DALITS and tribals are the worst affected by the dictatorial land policies of the ruling classes, JNU professor Praveen Jha has said. Addressing a seminar on ‘Contemporary India – Government as Land-grabber’, organised by M B Vignan Kendram in Vijayawada on the 25TH death anniversary of Comrade Makineni Basava Punnayya, Prof. Jha said that during 1947-1990, 2.31 crore people were displaced for various projects, whereas during 1990-2000, a staggering six crore people were displaced and seventy per cent of them were dalits and tribals.
In the guise of development, land belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections were being forcibly acquired to benefit corporates and other influential sections. He termed this as land-grabbing by the governments at the Centre and in states. Corporates and big capitalists are looting land and natural resources with the help of governments. The looting policies, which were prevalent at the time of Independence, continues even today. Incidentally, in the aftermath of the Green Revolution, these policies gained momentum, he said.
The present ruling classes are making frenetic efforts to do away with the existing laws to benefit the corporates more. Employment is not growing despite the growth in industries in the country. In 2011 employment was provided to 11.2 lakh people when there were 1.20 crore unemployed, whereas in 2016 employment was provided to1.5 lakh people only, he said.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi had promised to create two crore jobs every year, whereas his government is taking measures to stifle employment opportunities. Substantial land reforms have been carried out only in states ruled by the Left and in other parts of the country, distribution of land is negligible.
Most of the committees appointed by the government are giving reports in support of corporates. If at all there is a report in support of people, it is not being allowed to come to the light by the ruling classes, Prof. Jha said. The Govindarajan Committee on ‘reforming investment approval and implementation procedures’ appointed by the Centre suggested amendments to the forests and environment laws in favour of capitalists. In 2005 the SEZ Act was enacted and utilising the act, invaluable lands have been handed over to Indian and foreign capitalists, he said.
In the 2013 land acquisition act, there was no mention of compensation to rights for tribal and women, joint pattas in case of acquisition. Soon after assuming office, the Modi government moved some amendments to the land acquisition act so that states also can amend the 2013 legislation on their own. The indiscriminate land acquisition that has been going on unabated in the country is a testimony to the loopholes in the land acquisition act.
The NDA government under Modi removed the consent clause, the social impact assessment report and the clause which enables to return land if there is no initiation of project within five years.
The central government is encouraging modifications in the land acquisition act to enable the so-called ‘ease of doing business’. In Odisha, Niyamgiri tribals have been waging struggles against land acquisition for a private company. But in a bizarre stand, the government is arguing that Ghonds do not have full rights on the hills, which is a travesty of justice, he said. He exhorted the left and democratic forces to jointly wage struggles against the looting of land.
P Madhu, chairman of MBVK Trust, while delivering his presidential address, said there is a sinister design to loot the land of dalits and tribals. The developments in Vijayanagaram district discern these nefarious trends. In the name of establishing land banks, thousands of acres are being taken away, he said. In the 47 SEZs established in the state, industries have only come up on 4,000-5,000 acres out of 36,000 acres acquired. (END)