We urge all those who are concerned about displacement and displaced
people, but also of development, to support our demand of no land
acquisition and an
act on Development Planning, Minimum Displacement and Just Rehabilitation.
Please write accordingly, to the concerned authorities (addresses are below).

Please also see the attached document, laying out the ratonale for such a
policy, a critical assessment of the Draft National Rehab Policy of 2006,
including an October 2006 letter to the Minister for Rural Development.

Medha Patkar Simpreet Singh

*Important Addresses *

1). Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA,
Fax No- 011-23018626
E-mail: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in

2). Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Minister for Rural Development
8, Ashoka Road,
New Delhi-110 001
Tel. (011) 3386093
E-mail: singhrp@sansad.nic.in

ACTION 2007 - APPROVAL FOR 83 SEZs UNDEMOCRATIC AND UNCALLED FOR: UPA'S BETRAYAL WILL PROVE COSTLY

DECISION TO FURTHER SEZ IS STILL LAND GRAB WITH MINIMUM BACKTRACKS AND FALSE PROMISES
UPA'S BETRAYAL OF FARMERS-LABOURERS-FISH WORKERS WILL PROVE COSTLY

The Central Government's EGoM on SEZ has approves 83 new proposals hurriedly ignoring the nation wide SEZ related conflict and struggle of farmers, labourers, fish workers.

While the demands raised from Nandigram (West Bengal) to Raigarh (Maharashtra) of repealing SEZ Act and furthering employment generation without displacement and at the cost of agriculture still persists. This approval is given at a time when election are happening in Delhi and UP, the internal disputes amongst UPA members including Left Front partners, the stand taken by Sonia Gandhi, questions raise by the Finance Minister under the pressure of the corporates and financial institutions who have the support of the Commerce Minister and the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission (both of whom were members of the EGoM).

Under the banner of Action 2007 delegates of people's movements and organisations from across the country had met Shri. Pranab Mukherjee and Shri. Jairam Ramesh while sitting on a Dharna at Jantar Mantar from 19th March to 3rd April, raising the issues of the country's sovereignty, the attack of global capital and market forces and in support of socialist development.

We have been demanding that the UPA, following its common minimum problem, should review the SEZ Act and hold a national consultation. Without holding dialogue with the farmer-labour organisations and social groups, this decision of the Government is undemocratic and uncalled for.

While approving 83 SEZ projects beyond the already notified 63 projects, the EGoM has declared few changed and conditions. A cap of 5000 hectares, reserving 50% of the land for the approved project only, land to be purchased directly from farmers by private developers and provision of job security to at least one person of the displaced families.

It is clear that the massacre of Nandigram and the ongoing struggles, whether in Andhra Pradesh or in Punjab, have led to bowing of the corporates and the State. Still, instead of ensuring security and justice to farmers-labourers, the State is ensuring the profiteering of corporates-builders. This is going to facilitate and push the lot of natural resources in the name of industrialization and approved construction of hotels, parks, swimming pools, parking lots, clubs, shopping malls, entertainment zones for the corporate houses and their employees. Agriculture and the agriculturists will be ruined due to corporatisation, privatization and industrialization.

The stand of Ministry of Commerce and respective State Governments regarding no disputes and conflicts to land acquisition process in the already notified and approved SEZs is blatant lie. The Kakinada SEZ of Andhra Pradesh, the freeze on which has been lifted yesterday, is testimony to this fact and is being concealed. ONGC, which is the developer in this case, has acquired only 3000 acres out of the total 10,000 acres which is to displace 1 lakh people. The struggle of 50,000 affected fisher folk in 3 big blocks against the proposed SEZ are continuing. Out of the 3 SEZs of Vishakhapattanam district, the Brandix Apparel city is being opposed by hundreds of fisher folk. Even the Mundra SEZ of Kutch, Gujarat is being opposed by local fisher folk. The farmers of Mann village of Pune district have saved their 2000 acres of land, facing lathis and bullets, which was otherwise to be handed over to Infosys Company and thousands of acres of fertile land is proposed to be handed over to Wipro, Infosys, Mahindra etc and acquired by MIDC.

The SEZ Act has no mention of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement and how the new promise of employing at least one person per displaced family will be implemented. We have witnessed the tactics of Reliance and the approach of the West Bengal government. The debt ridden farmers, a result of misplaced economic policies, will now be forced out of their rural habitats and farm lands and their resources will be grabbed by the corporate mafia.

The proposed Rehabilitation policy is being pushed while ignoring and bypassing the Policy on Development Planning approved by the National Advisory Council which was presented by the representatives of almost all the people's organisations and movements collectively. The proposed Rehabilitation Policy merely talks of "providing employment, subject to availability of vacancies and eligibility of the affected persons for the employment…" Thus the Commerce Minister has only taken the country for a ride and ignored the legitimate demands of the National Consultation on SEZ.

The SEZ Act and its implementation are going to further widen the disparity between agriculture and industry. The loss of 2 to 4 lakh crores due to the approved and notified SEZ is only acknowledged, ignoring the other incumbent losses. The Government Notification dated 27th October 2006 mentions concessions on tax duties for constructing car parking, swimming pools, hotels, clubs etc.

While the farmers/ unorganized sector workers are not given decent wages, social security benefits and subsidy, quoting the rules of WTO or availability of funds, the corporates are being given such wide ranging concessions. The authorities need to answer the deprived and marginalized people of this country.

Under Section 50(8) of the SEZ Act, the State Governments are abdicating their duty towards the labourers. More than 10 states (Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc) have amended their State laws and legislation from Minimum Wages Act to Industrial Disputes Act, to declare all activities undertaken by SEZs as public utility services.

While the local self government institutions will be left redundant, the SEZ-deemed foreign territory- is also against Article 243 of the constitution. As per this Article, every village has to formulate its own development schemes which are to guide the District development plan. These local bodies of self government are more constitutional than bodies like the Planning Commission which is guiding and deciding our national policies and plans.

Ironically the Deputy Chairperson of the PLANNING Commission, in the name of rural and urban units under US-India Economic partnership and US-India CEO Forum, is pushing ahead SEZs and our dear Minister Kamal Nath is associated with the corporates who are a threat to the people and resources of the country.

Medha Patkar Sunilam Shaktiman Ghosh Gautam Bandhopadhyay

For Co-ordination Committee ACTION 2007

www.action2007.net

Delhi Office: Action 2007, 1-A, Goela Lane, Under Hill Road Civil Lines, Delhi – 110054
Tel.: 011-23933307, (0)9868200316 E-Mail: action2007@gmail.com

Mumbai Office: Action 2007, C/0 Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 29-30, First Floor, 'A wing' Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (East), Mumbai-400014, Tel.: 022-24150529, (0)9969363065

Action 2007- Day 16 - First Phase Culminated with South Asian People's Parliament

PLANNING COMMISSION PROMISES REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS WITH PEOPLE BEFORE BRINGING 11th PLAN

PETITIONS SUBMITTED TO 8 UNION MINISTRIES

ACTION 2007 WILL CONTINUE STRUGGLE AT STATE LEVELS

In the history of India after independence the year 2007 brings special inspiration, being observed as the centenary of Gandhiji's 'Satyagraha', 75th year of Bhagat Singh martyrdom and 150th year of the struggle of Rani of Jhansi. Not only the common masses but people's representatives have brought forward struggles against imperialism. Even today the common mass is getting strength from the martyrs to save and build our nation into a truly free and democratic country. Struggle based people's organisations and movements have chosen the path of Satyagraha instead of organizing formal conferences against capitalists and people in power and they have come on the streets demanding justice and given united call of 'ACTION 2007'.

A time when out of 100 crores population of this country the farmers, landless labourers, minorities, women from all sections and labourers who have been kept in unorganised sector till date are deprived of livelihoods, housing and other basic necessities of life, the politicians, capitalists have been constantly promoting consumerism. This had led us to our determination to strongly protest against and challenge any form of inequality. The struggle of Nandigram is not led by any armed terrorist but it is organised by the very people of Nandigram including women and children to save their lives and livelihoods. Through SEZ and other massive industrial projects the Government not only continues to diminish the sources of peoples' livelihoods based on natural resources but also giving away its governance and fiscal powers.

Against the sovereign interests of the country our Government has been selling our cultural and environmental heritage to America and other capitalist forces. Adding to this, the government elected by us has been opting nuclear agreements which is destroying the peace of our country and degrading the local environment. Moreover, the government is also publicly giving lands to foreign as well as Indian MNCs, capitalist businessmen by amending existing laws or making new laws which is promoting massive socio-economic and environmental exploitation. The ACTION 2007 is a platform of intellectuals, representatives of hundreds of vulnerable communities, progressive movements against anti-people, anti-nation policies like SEZ, organisations like World Bank, Asian Development Bank, forums like WTO, and contracts like GATS which impose inequality, dispossession and displacement instead of generating employment, development and ending poverty.

By condemning the Nandigram killings of poor farmers by the West Bengal government and against forcible land acquisitions for SEZ taking place all over country, we initiated ACTION 2007 on March 19th with 24 hours fast. From that day onwards 5 days long (19th March to 24th March) People's Parliament was initiated at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. In people's parliament not only did we debate, opinioned and shared views but also formed common consensus on issues such as peoples' rights over natural resources and its management, Right to plan the development policies, Human rights violations of Dalits and Minorities, need of comprehensive legislation to safeguard the interests of unorganised labourers, against foreign capital and right to equality of women. After this detail discussion and meetings have been taken with various ministries, water resources, social justice, ministry of forest and environment, ministry of tribal affairs and labour ministry to present demands discussed in people's parliament.

On 22nd of March, the World Water Day many activists including men and women were arrested during a peaceful protest at the planning commission. On 2nd April, on invitation, a team of 20 members from ACTION 2007 including activists and experts met the members and advisors of the Planning Commission to discuss and share the decentralised people centred development agenda of the nation and changing the pattern of development planning. The Planning Commission was given inputs on the 11th plan Approach Paper and reminded that the constitution requires all planning processes to start from the villages and 'bastis'. The Planning Commission has promised to hold consultations in different regions before finalising the 11th Plan. We also want the government to respond to our presentations and demands as promised to us in various meetings on the issues like-
ground water and water management
law/act for unorganised labour and agriculture labourers
rights of urban poor and urban development
violation of environmental laws and consultations on proposed new changes
moving beyond panchyati raj to gram raj to basti raj

Loot by SEZ, agrarian crisis, rights of small and marginal farmers, exploitation of agricultural labourers and attack on agro based small scale industries have become main agenda's of ACTION 2007.

We reject poor rehabilitation policies that promote displacement and facilitates opening of SEZs. We explicitly want to state that the legal issues presented before the central government and National Advisory Committee by the various people's movements should be taken by the government for discussion. If we don't have prior informed consent as a part of the Rehabilitation Policy there will be civil war in this country

Today, on 3rd of April a people's parliament is been called with representatives of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri-Lanka to discuss disarmament, nuclear arms free, equitable and true democracy in South Asian countries. Whether our political leaders join hands in SAARC or they disagree with each other, it is only the strength and unity among we, the common people be able to save this land, continent, and cultural heritage from attack of America and Europe. A press conference was held this after noon addressed by Lubna Mariam, Anu Mohammed, SAR Geelani, Aruna Roy, Kamala Bhasin, Swami Agnivesh, Achin Vanaik, Anil Chaudhary, Uma Kant, Qamar Agha and Medha Patkar at the South Asian people's parliament

Today, we are rallying towards Ministry of Commerce with a people's demand to scrap SEZ Act and policy.

Today, we are not leaving from Delhi but we are marching ahead to those fields where the struggle for development and freedom will continue. In coming week from April 5 to 11 we will continue our movement against SEZ and displacement.

We will be back to Delhi soon along with Dalit and other exploited communities on 14th of April, the remembrance day of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar and pledge to protect the Constitution, and that will be the second phase of ACTION 2007.

From ACTION 2007 co-ordination committee

Action 2007: Medha Patkar and Other Women Activists Manhandled and Detained

FROM ALL OVER COUNTRY 3000 DALITS, ADIVASIS AND MUSLIMS UNITE AND GAVE
CALL FOR EQUAL RIGHTS.
MEDHA PATKAR ARRESTED WITH 30 WOMEN ACTIVISTS AMIDST GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS
VIOLATION BY THE POLICE
Hundreds of women, dalits, adivasis and muslims joined hands to fight
against untouchability and communalism as similar forms of victimization
and marginalization. With slogans of “Jai Bhim! Jai Birsa Munda” and
"Hum Apna Adhikar Maangte" – Nahin Kisi se Bhikh Maangte”, the most
marginalized groups from across the country gathered together in thousands
in the Jan Sansad held in Action 2007 at Jan Mantar to assert their
right to life, equality, justice and freedom from discrimination. Ministers
invited were Ram Vilas Paswan, Ambika Soni, Fakir Bhai Veghela, Meira
Kumar, Mohd.Hamid Ansar, but none of them turned up.

ACTION 2007, a collective protest by more than 200 organizations is
taking place at Jantar Mantar. In all their assertions, they outlined the
deprived state in which they continue to live, even 60 years after
independence which also indicated their growing anger and impatience with
the apathetic system. They demanded for greater representation of the
dalits, minorities, adivasis and women in political leadership and
awareness and assertion of their rights to basic services.
Dalit groups shared numerous instances of continued atrocities and the
virtual non implementation of the Atrocities Act. Instances of
government programs meant for dalits and adivasis usurped by the general
category people were cited. Kranti Kumar from Chitoor Andhra Pradesh cited
examples of a government land distribution program targeted to dalits
yet under the program the general castes took away whatever land was
given in the midst of wide claims of success. An adivasi activist from
Tamil Nadu spoke of the fake loans taken on their names on a scheme
ironically meant for the advisis and they got to know about this only when the
recovery officials came and harassed them. Ramsharan from Rajasthan
gave instances of youth regularly persecuted under false cases for daring
to break the caste barriers through inter caste marriages. Musahars of
UP, one of the most backward within the dalits are falsely branded as
dacoits and regularly killed in fake encounters. Hundreds of Mushahars
are currently lodged in various jails of the Purvanchal region of UP.
The economic condition of the dalits and adivasis has worsened. Dalits
and adivasis are losing their traditional sources of livelihood such as
weaving, leather work and crafts to increased mechanization. Land
alienation is also increasing as was indicated by the fact that from
1981-2001, land loss of adivasis has been 12 percent. Great anguish was
expressed by the dalit women's group speaking of dalit intellectual
marginalization, citing cases of Valmiki women who formed groups and bravely
fought the British in the war of independence in 1857, yet there is no
mention of their contribution to the freedom struggle.
Muslim groups exhorted muslims to fight for their right to education,
health, food, livelihood, life and equality. They spoke for the need of
a joint struggle between muslims and dalits as there is little
difference in their condition and discrimination that they face. Muslim women's
groups expressed the need for a change in the personal law to make it
more gender sensitive and appealed to the muslim men to encourage women
from their community to get educated, struggle for equal rights and
reject the purdah system that shackles them. Zeenat from the Yamuna Pushta
spoke of the severe sexual exploitation of poor muslim women who face
it without support from the community and the government with little
education and sources of livelihood and begging as the only option left
for them.
Today on the World Water Day a delegation of about 100 activists,
mostly women from slums from different states who were participating in
ACTION 2007 went to Yojana Bhavan to place the people's problems related to
water before the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and other
officials.
The demands concerning water that were to be submitted were briefly, to
end the privatization of water and restore water supply to public taps,
to cancel the interlinking of rivers project and to declare a
moratorium on big dams.
Among the arrested were Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan and
National Alliance of People's Movements), Gautam Bandyopadhyay (Nadi Ghati
Morcha), Yogini Khanolkar (NBA), Simpreet Singh (NAPM), Sister Celia
(Domestic Workers Union, Bangalore), Mukta Srivastava (NAPM), Nidhi Agarwal
(Saheli). The arrest speaks of gross human rights violations. Force was
used to detain the activists and section 144 was used without warning..
Women activists were mal-handled and arrested by the police force.

Co-ordination Committee ACTION 2007
Mobile contact - 9910345405

__________________________________________________
For further details please visit-www.action2007.net
Delhi Office: Action 2007, 1-A, Goela Lane, Under Hill Road Civil
Lines, Delhi – 54 Tel.: 011-23933307 ,
Rajendra Ravi (0-9868200316 ), Vijayan MJ (0-9868165471 )
Mumbai Office: Action 2007, C/0 Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 28-29, First
Floor 'A wing' Haji Habib Building,
Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (East), Mumbai-400014, E-Mail:
action2007@gmail.com
Tel.: 022-24150529

Day 6 Government Machinery Moves and So Does Party | Negotiations Start

Day 6 Government Machinery Moves and So Does Party | Negotiations Start

May 25, Mumbai : “Where were you when our homes were demolished ? If you agree with our demand for in-situ development rather than development under SRA then why are you allowing our homes to be demolished” asked the Ganesh Krupa Housing Society residents to Priya Dutta, Congress MP from the area. She visited the society requesting Medha Tai to withdraw her fast, since things could be resolved through dialogue only. Basti residents replied in an emphatic no and narrated their harrowing experience and attempt at dialogue. Medha Patkar said, “on 20th May when the homes were being demolished in Ganesh Krupa society, she was detained on her way to the site of demolition. Why did CM not initiate a dialogue then only ? We have met him two times on these issues on March 23 and then on April 5 but nothing has come out of it and demolitions continue. If there is investigations going on and he needs time then why this hurry for demolition ?”

Meanwhile, Aruna Roy, Member National Advisory Council, also conveyed the demands of the movement to Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson NAC, and President, Indian National Congress. Anna Hazare also talked to the CM Prithvi Raj Chauhan.

Don't Hide Behind the Court Order, Take Action Against the Builder

Simpreet Singh, Convener, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan said, “ government is trying to take cover under the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Bombay High court's decision in the Civil case against Shivalik, but why are they not talking about the Criminal Case. Accepting the allegations of forgery and fraud in submitting documents for seeking SRA sanction, Honourable HC ordered that criminal investigations be initiated against the Shivalik Ventures by the Nirmal Nagar police station based on the FIR by residents of Ganesh Krupa Housing Society on 19.09.10. On March 2nd the residents of Ganesh Krupa Society filed a contempt of Court petition in Bombay High court against Nirmal Nagar Police Station for not proceeding with the investigation, subsequently the Court ordered the Police Station to complete the investigation within 15 days. Then what is stopping the government of Maharashtra from taking action against the Shivalik Builders ?”

Attempted Negotiations

Earlier in the morning, Collector along with the senior officials of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) came with an offer from the CM. They conveyed that Chief Secretary on behalf of Chief Minister will have discussion on the demands of the movement. Even as we write this, a delegation of more than ten people from different bastis along with Medha Patkar and Simpreet Singh are discussing the issues with the Chief Secretary and other officials at the Collector office, with nearly a thousand basti dwellers from across Mumbai camping outside the Collector office.

