IT HAS BECOME COMMON REFRAIN in the Globe that land must belong to tillers, labours, peasants ! But in India, it has different conceptions. Despite so many efforts since independence in India, Lands continue in the hands of landlords and rich people. Now gradually the lands are being shifted in the hands of new -type of landlords-corporates, industrialists, multi-nationals etc in the name of the economic development of the country, thanks to the faulty policy of the Indian government and its states ! Over 85 percent dalits, poor, backwards etc have not even an inch of lands to construct even a roof to cover themselves-what to speak of tilling the lands ! Much-hyped land reform measures are languishing in the last over 65 years because of 'vested interest and apathetic attitude' of the Indian and its state governments. After a long drawn controversy over the ticklish land acquisition procedures, the Union government had okayed an ACT- Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 to address 'the injustices involved in the land acquisition' by replacing colonial rule Act-Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
Notwithstanding the new Act, has brought some far-reaching changes in land acquisition process in the country, the new Act has included one of the strangest and finniest provisions in the new Act, providing to permit to the government to acquire the land for the corporate sectors. The colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894, although have many drawbacks including the lack of provision for consent of those whose land was proposed to be acquired, did not permit the government to acquire land for the corporate sectors, industrialists etc in the name of so called economic development of India ! Since the liberalization of economy in 1980s, a big quantity of land had been acquired by the government for creating 'Special economic zones' in different parts of the country as well as acquisition of lands for industrialists, corporates, capitalists etc in forest and mines and mineral areas in almost all the states of the country, violating Forest Rights Act and related Environment laws. These lands had been acquired on throw-away rate of acquisition and given to the corporates, industrialists, capitalists on premium prices . Ultimately poor ,dalits and tribal suffered, whose small lands in forest and plan areas, were suffering.
At least my few essays and topics on the subjects-TRIBAL AND POOR BEING UPROOTED IN INDIA TO BENEFIT MULTI-NATIONALS, CORPORATES-on FEB.22, 2013, LACK OF LAND REFORM, BANE of POVERTY AND HUNGER IN INDIA-NOV.16,2012, another on Bihar, LACK OF LAND REFORM, BANE OF POVERTY IN BIHAR,DEc.04,2012 and GREAT LOOT OF FARM LAND AND FOREST LAND IN INDIA- July 19, 2011 on www.kksingh1.blogspot.com have thrown light on the subject and the governments' in apathetic and callous posture over the burning issues.
The implication of the new land acquisition ACT will be known in time to come. But some of directives of the courts, particularly the Supreme Court and subsequent fall out in Niyamgiri forest areas in Odisha in the wake of forcible acquisition of Adivasis' land and given to a British mining company Vedanta as well as the report of the UNITED NATIONS ORGANISATION (UNO)'s independent human right experts, terming the forced eviction of the forested lands in Odisha and handing over to the South Korean steel giant-POSCO amid concerns that construction will displace large number people in the forested areas and disrupt the livelihoods of thousands more. have created piquant situation. The Supreme court, in a directive to Odisha government, had asked an independent panel , formed by the court itself, to visit major parts of Niyamgiri and call meetings of respective panchayat samitis-wheather they consented to give lands to Vedanta for mines and minerals production. Majority of panchayat samitis with overwhelming majority rejected the views of Odisha government and voted that they are not in favour of giving their lands to the Vedanta. Reports had been submitted to the Supreme Court recently and the SC will pass appropriate order on the issue soon.
POSCO HALTED:-Similarly, special rapporteurs of the UNO intervened in land acquisition to the Posco' $ 12 bn project in Odisha after allegation of forced evictions. UN experts have called for an immediate halt of the Posco steel project. Approval for the project-biggest single foreign investment in India-was permitted in 2011 after a six-year struggle between steel giant and environmental campaigners. However, Construction remained paralyzed and delayed because of a number of regulatory hurdles and public protests at plans to clear more than 600 hectares of mostly forested lands.Eight UN special rapporteurs have weighed in calling for the project to be suspended. The have said, " the construction of massive steel plant and port in Odisha, India by South Korean steel giant-Posco must not proceed as planned without ensuring adequate safeguards and guaranteering that the rights of thousands of people are respected." Although India has primary duty to protect the rights of those whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by the project, the experts further said, " Posco has also responsibility to respect human rights and the Republic of Korea, where Posco is based, should also take measures to ensure that businesses based in its territory do not adversely impact human rights when operating abroad."
The UN experts intervened after allegations of human rights abuse. "Forced evictions constitute gross violation of human rights," said the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, "and may only be carried out in exceptional circumstances and in manner consistent with human rights law, including after genuine consultation, without leaving people homeless or vulnerable to further human right violations."The UN special rapporteur on the right of food, Olivier De Schutter, warned that forcible removal of people from their ;lands could be tantamount to depriving them of their means of subsistence. "People who would be evicted for the Posco project have relied on their lands for generations in order to obtain adequate food and sustain themselves and their families," he said.
