This release comes via the NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS
Nellore, September 18 : “Government of Andhra Pradesh has given licenses to 28 companies to establish thermal power plants with a total capacity of 32,000 MW. How can a fragile coastal zone can take up so much of ecological pressure ? Is this the way to plan the needs of electricity for development ?” asked the delegates who had come from different parts of the State and joined by eminent social activists Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Banwari Lal Sharma, Gabriele Dietrich, Sister Celia, Manoj Tyagi, Viveknanad Mathane, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju and others. Jan Sansad was hosted by NAPM and Jana Vigyan Vedika at the premises of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Nellore.
If all of these thermal power plants come to completion then Nellore will be one of the most polluted districts of the country and will cause irreparable damage to the flora, fauna, climate and most important livelihood of the people. This will also have adverse impacts on the Pulicat Lake, Asia’s second largest fresh water lake.
Over two days of Jan Sansad / Praja Parliament on September 17 – 18 delegates discussed issues of livelihood, land acquisitions, displacement, environmental and human rights violations and corruption amongst other issues of concern. A resolution on these topics was passed by the house. Very specifically talking on the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill delegates demanded that we need a Development Planning and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill which will not allow 32,000 MW thermal power plants in one district. We have to plan in a way considering not only our needs but the sustained needs of the future generations to come too.
UPA government for the first time has introduced a Bill in the Parliament which recognises the need for a legislation addressing the resettlement and rehabilitation of the project affected people, which is a welcome step. However, the Bill doesn’t go beyond this and the key thrust remains industrialisation, urbanisation and a 9% growth centred development model. Nearly 10 crore people have been sacrificed (displaced) at the altar of development and except for 17-20% rest has been left to rebuild their lives on their own. Scheduled Tribals and Scheduled Caste communities comprise nearly 40% of the total victims of the displacement.
The Bill fails to recognise the historical injustice meted out to these communities by not recognising the rights of those already displaced in the name of development. Indigenous people of this country will not get any relief with this new legislation, since it doesn’t address the question of land alienation. It will be an opportunity missed for the independent India to provide succour to the indigenous people who have become slaves on their land due to land grab by capitalist forces and rich businesses.
We demand that government if Andhra Pradesh cancels all these licenses for Thermal power plants immediately and fresh assessment of the needs of the region is made with the participation of the people of the region. As for the legislation of this new Bill, we hope that the Government while submitting its views on the central legislation will consult activist and social groups and seek their views by organising regional consultations.
We would like to reiterate some of our concerns on the Bill under consideration with the Parliamentary Standing Committee :
The Bill should be titled as ‘Development Planning, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill’ ensuring no forcible acquisition and protecting the rights of the communities over the land and everything attached to it including the mineral, aquatic and forest cover. Any acquisition should be done only in accordance with the democratically developed plans as per the provisions of Art 243 and PESA norms by involvement of Gram Sabha and Basti Sabha.
Public Purpose definition should be limited to core functions of the government performed with the public money and in no case acquisition should be made for the private corporations where they get benefits due to any forcible acquisition of land or any other natural wealth under this act. Any project drawing private profit can’t be considered public purpose. We reiterate this and only this can deal with the unjustified inequity in the country today leading to injustice for millions.
Given the low level playing field existing till date between different parties in the process of land acquisition, it is necessary to ensure that even if it is market base purchase of land or other resources by the private parties, including builders, then the state should be duty bound to regulate the market price of resources and ensuring availability of optimum resources of livelihoods for every family especially those belonging to vulnerable section. Thus corporations should also be made liable for the R&R provisions of this bill, which also goes well with the principle of fair play and competitiveness.
Any arbitrary benchmark for the application of R&R provisions should be done away with and every single family directly or indirectly affected by any kind of acquisition should be provided with the resettlement and rehabilitation benefits.
We reject market value for the land approach since neither market value is fully worked out nor that automatically ensures attainment of alternative sources of livelihood especially for the least marketised and monetised community such as Adivasis and Dalits. So, without any ifs and buts appropriate provisions for alternative livelihood or mandatory employment be made for project affected people.
The law must address the claims of those already displaced by various projects and address the historical injustice meted to them in the name of Development.
We would also like to reiterate that in order to expedite rehabilitation and ensure principle of minimum displacement it is necessary to put moratorium till the already displaced are rehabilitated and a new law after wide consultation is enacted. There is an urgent need to enact the legislation keeping in mind the resource crises which country will face in the wake of climate crisis and the on-going agrarian crisis forcing farmers, workers, adivasis and dalits of this country to commit suicide. The legislation unfortunately will fail to address the on-going land alienation of the tribals and marginal farmers in the country and further aggravate the land conflicts, agrarian crisis and impoverishment in the country.
Jan Sansad ended with two days of deliberation and decided on programmes and actions to counter the neo liberal design of the corporations and states which aims to take over the natural resources and threaten the basic structure of the livelihood of the poorest of the poor people. Sustained agitations will be launched against these destructive developmental projects not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in different parts of the country. Jan Sansad also extended support to the ongoing struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plants and wished for good health of those fasting for 6th day.
Medha Patkar, National Convener, NAPM
Banwari lal Sharma of Jansansad and Ajadi bachaao andolan,
Sandeep Pandey, Convener NAPM
Gabriele Dietrich, Convener NAPM
Sister Celia, Convener NAPM
Chennaiah, Convener NAPM
B Rama Krishna Raju, Convener NAPM-A.P.
Raja Reddy, Convener NPPV
Dr. G Vijay Kumar Founder Member of J.V.V.
Madhuresh, National Organiser, NAPM
P.S. Ajay Kumar, Co-Convener
K. Saraswathi, Co-Convener
For details contact : NAPM AP Co-conveners Sarasvathy Kavula : 9849718364 and Ajay P S : 9989830711