Mumbai Supports

Today morning Medha Tai was feeling weaker due to vomiting and dysentery yesterday and last night. Today also she vomited a couple of times but her condition is stable. Syed Zuber, who is on the second day of his fast is in good health. Five more members from different Bastis joined today in the relay fast and a number of housing rights organisations YUVA, Shahri Vikas Manch, Pani Haqq Samiti, committee for Rights to Housing and others joined in solidarity fast. India Against Corruption, Mumbai members continued to extend their support to the movement. Sadashiv Amrapurkar, renowned film actor visited the dharna in solidarity and promised to write to the actors association on the issues of the movement and draw their support too. N D Koli and Purnima Meher from the National Fishworkers Forum also joined the dharna today and said, “most of the fishing communities live in these unauthorised or authorised settlements and constantly face demolitions. It is the fight of fishing communities too and we all stand behind this struggle for housing.”

Prabhakar Nagkar of Janta Dal (Secular), Sandeep More of CPI and some members of Republican Party of India also visited the dharna in support of the movement. In addition professors of IIT, representatives of Sadbhavana Sangh, Janhit Manch and many other organisations visited the dharna in solidarity. Khar Vyapari Association in solidarity with the movement downed their shutters for the day today too.

Outside Mumbai

Yesterday, a demonstration infront of the Pune, Solapur and Aurangabad Collectorate was organised in support of the movement here in Mumbai. A candle light vigil has been also organised in Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam and Srikakulam today by the different movement groups. Similar programmes are also reported from other states. On account of 'International Hawkers Day' tomorrow on May 26th across the country National Hawkers Federation is organising programmes on their demands and also joining hands with their comrades who are facing demolitions in Mumbai. Hawkers have been a target of constant eviction all across the country and Medha Patker, working president of the NHF has been instrumental in their struggle for many years now.

Beyond India

Today a group of 33 students and professors from Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK wrote to Chief Minister asking him to consider the legitimate demands of the movement for justice to millions of the working class people living in margin urban settlements in Mumbai. Students and NRIs from USA and other countries have signed the online petition to the CM, PM and Smt. Sonia Gandhi as well.

PS : An update will be issued on the outcomes of the negotiations with the Chief Secretary later in the evening.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh
For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

--
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316

E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com | napm@napm-india.org
Web : www.napm-india.org

--

Day 6: Health update

Today is the sixth day of the indefinite hunger fast for Medha Patkar and day two for Syed Zuberi. After high fever, BP and vomiting yesterday her health was relatively stable. Her health is though deteriorating. She vomited last night and is suffering from dysentery. Physically she has become weaker but continues to remain in high spirit.

Yesterday she participated in the dialogue and continues to guide the struggle.

Five women from India Against Corruption are continuing their one day fast today.

Madhuresh
From Ganesh Krupa Housing Society, Golibar.
Contact : 9818905316

Day 6: Update 2 Negotiations with Chief Secretary Remain Inconclusive

Update 2 on Day 6th : Negotiations with Chief Secretary Remain Inconclusive

May 25, Mumbai : After five hours of long negotiations between the Chief Secretary, Mr. Ratnakar Gaekwad, Medha Patkar and their respective teams an agreement over the demands could not be reached finally. At one point, an agreement seemed to have been arrived on three points : 1) accepting the proposal for 19 settlements and any more to be given in next two days to be declared as slums under the Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971 after due process; b) a meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary to be convened along with NAPM members, Central Government officials and state officials on June 10 on the Rajeev Gandhi Awas Yojana; c) formation of a sub committee to look into the irregularities under the existing High Powered Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary, appointed by Honourable HC in 2005 meant for reviewing the policies & recommend, amend or suggest new policies to government of Maharashtra.

However, our demand was to institute an independent enquiry committee involving civil society representatives with terms of reference decided during negotiation and notified through an official notification while the fast is on. This Committee was to enquire into all the complaints related to public housing projects by builders which are raised on behalf of the people in the area to be covered by 3K projects including the one by Shivalik Ventures where documentary fraud has been proved and criminal cases filed by the residents. And until a report is submitted and action taken by the government, till then put moratorium on all the demolitions in the city.

The talks remained inconclusive since, Chief Secretary didn't agree to commit a time period for the Committee to start work and complete the task of investigation. Chief Secretary was hostile towards the end and kept emphasising that he has already given enough and people need to trust his words that he will make sure things happen. One of the residents in the meeting quipped, “then give us your promise in writing, since you might not be Chief Secretary tomorrow”. Suburban Collector Nirmal Deshmukh later said that, “Time-bound functioning of the High power committee is not possible as it is defunct due to the High Court order that set a cut off date for slum rehabilitation as January 1, 1995. We tried to comply with most of her demands but some of her demands were not reasonable.”
Medha Patkar added that, “this committee has been defunct after having held not more than three meetings till date. The committee does have representatives of civil society organisations and were nominees of people's movements as per High Court Directives, however, the overall composition had large number of government officials. That there is no doubt that current Chief Secretary is powerful enough to influence the policy makers. However, it is also known that the function of the committee was sabotaged. In such situation, if such a committee has to play a role of investigator into cases of frauds in various facts and documents, the modus operandi has to be similar to SIT. This would require giving powers of hearing to representatives of people and assessing large number of frauds. This does not seem to be possible by Sub Committee of the larger committee composed out of the present member. There need not be any further confusion or arbitrariness left behind since the conflict and crisis in each of the 3K cases has reached its peak and sword of demolition is hanging. It is therefore necessary to set time limit of enquiry which can do justice to people.”

The talks remained inconclusive but Medha's and Syed Zuber's fast will continue. Later in the evening Shabana Azmi visited the dharna site and lent her support and solidarity to the movement.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh

For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

--
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316

E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com | napm@napm-india.org
Web : www.napm-india.org

Day 7: Health update:: CM Speaks to Medha Patkar | No Fire in Kitchens at Ganesh Krupa Society

CM Speaks to Medha Patkar | No Fire in Kitchens at Ganesh Krupa Society

May 27, Mumbai : Late last night Shri Prithviraj Chavan, CM Maharashtra called Medha Patkar, who is sitting on an indefinite fast from May 20th. They both talked on the issues which had been discussed with Ratnakar Gaikwad, Chief Secretary and then Sachin Ahir, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development and further decisions and consensus on the demands is awaited by noon today.

Meanwhile, as Medha's fast enters 8th day she is feeling weaker than before, heart palpitation continues and is developing burning sensations after vomiting. She has been unable to walk on her own and needs constant support. Syed Zuber who is now on the 4th day of hunger strike is developing signs of weakness but remains in high spirit.

Last night in a meeting of the activists, Ganesh Krupa Hosuing Society decided not to light fire in their kitchens, and also the community kitchen has been shut down from today onwards. It was also decided that there will be simultaneous dharnas will be organised in the city in different bastis from today onwards.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh
For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

Day 8: Government Agrees to Formation of Joint Committees with Civil Society Final Round of Negotiations on to Work Out Details

Government Agrees to Formation of Joint Committees with Civil Society

Final Round of Negotiations on to Work Out Details

May 27, Mumbai : With the call of Shri Prithviraj Chavan, CM Maharashtra last night to Medha Patkar, it seemed that the Government is going to relent to the demands of the movement. After days of fast by Medha Patkar and relay hunger strike by nearly 1200 people today at the dharna site and protests and demonstrations in different cities and thousands of letters and faxes to the CM, the Government of Maharashtra agreed to constitute two new joint Committees with the representatives of the civil society.

Earlier in a meeting with Chief Secretary on May 25 an agreement was reached, which got notified today included 1) accepting the proposal for 25 settlements and some more to be given in next few days to be declared as slums under the Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971 after due process within three moneht; b) a meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary to be convened along with NAPM members, Central Government officials and state officials on June 10 on the Rajeev Gandhi Awas Yojana; c) Activation of the existing High Powered Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary, appointed by Honourable HC in 2005 meant for reviewing the policies & recommend, amend or suggest new policies to government of Maharashtra.

Today morning the government representatives came with the draft copy of GR for the two Committees to be constituted, one, four member Committee for the Ganesh Krupa Society and another five member Committee to look in to 15 societies / bastis where 3K projects are to be implemented mostly in Golibar, Antop Hill, Ghatkopar West, Kurla, Andheri West, Bandra East and others.

GBGB and the Government Representatives had two round of discussions on this and then at six'o clock they finally left for further negotiations with the higher officials. We are still waiting to hear from them.

Meanwhile, there has been a report that a demand has been raised by Medha Patkar and GBGB that we want the review of the DCR 33/10 that is Slum Rehabilitation Scheme by the Committee that is to be appointed. We hereby confirm that no such demand has ever been raised during the fast and today when representatives of the Government of Maharashtra, Mr. Prakash Mahajan and Mr. Rokade came to the dharna site. They were given the revised and signed copy of the Government resolution (GR) with suggested changes by Medha Patkar, and no where it was mentioned that we want review of slum rehabilitation scheme by the said Committee.

We are of the view that this is being does intentionally by some bureaucrats who do not want that this people's initiatives of carrying forward the message of CM that builder raj be stopped. With this reasons only they are spreading wrong information and trying to sabotage the process.

We are still hopeful that we will be able to reach out a settlement which will benefit the lakhs of working class people of Mumbai living in low cost housing settlements. On 8th day of fast Medha Patkar's condition deteriorated and she complained of chest pain along with palpitation and weakness. Most of the day she was lying with very little occasional activity. She continued to vomit and complained of burning sensations after that. She has been unable to walk on her own and needs constant support. Syed Zuber who is now on the 4th day of hunger strike is developing signs of weakness but remains in high spirit. The fast continues.

Last night in a meeting of the activists, Ganesh Krupa Hosuing Society decided not to light fire in their kitchens, and also the community kitchen has been shut down from today onwards. In Kolkata a press conference was held in support of the movement where Mahashweta Devio, Kabir Suman, Sujato Bhadra, and others lent their support to the ongoing movement and demanded that Government of Maharashtra resolves the situation immediately.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh

For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

Day 7: Slum Redevelopment Scheme is a Sham. Development With Consent of People is Only Way.

GHAR BACHAO – GHAR BANAO ANDOLAN
Associate of
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS
National Office : A Wing First Floor, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014. Phone – 9818905316 | 9969363065;
E-mail: gbgbandolan@gmail.com | Web : www.napm-india.org
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Slum Redevelopment Scheme is a Sham. Development With Consent of People is Only Way.

May 26, 2011 : “Medha Tai on 7th day of her fast looks frail and weak. We are worried about her but as she is putting her life on death-line for justice, we are all here to be with her.” said Sunita from Ganesh Krupa Society. Like her, many women from different urban settlements kept coming to the dharna site even as Medha Patkar's health continued to deteriorate today. Yesterday five hours of negotiations with the Chief Secretary remained inconclusive, but even then officials came today with the minutes of the same meeting and asking her to withdraw the fast. These minutes were out-rightly rejected and it was conveyed to them that unless an independent enquiry committee is constituted the proposed sub-committee of a non-functional High Powered Committee without any time frame serves no purpose.

The Ball is in Their Court

Medha Patkar said, “the ball is in their court now. We are waiting to hear from Chief Minister. It is only a matter of political will. We have seen impossible things happen in case of Lavasa, like recent case of return of and similar things can happen here.” Mahashweta Devi, Shri Tarun Mandal, SUCI MP from West Bengal, and many other eminent people from different organisations wrote to CM, PM and Ms. Sonia Gandhi in support of the demands of the ongoing agitation and asked them to intervene in view of deteriorating health of Medha Patkar. They will also address a press conference in Kolkata tomorrow.

Aruna Roy, Member, National Advisory Council, spoke to Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minster on the demands of the movement and urged them to hold dialogue and resolve the situation at the earliest.

Who is the Criminal ?

Prabhangi Tarkar, released from the Jail two days ago said that, “we are not fighting against the demolitions only, we are fighting land grab by the builder mafia under SRA scheme. They jail me under false charges of obstructing public servants from doing their duty, breaking people's homes illegitimately, but why are they not arresting Shivalik Builders. Shivalik Ventures has a history of criminal offences. FIRs have been filed against them by CIDCO Nalasopara, MHADA Matunga, Chembur, and Nirmal Nagar Police Station alleging forgery. Director General Income Tax Investigations found connection between Nira Radia-Unitech-Shivalik Ventures with investments of Unitech in the project. Why are they not arresting the Directors and Promoters of Shivalik Ventures and cancelling their letter of Intent.” Simpreet Singh added that Shivalik Ventures has no legitimacy and even experience to be implementing a project of this scale, the foundations of this company are rooted in corruption then why should Maharashtra Government take cover under the Supreme Court Civil Case order, while ignoring the Criminal case order against the Builders by the Mumbai High Court.

SRA redevelopment schemes are nothing but a tool of corruption and land grab. Nearly ten housing societies in Golibar have given written complaints about forgery in seeking their consent, in addition to complaints received against builders Ghatkopar, Kurla, Andheri, Malad, Antop Hill and others. Medha patkar said, “unless the consent of people is taken through Area Sabha in any slum development programme, the real development can't take place.”

Support from Across India

Meanwhile, a number of people from different organisations visited the dharna site in solidarity. Dr. S Parasuraman, Director TISS; Shanti Patel, Ex Mayor; Y P Singh, former police officer and lawyer; Advocate Mihir Desai, Anand Patwardhan, Film maker and many other eminent people came to the dharna site and supported the demands and expressed solidarity with the movement.

Meanwhile in Pune, Nasik; Phirayalal Chowk, Ranchi, Jamshedpur; and Sahashtri Bhawan, Chennai a public meeting and demonstration was organised. Thousands of people have sent letters from Tamilnadu, Delhi, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka have written to CM in various ways. NAPM members and others met President, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and handed him a memorandum on behalf of different organisations. Meanwhile other programmes are being planned and organised in different places across the country.

Shanta Bai also joined the indefinite fast of Medha Patkar and Syed Zuber, who is fasting now for three days. Zuber is in good health and remains determined to get justice for his own family and for the community.

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh

For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

Day 9: Government of Mahrashtra Agrees to 5 major demands of the Andolan & Issues Government Resolution Regarding the Same

Government of Mahrashtra Agrees to 5 major demands of the Andolan & Issues Government Resolution Regarding the Same.

Medha Patkar & Other Activists Break Fast with the Resolve to Further the Struggle for pro-poor Mumbai.
Zameen Haqq Satyagraha from October 2 in Mumbai

May 27, Mumbai : On the day 9th day of Medha Patkar's indefinite fast Shri Prithviraj Chavan, CM accepted the demands of the slum dwellers and issued two Government Resolutions and one order related to the five major demands. The demands that have been accepted include:

Decision regarding declaration of settlements as slum under section 4 of Maharashtra Slum Area Act and to be undertaken for improvement as per section 5.

A joint meeting involving representatives of Government of Maharashtra, Government of India & Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao to discuss implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana in Mumbai.

Activation of the existing High Powered Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary, appointed by Honourable HC in 2005 meant for reviewing the policies & recommend or suggest new policies related to slum housing to government of Maharashtra.

A four member committee chaired by Justice (Retd) H Suresh and Simpreet Singh, Sh. Satish Gawai & K P Bakshi as members to investigate and make recommendations related to Ganesh Krupa, Golibar Society by 15th June to Government of Maharashtra.

A 5 member committee chaired by Justice (Retd) H Suresh and Sh Sudhakar Suradharkar (EX IPS Officer) Simpreet Singh, Sh. S S Zende & Swadhin Kshatriya as members to investigate into 15 SRA & 3K cases of fraud and forgery, including Shivalik Ventures Project, and submit a report by 30th September to government of Maharashtra.

Medha Patkar broke her fast at 1:45 pm, by accepting lemon juice from Akanksha Bai, 80 year old Ganesh Krupa Housing Society Resident who was in jail for resisting demolition. She said, “it is a victory of the lakhs of people fighting for their right to live in the financial capital of India with dignity. The real fight is about the right over land of the poor who make this city what it is. Today the land is being given or grabbed by the builders and influential people like Mukesh Ambani who has built his 27 storey building on the land of Waqf Board. 33,000 Acre land which was either encroached or free, is now available after Land Ceiling Act has been revoked. After 30th September when the work of these Committees would be over, we will launch Land Haqq Satyagraha in Mumbai to capture government land for the poor people of the city. Our CM Prithviraj Chauhan has a bigger battle ahead and against a powerful lobby, if he intends to fight it we are with him, or else we are on the path of struggle and justice and dignity for poor.”

Syed Zuber fasting for the 5th day, said, “what we have achieved today here only shows that if people together come and fight then nothing seems impossible. When we met Chief Secretary three days ago and the way he talked to us further boosted our resolve that we have to take the fight to the finish.”

Simpreet Singh said, “the decisions today is a result of the struggle GBGB has led on many fronts since 2005 and thousands of basti dwellers who have struggled hard to make this come true. The fight is against making this city of the working class, for the working class and by the working class and not of the builder, for the builder and by the builder. With Adarsh Housing Society we showed to the country the kind of nexus between politicians, builders and bureaucracy is going on in Mumbai. We have a long battle ahead to get the recommendations of these Committees implemented.”

Anand Patwardhan, Sudhakar Suradkar, S Parsuraman, Daniel mazgaonkar, Sudhir Badami, Mayank Gandhi, Kamalakar Shenoy and many other people from different organisations and professional fields were present today at the site to be in solidarity.

Photographs, Government Order and Notification, Photographs and Press Release in Marathi can be downloaded from here @ www.napm-india.org

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh
For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

Victory to People's Power What We Asked What We Got : A Factsheet !

Victory to People's Power

What We Asked What We Got : A Factsheet !

Our Demands

Agreement With the Government

Demand for Investigation, Enquiry and Action

Stop all demolitions Immediately

Halt on demolitions till the enquiry by both the Constituted Committees are complete and action taken on the recommendation.

Constitute an Independent Enquiry Committee with our nominees to investigate SRA projects where conflict and protest has arisen between the people and authorities.

A Joint Committee constituted with Justice (Retd) H Suresh, Sudhakar Shuradkar (ex IPS), Simpreet Singh (GBGB) as Civil Society representatives and Swadhin Kshtriya and Shri S S Zende as Government representative to look in to 15 Societies and Slum projects where 3K projects are being including Shivalik Ventures Project in Golibar. Report to be submitted in four months.

Another Committee Constituted with Justice (Retd) H Suresh as Chairperson, Simpreet Singh as representative from civil society and Shri S Gavai and K P Bakshi from the Government Side to look in to the irregularities in the Ganesh Krupa Housing Society 3k Scheme. Report to be submittted by 15 June.

Revoke 3k clause and thus cancel the agreements between builders and SRA for the 6 projects where 3k has been applied, including Shivalik - a part of 2G spectrum scam.

Review SRA scheme itself and modify it to allow Self-development as a feasible option.

The Reports of the Committee to look in to 3K projects will come out with recommendations on the Status of 3 K Scheme and submit report to the Government.

Activation of the existing High Powered Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary, appointed by Honourable HC in 2005 meant for reviewing the policies & recommend, amend or suggest new policies to government of Maharashtra. This Committee was in response to a petition by GBGB-NAPM with four of our representatives on Committee. An interim report to be submitted in 3 months.

Implement Slum Act and declare unauthorised colonies as 'Slums' to carry on slum improvement with basic amenities.

Accepting the proposal for 19 plus other settlements and some more to be given in next few days to be declared as slums under the Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971 after due process within three months.