Remarkably, in a development in July, the Posco, the world's fourth -largest steelmaker by output, dropped plan to build a $ 5.3 bn mill in the southern state-Karnataka- in India but said it would press ahead with the long-delayed and troubled Odisha project. On the website of, Posco India says it "has been highly sensitive to the humans of the local community" and strongly denies having abused rights. Posco has never infringed upon human right of any individual in the course of project implementation. Its policy has been inclusive and protective", the company said. and added "Posoco has therefore, always urged the government of Odisha to first safeguard the human rights and livelihood of innocent villagers and rejects\deplores any unlawful violence against them." The Plant to be based in the port city of Paradip, was conceived in 2005 and is expected to create nearly 50,000 jobs. Posco says the plant has annual production capacity of 12 million tons and will include iron ore mine development over 30 years (total 600 million tons) at mines in the Keojhar and Sundargarh districts of Odisha as well as development of related infrastructures.
But things started moving otherwise ! Houses of tribal and their farmings, especially betel vine were razed to the ground by Posco and Vedanta with the help of armed forces, provided by Odisha government. Not only that, the union government had announced in the last week of February 2013, that major infrastructures projects will be exempt from obtaining consent for forest clearance from tribal communities living in the forest, a decision that undermines the importance of the country's Forest Right Act-thus a big blow to the land tribal rights in India. " This is serious breach or trust and a huge step back in ensuring the dignity and survival of traditional forest-dwelling people across the country. Forests are going to be cleared to make way for a particular kind of economic development; it would adversely impact, communities and environments," said Dr Swati Shresth of the Ashoka Trust for Research Ecology and the Environment. the 2006 Forest Right Act " is a landmark piece of legislation recognising the rights forest -dependent communities have over the landscape they have traditionally inhabited. It mandates that forest dwellers cannot be resettled unless their traditional rights have been recognised. It is seen as the single most important piece of legislation protecting and preserving the country's biodiversity and the rights of tribal groups. By no longer gaining the consent of communities, the government stands accused of effectively overturning key provisions of the Act. "All traditional forest -dependent communities can be impacted including those who might have procured rights under FRA and those who are still struggling for its implementation in their areas, " said Shresth.
In 2009,, the union ministry of forest and environment (MoEF) made the consent of affected forest communities mandatory for all projects that would destroy forest. The move was in response to the attempt by British mining company Vedanta to clear swaths of forest in Odisha state belonging to the Dongria tribe. The government orders of February 1913 last effectively, surprisingly, revokes the 2009 order. The government, however, rejects claims that it is diluting rights in the name of streamlining big business, saying it will continue to enforce the provisions of the Act "where there is significant impact on the lives and livelihoods." The proposed changes will enable land grabbing and the violation of rights of traditional forest dwellers and sends a clear message that rights granted under the FRA are not inalienable but subjects to the whims of the government of the day," said Shresth and added that in a letter to the Prime Minsters office by the coalition of international forest rights movements "we believe that it is against the democratic principles to make centralised decisions about the extent of social impact worth considering while diverting forest over which individuals and\or village community may have inalienable forest rights vested through FRRA. Overriding of such process can lead to the danger of assuming that all rights can be mentioned and negotiated."Sanjay Basu Mullick of the All India Forum of Forest Movements has said, " The only objective is mining access. Mining companies need six road highways and optical fibre installations. Tribal communities do not want this, and do not want their precious forest replaced by these . The only beneficiaries of this amendment are the mining companies. This is about GDP and not about the rights of India's tribal communities.
LAND LOOT:- Story of land grabbing or loot is not new in India. Looters of land is more government, which confiscates lands of small holding -owners, as well as big land-holders like landlords ! Throughout the country, lakhs of acres of land had been acquired by the government in the name of development. Also the governments are yet to implement land reform measures. Lakhs of acres of land of government lands, which are not traceable right now, are to be distributed to the landless for farming or for homes for homeless. But the net result remained big zero. Acquired lands by governments were diverted for some other purposes, violating the laws. Acquired lands changed many hands and the respective governments remained beneficiaries. It was provision in the Land and other related Acts that if the lands are not utilised for the purpose, it were acquired-in that case land must be returned to farmers. But respective governments of state and central never followed the provisions. The governments sold or resold lands to rich people after taking heavy premium money.
IN BIHAR:-For examples-Bihar has plenty of surplus lands on papers to be distributed or distributed to landless but the facts are otherwise or diverse. All these lands have been grabbed by vested and rich class people inconveniences with the Bihar government in successive years. The Nitish Kumar government has surpassed all governments in making land scams a big business. Hundreds of acres of land of industrial estates in different districts have been sold in the last few years. In the process , big politicians, cine stars, businessmen , industrialists, media houses etc were given lands of industrial estates on through away price by Nitish Kumar government, violating laws, rules and set principles. In turn, many of the beneficiaries including film producer Prakash ha , after constructing shopping complex, malls, multi-storey ed apartments etc had earned crores of rupees and left the venues, thanks to the laxity of the Nitish government. Various cases on these issues are pending in the Patna High Court and the Supreme Court. Both " Khash and AAM lands" were earmarked by the government but in both the cases, lands have been leased out to influential persons in the last several years on cheap "sallami" and at many places these types of lands had been encroached and unauthorisedly by landed classes and in many cases these lands are missing from the Bihar government records.
REFERENCES:- WEBSITES of The POSCO, The UNO, The India Government, The South Korea govt, The Guardian, The Odisha govt, The Supreme Court etc