Category Archives: India
We are posting this story shared by Ekta Parishad.
One-fourth of India’s population suffers from drought affecting more than 300 million people in 13 States. As it reels from severe water shortages; people fighting on the issue, farmers committing suicide, and livestock and crop failures happening resulting to food crisis, are among of its adverse effects.
To raise this issue to the Government, Ekta Parishad led more than 4000 people across the affected States in a march, Jal Satyagraha, on 5 May 2016 from Rajghat to Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.
Activists demanded for the enactment of the Water Security Law restoring and conserving rivers and ground waters to ensure water security for all, and the River Rejuvenation Bill improving river systems with community participation.
Jal satyagraha continues until Government takes corresponding actions.
Similarly, Ekta Parishad Founder Dr. Rajagopal P.V., headed the 7-day Water Awareness Dialogue Journey on 6-13 June 2016 from Sheopur to Damoh District to raise awareness on water conservation among villagers and youths. It also served as fact-finding measure on the implementation of Supreme Court Order on drought relief work on dam and pond reconstructions.
From the communities visited, proper implementation of the Supreme Order was not in place. People were also experiencing insufficient water supply for food and work resulting to urban migrations.
Amidst this kind of situation, community people, however, are dedicatedly and voluntarily re-constructing their dams to sustain their water needs.
India is currently facing drought directly affecting 11 States including Bundelkhand, Northern Karnataka, Marathwada, Vidharbha, Telangana, and Rayalseema. This has resulted to lower ground water levels drying up the soil, which then adversely affects harvest and production with Indian agriculture largely depending on rainfall.
With the coming monsoon in June with a 106%-expected rainfall (according to the India Meteorological Department), there are hopes that this issue would be addressed. This would be more effective with proper conservation mechanism through rainfall harvesting, which Ekta Parishad is advocating for as a result of a brainstorming session held last 7-13 April 2016 in Bhikampura in Alwar District of Rajasthan.
Ekta Parishad, together with 130 organizations, took the oath to promote water harvesting both in the rural communities and in the Government. They also appeal for the repair and restoration of water harvesting facilities in the local communities by 30 April 2016. Where Government fails to take appropriate actions, these organizations will voice out their demands in New Delhi on 5 May 2016.
After years of Ekta Parishad’s campaigning and conducting mass mobilizations for land rights, the National Rural Homestead Bill was drafted in 2013 to ensure that rural families have the right to a home and a piece of land not less than 10 cents (0.04 hectares). Despite repeated promises from the government to prioritize its passage, the Bill has never been presented in the parliament.
On 14-15 March 2016, Ekta Parishad once again gathered more than 5,000 India’s landless people in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to demand for their homestead land rights.
From these series of activities, Ekta Parishad asserted that movements for land rights need new form – improving the culture of protest to ensure that demands of people are heard; and the culture of governance to guarantee government’s actions from their promises.
Around 3000 Arippa indigenous people (IP) and landless poor in India started a hunger strike in front of the Kerala Secretariat on 19 February 2016 to protest for their land rights which they have been demanding since 2013. Ekta Parishad joined the 15-day protest.
Tribes claim the 55.46 acres of a 90-acre land in the Arippa forest in Kulathuphuza village to be a surplus land meant for redistribution among the landless poor. The Kerala Government, however, allotted this for developing universities and campuses apart from the 68.46 acres allocated for institutional developments (George, 2014).
In 2013, the Kerala Government has enacted the “Zero Landless Program” awarding titles of 3-cent lands (equivalent to 0.01 hectare) to the IPs and landless poor for dwelling. This amount of plot barely provides sustenance to the families. They need lands for agriculture.
For three years, these activists have been conducting mass mobilizations for their land rights; and the Government has been deaf of these people’s pleas.
In a news story posted on 20 February 2016, an action was finally heard from the Government. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has directed the District Collector to furnish details of the Arippa families to whom he promised to give lands upon availability.
Ekta Parishad’s Shri. Rajagopal P.V. receives Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration 2013-2014
This recognition is awarded annually since 1985 to individuals promoting and preserving the national integration in India.
Mr. Rajagopal is the former Vice Chairman of Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF) and a former ANGOC Board Member.
With the expiration of the third re-promulgation of Land Acquisition Ordinance on 31 August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on radio that the Ordinance will be allowed to lapse. Moreover, the Government will implement the 13-point reforms to the Land Acquisition Law which will provide direct financial benefit to farmers.
Land rights activists in India have long been calling for the withdrawal of the Ordinance allowing investors to acquire lands even without the consent of affected farmers and families.
Advocates, including Ekta Parishad, see hope to this milestone as significant in demanding land rights to marginalized communities.
Due to the unfulfilled actions of the Madhya Pradesh Government to the allotment of lands to landless farmers, Ekta Parishad started a hunger strike on 26 April in Bhopal, India.
Participated by more than a hundred farmers from 20 districts, the rally aimed to:
- reconstitute the Land Reform task force in Madhya Pradesh which should work on the issues of land;
- defend an initiative against the granting of land acquisitions among corporations by the Government; and
- make reforms on the policy allowing non-tribal-groups to acquire tribal lands.
While the event initially lasted until 29 April, the protest will continue till the Government takes actions addressing Ekta Parishad’s demands.
We are sharing series of news from Ekta Parishad posted from 20 to 25 February.
India’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 states that investors may acquire a farmer’s land provided that 80% (for private projects) and 70% (for public-private partnership projects) of the affected families have given their consent. Until this is satisfied, investors cannot acquire lands. However, the government has deleted this provision in the ordinance amending the said Act.
This is an issue the foot march organized by Ekta Parishad aims to address. More than 50 organizations and activists, and 5,000 tribals marched from Palwal to the House of Parliament in Delhi, India from 20-24 February.
During the march, the government invited Ekta Parishad for a dialogue with Hon. Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. The following proposals were tabled during the discussion:
- Reconstitute and reactivate the National Land Reforms Council
- Introduce the Homestead Bill 2013 in the Parliament
- Initiate steps to approve the Land Reforms Policy 2013
- Initiate steps to strengthen the implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006
- Setup fast-track courts to address long pending legal cases related to land
- Initiate steps to strengthen the implementation of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act1996
- Withdraw the Ordinance to Land Acquisition Act
Shri Rajnath Singh assured that the Government will give positive response a day after the dialogue and will soon initiate steps for discussion on land reform by activating the National Land Reforms Council.
However, despite the pressure and Singh’s engagement, the government has not proposed a statement about the Land Acquisition.
See these links to read more:
We are sharing this news from Ekta Parishad posted on 19 February.
More than 200 women from different states participated in the event to discuss the new Land Acquisition Ordinance which was said to be lacking of provisions on the basic rights on land as against to what the Land Acquisition Law 2014 states.
Other topics on women include the Homestead Land Bill, Land Reform Policy, and Implementation of Forest Rights Law.
We are sharing this article from Business Standard posted on 31 December.
The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Delhi-based Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (SPWD) revealed a more than 250 conflicts on land acquisition in India from 2013-2014 through a map.
The map showed that atleast a quarter of India is affected by land conflicts. Moreover, the recently passed land ordinance does not address conflicts on land acquisition; thus, preventing land from acquisition and litigation remains an issue.
“Given India’s complex land and forest tenure history, transparent and accountable decision making and respect for people’s rights are vital missing elements,” Kundan Kumar (RRI Asia Regional Program Director) says.