Implement Rajiv Aawas Yojna across the slums in Mumbai, which promises a house to everyone without one, irrespective of a cut off date through the model of self development.

A meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary to be convened along with NAPM members, Central Government officials and state officials on June 10 on the Rajeev Gandhi Awas Yojana implementation in Mumbai and recommendations for further action.

Policy Matters Requiring Long Term Action

After revoking Urban Land Ceiling Act, 30,000 Acres land should have become available, which can still be acquired by State Government and distributed amongst urban poor and middle class cooperative societies for housing.

2005 High Power Committee will look in to this issue.

No development plan should be without the free prior consent of the Basti Sabha. Bring amendments or a new legislation to incorporate this provision in the Nagar Raj Act.

2005 High Power Committee will look in to this issue.

Revoke all cut off dates in any existing policy or act for supply of water, right to water is a fundamental right of everyone, as of now the cut off date is year 1995.

2005 High Power Committee will look in to this issue.

Sanitation, electricity, and roads should be made available to all BPL families at a priority basis.

2005 High Power Committee will look in to this issue.

Have a meeting with the Secretary, Minister, Controller and the Right to Food State Adviser to implement the universal PDS with efficiency, and without corruption.

2005 High Power Committee will look in to this issue.

Press Release

Victory to People's Power. Government Accept Demands. Medha's Fast Ends

Government of Mahrashtra Agrees to 5 major demands of the Andolan &
Issues Government Resolution Regarding the Same.

Medha Patkar & Other Activists Break Fast with the Resolve to Further the Struggle for pro-poor Mumbai.

Zameen Haqq Satyagraha from October 2 in Mumbai

May 27, Mumbai : On the day 9th day of Medha Patkar's indefinite fast Shri Prithviraj Chavan, CM accepted the demands of the slum dwellers and issued two Government Resolutions and one order related to the five major demands. The demands that have been accepted include:

Decision regarding declaration of settlements as slum under section 4 of Maharashtra Slum Area Act and to be undertaken for improvement as per section 5.

A joint meeting involving representatives of Government of Maharashtra, Government of India & Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao to discuss implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana in Mumbai.

Activation of the existing High Powered Committee, chaired by Chief Secretary, appointed by Honourable HC in 2005 meant for reviewing the policies & recommend or suggest new policies related to slum housing to government of Maharashtra.

A four member committee chaired by Justice (Retd) H Suresh and Simpreet Singh, Sh. Satish Gawai & K P Bakshi as members to investigate and make recommendations related to Ganesh Krupa, Golibar Society by 15th June to Government of Maharashtra.

A 5 member committee chaired by Justice (Retd) H Suresh and Sh Sudhakar Suradharkar (EX IPS Officer) Simpreet Singh, Sh. S S Zende & Swadhin Kshatriya as members to investigate into 15 SRA & 3K cases of fraud and forgery, including Shivalik Ventures Project, and submit a report by 30thSeptember to government of Maharashtra.

Medha Patkar broke her fast at 1:45 pm, by accepting lemon juice from Akanksha Bai, 80 year old Ganesh Krupa Housing Society Resident who was in jail for resisting demolition. She said, "it is a victory of the lakhs of people fighting for their right to live in the financial capital of India with dignity. The real fight is about the right over land of the poor who make this city what it is. Today the land is being given or grabbed by the builders and influential people like Mukesh Ambani who has built his 27 storey building on the land of Waqf Board. 33,000 Acre land which was either encroached or free, is nowavailable after Land Ceiling Act has been revoked. After 30th September when the work of these Committees would be over, we will launch Land Haqq Satyagraha in Mumbai to capture government land for the poor people of the city. Our CM Prithviraj Chauhan has a bigger battle ahead and against a powerful lobby, if he intends to fight it we are with him, or else we are on the path of struggle and justice and dignity for poor."

Syed Zuber fasting for the 5th day, said, "what we have achieved today here only shows that if people together come and fight then nothing seems impossible. When we met Chief Secretary three days ago and the way he talked to us further boosted our resolve that we have to take the fight to the finish."

Simpreet Singh said, "the decisions today is a result of the struggle GBGB has led on many fronts since 2005 and thousands of basti dwellers who have struggled hard to make this come true. The fight is against making this city of the working class, for the working class and by the working class and not of the builder, for the builder and by the builder. With Adarsh Housing Society we showed to the country the kind of nexus between politicians, builders and bureaucracy is going on in Mumbai. We have a long battle ahead to get the recommendations of these Committees implemented."

Anand Patwardhan, Sudhakar Suradkar, S Parsuraman, Daniel mazgaonkar, Sudhir Badami, Mayank Gandhi, Kamalakar Shenoy and many other people from different organisations and professional fields were present today at the site to be in solidarity.

Photographs, Government Order and Notification, Photographs and Press Release in Marathi can be downloaded from here @ www.napm-india.org

Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Daundkar, Deven Nair, Simpreet Singh

For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar (9818905316) | Mukta Srivastava 9969530060

--
National Alliance of People's Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, `A' Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316

E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com | napm@napm-india.org
Web : www.napm-india.org

Government of Maharashtra kneels down before Corporate-Builder-World Bank nexus

· Government of Maharashtra kneels down before Corporate-Builder-World Bank nexus.
· People-Public-Partnership not Private-Public-Partnership.
· We oppose profit-oriented policy, to struggle and work for a rights enabling policy.

The much awaited Draft Housing Policy, released
yesterday, is a step to boost growth in the Real Estate market and the
aim of Affordable Housing has been kept elusive and a distant dream.
With its 42 percent of population living in slums, which for the
country is 27%, the State of Maharashtra has 26 percent of the
country's total slum dwellers population amounting to 22 lakh families.
The draft Policy should have been a sincere exercise to correct these
distortions, but it has not been so. The Draft is clearly geared
towards not only facilitating but also orienting and supporting the
profiteering motives of the private sector. It widens the scope for the
nexus of builders-corporates-lending agencies to interfere in the
constitutional-pro people-democratic decision making processes. The
proposed Reforms are not social or pro-people rather would further
shrink the available space for the poor in the cities. With the
conspicuous absence of any Civil Society representative on the board,
on contrary having builders in the draft formulation process, was bound
to bring these imbalances.

The concept 'cities without slums' sounds hollow
without a people centric framework of decision-making and
implementation. No city anywhere can be slum less if the drafts of the
housing policy are drafted with having builders on board, whose only
motive is profiteering. Now calling for public debate is, but a
half-heartedly exercise, carried to complete the 'formality' of
people's participation. Urban Renewal in such a scenario is nothing but
a manifestation of urban untouchability as all over, the poor, the
working class, in the name of renewal are facing removal from the
central locations of the cities and being thrown out/ rehabilitated on
the periphery of the cities.

The self-acclaimed progressiveness and
pro-activeness of the State government is bulldozed by the fact that it
has the largest concentration of the slum dwellers in the country that
are forced to exist in in-human, conditions, but amidst vulgar
prosperity of the few, which is being facilitated and supported by
various State players. Though the Government, in the Draft has claimed
for the 'successful' implementation of the existing housing schemes,
like Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana, but the facts point towards the
opposite. The Latest Audit report by the CAG lambasted the government
for irregularities, under and non-utilization of allotted funds, breach
of guidelines, and excessive payments to implementing agencies in the
schemes/programs meant for the slum dwellers

The reported Cabinet's approval to the repeal the Urban land Ceiling
Act(ULCRA) exposes the moral bankruptcy of the government, which
kneeling down, in front of the World Bank and Builders lobby has take
this decision. Implementation of ULCRA can solve, once for all, the
issue of land availability.

With violations of Development Plan and relaxations of the land use
reservations, abound, any proposal of development through Public
Private Partnership of the PH/HD plots is highly objectionable.
The proposal for doing away the responsibility of Collector for
granting permission for any non-agricultural purpose dilutes the
existing checks and balance mechanisms.

Rather than introducing Private Public Partnership model in Housing of
migrant laborers, the provisions of the Inter State Migrant Welfare Act
should be strictly implemented, which fixes the responsibility to the
employer.

· Liberalizing Development Control Rules is clearly a case of
interference of Capital in the legislative domain. What sort of
amendments will be made in the Rent Control Act have not been spelled
out, thus raise suspicion.

In the current scenario the very concept of 'public projects' becomes
contestable. Can any elitist, pro-rich-unsustainable and anti poor
project be defined as a public project? Thus the clause of resettlement
of slums located on infrastructure land and public projects is
objectionable.
In-situ redevelopment of slums through mandatory role of residents by
granting rights to Basti Sabhas should have been clearly spelled out in
the Draft.
Introduction of Competitive Bidding mechanism is an assault on the
people's participation in decision-making processes.
Audit of the Slum Rehabilitation/Redevelopment Scheme should be the
exclusive domain of the slum dwellers/residents themselves, not any
third party.
Construction of five lakh Low Income Group Houses in next three years
is too little as Mumbai alone has 12 lakh families residing in slums.

The fact that the State Government has not bothered for
the Report of the High Powered Committee formed under the Chairman ship
of Chief Secretary, Maharashtra after the directions of Mumbai High
Court in a case filed by NAPM, which was to work for a Affordable
Housing Policy proves beyond doubt the intentions and real
goals/objectives of the government and this draft policy. People along
with the Organizations will take forward the issue of Affordable
Housing Policy, a draft of which has been earlier also submitted to the
concerned. Till the goal of Affordable Housing, which is in congruence
wit heth livelihoods, is achieved, the struggle for the same will
continue.

Simpreet Singh
Mohan Chavan
Anwari Sheikh
Medha Patkar

Guns, Jail for People and Roses for Corporates;

Guns, Jail for People and Roses for Corporates;
Policies like SEZ Can Only Be Implemented By Resorting to State Repression

A collective of people's movements and organisations from all across the country, under the banner of Sangharsh 2007 has been sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar since the 19th of March. Planned as an indefinite struggle in Delhi, till UPA government listens to the concerns of the majority of India¡¦s population, Action 2007 has conducted a Jan Sansad on a number of key issues that the Parliament of India does not deem fit to engage in serious discussion about. Wide range of issues, largely placed under 11 categories were discussed in the Jan Sansad. However, unfortunately any of the ministers of or many of the bureaucrats did not feel necessary to attend the People¡¦s Parliament or to take account of the concerns raised ¡V after repeated invitations. The Jan Sansad organized detailed discussions on many issues as every major and minor policy and projects cause large scale displacement, dispossession, dis-employment and de-humanisation in India and the political establishment and ruling classes refuse to even recognize these as problems.

State Repression & Shrinking Democratic Space

As many of those invited from ministries and other constitutional authorities did not dare to be present with people to discuss issues, women from Action 2007 had approached the planning commission on 22nd March 2007 (World Water Day) to demand a meeting with the planning authority of the country. However, the brutal state repressions that was carried out through the Rapid Action Force and Delhi Police only proved the apprehensions about state intent to implement anti-people policies with police protection. Including Medha Patkar, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Simpreet Singh, Sanjeev and Sr. Celia, as many as 62 people were given 15 days of judicial remand in Tihar Jail for demonstrating outside a government office.

Due to an intervention from higher judiciary, all those accused have been granted bail by the 26th March 2007. However, the government has shown no willingness to withdraw the false cases charged on peaceful demonstrators.

It is now crystal clear that people across the country, both affected and those concerned about public policy, are rising in revolt be it the SEZ Policy & Act, the JNURM, the issue of slum demolitions, or of hawkers¡¦ dis-employment. The Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised sections are on the verge of boycotting the state, which has only been an oppressor. In face of such strong opposition the Government can only push these policies only by recourse to violent repression as witnessed in Delhi on 22nd March with ACTION 2007 activists, and with the Kuki students on 23rd March ¡¦07. Given the State & Police attitude to people¡¦s resistance Nandigram is only a logical culmination, no matter how much blood flows. When the State and its other arms resort to violence the issue is not only the overt repression but also the constant effort to prevent people from expressing themselves, and shrinking democratic space. It will have to be concern of every conscientious citizen and particularly peoples¡¦ movements to challenge and prevent that.

SEZ & Issues

Representatives from people¡¦s organizations and communities across the country marched from Jantar Mantar yesterday, 26th March to protest against the Special Economic Zones being set up in the country.

„X The large scale forced acquisition of land (for the ¡§public purpose¡¨ of promoting private profit), the loss of agricultural land for real estate speculation which is an assault on the nation¡¦s farmers as well as food security has been the most critical concern
„X The SEZ Act compromises severely on sovereignty of the country by making thousands of hectares of land ¡§foreign territory¡¨.
„X Fishworkers movements from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh have raised issues of destruction of the coastline by SEZ projects.
„X Unprecedent Environmental destruction and usurpation of natural resources by SEZ projects. For instance, 33 projects are coming up in Konkan region alone leading to a complete destruction of the Western Ghats forests.
„X Scarcity of water and power, especially due to SEZs coming up close to Urban Centres has been raised as an issue.
„X The problem of unregulated labour exploitation has been seen in existing SEZs and will worsen further with the dilution of labour legislations.
„X The Ministry of Finance itself has raised the issue of huge revenue losses to the state exchequer.

A veritable double faced policy
On the one hand people are told that the market and the invisible hand will determine this and on the other, the State acquires land for corporates. Since the past one year communities have issued memorandums and appeals consistently raising these concerns about the establishment of SEZs. But instead of having a dialogue the state machinery has resorted to violently suppressing people's protests, as the entire world witnessed through the media coverage of the merciless killings of the peasants in places like Nandigram. This will remain a shameful scar imprinted on the memory of the public.

We are aware that the Empowered Group of Ministers under the chairmanship of Shri Pranab Mukherjee is reviewing the SEZ policy and legislation. However, we do not see any of the issues being raised by the people's groups addressed in the government's review process. In this dismal scenario, the consensus emerging is for a country-wide intensification of the struggle against SEZs and scrapping of the SEZ Act 2005.

Action ¡V Next Phase
As part of our efforts to hold the state accountable for its policies and to make transparency in governance, different delegations from the movements represented in Sangharsh will meet with different ministries, concerned citizens and political parties in the coming days. The political dialogues will focus on issues relating to land acquisitions, SEZ, unorganised sector legislation and issues, Dalit, Adivasi and women¡¦s rights issues, issues of urban poor, hawkers, etc.

Co-ordination Committee ACTION 2007

For further details please visit-www.action2007.net
Delhi Office: Action 2007, 1-A, Goela Lane, Under Hill Road Civil Lines, Delhi ¡V 54 Tel.: 011-23933307
Rajendra Ravi (0-9868200316 ), Vijayan MJ (0-9868165471 ) E-Mail: action2007@gmail.com
Mumbai Office: Action 2007, C/0 Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 28-29, First Floor 'A wing' Haji Habib Building,
Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (East), Mumbai-400014

ITALIAN FIAT JOINS TATAS IN SINGUR

Italian team with 430 members in India for Tata-Fiat project at Singur.
• One Italian Parliamentarian raises questions.
• Tatas are to lose credibility, not credit this way.

It is not news that FIAT is to join Tata as a partner in the ill-formed Singur project. The 50-50 equity in this joint venture is to take the project ahead, rather would enable the West Bengal Government push it at the huge cost to the local farmers, farmland and other resources and democracy itself. Tatas are very much in the Italian news, gaining much publicity not only as a millionaire purchasing Corus but also as a 'spiritual capitalist'.

A team of 430 persons including the PM, the ministers, officials, businessmen and others are already in India. They reached Kolkata and the Italian PM was felicitated by Calcutta University. The team apparently visited Kolkata announcing that they had arrived for a felicitation and doctorate to be confirmed upon the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, at the Kolkata University. This is however concealing the main purpose behind the visit.

The Italian newspaper 'LA Rebublica' as a commercial deal announced the news of Tata-FIAT joint venture in 2005. The main features of the deal declared were" strategic alliance to explore opportunities of mutual benefit, sharing of common vehicle platforms between the two companies and even possible joint development of models, which could be badged and sold by both companies in different geographies".

Here in India too, our national dailies reported that FIAT is to be in. (The Times of India published an interview on Jan 18, 2006). Tata is not expected to save the fast sinking car maker FIAT earlier, but it is now to happen after the Tatas could extract cheap iron in Jharkhand and take the risk in Singur. The news again appeared in La Republica as "Auto low-cost FIAT-Tata" expressing some skepticism about the low price, 3 times less expensive than the other automakers. There was news in November and December 2006 in other major Indian dailies too, about 4000 crore investment to be shared by TATA and FIAT.

Tatas were again projected as ‘Number One’ industry and rising star of the stock exchange in 'Panorama' an Italian weekly, having a reassuring effect. On January 22nd, 2006, The Hindu declared this as flashy news. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was a special invitee speaker at the seminar held at Turin, organized by a governmental organization.

THE INFORMATION ABOUT FIAT-TATA DEAL REFERRED TO RANJANGAON FACTORY FIRST BUT IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT THE PROJECT THEY ARE HIGHLIGHTING NOW IS CERTAINLY THE 1 LAKH RUPEES WORTH CHEAP CAR FACTORY, JUST WITHOUT MENTIONING 'SINGUR' (SEE NEWS IN THE AUTOMOBILE BUSINESS REVIEW). Is this project anything other than one to come up in Singur? It cannot be, since there is no plan for a similar project by Tatas at any other venue announced as yet. Is there any?

When the Italian delegation is in India and is to visit Kolkata, is anyone watching? The team must be questioned on what they know of Singur, Tatas and Government's relation with the people. Those concerned of the serious conflict in Singur, the struggle and repression by the West Bengal government, the campaign of falsehood by the State and the Party in power and the wider issues involved, reflected in the people's war for survival, SHOULD WRITE IMMEDIATELY TO THE AUTHORITIES AND MEMBERS OF THE DELEGATION, EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE AND WARNING THEM AGAINST ENGAGING THEMSELVES IN A PROJECT WHICH IS BUILT, NOT ONLY VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF INDIAN CITIZENS BUT ALSO FIAT’S OWN MANDATE ON SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY. (Email contacts given below)

Medha Patkar Simpreet Singh Mukta Srivastava

Indefinite Dharna against SEZs in Pen

* Villagers from Raigad dist. sit on indefinite dharna outside Pen Tehsil Office against wrongful issuance of Land Acquisition notices for Reliance SEZ.
* Corrupt nexus of local official and Reliance exposed! Will anybody take action?

The residents of 24 villages of the Pen Tehsil have started an indefinite dharna from 5th Feb, outside the Pen Tehsil office opposing and condemning the still continuing Land Acquisition for the Maha Mumbai SEZ. It is ironical that even after the assurance of the Chief Minister Shri Vials Rao Deshmukhji, to the activists and the affected villagers during their meeting on 12th Dec 2006, this illegal process of serving notices is continuing.

The actions of the local authorities is also in the violation of the decision and order of the

Group of Empowered Ministers on SEZ on the non-acquisition of land for the non-notified SEZ. Till date the Maha Mumabi SEZ has not been notified and has only been issued In-Principle Approval, thus as per the SEZ Act and Rules 2006 the land cannot be acquired.

After the issuance of section 4 notices(under Land Acquisition Act) to the residents of these villages, the residents as well as Gram Panchayats had submitted objections to the competent authorities. While the hearings were going on, on these objections the latest move of the land acquisition is violation of the procedure to be followed for land acquisition clearly defined and spelt out in the Land Acquisition Act. Objections to the proposal of the SEZ have also been raised by the state Irrigation Department.

