THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
CPI(M) Parliamentary Office
THE first day of the week began by observing a minute's silence in memory of those killed in the devastating earthquake in Nepal and parts of India. Speaking on this, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury expressed sympathy with the people of Nepal and parts of our own country devastated by the earthquake and said on behalf of CPI(M) funds will be collected across the country to help the affected people. The government should put in place a structure so that there should be a medium for whatever resources are collected. If any MP wants to give funds from his MPLADS funds, it should be allowed. Agrarian Crisis: In the Upper House, the issues of agrarian crisis and farmers suicides were taken up. Speaking on this, Yechury said that our food provider is in distress today. He is resorting to commit suicide in this situation. If such a crisis is prevalent in the agriculture sector then the root cause be ascertained and solution be found. The government will have to improve the situation not only to save the economy of the country but 49 percent humanity as well. It is necessary for the survival of the farmer that Minimum Support Price remains above the cost of production. The total outlay for agriculture has also been reduced. When MSP is less than the cost of production, then a farmer is forced to take loan and in the failure of payment of that he is resorting to commit suicide under pressure. Nothing will change, unless the government brings improvements in its policies. More than sixty percent of our population live in the villages, so their upliftment is necessary for the progress of the country. We have seen drought condition, unseasonal rain and hailstorm in the recent past. Almost all the standing crops have been devastated. Potato growers are committing suicide in West Bengal. Five percent reservation meant for farmers in the cold storages has also been stopped there. The central government is pressurising the states not to give more than Central MSP. The government has reduced the subsidy on fertiliser but increasing the price of diesel. Cost of production is increasing as a resultant effect. Excise Duty on petrol has been increased. You are not passing the benefit of decline in oil prices to the people. The government is bringing a Land Acquisition Bill in which among other things also deleting the provision of returning the unutilised land acquired for SEZ. Today a farmer is also afraid of the new land bill. You are trying to acquire the cultivable land. In the deep agrarian crisis, unseasonal rain and weak monsoon are also going to enhance the agony of the farmer. The government should prepare a road map for enhancing investment in agriculture as it is must for solving the crisis. Through irrigation facilities dependence on monsoon be reduced to ensure food security in the country. Yechury urged the government to be sensitive towards farmers and said "The farmers have no option but to commit suicide. If you are insensitive, you will see bad times. How we are going to address this issue? Neither the economy nor the country can be saved if we don't address this issue." T K Rangarajan raised the matter of killing of twenty woodcutters from Tamil Nadu in Andhra Pradesh forests by Andhra Pradesh Police during 'Calling Attention' in Rajya Sabha. It was the brutality of the police. The persons who were being attacked were not smugglers, they were poor, daily rated workers and the only bread-winners of their families. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has expressed its anguish over not arresting the culprits even after 25 days of the incident. The Human Rights Commission has registered a case and has been conducting an inquiry and has accused police for delay in registering the case. The country is engulfed with smugglers and hawala people but this people were innocent. So a CBI inquiry must be done and there is need to provide compensation to the families of these victims, provision of job and land to the affected people. Adding to this, Tapan Sen said there are enough circumstantial evidence which shows that this is not an encounter. It is complete jungle raj. This issue needs to be addressed, particularly when the people from the poorest of the community and migrants workers are involved. The Minister should institute a judicial inquiry to go into the things, by appointing a sitting judge to go into the aspect and find out the truth, so that these trends are nipped in the bud. Demand for Grants-Ministry of Home Affairs: Md. Salim said though several members as well as the government claimed that this year's budget has seen a hike, this increase was not uniform across the board. There has been a cut in the revised estimates of the Ministry's budget for 2014-15 and the funds were not utilised fully. It is a major responsibility of a government to make each citizen feels safe and secure. Communal tension in this respect is not at all conducive for citizens well-being. The Prevention of Communal Violence Bill has been pending for years. To maintain communal harmony, stern steps should be taken against those causing communal tension and for this strong laws are essential. Today, the women are the most insecure section of the society. The previous government had announced Nirbhaya Scheme and provided funds but the funds remained unutilised. The HRD Ministry announced that December 25 would be celebrated as Good Governance Day. Our Constitution gives equal rights to all religions. Recently, judges conference was held on Good Friday. The government has to be more sensitive regarding different denominations. In the last year's budget, funds relating to borders remained unspent. There is a difference in raking up the problem of infiltration for politics. However, it is altogether a different matter in preventing it. Similarly, funds concerning fencing, lightening, strengthening of outposts in last year's budget remained unused. Free movement of people across the border, smuggling of narcotics, small arms, criminals should be prevented by the government. BSF is posted in Bengal and border fencing has been done yet smuggling is a parallel economy there. The BSF maintain a very tough stance against the farmers, but does not prevent smuggling. In previous year's budget, funds remained unused for forces' housing modernisation. Effective steps have to be taken to solve the accommodation problem which is a very acute