It is condemnable that with all these violations of the law and legal procedures not followed, changes have been made in the 7/12 documents of the affected land. Also the Green Zone Reservation still stands and has not been modified.

All these illegalities and violations point toward the corrupt nexus of the bureaucrats and the developer i.e Reliance who are all out to grab the land from the residing, self sufficient villagers including Dalits and women.

The affected people have decided to sit on indefinite dharna till their demand of following the established procedures and law is not accepted and the illegal notices issued are cancelled/withdrawn. Till then the struggle for their democratic and human rights will continue.

Ulka Mahajan Govardhan Patil

( 9869232478) (9422689597)

24 Villages SEZ Sangharsh Samiti

Indomitable Struggle is on at Singur & Nandigram.

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS*
*C/o CHEMICAL MAZDOOR SABHA, FIRST FLOOR, HAJI HABIB BUILDING,*
*NAIGAON CROSS ROAD, DADAR (E), MUMBAI 400014, *
*mumbainapm@gmail.com, nba.medha@gmail.com *

* *

*Indomitable Struggle is on at Singur & Nandigram. *
*The repressive state and vulgar politics continues to be challenged. *

Singur has not given up. Nor has Tata started its work. A wall that is being built & is already upto 2 to 3 kms in length and 10 feet in height does not seem to be of Tatas. The Tata officials and employees don't seem to be present. People in whose name this well known conflict has been raised are not aware of either who is building the wall or where are Tata's men. The only outsider force that is in and around is still of policemen and women.

Hundreds of the police, may be tired of being on the land in the open but they are not timid. They may not have section 144 to support but the State is with them. Even without CPM cadres now entering Singur to harass and pressurize the farmers, bargadars and labourers there, the State's presence is felt and faced by those whose land is being encroached upon, who are brutally beaten, who are trying to be lured and scared to give away their land.

Singur, unlike the impressions outside, is still fighting with strength and spirit. Thousands of bargadars, labourers and also landholders are not for the forcible occupation of land although fencing of 997 acres of the land, protected by the sheer police force ie., the State's might stands. People too were on the sit-in, in front of the fence on the land not to be acquired. One does find TMC & SUCI representatives there, the Trimanool Congress MLA, Rabindranath, Master Moshai, with other people, student activists supporting them by staying with and being with the village folk, but the whole community is in the struggle, except of course those who have allowed their land to be taken over and accepted cheques not all of which, we are told, are still fully encashed.

When we reached Singur and walked through Beraberi, everything was the same- women, young and old, coming out of their houses, leaving their chores and chanting slogans, welcoming us; at least are at every few furlongs blowing the shell. However, the moment we decided to move towards the fence only to have a look at the fields under siege, hundreds of police encircled us, as if we were to uproot the fence. When they began walking with us it was all right, till they started touching and slightly pushing some of us. The women got upset with the same and started questioning the police who had
encroached upon the land not under acquisition plan. No one had any weapon in the hands except the voice that all of them raised. The police however were bent upon creating a law and order problem and pretending to protect us, the outside visitors, they actually started manhandling the local leaders when we were one foot away from the fence and repeatedly saying that we would not uproot it but we did have the right to touch it. With in a few minutes, when I had three years old child in my hand, I saw the police beating Mamatha Bag and they also began lathi charging others including Prasanth Sinha and Suprathik Das. With in minutes after our raising voice asking them to leave, they withdrew leaving behind seven wounded persons and us to fight the sheer illegality and brutality of the State machinery. Women not belonging to partisan politics kept on challenging the police officials including Kalyan Mukherjee, the ill reputed SDPO, Mr. Sirkar, Mr. Sandeep Bannerjee, Mr. Asit Pal (the names I remember may be with slight mistake) and it was a scene of the peasantry taking the supporters of capitalism by
horns.

We did go to the nearest police station with comrades from APDR (Mr. Amit Duty Kumar), NAPM (Pranab Bannerjee, Debjeet and others) as well as Chhatra Sanhati and the wounded villagers lodged FIRs.

This is not the end of the matter. Tata's as well as CPM is bent upon continuing with and forcibly pushing Tata-Fiat project. Tata's are being awarded while Mr. Prody, the PM of Italy was conferred a Doctorate by the Calcutta University.

How powerful is going Krishi Raksha Samiti to be in fighting these giants is to yet to be seen. Much depends on us, those who are for a secular yet popular "and humane agenda and Development perspective" Do whatever you can to spread the message of Singur, the truth that is suppressed with the campaign of falsehood, write to the Italians--parliamentarians, power holders, activists, as well as common people fighting corporatisation themselves--and also with priority, questioning the Left Front.

Will CPI and RSP, Forward Bloc take further courage and stand by people., ask them, please.

And all of this before the movement gets crushed....

*In Singur, People continue to face repression** ***

Nandigram is still burning with anger and anguish both. The battle is far from over. As the women told us, they are awake every night protecting the land and habitats with a threat of armed cadres and policemen entering the region to attack and grab the land. It was an intense people's response to
every meeting of ours organized by Krishi Bhumi Uchched Virodhi Samiti. With each meeting covering about 10 small and large villages, had a gathering of 2000 - 5000 people attending, with women as majority. We could thus cover 20,000 or more people and address them. We, the representatives of National Alliance of People's Movements with our allies including Jan Sangharsh Samiti, Pashcim Bang Khet Mazdoor Samiti and others, moved on the motor bikes in the area which has become a battle field and is cut-off from the rest of the state and country due to the trenches dug all over and small
bridges broken with temporary rafts for the residents and the admitted guests to cross.

Whatever the people of chemical hub- SEZ affected area have gone through during last few days and months was evident from the articulated presentation by the local leaders such as Nand Patra of SUCI, Abdus Samad of Jamiyat Ulema Hind, and women too, all united under the banner of Bhavni Uched Virodhi Samiti. They have been on the watch, day and night since during last one month too, there have been at-least two serious attacks when a few hundred CPM cadres entered the area, with the help of police and tried to threaten and even harass and move the people. When they looked as if they were scared, there came a prompt reply to my question: we are not, we will not be tired or timid either we can't afford to be. The attacking men have been the Communist Party of India cadres, no doubt and recently when crisis erupts, the violence by the villagers is not just reported to the press but cases are filed against the to-be affected, struggling people. The wounded youths showed us a cut finger, a fractured hand while their aged parents wept. The latest among the fake allegation was of raping a woman, which is totally denied by the movement, which has large participation of women.

When we decided to visit Nandigram, it was to assess the latest situation, the State repression, if any and the people's response. Since the area was cut-off from the rest of the region, we were bound to proceed only with the aid of activists-representatives who could take us on the bikes but not
welcome or even allow others.

On the way to Nandigram in Midnapore, Tamluk and a few other small towns, we were welcome and felicitated by a number of local and state level organizations including trader's organization, teacher's, women's, freedom fighter's organization & SUCI with its various fronts.

When we reached closer to Nandigram, followed and escorted by atleast 4 police vehicles, it was at Hanfchara where there were red flags and cadre members of CPI (M) protesting against our visiting Nandigram. They were less than hundred but shouting with all strength and fervour, challenging our
position against SEZ & Industrialisation at the cost of farmers and farmland. We sensed their attacking mood and did not get down the jeeps we were in, but against the police advice, I did peep out trying with folded hands, expressing willingness to have a dialogue but in response, they didn't attack me but broke the side mirror of our jeep and hit the driver of another jeep, also slightly hurting Anuradha Talwar who was inside that jeep. The police escorted us, clearing the way and it seemed the party
agitators too were not determined to stop us for ever. We faced the same at one more point and could reach Nandigram.

With photographers & supporters, atleast 15 motorcycles led us to the first meeting place, crossing the breached bridges, dug-pits and trenches where atleast 1000 people had gathered. A majority of them women, the crowd appeared overwhelmed to receive us and all including the leaders were been to hear the news from outside. Hindu-Muslim unity and beyond, the solidarity was expressed through their gestures, welcoming slogans and our speeches. At every meeting point, where we reached on bikes, people had gathered walking down long distances and yet women had overcrowded, bringing children along. Not all woman spoke from the dais-like table and mike wherever it was arranged but their presence, communication with us, before and after the meeting, anxious looks and patient hearing, slogan raising, ending gesture conveyed their keen interest as well as commitment. I remembered our first meeting in Nandigram on December 7th when only a handful of women had gathered in a corner and I had to comment on the same while the picture has changed much today.

Discussing some strategic issues, gathering information on varied events and occurrences during last one month or so. We addressed a last Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee meeting where party politics were kept out to the extent possible.

When we were about to move, we were informed, warned of the likely and more intense demonstrations by CPM but we expressed our confidence and asked the leaders not to worry.

Amidst a number of police vehicles full of intelligence to action force, we reached a village(Fullimore) called apparently called CPM stronghold and found about 125 CPM workers with flags fluttering on the top, standing with their backs towards us & sharing us the buttocks as appealed by Biman Bose. Their vulgar postures meant showing buttocks to us and spitting at us too. It appeared that women didn't take to this action, probably because they were hesitant to take to such disgraceful form of protest. Our jeeps passed by with full police protection leaving the small number of protestors as well as large masses facing and struggling against violence of every kind.

What conclusion can one draw from the above incidences? First, the Left front is still stubborn and not for any dialogue (Refer my two letters to Left Front leaders - remain unanswered.) *Second, *the people position whether in Singur or in Nadigram is the same. While the West Bengal government is trying to show it is for democratic decision in Nandigram, thousands of women and men have narrated to us stories of continued attacks from CPM cadres, till as late as last week. There is no doubt that people of
Nandigram are also creating barriers and reverting the attackers. The news that bomb in preparation got burst and few of CPM cadres died is not denied by the government, and confirms the people's allegation of weaponization of the opponents. In Singur TMC, SUCI and other party / organizations continue to have programs under the banner of KMRC as also separately.

The question is not what is happening in Singur and Nandigram or other places in Bengal where this struggle is spread at, but what are the progressive people across the country doing? Inspite of a few teams of activists, academicians, historians, advocates etc., having visited the places of struggle as fact finders, the reports and continued stories by the regional language media in West Bengal (if not the national media), the Left Front office bearers to the Cabinet has not felt the need to respond to people's demands. The somewhat different position taken by CPI, RSP, and forward bloc has not been able to compel the state government withdraw its onslaught on the people. No doubt SEZ by Salim Industries, Mitsubishi (Japan) and other global corporates is kept on hold for the time being but the violent threat and intimidation as also false accusations to harassment through legal actions and unwarranted, undemocratic attitude and insulting actions in arrogance against the supporters continue. When thousands of intellectuals, including advocates and academicians have taken a stance and boldly supported the people's struggles; raised a serious public debated through art and articles, it is indeed shameful that the Left front does not heed to the voice of the villagers--proletariat-- and the civil society.

When there is a civil war on, and when the fate of Singur and Nandigram is to surely influence the course of future decision on SEZ and people's rights to natural resources, *WE CANNOT KEEP QUIET.*

Let us write to Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukerjee, the PM and our once own Chief Minister.

Do it at the earliest, please, asking them to intervene and stop the atrocities, withdraw TATA-FIAT project in Singur and the Chemical Hub in Nandigram.

*BE WITH US. *

*Medha Patkar*

Letter FROM Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer to Prakash Karat on Nandigram

Letter FROM Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer to Prakash Karat on Nandigram

URGENT March 15, 2007

My dear Prakash Karat,

I adore you as the top leader of the Marxist Party even as I hold Com. Jyoti Basu as a creative wonder of the Communist Marxist Party. As you know, I remained in power with the Communist Government in 1956 in Kerala under the charismatic Chiefministership of EMS, the great Leftist thinker. But alas!, in West Bengal things are murky, capitalism is happy, poor peasantry is in privation and deprivation, if newspaper reports throw light on events objectively. We, in 1957, came to power by the ballot and rarely, if ever, used the bullet, with the result the police violence was hardly an instrument against the peasantry.

Look at the contrast. The brutality and bloodshed, at the instance of the police force is now bulleting of humble humanity. I had and have great hopes that the Marxists if in power, will rule with compassionate ideology and win votes and people’s co-operation beyond party barriers. But to my horror, the terror practiced yesterday at Nandigram fills me with dread and disappointment. The illusion of exploitative power has led the ministry to govern by the gun. The consequent bloodshed demands your urgent attention and commands the party’s authority to arrest the frequency of bloodshed policy and police barbarity. Sri. Sumit Chakravartty telephoned me last night about the police misuse of firepower. If true, I protest and entreat you and the party to take immediate action and restore the basic proposition that Communist Government is not power with violent weapons. And action at party level must be taken if governance over humanity is for the benefit of the
peasantry. I am sure, thousands like me will be shocked by the Nandigram incident. Please, please have some regard for those who feel that socialism is not terrorism, but humanism; and misrule by gun will not be the rule of the Left in State authority. Do forgive me for expressing my strong feelings with the expectation that the Left Administration believe and practice as a fundamental for the humble people, not for the proprietariat with the brute force of the bullet.

With high regards,
Yours sincerely,

(V.R. KRISHNA IYER)
To,
Sri. Prakash Karat
General Secretary
Communist Party of India (Marxist)
New Delhi

NAPM declaration 2012: Time to say stop to “Development” itself

Time to say stop to “Development” itself

9th biennial convention of NAPM concludes with resolve to fight neo-liberalism and work for its alternatives

Thrissur, November 19 : “Vikash Chahiye, Vinash Nahi”, (We want development, not destruction) has been the slogan, but the time in post-growth times has come, when we have to say call for 'full stop' to development itself, or else we are doomed, said noted feminist writer and activist, Sara Joseph speaking at the concluding session of the 9th biennial convention of NAPM at Green Salsabeel School here. M P Parmeshwaran, noted marxist and ideologue said, the search for alternatives has to be rooted to the ideas of Gandhi, Kumarappa but it must be in tune with today's reality. The Convention ended on this note with Medha Patkar echoing the same sentiments and calling for an united forum of the social movements working for an alternative to the current political form and development paradigm and develop a blueprint for visions of more equitable and just society. Ashok Chaudhary, of NFFPFW said that the people are ahead of the politics today and we have to listen to the voices of the people, which people's movements are only doing today.

The three day declared their programmatic agenda and concluded at Thrissur today, resolving to take forward the primary mandate of Sangharsh and Nirman [Struggle and Reconstruction] with establishment of a navnirman manch within NAPM. The fight for the control over jal, jungle, zameen by the communities will be fought tooth and nail through the gram sabhas and mohalla sabhas declared the convention and decentralisation of power is the only way out. A new conveners team was constituted with an aim to form a comprehensive National People’s Movement. Desh Bachao Desh Banao and Sansaadan bachao, Sansaadan Banao, as the key visionary slogans, will guide the movement.

NAPM will protest, along with the other movements and groups at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi against the proposed Land Acquisition Bill in the upcoming Parliament session. NAPM will dialogue with India against Corruption with an assertive proposal to discuss the issue of land rights and declare their opposition to the proposed Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 in their upcoming Delhi convention on 24th November. NAPM will be calling for a roundtable between all political parties on the crucial issue of FDI to understand the different view- points and demand a clear pro-people position.

On the issue of nuclear power and energy, a dialogue between experts, officials, activists and representatives of affected communities of Tamil Nadu along with an expert committee to understand the socioeconomic impacts which will be mediated by NAPM is proposed. A yatra of the urban struggle groups in the southern states has been planned for the last week of December to raise the issues of urban poor. NAPM proposes to bring out specific policy documents with a pro-people perspective in various sectors- especially energy, water, health, education, food sovereignty, land & forest issues, livelihood, climate change, transport and internal & external security.

It is also decided to constitute working groups on various issues including Dalit and Adivasi rights, minorities rights, gender justice, human rights, electoral reforms, cultural initiative etc. NAPM shall work in close association with political parties who are willing to dialogue with people’s movements and take a stand on concerned raised. Besides these common programmes, state levels actions and initiatives have been charted out. The plenary also passed a resolution to ban purchase and use of bottled water, to promote use of public transport, renewable energy alternatives, organic farming, co-operatives and village industry.

Campaigns for amendment of the Panchayati Raj laws and the Sc/ST act shall also be taken up. Workshops with lawyers for social justice shall be organized in various states. Concrete steps to strengthen NAPM within the various states by involving numerous movements, organizations, progressive persons and groups were also spelt out. It was also decided that NAPM will join the Jan Sansad with all other organisations on various issues to raise the relevant issues, with an aim at General Elections of 2014.

The new team of national conveners include, Andhra pradesh : Ramakrishna Raju; Bihar / Jharkhand : Kamayani Swami and Mahendra Yadav; Kerala : C R Neelakandan; Gujarat : Krishnakant, Madhya Pradesh : Dr. Sunilam; Asaam : Akhil Gogoi, Orissa : Prafulla Samantara; Tamilnadu : Gabriele Dietrich; Maharashtra : Suniti S R and Vilas Bhongade; Uttar Pradesh : Arundhati Dhuru; and Delhi : Bhupinder Singh Rawat along with Medha Patkar, P Chennaiah, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Sister Celia, Anand Mazgaonkar as Advisers and B.D. Sharma, Aruna Roy, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey as special invitee to the National Convening Team. In addition, Shrikanth, Vimal Bhai and Madhuresh Kumar were appointed as national organisers.

Call for details : Madhuresh 9818905316, C R Neelkandan 9446496332

or write to napmindia@gmail.com

--
===============================================
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai - 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org
Facebook : www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia

NATIONAL URBAN DEVELOPMENT STRUGGLE AND ACTION COMMITTEE

NATIONAL URBAN DEVELOPMENT STRUGGLE AND ACTION COMMITTEE
NUDSA, C/O National Alliance of People's Movements, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai-400014, Phone No: 022-24150529

Press Note | October 29, 2006

NATIONAL URBAN POOR YATRA CULMINATES IN KOLKOTTA

National Urban Poor Yatra Reaches Kolkota
Challenges JNNURM, SEZ, FDI / DI in retail
Vows to continue the struggle

The National Urban Poor Yatra which started from Mumbai on October 3rd, World Habitat Day reached Kolkota after traveling through 18 cities in 10 states. The Yatra was aimed at linking urban poor in their struggles for housing, livelihood and participation in governance. The yatra also interacted with organizations working in the urban areas trying to understand the challenges and struggles against urban impoverishment and exploitation.

The Yatra was undertaken by the Urban Development Struggle and Action Committee, which is an alliance of more than 50 groups from various urban areas, with the active support from National Alliance of People's Movements and National Hawkers Federation.

The Yatra went through Mumabi – Pen – Mangaoan – Pune- Bangalore- Chennai – Thiruvananthapuram – Kochi – Hyderabad – Bijapore – Indore – Bhopal – Raipur – Bhubaneshwar – Ranchi – Bokaro – Kolkota. In Kolkotta various street corner meeting were held explaining the objectives of the yatra and opposing JNNURM, SEZ and entry of foreign capital and big national capital in retail sector.

The Yatra met slum dwellers organizations, hawker's organizations, activists, academicians to develop an urban poor perspective in the changing landscape of the city with more and more poor being pushed away from even the restricted spaces within the city. The situation of the urban poor was similar in different cities with lack of adequate and affordable housing, security of tenure, threat of displacement due to urban development including beautification with out proper rehabilitation and un accounting of the contribution of the poor's in building the cities. There is an increasing understanding of the demographic transition that has occurred in the country where more and more people are now living in the cities and the changes in the production patterns and wealth creation.

The present phase of urbanization which is being accelerated by capitalistic development which converts commodities of land and water is diametrically opposed to the existential and livelihood concerns of the poor. The land being valued speculatively due to real estate business drives poor out of those spaces into ever expanding fringes of the city. The livelihoods of the people are also being threatened by big capital replacing the local production and distribution networks. The employment situation of the cities is already grim with closure of factories and mills which used to provide mass employment and informalisation of production process. More and more people are working without social security, protection under labor laws in the informal sector. The entry of foreign companies and National Capitalists into the retail sector is a matter of increasing concern as they will wipe out the small business and retailing by hawkers and street vendors. This will have a negative effective not only on the small business but also on lower and middle class consumers as they will have to pay prices decided by the big business with profit being the prime motive.

The housing situations in all the cities are unfavorable to the urban poor where more than 50% people are staying in slums with lack of basic services. The withdrawal of the state from the welfare of the people to that of enabling of large scale actors are playing a disaster not only to the poor but also to the lower and middle class population. The displacement of slums for urban renewal and beautification is encroaching on the spaces of poor within the city and their rights to housing and employment. The rehabilitation sites often are insensitive to the needs of the urban slum dwellers where they are thrown away from the city incurring more and more unviable expenditure on transportation. The nearness of livelihood and housing of the urban poor needs to be the principle in urban rehabilitation. More over the rehabilitation sites lack basis services including water, transportation facilities, and access to schools – hospitals etc. There is a huge nexus between the builders and politicians resulting in more and more land grab in urban areas.

It is in this context, the National Urban Poor Yatra raised questions about JNNURM which aims at full cost recovery of basic services which infact means privatization of water, electricity, education, health etc. This will result in deprivation of the urban poor and their cut off from basic services. The mandatory reforms of repulsion of Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act (ULCRA) and Rent Control act will mean centralization of more and more land in the hands of corporate players. The concept of Private Public partnership is nothing but profit to the private and costs to the masses. There is a need for effective planning with the participation of the people in building equitable societies and this cannot be given in the hands of profit driven corporate players. The Development authorities who are in charge of planning needs to have direct people representation and Metropolitan Councils and local governing bodies need to be given the charge of planning as envisaged by the 74 th constitutional amendment. JNNURM is a direct violation of the constitutional spirit of decentralization of governance and creation of an equitable society.

The National Urban Poor Yatra has received wide support from various sections of the urban poor and progressive forces. The struggles will now join hands with other sections of population who faces dispossession and exploitation. The spaces and rights of the urban poor who constitute the majority of the city is also a struggle to democratize the society and building an equitable society, such a struggle will have to build people centric democratic cities which complement the villages.

Shaktiman Ghosh Rajendra Ravi Raju Bhise Simpreet Singh Maju Varghese

Medha Patkar

Nandigram to Naxalbari: CPI(M)'s Tiananmen Square

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Must Resign – His Belated 'Regret' Is Grossly Insufficient and Insincere

(A 20-member Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI (ML)] team comprising of Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Kartick Pal and senior state leaders Dr. Partha Ghosh, and Sankar Mitra, women leaders Meena Pal and Chaitali Sen, All India Students Association (AISA) leader Malay Tewari and editor of the Party's Bengali weekly organ Deshbrati Animesh Chakraborty visited the carnage-ravaged areas and people of Nandigram on 17 March. They also talked to injured victims undergoing medical treatment at the district hospital at Tamluk and the extremely under-equipped and over-crowded health centre at Nandigram. They heard reports of most horrendous killings of unarmed people, gang rapes and brutal assaults on women and children, met several people who were desperately looking for missing family members and were shocked to see very few young girls and children among the survivors in the carnage-ravaged villages of Bhangabeda, Sonachura and Gokulnagar. The following statement was issued by CPI (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya at press conference held in Kolkata on 18 March following the CPI (ML) team's visit to Nandigram)

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's so-called expression of regret in yesterday's meeting of Left Front leaders is grossly insufficient and insincere. Had he really been serious about his moral responsibility for all the heinous crimes that have been, and are still being, perpetrated at Nandigram, the least that he must have done was to resign and offer an unconditional apology to the people of Nandigram and West Bengal.

Buddhadeb's statement at the Left Front meeting yesterday apparently marks a partial retreat from the arrogant defence of the carnage that he had made on the floor of the Assembly on March 15. But it is still not only too little and too late, but a mockery of the truth on several key counts.

The Chief Minister says he had grossly under estimated the resistance at Nandigram. The fact is the people at Nandigram were unarmed and the women and children who bore the brunt of the genocidal attack and violence were in no position to offer any resistance.

The Chief Minister has also said that he did not anticipate such police excesses while giving the go-ahead signal to the Nandigram operation. What happened at Nandigram was nothing short of a pre-meditated carnage, a cold-blooded genocide, a veritable shock-and-awe operation with the explicit aim of terrorising and coercing the fighting people of Nandigram into submission. Will Buddhadeb babu be kind enough to tell us that how many killings and rapes were actually sanctioned and how many were in excess of the sanctioned target?

Most glaring has been the Chief Minister's silence on the police-CPI (M) nexus that operated at Nandigram and that the CBI investigation has already started revealing. Survivors of the Nandigram carnage have pointed out several aspects and instances of utter complicity between the actual police and CPI (M) goons disguised as policemen. During our interaction with Nandigram survivors we have repeatedly heard complaints that CPI (M)'s MP from Haldia Lakshman Seth and a host of local leaders and panchayat functionaries of the CPI (M) were actively involved in overseeing the operation.

The carnage at Nandigram has shocked and angered the democratic conscience in West Bengal and beyond. We salute historians Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar and Pradip Dutta who have protested by returning the awards they had once received from the West Bengal government. We also congratulate the literary and cultural personalities of West Bengal who have resigned from different cultural instituitions run or sponsored by the state government and are publicly voicing their anguish and protests in various forms.

The people of West Bengal will not brook any post-carnage operation cover-up. Partners of the Left Front may feel satisfied with promises of more frequent intra-front discussion and greater intra-front accommodation, but the fighting Left forces in West Bengal and elsewhere in India will not stop till the planners and perpetrators of the heinous carnage are thoroughly unmasked and punished.

The CPI (ML) will do all it can to intensify the ongoing protests. The forthcoming March 23 Inquilab Rally in Delhi will mark the beginning of a two-months-long countrywide campaign in this direction and will culminate in West Bengal with a Naxalbari-to-Nandigram mass awakening campaign and a massive protest mobilisation in Kolkata on 25 May, the 40th anniversary of the historic Naxalbari uprising.

POSCO:: Arrest of and Malicious Campaign against our leader Sri Abhay Sahu

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
Dhinkia, Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, India

October 18, 2008

Press Note on Arrest of and Malicious Campaign against our leader Sri
Abhay Sahu

Dear Friends,

It is shocking to learn that the arrest of Sri Abhaya Sahu,
President, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti was part of a plan by the
state to destabilize the movement against land acquisition by the
South Korean Posco in Dhinkia, Gada Kujanga and Nuagaon Gram
Panchayats of Jagatsinghpur district, Orissa. Abhaya bhai was part of
a democratic structure and led the movement as per the mandate given
to him by the people. In addition to him there are many leaders who
have been leading the fight on the ground against the unethical
conduct of the state and the corporate Posco in the area with equal
commitment and determination. Abhaya bhai had to be taken to a
hospital, which was not disclosed because of threats to his life. The
local doctor advised him to do so since he had a complex of health
problem and the doctor felt that Abhaya bhai was neglecting his health
too much. His sugar levels had gone beyond 400 and he was losing
mobility. Only because of his failing health, an unwilling Abhaya bhai
was forced to leave Dhinkia, which, he made his home for the last 3
years. He was in a house which did not have electricity and the
villagers were providing him food on rotation.While returning, the
vehicle he had taken on hire from the city was stopped at Bhutamundei
chak on Paradeep route in the evening of 12th October 2008 and he was
arrested.

Let me inform you here that there was no such interrogation or
questioning of Abhaya bhai by police or the intelligence officials. No
cash or credit cards recovered from him. The police only took away his
hospital records and some tickets and payment receipts. He was
arrested in the evening of 12th October. He was taken to Paradeep
circuit house in the night. He was produced immediately after that
before the Kujang magistrate and the bail was turned down. 13th
October morning he was in Choudwar jail near Cuttack. But the police
in Jagatsinghpur had prepared their own plan to launch a malicious
campaign against him. They shared all that they had manufactured to
mislead the public with a section of the media who are working more as
a medium for posco rather than a neutral news-sharing medium to share
the truth. They wanted the people believe that, Abhay Sahu had built a
bunglow in Bhubaneswar and had amassed huge properties and was leading
a luxurious life in some cities. When I met him in Jail and shared all
these, he had a big laugh and said if there is house which I don't
know but they know, you please ask them to dispose the house/bunglow
and give the money to anti-Posco fighters to carry on the fight in my
absence. He has only a patch of land in his native village close to
the posco affected area, he said. But he put a counter question, how
much the media, officers and the politicians have got out of the Rs
2000 million Posco has claimed to have spent in the project where
single brick has not been moved?
We are sure the people in the area who know abhaya bhai and the
sacrifices he has made for the last 3 years will get more angry and
agitated with such ill motivated campaigns against their leadership
but the middleclass intellectuals have faith in the corporate media. I
am told a corporate person in the name of Nayak who is a perfect
example of the nexus between the corrupt media and the corrupting
corporations has resumed once again the well calculated drive against
the on going peoples' movements and their committed leadership in
Orissa. If one remembers this name was used extensively to
propagate Tata powered campaigns against the leadership of
Kalinganagar movement. I would like to caution the well- wishers of
the struggling and repressed people of Orissa not to fall in any such
trap.

For everybody let me clarify that the anti-displacement struggle
against Posco is going on as usual and gaining strength though in the
process we have lost Dula Mandal and 4 of our activists including the
leader Abhaya Sahu and the leader of Govindapur Prakash Jena are in
jail. The Posco authorities in connivance with some villagers of
Nuagaon had a meeting on the 17th of October to launch an attack on
our peaceful villagers in Govindapur. The people are ready to face
such an attack, which looks imminent since the collector and SP of
Jagatsingpur are helping them and encouraging them. We would request
you all to please put pressure on the CM not to encourage such people
to launch offensives of this nature. Abhaya bhai was able to control
the anger of the agitators even in extreme situations. But his absence
will be felt only if there is armed attack on our peaceful agitators
who are terribly angry and upset because their fellow activists
earlier and their leader now have been arrested without any reason.

We assure you that our struggle will achieve its objectives and the
company will be driven out of our soil.

Prashant Paikray
Spokesperson

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
09437571547
Prashant Paikray

Preliminary report by the All India independent fact finding team on Nandigram Massacre

Preliminary report by the All India independent fact finding team on Nandigram Massacre

The ghastly massacre at Nandigram came to be known to us through phone calls from West Bengal on March 14th around noon. The firing was on and we were told that tens had died and hundreds lied wounded. Some of us sent faxes and emails to the Prime Minister of India, Sonia Gandhiji, Pronab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil and informed some others including the Governor of West Bengal. We also sent a letter to the Hon'ble Chief Justice, Kolkata High Court and same was accepted as a PIL by the High Court. The stories of brutality and continued state sponsored terror in Nandigram kept arriving.

We then gathered from different parts of India in Kolkata, after hearing about this barbaric incident and rushed to the affected area. With knowledge of the background of the struggle and conflict between the State and CPI(M) on one hand and the people â?" farmers, fish workers, labourers, artisans and others, we proceeded with senior activitists from Bengal and reached out to maximum number of people in the fields and in hospitals. We tried to collect first hand information, whatever available to apprehend exactly what had happened on the 14 th of March 2007 and thereafter in Nandigram. The members of the team include:

* Medha Patkar(NBA & National Alliance of Peoples' Movements)
* D. Thankappan (New Trade Union Initiative)
* Dr. B. D. Sharma ( Bharat Jan Andolan)
* Tridib Ghosh (People's Democratic Front of India)
* G N Saibaba (Preparatory Committee for the Formation of Anti Displacement Front, Ranchi Conference )
* Arun Khote (National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights)
* Rakesh Rafiq (Juba Bharat)
* Ram Dhiraj (Ajadi Bachao Andolan)
* Srimant (Kalinga Nagar Movement)
* Mehr Engineer (Scientist and Academecian)

The team visited various villages in the Nandigram area and PG hospital Kolkata, Nandigram and Tamluk (district) hospitals. The team also met the District Magistrate and Collector of East Midnapur and talked to various political and people's organizations. The team has conducted elaborate interviews with the villagers in the affected area and also talked to the victims and their relatives.

Some of the members of the team investigated into the January incidence in Nandigram and so the team is aware of a number of issues involved in the present situation.

When the team visited the various hamlets of Gokulnagar including Adhikaripara; Sonachura including Bhangabera; Maheshpur and Hazarakanta, a number of facts relating to the incident have come out.

1. The people, majority of them women, informed us of the incidence that occurred in Gokulnagar and Sonachura with total unanimity. They said that they were receiving threats of attacks from the CPI(M) leaders and cadres since days. The attack was supposed to be immediately after the school exams but it was preponed.
2. We were also told that Secretary, Home Affairs, Mr. P. R. Roy had categorically stated publicly that the Government would forcibly enter and establish the rule of law in Nandigram. A similar came from I.G. Law and order. The likelihood of state repression was therefore known to the people all over the state of West Bengal at least 2 days before the incident. There were some protests in Nandigram.
3. The police entered from Khejuri and Tekhali, the known bases of CPI(M) into the villages Sonachura and Gokulnagar respectively. The police entered the area from 3 entry points which are Garchakraberia, Bhangabera and 7 Jalpai. In both the places the people were conducting Puja or reading Quran at the time when the police entered the villages. They were worshipping Mahaprabhu Gourangadev. Apparently they were protesting the announced entry of the police but also peacefully involved in religious activities believing that they will be protected by God. At both the places the women and children were in the forefront. They expressed that they put women and children in front expecting that police would not attack them. The nature of protest shows us clearly that it was peaceful and there was no possibility of any untoward incident happening. There was no need for police firing on the people who have gathered in these 2 places.
4. The women waved their hands and shouted that they should not be attacked upon and also appealed to the police that they were only conducting Puja and Police should not interfere or enter the villages.
5. Without giving any time to the people the police started firing the tear gas shells and rubber bullets. As per the report of the people the entire area was covered with smoke. Within 10 minutes, even before the people could realize what was happening, the police started firing bullets mostly above the waistline. The women were specially targeted including those who were trying to flee away. At both the places there was stampede and chaos. At Bhangabera, the police chased the villagers firing from the back upto 2 kilometers into Sonachura village.
6. Apart from the initial firing and killing of the people the police continued firing in the villages for the next 24 hours by cordoning off the villages to prevent entry of outsiders including the place. There was large scale looting, burning of the village house and property and raping as reported by the local people. The police and cadres entered various houses, mercilessly beat and dragged people out and raped and molested the women inside.
7. The local press reports make it very clear that the state Government and Midnapore police administration were well prepared for the attack on the villagers which is corroborated by the people's narration. For example the Midnapore police administration requested for 40,000 rounds of ammunition and 40 ambulances from the state administration a few days before the incident. This clearly shows that the whole attack on the villagers was well planned one whereas the people were totally unprepared for this brutality.
8. According to the oral narrations of the villagers, the police resorted to firing while the CPI(M) cadres were directing them closely. The CPI(M), mostly mobilized from outside these villages were in khaki uniform but wearing chappals. The women in Adhikaripara in Gokulnagar clearly told us that the uniforms didn't fit them mostly and they wore Red tags in their wrists. The villagers referred to these khaki clad non-police personnel as cadre Vahini or Harmad Vahini. The people in the villages namely Sonachura, Tekhali Bazaar, Gokul nagar Panchayet reported us that this 'Harmad Vahini' entered their villages in hundreds from the Khejuri side. These cadre for fired indiscriminately from local made and imported weapons and the hospital authorities confirmed injury marks of bullets other than those used by the police has been found on the victims.
9. The people of Sonachura village reported that about 35 children who were studying in a Ramakrishna Saral Kindergarten Vidyalaya are still missing. Their whereabouts are not known. There are cases of missing children from other villages too. The parents naturally are very worried and apprehend that they were killed and their bodies have been abducted. The villagers reported that these 'Harmad Vahini' not only kills but also abducts the dead bodies in a routine manner. They also told us that the school uniforms of 2 children were found in the bushes nearby. Incident of the children being killed and torn apart by pulling aside their 2 legs were also reported.
10. The villagers of the Sonachura repeated time and again with anguish that many dead bodies of the people killed by the firing were buried by the police with the help of CPI(M) cadres in the trenches dug by the villagers earlier to restrict entry into the villages. If this report is to be believed, the authorities should immediately arrange for digging of the filled in trenches to verify this claim. The villagers also reported that some dead bodies were carried away in a truck.
11. The other very brutal aspect is while the villagers were trying to nurse the wounded, they were severely beaten by the police and also ambulances were prevented in rescue operation.
12. The still continuing presence of police in the area is a matter of great concern to the villagers because the police is providing protection and support to the CPI(M) goons. The current situation is also preventing the children to go to the schools and the women from going to the market. All the schools in that area are closed as of now. The police continue to invade the village houses from time to time.
13. In Sonachura, it was during our presence that the information of 3 persons being kidnapped reached the villagers and the youths from the families of the victims became furious screaming and abusing police. They were pacified by the other villagers and our team members.
14. We were reported by women in Gokulnagar that the police were trying to make vulgar gestures on March 16th when the women had to run away to save themselves from any untoward incidence.
15. Women, raped and molested, were interviewed by us in the hospitals who have faced physical injury and mental shock but with no lady doctor or counselors to take care of. The investigation to establish rape is also not completed.
16. A number of wounded persons, children to the aged and a large number are still lying in the villages unable to reach the hospitals and are being threatened by the CPI(M) attacks from the adjacent areas.
17. The people expressed their helplessness not being able to file FIRs, many being illiterate and outside supporters are not yet been able to reach them, especially due to CPI(M) protests and blockades.
18. Hundreds of families especially labourers, informed us that they were without any income over days while others complained of not being permitted to visit Tekhali Market by party goons. Many families could not cook and eat 2 meals over last 2 days, while they could not have peaceful sleep over weeks.
19. The people invariably, especially the women screaming in pain and anguish were emphatic in their expression and demand that Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya as C.M. and Home Minister should be held responsible and guilty and should be punished for cold-blooded murder of women and children. They even demanded that capital punishment be given to the guilty when a poor person like Dhananjay faced the same for a rape and murder.
20. With many families having faced death and devastations and all the communities in the area shattered, the people are still unanimous with their resolve that they will not allow their land and resources to be taken over. Even with the Left Front's Decision reaching them, the people feel suspicious of the States' plans and are determined to continue the struggle with unity and no divisions within.