problem for the police and paramilitary forces. Demand for Grants-Ministry of Law and Justice: In Rajya Sabha while speaking on the working of Ministry of Law and Justice, K N Balagopal pointed out that in India, day by day, a large majority of common people are not getting justice. The government is giving the least importance to the judicial system and the legal system. There are many vacancies of judges even in the lower judiciary. Vacancies haven't been filled up. The salary scheme is different in different states. We have mobile courts. There should be a system to computerise the work done in courts and get everything done online. We had passed the Gram Nyayalayas law in Parliament but it has not been given effect to. The courts are situated far away and the cost of litigation is very high. At the time of British rule, circuit court system was there. There should be more benches of High Courts, and also benches of the Supreme Court. There is no enforcement of labour laws. Lawlessness and failure to enforce rule of law is promoting extremism in the country. For the poor man there is no separate court. Demand for Grants-Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change: CPI(M) member M B Rajesh, while taking part in the discussion, pointed out that threats to environment and nature have only increased. The corporate greed for super profits is the real threat to our environment. This corporate greed is being aggressively promoted by neo-liberal policies and this is being done in the name of economic growth. This government, through its adherence to neo-liberal policy trajectory, has permitted the corporate to loot nature and make super profits. Rather than enforcing existing laws in an effective manner and ensuring their compliance, the Ministry is keen in diluting the existing environmental laws in favour of corporate. The doublespeak of this government as far as environmental protection is concerned is evident in the stand it has taken in the Aranmula Airport Project. The majority of people in Aranmula and Kerala are opposed to this project. The government should make its stand clear regarding this project. The government is succumbing to the pressure of the United States and other developed countries. It is going to sacrifice India's position of 'common but differentiated responsibilities' as far as the emission cuts and climate change are concerned. The government is thinking of fixing sector-specific targets for emission cuts. What will happen to 'Make in India' campaign if we are going to fix sector-specific targets for manufacturing sector? So, what is the necessity of taking such unilateral action? It is very necessary that the government must not deviate from our position in international forums and make it clear as to what will be our position in the forth coming climate meet to be held in Paris at the end of 2015? Demand for Grants-Ministry of Human Resource Development: Speaking on the demand for grants for HRD Ministry, CPI(M)-supported Independent MP Joice George said there has been a cut of 29 per cent in the budget for education. Without having sufficient allocation for the education sector, we cannot achieve our targeted results in education sector. As far as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan is concerned, it is our flagship programme. There has been a cut of Rs 13,000 crore in this sector alone. There are some irregularities in its functioning in many parts of our country. The government must intervene and take some measures. Demand for Grants-Ministry of Health & Family Welfare: Speaking on this, P K Sreemathi Teacher said it is shocking that 15 important schemes of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have been left without any budgetary provisions for 2015-16. Road accident injury is one of the leading causes of death and disabilities. Separate funds should be earmarked for the National Health Mission so that all major hospitals are well-equipped with modern facilities to face unexpected mass casualty or natural calamity. The poor people are denied qualitative treatment today. The most exploited category is the nurses and a separate law should be enacted to protect their rights. There should be provision in the Budget for providing monthly allowance to ASHA workers. There should be provision for free medicine in government hospitals. Communicable and non-communicable diseases should be treated in government Hospitals free of cost. In Kerala, monthly pensions are being given to patients affected with TB and cancer. Funds should be allocated for setting up more public health laboratories. She appealed to the Health Minister to take adequate measures to develop Kannur Public Health Laboratory with all diagnostic facilities. The hospital management committees should be strengthened by including the elected representatives. Legislative Bill: Rajya Sabha passed the Regional Rural Banks (Amendment) Bill, 2014, despite opposition from members belonging to the CPI(M) and a few other parties. Opposing the bill, Tapan Kumar Sen said the Regional Rural Bank was set up in 1976 to widen the credit facility to the entire rural economy and to pump in funds to make the agricultural economy more productive and more effective. The situation today is that more than two-thirds of our agricultural community is deprived of institutional credit and they are forced to be victimised by private moneylenders. That is why many of our farmers are committing suicide. In such a situation, what should be the approach of our banking system? This amendment is just moving things in the opposite direction. The government is allowing private participation in the Board of Directors of the Regional Rural Bank, by diluting its equity holding. Is that in the interest of the rural people? There must be a national level apex body of the Regional Rural Bank, in association with NABARD and RBI, Sen demanded. Rajya Sabha also passed the Warehousing Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015. While opposing this bill, T K Rangarajan said the government is slowly going to leave its responsibility to the market. This is going to affect the entire working class, poor people and farmers of this country. PDS is functioning very well in Tamil Nadu. Why is the government shirking away from its responsibility? If the government withdraw guarantee, trust of depositors will be vanished. Shortage of storage space affects the farmers. If this bill is implemented, the food security will go away, he said.