Our demands are:

1. A Judicial Enquiry with a seating Supreme Court Judge into the whole incidence of firing and associated atrocities on the people of the villages of Nandigram. Punish all the culprits who are directly or indirectly responsible for this barbaric act.
2. Immediate investigation into the missing cases of people from each of the affected village of this area, if necessary with a household survey by an independent agency. Digging up of the trenches where people suspect that the dead bodies have been buried near the Canal of Bhangabera.
3. Immediate withdrawal of the police force not in phases and restrict the CPI(M) from any kind of protest, repression and attack.
4. A formal and official announcement with written notification of the withdrawal of the proposal of the Nandigram SEZ, Chemical Hub allotted to the developer Salim group of Indonesia.
5. Withdrawal of all the proposals of SEZs across India along with the very SEZ ACT.
6. Constitution of the concerned citizens' committee with prominent democrats to start a process of establishing normalcy in the affected areas of Nandigram.
7. Adequate compensation package for the victims and proper treatment for the injured after shifting them to Kolkata hospitals so that they get sufficient care and medical facility.
8. The medical case profiles of the victims should be protected and deposited immediately with an independent and neutral agency.

SINGUR

National Alliance Of People's Movements
29-30, 1st Floor, 'A' Wing, Haji Habib Bldg., Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai, Maharashtra - 400014

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Press Release

09/12/2006

Medha Patkar along with other veteran Gandhian activists arrested in Kolkatta
NAPM strongly condemns such high handedness of the police under the pressure of the West Bengal Government
The NAPM is concerned that the pro- people government of West Bengal should resort to such repressive means, betraying the poor and the marginalized.
NAPM once again recognizes the resistance of the local people of Singur whose struggle has been independent of any political party

Today, Medha Patkar and other veteran Gandhian leaders were arrested in Kolkata. The police were not allowing them to visit Singur. But even peaceful protests in the city of Kolkata, miles away from Singur, have been snuffed out through these arrests. The high handedness exhibited by the government is ominous for the country as the government of the poor resorts to state repression. Moreover, it raises serious questions about the right to protest in a democracy. It is ironical that the same party has joined hands for similar causes elsewhere in the country like the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Kalinga Nagar massacres and the Gurgaon protests. The marginalized and poor people of the country now feel betrayed. In contrast there has been unprecedented support coming from the right. However, in the midst of all this political posturing, one must not forget that the Singur struggle is a genuine resistance put forth by the people of Singur and it runs on the steam of its spirited people. For a year now it has been an independent struggle.

The West Bengal government is acquiring land in Singur for the Tatas to set up their automobile factory. Singur's people depend on their fertile and well- irrigated land for their livelihood either directly or indirectly. They practice multi- cropping and always receive a good crop. The wonders that the Tata company may do for the economy is, at best, speculative.

The NAPM condemns the high handedness of the government of West Bengal. We express our concern as the last bastion of the poor in India turns pro- business. As they have been our allies in similar struggles in other parts of India, we are sure that the government will listen to reason and refrain from such police brutality.

Parvin Jehangir Sanjay Mango Simpreet Singh Ulka Mahajan Medha Patkar

Nandigram: Reports from Ground Zero

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Kolkata_/Aparna_Sen_stopped_war_zone_tense/articleshow/3028977.cms

Aparna Sen stopped, war zone tense
11 May 2008, 0344 hrs IST,TNN
KOLKATA: 'Free and fair' Nandigram is still not within reach, Aparna Sen learnt on Saturday.

A day after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee rubbished Opposition claims of 'Red terror' in the region, Aparna and her entourage were stopped from going to Nandigram at Bagnan in Howrah, some 70 km away from their destination.

Not that the destination was peaceful. Bombs and bullets had a free run, with the warring sides — CPM and Trinamool Congress — clashing at several places, leaving at least three injured.

It was around 2.45 pm when the fleet of cars with Aparna, Saoli Mitra, Kaushik Sen, Bolan Gangopadhyay and others screeched to a halt on NH-6. Parked all over the road were police vehicles.

For the next hour and a half, Aparna and the others remained stranded on the highway, pleading with the administration to let them pass. Uluberia SDO Sanjay Basu and additional SP (rural) Deep Narayan Goswami stood firm: they couldn't be allowed to go to Nandigram.

There had been a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity ever since the state election commission (SEC) allowed the intellectuals to visit Nandigram during Sunday's panchayat elections. Sources said CPM state secretary Biman Bose sent a faxed message to the SEC on Friday, observing that “many people” wanted to go to Nandigram on election day. Shortly afterwards, the state administration informed the SEC that too many outsiders could create a law-and-order problem in Nandigram's already trouble-torn villages.

The SEC, which had no problem granting the intellectuals permission on Thursday, did a volte-face 48 hours later. Just before Aparna and Saoli were to leave, a letter from the SEC reached them, saying the East Midnapore district administration could not provide them security as Nandigram was a “special situation”. Section 105 of the West Bengal Panchayat Act was invoked to stop them from going to Nandigram.

Undeterred, they decided to leave anyway. They started around 2 pm, an hour behind schedule. Some 45 minutes later, the entourage was stopped at Madhabpur.

“Section 105 is against any kind of campaigning. We were not going there to campaign. We expected CPM hooligans to stop us, not the administration,” Saoli said.

“They said they were requesting us to stop as there was a home secretary directive not to let us reach Nandigram and added they would have to detain us if we tried to force our way. We don't come under any political banner. We wanted to stand by the hapless villagers, but weren't allowed to,” said an indignant Aparna.

The home secretary refused to confirm or deny this.

Aparna's convoy waited till 4.20 pm and returned to the city. When she and Saoli reached the SEC office, election commissioner Ashok Gupta had already left.

II.
Dear friends,

On 10th May Saturday we were able to visit Nandigram, when a new spate of attack launched by the armed cadres of ruling party (CPIM) with the passive support of police force. On the same day many intellectuals were also rushing towards Nandigram, where their cars were blocked by the state administration.

Here is our report / press release. Please have a look with the attachment where there are pictures of the victims.

Ruling party was determined not to allow the villagers to cast their votes on 11 May (Sunday) in Panchayet election. Police and state administration were party to that plan, AND the officers of WBHRC, though were present at Nandigram hospital at that time to enquire a case, they did not bother to hear other victims who were coming with sevral injuries.

As usual, the hospital authorities also not recording the cases properly, not sending the injury reports to the Nandigram police station to protect the perpetrators.

10.5.2008
To
The News Editor
………………….
PRESS RELEASE
Madam/ Sir,
On getting information of the continuing disturbances and police inaction in Nandigram, our fact finding team reached violence-torn Nandigram today and have gathered shocking information from the villagers that since last night the musclemen and goons alleged to be supporters of the largest ruling party CPI(M) flaunting red flags resorted to bloody violence in the area. Those miscreants snatched away the voter identity cards of the villager-voters and beat the possible opponent voters of the ruling party mercilessly even on mere suspicion of not being supporters of the ruling party. As a result of pre-poll clashes, at least 11 to 15 persons including women were admitted in Nandigram Block Primary Health Centre in critically injured condition.

The fact finding team has found that about 1000 to 1500 persons of village Kalicharanpur (Booth no.148 to 155) were robbed of their voter identity cards in the hands of the goons of the ruling party. Sk. Mojaffar, Giyasuddin Ali Shah, Sk. Malek , Sk. Rajjak, Sahauddin Shah, Saibul Shah, Samad Shah, Sk Basir, Amar Khatua, Mriganka Majhi were among other goons who masterminded and carried the operation in the area at the instance of the ruling political party. Moreover hundreds of villagers of Sonachura Gram Panchayat (Booth no.168 to 176), Gokulnagar Gram Panchayat, Bhangabera Gram Panchayat were also not free from such incidents.

Today at about 11 a.m. in the morning hundreds of villagers whose voter identity cards were forcibly taken away, gathered at the office of the Block Development Officer, Nandigram in order to ventilate their grievance and seeking permission to cast their votes after loosing their voter identity cards in the hands of the cadres and goons of the ruling party. But without any provocation Mr. Debashish Chakraborty, Officer in Charge of Nandigram Police Station with Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel conducted lathi-charge upon the innocent gathering of the people.

The fact finding team of MASUM also visited Nandigram Block Primary Health Centre at about 12 o'clock today i.e.10/5/2008. At that time Mr. N. Saha, Superintendent of Police, West Bengal Human Rights Commission along with Deputy Superintendent of Police and other police officers were also present in the said hospital. They came to meet one Ms. Malati Jana of Satengabari village, a sexually abused victim who was admitted in the hospital on 5/5/2008. But those officers refused to meet with other victims including another sexually abused victim, Ms. Radharani Ari who was accompanying with our fact finding team at that time there.

The series of incidents in Nandigram showed that the free and fair election process is seriously hampered and the ruling party goons are moving freely to scare the voters. All these repressive acts are done in presence of police and administration. It is further shocking and serious event before the election of Gram Panchayat that voter identity cards have been snatched from a large number of people and such maverick incident is defeat to the democratic practice of the society and freedom of expression and thought and belief of the citizens.

The atrocities on victims of recent incidents in Nandigram have not been redressed nor did the administration or police take any initiative to deliver justice in future to the tortured victims.

Just now 2-30 p.m., we find in Nandigram Block Primary Health Center that six injured persons have reached to with two persons having serious bullet injuries. Many bodies are lying in the fields as reported. The officer-in-charge of Nandigram and the Superintendent of Police, Mr. S. Panda of East Midnapur have actually joined with the party goons and under their direction the bodies are prevented to be carried in the hospital.

Under such situation, we severely condemn the conniving acts of the police and the party goons in Nandigram. The left rule has introduced ugly fascist trend and terror. The voters whose identity cards have been snatched must be allowed to vote so that they can exercise their right to franchise in the election. The goons involved in attacking people and perpetrating torture on them in a systematic manner in connivance with a section of police and administration must be apprehended and prosecuted on urgent basis under the penal law. The biased and partisan police officers and administrative officers must be prosecuted and detached from the election process. Numbers of neutral election observers in Nandigram are required to be deputed to see that free and fare election is conducted there. The voters should be given adequate security and safety. Legal proceedings must be initiated against the offenders and conspirators. Now, at Nandigram, the lawlessness is complete by dictum of ruling party and police administration. The right to life and dignity of the villagers are under attack.

We have already filed complaint with State Election Commissioner, Home Secretary, Chief Secretary, DG&IGP of West Bengal by fax and lodged complaint with NHRC and WBHRC.

Thanking you
Yours sincerely

(Kirity Roy)
State Director of NPPTI
&
President of Masum
--
Kirity Roy
President
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
26 Guitendal Lane
Howrah 711101
West Bengal INDIA
Mobile: 09903099699
Tele Fax : +91-33-2640 4118
Phone: +91-33-2640 4520
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

III.
http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=6&theme=&usrsess=1&id=203615

Seth-DIG spat: Centre seeks report
Statesman News Service
NEW DELHI, May 12: Amid continuing violence in Nandigram of West Bengal, allegedly orchestrated by the ruling CPI-M cadres in collaboration with the local police and administration, that, besides other violent incidents, marred the first phase of the state panchayat polls yesterday, the Centre today sought a detailed report from the Marxist government on the open confrontation during yesterday’s polls between a local CPM MP and a senior CRPF officer.
While the CRPF charged “deliberate victimisation” of its personnel in Bengal, the Congress central leadership accused the ruling CPM-led Left cadres of “indulging not only in molestation of women (in Nandigram) but also in molestation of democracy”.
A furious spat over phone between the CPM MP Mr Lakshman Seth and the CRPF DIG Mr Alok Raj yesterday over the jurisdiction of the paramilitary forces, in addition to clashes between CRPF personnel and local police as well as between CPM cadres and opposition Trinamul Congress supporters, undermined the polls in the strife-torn Nandigram.
III.
http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=6&theme=&usrsess=1&id=203612
How Alok Raj took CPM by surprise
Soma Mookherjee & Uday Basu
KOLKATA, May. 12: The “sudden” return of of DIG Central Reserve Force Police, Mr Alok Raj, to Nandigram about 10 hours before the first phase panchayat poll yesterday seemed to have so much upset the calculations of the CPI-M that its MP, Mr Lakshman Seth, eventually tried to browbeat him into taking instructions from him on how to supervise law and order outside polling stations.
It was learnt that the plan to entrust Mr Raj with heading the para-military force on the election day had been kept a closely-guarded secret. The DIG, CRPF arrived at Kalaikunda around 10 p.m. on 10 May and moved straight to Nandigram for fine-tuning the deployment of the force under him.
By that time, the CPI-M's strategy for taking Nandigram by storm had been chalked out and the local leadership was confident of successfully executing its plan after its armed cadres had unleashed a fresh reign of terror a few days ahead of the poll there.
But, the presence of Mr Raj made all the difference. It was he who had played a major role in rebuilding the confidence of the villagers of Nandigram who bore the brunt of armed attacks by CPI-M-backed armed goons.
Mr Raj had gone about his assignment in a no-nonsense manner after the CPI-M recaptured Nandigram in November last year by whipping up terror and hounding out of their homes activists of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC). The BUPC was spearheading the agitation against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-government's now aborted move to acquire 10,000 acres of farm land at Nandigram for setting up a mega chemical hub under the Central scheme of petroleum, chemicals and petro-chemical investment region (PCPIR).
Mr Raj was instrumental in unearthing skeletal remains of people feared to have been killed for resistance against the state government's industrialisation plan. He also ensured that CPI-M goons couldn't have a field day on the polling day at Nandigram since the bloody November campaign.
Such a track record of the DIG, CRPF, rattled the CPI-M MP and Haldia strong man, Mr Seth, so much that he became embroiled in a spat with Mr Raj whom he tried to stop from discharging his duties.
The LF junior partners ~ the RSP, the Forward Bloc and the CPI ~ today joined the Opposition chorus in criticising Mr Seth's attempt to restrict Mr Raj to his camp. Mr Kshiti Goswami, RSP leader and PWD minister, said proper inquiry should be made into the spat so as to unravel the truth. “It is to be established whether the MP sought to direct the DIG, CRPF just as the allegation of molestation against Mr Raj Serious need to be gone into,” he said.
Mr Nandagopal Bhattacharya, CPI leader and state minister, said no MP or MLA could tell an officer of a para-military force how he should go about his duty.
Mr Ashoke Ghosh, FB state general secretary, lauded the role played by Mr Raj in “trying to rebuild the confidence of the people of Nandigram and helping proper conduct of the poll”.
IV.
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/308755.html
DIG says Nandigram cops and CPM out to frame him, his Boss dials Home Ministry
Ravik Bhattacharya
Posted online: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 0040 hrs IST
KOLKATA, MAY 12
Named in a Nandigram FIR alleging molestation and locked in a verbal duel with CPM MP Lakshman Seth during Sunday’s panchayat polls in West Bengal, CRPF DIG Alok Raj today left Nandigram for his headquarters in Ranchi, saying he and his men were being “framed” by the local police in “collusion” with CPM leaders.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Ranchi, Alok Raj said: “It (FIR) was to pressurise Central police forces, stop them from doing their duty impartially.” He said that he had already informed his seniors about the sequence of events in Nandigram and the “stiff opposition” his unit faced in carrying out its duty of “area domination and patrolling” as had been agreed earlier with the local administration.
“I am back in Ranchi because the major part of my duty, polling, is over,” he said. He was upset that he had failed to get a copy of the complaint against him even 48 hours after it had reportedly been lodged.
“Until now, I have learnt only from media reports that some women in Nandigram have lodged a complaint of molestation against the CRPF team, including me. So far, no police officer from Nandigram or from the state government has spoken to me.”
“I have not yet been informed about the nature or content of the complaint. I have written a letter to the SP, S S Panda, to let me know the nature of the complaint, if any, as early as possible. But till now, there has been no communication,” Alok Raj said.
In New Delhi, CRPF Director General V K Joshi asked the Union Home Ministry to get the West Bengal government investigate the veracity of the molestation case filed against its DIG.
Backing the DIG, Joshi called up Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta this morning and requested him to get the state government to examine the FIR expeditiously. It is learnt that Gupta immediately called up West Bengal Chief Secretary A K Deb and asked him for a report on both the case and the DIG’s spat with the MP.
In Kolkata, CRPF Addl DG N R Das said that Alok Raj had returned to Ranchi where he will be part of the Special Task Force constituted to tackle Maoists.
Meanwhile, Lakshman Seth, the CPM MP, has written a letter to the CRPF DG — he has marked copies to the Lok Sabha Speaker and West Bengal police chief A B Vohra — alleging that the DIG misbehaved with him. “I have said that suitable action should be taken against Alok Raj,” Seth told The Indian Express.
Chief Secretary Deb said IG (western range) Rakesh Gupta had been asked to conduct an inquiry whether the CRPF exceeded its statutory limits.
There’s also a row over the role of Nandigram Officer-in-Charge Debashish Chakraborty. On Sunday, Chakraborty alleged he was beaten up by CRPF jawans at Gokulnagar when he objected to checking of photo identity cards at polling booths. He has been accused of taking sides with the ruling party.
Chakraborty was present in Nandigram throughout Sunday though Chief Secretary Deb had said on May 7 that the OC would be kept out election duty in the wake of complaints against him from different quarters. Asked about the presence of the OC despite his earlier announcement, Deb today said: “I will not speak on the matter now. I am busy in a meeting.”
S N Roychoudhury, secretary of the state election commission, said: “It is not our job to see who is given which duty.”
SP Panda said: “What can I say? Please ask my superiors. The order to deploy him for poll duty in Nandigram came from the higher-ups.”
Chakraborty had earlier been booked for his role in the investigation of a murder case in Hooghly district and was suspended for six months. He also had a case pending against him in a Haldia court for assaulting a woman. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee also named him in an FIR, alleging inaction and a partisan role when she was prevented from entering a village in Nandigram recently.
When Chakraborty’s comments were sought, he said: “I just did my duty as ordered by my superiors. Nobody told me I am off poll-duty. If that was so, then how I could I have been there. It is true that I was suspended for sometime years ago but I was reinstated. I still stand by what I said and did yesterday.”
V.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Kolkata_/Jawans_keep_up_the_vigil_in_Nandigram/articleshow/3034744.cms
Jawans keep up the vigil in Nandigram
13 May 2008, 0602 hrs IST,TNN

NANDIGRAM: Upbeat with the brave front that their boss, DIG Alok Raj, put up on polling day, CRPF jawans continued to patrol Nandigram, when most villagers had feared that the central force would leave immediately after the polls. On the contrary, the jawans rushed to Hazrakata on 9.30 am on learning that CPM supporters were beating up their opponents.

Raj's spirited response to Laxman Seth's diktat and the molestation charge against him has boosted the jawans. On Sunday, when Seth called up Raj at 9.30 am, asking him not to move out of camp because a molestation complaint had been lodged against him, Raj had shot back: "Why this false allegation against me? Am I the kind of person to molest ladies? There is a false FIR against me. When was this? What time? 4.30 in the morning. 4.30 in the afternoon? Listen to me sir, I did not go to Seven Number Jalpai. From the camp at Rajaramchak I went to the police station. This is totally false. I am hurt, sir."

But on Monday, Alok Raj was nowhere to be found in Nandigram. His colleagues in the force indicated that the DIG had left for Kolkata in the morning.

In spite of the CRPF patrols, bombs and bullets flew in Nandigram from either side all through Sunday night. CPM and Trinamool Congress supporters clashed at Chowringhee Bazar and Balampore on Monday. Six of them were badly injured by bomb splinters and bullets. About 200 families from Sonachura have fled their homes yet again, fearing a backlash after the poll results.

The new game industrialists play: divide village communities so as to acquire their land

The new game industrialists play
- divide village communities so as to acquire their land –

Stan Swamy

The government has become reluctant to forcibly acquire farmers’ land for industrialists. It has of late burnt its fingers trying to forcibly acquire land. Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram are good examples. It is telling the industrialists to buy or lease the land on their own. So the capitalist class is devising new ways of acquiring agricultural land.

1) identify some discontented young men in the village community and entice them with money and promise of employment in the company. They are usually a little educated, but are unemployed and loitering about. They are also sufficiently alienated from agrarian economy to the extent they will not do agriculture-related work in their own fields. Such persons are given motor cycles cum daily allowance by the companies, and are told to play an active role in the process of land acquisition.
First step in dividing the village community.

2) the rest of the village community can be divided into two broad categories: ((i) the silent majority who in their heart of heart do not want to give their land to the company but feel powerless to frontally confront the very powerful company, the administration, the police. Also they do not have much idea about the company, nature of the project, impact on environment, details of compensation, quality of rehabilitation etc. Feelers are sent through the already purchased young men who by now become the middle men between the company and the people. Some of people’s needs in the area of health and education facilities are identified. The company also offers to build, equip and run primary schools, small hospitals, community halls, install hand pumps etc. at its own cost. Better rates of compensation for land & property than what the govt itself would give are promised. One company job per household is assured. In brief, heaven on earth is promised to people. Gradually over a period of time, an increasing number of these farmers are no more opposed to giving their land to the company. In this way, the initial resistance begins to weaken.
Second step in dividing the village community.

(ii) a smaller but awakened and vocal group who are against the project and the company. They are attached to their land, and in the case of Adivasi communities they consider their land not only as the main source of sustenance but also as a sacred heritage of their forefathers and the dwelling place of their spirits. They have come to realise that the companies invest not for the development of people but for profit and only profit..
Let us see how the industrialists tackle this group.
The industrialists know very well these outspoken persons have to be dealt with in a stern way. Detailed planning is done with the local administration, local police and the already bought off young men as to how to neutralise these men who are passionately opposing the project. There are instances in Jharkhand where the leaders of resistance movements were booked under non-bailable cases and some of them were jailed for several months. Even the traditional elderly Adivasi leaders were accused of serious crimes such as attempt to murder, rape etc. The young activists were always under threat of arrest.
Third step in dividing the village community.

3) Finally there are instances where the affected people have consistently stood together in solidarity in resisting the project. Such extraordinary situations need extraordinary solutions. This is where the collaboration of the state govt, local administration, police force is important. We then witness ‘state terrorism’ in its most ugly form. Koel Karo (Tapkara) police firing in 2001 at an unarmed peaceful crowd killing eight persons is an unforgettable example. Kalinganagar firing in 2005 killing eleven persons wherein the Tata Co went to the spot not only with its bulldozers but also accompanied by 11 platoons of armed police provided by the state govt.
This is the ultimate, calculated blow to people’s resistance to industrial projects aimed at displacing people and alienating their land.

13 August 2007

STATEMENT BY PEOPLE OF SOUTH ASIA

STATEMENT BY PEOPLE OF SOUTH ASIA

We from, ACTION 2007, a collective of more than 200 organizations and people's struggles representing Adivasis, farmers, forest dwellers, hawkers, unorganised sector workers in rural and urban areas, Dalit and minorities, from different parts of the country have gathered in New Delhi since 19th March 2007. We held the South Asian People's Parliament today on 3rd April 2007, where people's representatives from different South Asian countries participated, where the following statement was issue:

Improve and strengthen relationship and cooperation among the countries of South Asia. To achieve this, these countries should relax the visa regime and India should take lead in this to enable people's freedom to each other, and thus the common socio-cultural and historical heritage of the region is taken forward, and trade is enhanced. It is further resolved that initiatives be taken to give shape to SAARC economic union. Keeping in view the above stated objective, children, senior citizens, members of civil organizations, students, the teachers of schools, colleges and universities be given top priority in the granting of visas.

Democratic and humanistic values be strengthened in these countries, and adequate social and legal protection be afforded to the oppressed and marginalized sections of society, particularly to women, dalits, and ethnic and religious minorities, active steps be taken for repealing laws, and ending social practices, that are discriminatory towards these sections. We demand the repeal of draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in India.

India and Pakistan take the lead in putting an end to their nuclear weapons and begin working towards making the entire South Asian region a Nuclear-Free zone in a time-bound manner. This may be done in a phased manner, beginning with the freezing of nuclear weaponry, followed by disarmament, and culminating in total disarmament. The countries of the region should re-evaluate the very use of nuclear energy even for supposedly peaceful purpose, taking into consideration the serious health and environmental hazards associated with it. Further the SAARC state should expeditiously conclude a South Asian No-War Pact to facilitate South Asian Cooperation. Additionally, immediate steps should be taken to free the region from the dangers of land mines.

To build confidence and solidarity in the region, no country of the region should get into any agreement with any superpower that is likely to create a danger for the autonomy and sovereignty of the region. Of particular concern in this regard is the recent Indo-U.S. nuclear deal; India, in the interest of the region, must withdraw forthwith from this deal and thereby establish a strong and correct precedent.

Democratic values and systems of governance must become the prevailing norm for the entire South Asian region. We support the struggles for democracy in Bhutan and Pakistan and lend our support to the democratic process in Nepal.

Immediate steps be taken by all the governments of the region to halt militarization and to gradually reduce military expenditure in a public stated, transparent and pro-active manner, the resources thus saved be allocated for such common concerns as health and education.

We call upon the leadership of South Asian countries to respect the democratic aspirations of the Kashmiri people. India and Pakistan should stop treating J&K as an internal issue or a bilateral real estate issue. People of India and Pakistan occupied territories should decide their own collective feature.

For quick resolution of the long-standing Kashmir issue, an immediate first step should be total demilitarization of Kashmir. Thereafter bold and accommodating initiatives should be taken in a time-bound manner to resolve the issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

Given the common socio-cultural and historical heritage of the region, active initiatives for peace and harmony should be taken by progressive forces to encounter the sectarian and communal forces destabilizing the region.

Steps betaken for the restoration of rights to natural resources like water, land and forests, to their rightful ownership by the common people of the region; the illegitimate and destructive appropriation of these rights by the forces of globalization, which we believe are anti-people, should be halted. We therefore pledge our continuing support for all pro-people movements in their struggles against the forces of globalization acting under the direction of what we believe to be the illegitimate and self-appropriated power of bodies like the WTO, World Bank, IMF and ADB.

We call upon all the struggling people of South Asia to put up a stiff resistance for the rolling back of the Neo-liberal offensive in South Asia.

Long Live the Unity of the South Asian People!

On Behalf of Action-2007

____________________________________________________________________________________

Delhi Office: Action 2007, 1-A, Goela Lane, Under Hill Road Civil Lines, Delhi � 54 Tel.: 011-23933307
Rajendra Ravi (0-9868200316 ), Vijayan MJ (0-9868165471 ) E-Mail: action2007@gmail.com
Mumbai Office: Action 2007, C/0 Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 28-29, First Floor 'A wing' Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (East), Mumbai-400014
www.action2007.net

Solidarity with Kujanga People’s Movement against POSCO invasion of Orissa

Just yesterday newspapers in India carried news item - some on the front page about abduction of South Korean company Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) in Orissa that is seeking to invest single largest foreign direct investments (FDI) in India at Rs.54,000 crores. The abductions that took place included that of the Managing director, a Korean national, another Korean official of the company and the Indian hired by the foreign firm, on 13th October 2007. It was however not the first time the abductions taking place. In April 2007 too POSCO officials were abducted and released.

I was part of the group put together by The Other Media, New Delhi to visit Dinkiya village – one of the richest villages of Orissa and now target of the POSCO investments - and have first hand exposure to investments that threaten to trample Peoples rights. Here are some of my observations after interacting with POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Chairman Abhai Sahu on 28th September 2007.

MoU

POSCO and Orissa government signed Memorandum of Understanding to this project near Paradeep Port on 22nd November 2005. Soon the protests began in the form Court arrests, awareness campaigns in the three villages that are likely to get wiped off in the project comes through – Dhinkia, Nuaga and Godokujong Panchayats. The MoU is for setting up of Steel plant and construction of captive port for the company 7 kilometers away from the Paradeep Port at the Zatadhar Sea bed covering 519 acres of space.

Government is trying to hand over nearly 500 acres of legally government land to the Korean transnational corporation for the purpose of its project. This land originally b belonged to the people who cultivate but thanks to the process of state formations it was transferred to king Vardhaman from West Bengal who in turned leased it out to the private parties, and ultimately Indira Gandhi government nationalized these land in the mid of 1970s decade.

PPSS ground of Objections

PPSS objects to the projects on many grounds: Firstly, it is opposed to Industrialization at the cost established agricultural economy. Any attempts to do this will be opposed. Secondly, it is opposed to location of Industry at the dense forest area. The POSCO plant is capital intensive and not labour intensive. The current beetle nut cultivation in the village creates employment not only to the villagers but also for those in the neighboring villages ranging from 9-90 in age. Its existing agrarian economy is employment generating industry that POSCO is hardly a match. Poorest family in these villages is the one earns Rs.10,000/- per month!

Its beetle nut leaves are not only through out India but also exported to Middle East Asia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This conducive natural atmosphere is what is needed for this cultivation is prevailing in this Kujanga region of Jagansinghpur district of Orissa. In the face of such a prosperous local economy with global ties one questions the logic of getting POSCO to invest here. Cashew, coconut, Pisciculture is economies of these villages under people's control.

Rights violations

There have been several instances of terror unleashed due to opposition to the POSCO project. Police, Company officials have created nexus to administer repressive measures. Bombings were carried on at check gates created by the PPSS, beating up of the people opposed to the project, and of course, the unleashing of goodas on the protestors. For nearly two weeks villagers were not a District collector suspended the supply of control commodities and the Old age pensions to the villages protesting the project! Once the suspension was revoked after the press and public opinion turned against the State, villagers were denied access on the public roads by the hired goons of the Korean corporate. It was only when the villagers showed unity and counter attacked the goons that they were able to reclaim the right over the public road. Nearly 130 criminal cases have been registered against the members of the PPSS that includes its Chairman Abhai Sahoo and its secretary Sisir Mahapatra.

Spirited Protests

However police have not been able to affect the arrests because the villagers have organized themselves and blocked all the roads to their villages. Check gates are created, 24 hours patrolling is carried on, every vehicle passing into the village is checked, interrogated and if it belonged to the State government or to the POSCO company is denied entry to the village. Daily meetings of the villagers and those offering solidarity are held near the Dinkiya village market and well attended and addressed by Women many of them from tribal groups. The road blockades according to PPSS will continue till POSCO lays its hands off their villages. The protests are likely to be intensified further as other Corporate in the State are putting Orissa government under pressure to invoke repression and hand over the necessary land to POSCO. The movements in Orissa of course has Kalinganagar massacre as backgrounder – a symbol of anti-corporate movement of common People of India.

Land titles

It is very important for the movement while continue to fight POSCO also gradually take up the question of land tittles. While it is advantageous on the one hand that the land under dispute is government lands, on the other hands villagers legally are illegal occupants of the lands. The possibilities must be worked out to get the land titles in the name Peoples' organization and no longer it must be let alone as government lands. It requires deeper reflections as how to achieve this in the months ahead – once POSCO goes away abandoning their project.

Appeal for Solidarity

Do get in touch with the movements in Orissa and offer your solidarity. You may also inquire about the kind of solidarity required. You may contact Abhai Sahoo at his mobile no. 09938425210, e-mail: abhaiorissa@yahoo.co.in. You may also contact Nikunj Bhai at his mobile 09937364401, email: nikunj45@yahoo.co.in.

Sebastian Rodrigues

15th October 2007

--
www.mandgoa.blogspot.com

MAND
An adivasi-rights resource centre,
An initiative of Gawda, Kunbi, Velip, and Dhangar Federation (GAKUVED)
"Hari Smriti"
381, Dhulapi, Corlim, Ilhas,
Goa. Pincode: 403 110

THE FARMER SEZ NO

INVESTIGATION |

THE FARMER SEZ NO

The Indian state has been thrown into a panic by agitating farmers who have declared war against the Special Economic Zones in States across the country. Facing lathicharges and bullets, the farmers have been coming out on the streets to protest the acquisition of fertile farmland and block the proposal that the Governments are convinced will generate massive employment and increase India’s GDP growth by two per cent.

At stake are 150,000 hectares of mostly fertile land. The farmers are rallying around local groups and organisations in what many describe as a fight to the finish. The proposal to establish 513 SEZs is now seen to be an invasion of corporate greed. [Of these, only 250 have been notified.]

A farmer participating in one agitation just recently in Jhajjar, Haryana, told Covert, “One of our relatives has been paid compensation, but now the money is over. He bought mobile phones and other gadgets for the house and paid off the debts. He did not know how to invest and now he is a pauper without any means of livelihood. Money is not enough. How will we live without our land?”

Last year, the bloodbath in Nandigram that killed 11 farmers protesting against the acquisition of land for a proposed chemical hub being set up under a SEZ proposal, was national news. This in turn led to a re-look at the whole SEZ policy. In Maharashtra, the locals are blocking the setting up of a Special Economic Zone by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. In Uttar Pradesh, farmers are protesting against land being acquired for Anil Ambani’s Dadri project. In Haryana, Manesar, people are blocking the acquisition of land for yet another Mukesh Ambani SEZ project. In Punjab, farmers are up in arms against the forcible acquisition of farmland for an international airport and a thermal power plant. In Chhattisgarh, farmers are fighting against the acquisition of land for a Tata Steel plant. In Lanjigarh, Orissa, farmers are struggling against the transfer of land for a bauxite mining and alumina plant. Similar massive protests are currently on near Puri in Orissa against the acquisition of large tracts of land for a university, for a SEZ by the Tatas in Gopalpur, and for a nuclear power plant at Patisonepur in Ganjam. Officials admit quietly that a new struggle is emerging every day, with the large acquisitions under SEZ triggering off new as well as intensifying old protests.

Inept handling by the concerned Governments have made matters worse. Nandigram is a case in point. As is now Maharashtra, where the Reliance-promoted Maha Mumbai SEZ at Raigad has run into trouble. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh assured the State Assembly that there would not be forcible land acquisition. Later, Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act was invoked, preventing the farmer from transferring or selling the land. Reliance, however, was given special permission to acquire land privately. This resulted in a single window option for the farmer who is now receiving less than the market value for the land: Rs 10 lakhs as against Rs 13 lakhs per acre. The result is that Reliance has been able to acquire 1,559 hectares of land, in what is a 14,000-hectare project. The State Government has opted out, with the confrontation now being between the farmers and the private company. Ulka Mahajan of Sarvahara Jan Andolan, active in the area, said that several FIRs have been filed against the company for acquiring land fraudulently. Litigation will further slow the project, which is still at “acquiring the land” stage.

Although the highest compensation package in the country is offered at Jhajjar, Haryana, Rs 22 lakhs per acre, the farmers are refusing to sell the land. Captain Satvir S. Gulia who is mobilising the farmers against this SEZ told Covert, “They have been able to purchase less than 35% of the land so far. Even this would not have been possible if the Government had remained out of the project. Firstly, they fooled the rest of the country by saying it was barren land. Then they kept talking about using the Land Acquisition Act. The farmers are feeling very insecure.”

The proposed SEZ in Andhra Pradesh, the Industrial Corridor, is now assuming the dimensions of a major confrontation between poor fishermen and the Government. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy issued a Government order — GO 34 — for the formation of the corridor shortly after coming to power. The coastal corridor will cover nine districts, including Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East and West Godavary, Guntur, Prakasham and Nellore districts. This is fertile paddy land. Social activist Saraswathi Kavula, working with the tribals and Dalits who will be displaced if this project goes through, told Covert, “The total rice produced here is over 9,601,045 tonnes. If the corridor is formed, the state will lose 67,64,203 tonnes.” Other crops produced here include bajra, maize, black gram, coconut, sugarcane, cashew nut, turmeric.

The agitation against GO 34 is gaining strength. Fishermen are particularly worried about the adverse impact of the SEZ on marine life, already at risk because of the chemical industries that have been constructed in the area. The project is expected to displace close to 15 million farmers, eight million fishermen and another four million farm labourers. Mangrove forests are being destroyed for setting up industries and a port along the coastline. The movement is being led by the Committee Against Formation of Industrial Coastal Corridor. Activists said that the battle against the acquisition of the land has already begun, and the State will find it difficult to develop the SEZ.

A well-known researcher on SEZ, Aseem Srivastava said, “The most undesirable outcome of this scheme is that it has plunged the country into a state of civil war.” In Orissa, the police is camping in schools to counter anti-SEZ movements. Leaders of the movement in Kakinada said they had lost count of the number of times they had confronted the police. It is estimated that 114,000 farming households and an additional 82,000 farm-worker families dependent on the farms, will be displaced under the SEZ. Experts have circulated figures registering a loss of Rs 212 crores per year for these farming families. This does not include the loss inherent in the demise of local rural economies. The promise of rehabilitation is not accepted by the farmer; he knows that 75% of the 40 million Adivasis and Dalits who lost their land to industrialisation since 1950 have not been rehabilitated.

The development of SEZs is being held up because of the agitation in all States. Government officials say that the few that have started operating under the SEZ Act 2005, have already registered a massive investment running into several thousand-crores and have employed over a million persons. They point out that the response from both within India and abroad has been “overwhelming” and the list of SEZ developers includes large companies like Nokia, Wipro, Motorola, Apache, Mahindra World and others. They claim that of the 513 formal approvals given till date, at least 177 are for sector specific and multi-product SEZs that include manufacture of textiles, leather footwear, gems and jewellery, electronics hardware. However, officials admit that the development of the large Special Economic Zones is held up and the acquisition of land has been “extremely slow”. Despite the back channel support given by Governments to companies [such as Reliance in Maharashtra] people’s resistance is proving to be a difficult hurdle.

The FDI investment pattern over the past four years contains the reasons for this “overwhelming” response. FDI investment in the real estate sector has shot up from 4.5% [$2.70 billion] to 26% [$ 8 billion] in 2006-2007. An ASSOCHAM study on the “Future of Real Estate Investment in India” pointed out that the real estate market offers maximum returns to investors and is set to touch a $60 billion market size by 2010. The study maintained that SEZ is the new destination for real estate investors, and 50% of the total SEZ projects are developed by real estate developers. Also, the international investors are showing keen interest in establishing their presence over domestic real estate business. The Indian SEZ has become a natural choice for foreign investors since the Chinese real estate market has reached its saturation and they prefer to invest in freehold lands available in India. International investors like Royal Indian Raj International, Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, Emmar Properties, Pegasus Realty, Citigroup Property Investors, Lee Kim Tah Holdings, Salim Group, Morgan Stanley, GE Commercial Finance Real Estate are learnt to have finalised plans worth US $6.33 billions for India.

In Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, the State allegedly colluded with the private players. District revenue officials told the illiterate farmers that their land had been notified under the Land Acquisition Act. Later they were approached by the real estate agents offering just slightly better compensation, and thereby forcing them to sell their lands. Rajesh Kakinada who is leading the agitation here told Covert, “45% of the land is acquired in this manner. The State machinery worked in favour of the real estate sharks. They even went to the extent of using brute police force against those who were resisting.”

Adding to the anger of the farmers are reports that those who lost their land have since been unable to make ends meet. Some of the farmers who were displaced by the Pollepally SEZ in Andhra Pradesh told Covert they were now working as construction labourers within the zone. Many of them spoke of harassment at the hands of supervisors, maintaining they were being made to work for more than 12 hours. Reports that 42 farmers who lost their land to SEZs have died since, have not been effectively countered by the State machinery. Displacement and rehabilitation, experts fear, will be a major issue that will add to agrarian unrest as a result of the SEZ policy. This, they point out, is also one of the main factors behind the current agitations, as the farmers do not want to be sacrificed at the altar of development.

The Government has been unable to intervene effectively to dispel these fears, and the frequent firing by State police forces on agitating farmers has added to the apprehensions and made the resistance stronger [¼]

Appu Esthose Suresh and Payam S.

“Farmers should have some stake in SEZ”

Interview with “Immediate Past President” of Assocham, Venugopal N. Dhoot:

Q: With the kind of resistance that SEZ developers are facing in land acquisition, virtually all projects are either stalled or crawling. Do you think there is a fundamental problem in the policy?

A: Not at all. Many SEZs have already come up. So I don’t buy that argument. And I don’t wish to comment on the good and bad of policy.

Q: Is the SEZ policy lopsided: benefits to the industry but not the farmers who are displaced?

A: It helps both the industry as well as farmers. See, it is like this. Farmers are paid compensation and jobs, once the trajectory of progress is set in motion, everyone benefits.

Q: Do you think that land should be acquired by the industry from the farmers?

A: Yes, ASSOCHAM maintains the position that the land should be bought by the industry. Farmers should be adequately compensated for their land, some stakes in SEZ, and jobs. This should ideally be a win-win situation.

Q: What have been the drawbacks of
SEZ policy? In your view, what can be done to overcome these, and the other hurdles?

A: No drawbacks. I reiterate our formula for the larger benefits of everyone involved in SEZ.

Q: Do you think SEZs can create jobs for all those who are displaced from their land?

A: I have already shared whatever information I have. Definitely jobs will be created.

Q: Do you agree that there is an overwhelming sentiment against SEZs?

A: No comments.

Q: How can SEZs usher in a new India with less poverty and suffering?

A: SEZ implemented on the basis of the formula that I mentioned earlier, with adequate compensation and stakes in the SEZ will eventually do this.

The Simmering Dissent in the Indian Countryside – The Story of Special Economic Zones.

The Simmering Dissent in the Indian Countryside – The Story of Special Economic Zones.

The Special Economic Zones have become serious zones of conflict in rural India. The ghastly blood-bath at Nandigram was a stark indicator of the discontent raging through the Indian countryside, there the West Bengal State Police fired on the protesting farmers, who didn't want to part with their lands, which the West Bengal Government had proposed for a Special Economic Zone to be promoted by the Salim Group of Industries of Indonesia. Apart from Nandigram, farmers have been protesting all over the country against the forcible acquisition of their land for the proposed SEZs. Some of the prominent zones of conflict vis-à-vis are Jagatsinghpur, Orissa against proposed Posco SEZ, Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, Jhahar in Haryana against the proposed large SEZ by Reliance Industries, Karla _____ in Pune district in Maharashtra. Of late, there is news of farmers' protest from various SEZs from Gujarat and Tamilnadu, as well.

Under the rubric of Globalization, when the neo-liberal offensive is devastating the 'Culture and Commons' of the indigenous people of India appropriating the land of the peasants in this process, thousands of acres of land have been taken away from people, forcibly dispossessing millions of Aadiwasis and Farmers in the name of high GDP _______ and attracting foreign direct investments. The whole issue of Special Economic Zones has to be seen in the context of cataclysmic changes taking place in the global scale which had devastating impact on third world societies. Much has been written on the global restructuring by Civil Society Groups and the Political Left. India shared the fate of most of the Third World societies where the national liberation movements inspired hopes for millions of peasants that they can lead a life of dignity free from the colonial _______. The post-independent journey of India started with a vision of self reliance and egalitarianism with the state whose elected executives would play the role of prime-movers. The Nehru Era saw 'Abolition of Landlordism and Investment in Irrigation'. Land Reforms released the forces of production in the countryside and the coming in of the Green Revolution brought in relative prosperity in rural areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western U.P. and Coastal Andhra, where high input intensive agriculture was adopted. This path of "Nehruian" Model of growth had a flip side which the mainstream Media concealed until social movements like Narmada Bachao, Koel ____ , Kalinganagar, Kashipur, Kalahandi, Tehri, etc. bought the other side of post-independent rural reality and the simmering discontent. This path of heavy industrialization and emphasis on modern infra-structures created massive displacement. According to various sources, by mid-nineties, there were more than 40 million farmers and Aadiwasis who were displaced by various mega projects like dams, mines, factories and industrial township. This is a whooping and revealing figure of the number of people displaced which was more than the population of England. As mentioned earlier, social movements like Narmada and Tehri were indicators of the refusal of rural masses to part with their land and homes in the name of development. As a result of global restructuring. The Indian rulers adopted the neo-liberal ideology ushered in through the new economic policies of 1991. All the welfare provisions, concept of self-reliance, pro-farmers and labour regimes were gradually dismantled, leaving vulnerable segments of the population like women, dalits, farmers, aadiwasis, etc. in the mercy of the market. Thus, market became the new god in the era of Globalization. The Indian rulers who had completely turned neo-liberal in the new millennium adopted the Special Economic Zone Policiy when the entire country was undergoing acute agrarian crisis, the most horrifying symptom of which was the high number of incidences of farmers committing suicide by mid 2005 more than 1.5lakh ( hundred and fifty thousand ) farmers had committed suicide , this phenomenon goes on unabated till today. Agriculture is having its lowest growth rate since past five years . The Massive and forceful acquisition of land had accelerated the on going misery and marginalization of the rural population. As result farmers are up in arms. Special Economic Zones were the logical culmination of anti-people, anti-Farmers path pursued by the Indian rulers which has other hazards apart from the massive dispossession of the farmers and rural artisans. Large scale land acquisition for Mega-Industrial projects, infrastructure projects and SEZs is transforming the whole of the rural scenario in the country from bad to worse. To cover up the devastation, the State Governments are half- heartedly bringing rehabilitation and re-settlement policies. The land acquisition by the Government ostensibly in the name of Public Interest, is in fact transferring thousands of acres of fertile land to Multi-national Mega Corporations like Posco, Salim and Indian big business houses likes Tata, Jindal, Ambani and Birla. Through this process of displacement, land and livelihoods are being alienated from the farmers and other sections of the population, as mentioned earlier. Tens of millions of farmers and rural artisans have already been displaced in the name of development.

Displacemnet has converted farmers, adiwasis and rural artisans into destitutes most of whom have been forced to become casual workers in urban centres without any rights. Fear of displacement from their homes, from their lands and livelihoods, from their community and thought of living the rest of their lives as destitutes has suddenly become a reality for vast mases of India. The very people, who according to the Government are supposed to be benefiting from so called Industrialization in the form of R & R benefits, jobs urban facilities, social and hospitals etc. are seen to be opposing these policies the most. The fact is that no State Government to have the intention and capacity. The lnd grabbing through displacement is not only restricted to the rural areas. In the urban areas, the slum dwellers are being forcibly evicted to make way for city, beautification and gentrification, establishment of huge malls, real estate development, widening of raods etc. often without any compensation and alternate dwelling place for slum dwellers. The slum dwellers of most of the large cities are now resorting to protest movements against their growing dispossession and marginalization. The establishment of SEZs is playing havoc with the rural population of India. Primarily India is an agricultural country and more than 70% of Indian people are dependent on agriculture and its ancillary activities. To develop India any sensible policy will have to develop agriculture sector. But for the past 60 years, The Indian ruling elite have never seriously attempted apart from the high tech Green Revolution package, no attempt was made to upgrade agricultural land both availability and quantitatively by disturbing arable waste land to the poor and creating irrigation facilities. Such measures would have increased agricultural production making farmers prosperous which would have created demand for manufactured goods and stimulated industrialization with employment opportunities, but instead today the Indian agriculture is facing its worst crisis. The development of India is impossible without the development of agriculture as in most villages of India agriculture and allied livelihoods such as fishing, animal husbandry, forestry are the only sustainable livelihoods for the majority of the people. Today the Government is unable to provide any other sustainable livelihood after taking away land and common property resources such as forests, streams, ponds, grazing lands, etc. which are the basis of agriculture and allied occupation. Implementation of pro-agri-business agricultural policies in the name of Green Revolution imposition of GM seeds, contract farming and corporate control of agricultural sector are the basic elements of the neo-liberal agriculture policies which is __________ most of the farmers and rural artisans. Farmers suicides are serious indications of this agrarian situation. This grave crisis will also have a serious impact on food security for Indian rural population which is, anyway, under tremendous strain. Therefore, the rural population is up in arms to save their agricultural land, livelihood, common property resources like forests, sources of water etc. We have seriously campaign and support the struggle for protection and restoration of Indian agriculture. There is a necessity for instilling confidence amongst farmers and rural artisans for alternative development models is possible different groups across India are trying to implement alternate development models on a small scale, different political forces, mass movements and civil society groups working with people have their own version of alternative development models on a small scale, different political forces, mass movements and civil society groups working with people have their own version of alternative development models. The farmers have realized that even in the prevailing situation of agrarian crisis gripping the country there is no other option but to stick to agriculture and allied occupations. Industrial development of India has to be in the interest of the masses and it can only happen on the basis of development of agriculture and the rural economy on the whole. Therefore, the demand should be the development of agriculture and rural economy in the interest of the vast masses of India.

The forcible displacement of the people from their lands and livelihoods for establishment of mega- industries and infra-structural projects and establishments of exclusive economic enclaves by multi-national corporations and Indian big business in the name of SEZs is the anti- poor, pro-national and Inter-national Big Business.

The Government of India has adopted policies which have left the urban and rural poor including the medium farmers and urban lower middle classes in a precarious situation when for even the basic necessities of life people have increasingly become dependent on the market forces, which again are controlled by the National and Inter-national big business houses viz. World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc. The industrialization policy of the Government is not aimed at supplementing the production capacity of those products which are in demand by the masses, nor it is creating any additional employment for the vast army of unemployed of the country as Mega- industries which are encouraged by the Government and are established by the Global and Indian big business are high-tech automated industries, having a very low employment prospect. On the other hand, such industries are responsible for large scale displacement and massive loss of employment. The present emphasis is on those industries which would exhaust the mineral resources of India in next 3 to 4 decades, while these semi-finalized and low value added intermediate products will be exported for manufacturing high and costly products which will be again imported to India at a huge cost. This farmer-pro-big-business-industrial and mining policy is encouraging establishment of huge mineral based industries, industrial infrastructures like roads, rail, power plant, water treatment plant, townships, SEZs, smart cities, EPZs, etc. Especially the SEZs have resulted in farmers losing their land and livelihoods. Massive unemployment is being caused, natural resources are being exhausted at a rapid rate and nature is getting devastated. The implementation of SEZ plicy is leading to creation of exclusive zones where no laws of land are there to protect the rights of the labour and thet of the farmers. Infact these laws are anti-people. This path of industrialization that is _________ vast masses of the farmers and rural artisans, will spell disaster for the country as a whole. Therefore, the establishment of SEZ is playing havoc with the lives of the entire rural population including the adiwasis. This path of industrialization through Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Institutional Investment have given priority for establishing SEZs throughout India solely for the super profits of the International and National big business. For the establishment of SEZs, the various state Governments have ruthlessly used the "Colonial 1894 Land Acquisition Act", forcibly evacuating people, destroying their cultural moorings, social peace and livelihood, all in the name of growth, while on the other hand SEZs which have been described as a foreign territory in the SEZ Act of 2005 have been given the status of separate enclaves where no law of the land or Constitutional provisions will apply. The development commissioner appointed by the State Government will govern the SEZ with private security, own laws and own regimes of justice and maintenance of law and order. Neither the Civil Laws and Labor Laws nor any other laws of land will be honored in these enclaves. This status of separate foreign territories enables the corporate houses to exploit labor ruthlessly. Working conditions will be deteriorated; working hours will be arbitrarily increased to 12 to 14 hours. No work safety measures will be taken. Since the work in these zones is given to contractors, the workers will be paid low wages. No payments for weekly offs, no lease with wages, no medical leave, no Provident Fund, no ES, no recreational facilities, no gratuity, almost no social security will be provided to the workers. Accidents in the work places are bound to increase. No workmen's compensation will be paid. Women workers will be even more exploited.

The SEZs are the most advanced and deadliest weapons of the neo-liberal re-structuring apart from dispossessions of millions of farmers and artisans it devastates their cultural million and these enclaves here no laws of land will apply is akin to re-colonization of the Third World.

The massive outburst of the people of Nandigram, the ongoing struggle against POSCO SEZ in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa , the struggle in Raigar and many other places and the country–wide resistance against forcible acquisition of land by the Government for the SEZs to be developed by Indian and International big businesses has forced the Government of India to announced the rulers under the SEZ Act 2005, according to which the private corporate sector will purchase land straight from the farmers even after this decision of the Government of India everywhere Police is intervening on behalf of the corporate sector the case in pont is struggke against the Korean giant POSCO SEZ in Orissa. After the local people confronted the Posco officials, the police intervened on behalf of Posco with an intention of terrorizing the people and forcing them to surrender their land, these interventions of police force on behalf of the corporate sector against struggling farmers happens all over India, the list is endless. This exposes the dual face of the Central and State Government, who go out of their way to acquire land for the corporate sector while mouthing pro-people platitude in public platforms and legislatures.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the light of the above importance of the peasant resistance to the Special Economic Zones, a study was undertaken to understand the concrete reasons of farmers opposition to the SEZs. The Maha-mumbai SEZ promoted by Reliance Industries in Raigad District in Maharashtra and the Mahindra and Mahidra SEZ promoted by Mahindra Group at Karla in Pune District of Maharashtra were selected for the study.

The field work was done between 20th, July, 2007 and 5th, September, 2007. The methodology adopted was 'Qualitative" interviews of respondents from different castes, occupations and gender in the Panvel, Pan and Uran Tehsils of Raigad Diatricts and of 6 villages in Karla area of Maval Tehsil of Pune district.

In the next 20 days, the field data will be analysed and the report will be drafted.

Please comments on this at "Asit das" ,

--
ANAND KUMAR
Contact : 0755 4058671
c/o Yuva Samvad, B-16, Minal Enclave
Gulmohar-3, E-8, Arera Colny,
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh.)

The situation at Nandigram

The situation at Nandigram is extremely tense. As per reports from reliable sources around Nandigram this morning, the administration is amassing thousands of Combat forces and Rapid action forces of the police (according to some estimates the number is 5000) and surrounding Nandigram from Khejuri in the north and Mahishadal in the South. The highly militarized situation in and around Nandigram has created an atmosphere of tension and insecurity amongst the people. Several cadres of various political parties are now stationed in Nandigram further adding to the tense atmosphere. Stray incidents of violence including the death of a policeman have been reported. People fear that the administration is using this situation to increase police presence and repression in Nandigram.

The ‘Uchhed Pratirodh’ Committee of the people of Nandigram apprehends that like Singur, political forces are trying to gain electoral publicity and other petty gains at the expense of the people’s movement. The Committee is committed to fight for their democratic rights over their lands and not allow their lands to be turned into SEZs or harvesting grounds for corporate benefits. Many scientists, teachers, professors, artists, dramatists have also come forth to fight for the cause.

We are shocked and disturbed at the unjust and undemocratic means being applied to force acquisition of land from the people of Nandigram. As representatives of people's movements and as people committed to democracy and human rights:

We condemn state violence
We denounce forced acquisition of land and natural resources
We assert people's rights to land and natural resources
We insist on democratic dialogue

In Solidarity

Anand Mazgaonkar (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti), Medha Patkar (NBA) Rajendra Ravi (NAPM) Vijayan MJ (Delhi Forum) Gautam Bandopadhyay (Nadi Ghati Morcha), Rakesh Rafiq (Yuva Bharat) Ajit Jha (Samajwadi Jan Parishad), Madhuresh (Delhi Solidarity Group) and Shivani Chaudhry (Housing and Land Rights Network)

Women Farmers Lead Indefinite fast against Reliance Mahamumbai SEZ

Women Farmers Lead Indefinite fast against Reliance Mahamumbai SEZ

The indefinite fast undertaken by 17 farmers and activists from 24 villages in Pen Tehsil of Raigad District in Maharashtra entered the second day today. The fast is in protest against the continuing land acquisition by the Reliance group for their 10,000-hectare-plus Mumbai SEZ.

The protest fast has been undertaken to demand withdrawal of Notification section 6 pertaining to land acquisition for SEZ projects which has not happened in spite of Maharashtra Chief Minister's public statements to this effect.

Although the Chief Minister had made a statement on the floor of the House that no 'forced acquisition' would take place in the state for SEZ projects, the notification permitting the land acquisition has not been withdrawn.

Women farmers and activists are on the forefront of the struggle and more than 50% of those sitting on the fast are women at the Tehsil headquarters in Pen.

Local Officials who met the farmers today spoke to activists Anant Patil and Ulka Mahajan who have demanded suspension of the corrupt Talati instrumental in fake sale deals for the SEZ. Activists also informed the official that top level Reliance officials in cohort with local agents have been involved in fake land acquisition.

Supports and solidarity groups are flooding the struggle site since morning from Mumbai, Pune and other areas. Datta Iswalkar From Giringoan Kamgar Sanghatana, Gjanan Khatu from People's Political front, Prabhakar Narkar and Ramakant Patil from Janta Dal also visited the site and sat on dharna with the farmers almost the whole day today in support of the demands made by the farmers.

Demands

· Stop forced acquisition and withdraw the section 6 notification immediately as assured on the state legislature floor by the Chief Minister.

· Declare the fraudulent land deals done by local agents on behalf of Reliance group illegal.

· Public declaration by Collector listing land deals pertaining to SEZ

· Exclude 22 villages, of Pen, Raigad, and Maharashtra from the Mahamumbai SEZ.

· Due to the polluted acidic water seeping in the farms by IPCL of Reliance Industries, Patalganga, the harvest has been totally destroyed. We demand just investigation in the pollution issue, and the farmers must be compensated for their loss for the paddy crop.

Anant Patil , Surekha Dalvi

(24 Gaon Sangharsh Samiti)

Contact: Surekha Dalavi : 9821140104 Mumbainapm@gmail.com ,

Mukta Srivastava

NAPM