A consultation was called by Vimochana (an organization devoted to raising the issues of womens’ rights) along with other organizations in Bangalore. The focus of this consultation was to bring forward the issues around ‘reclaiming the commons’ towards a sustainable land use system. In the opening remarks, Mr Arul Selva from Janashayog expressed his views on the urgency of land reforms in India as well as in Karnatka. He explained how the small efforts at land reforms are completely driven by political forces, which only ensure the land is given to the middlemen rather than the tillers. He also spoke about how the commodification of land plays a key role in new forms of land alienation when the idea of land use is completely forgotten by the state. Mrs. Papamma from Grameen Mahila Okkoota spoke about how the whole attachment towards the land has completely changed after the so-called developmental politics. She expressed her worries about the future of food security, which is not possible without providing land to the tenants.
Mrs Lakshmamma from Kolar spoke out the how they lost 167 acres of their commons land even after their legal battle against land alienation. Mrs Naryanamma from Anekal informed us about how their Gomala land has been taken away by the state which was cultivated by the marginalized community for the last 17 years. Mr Pasang from Hakki Pikki Colony of Bannerghatta spoke about how after massive urbanization they lost their traditional occupations. The state has not shown any interest in resettling about 350 families even after repeated petitions in the recent past. Mr Bhogananjunda and others who were displaced after the dam in Bangalore explained how 156 villages lost their land and livelihood about 60 years back and have not been rehabilitated till today.
The second part of the discussion was focused on land histories and the current context. Advocate Arthur Pereira expressed his view on the proposed land acquisition law and the processes. He explained how even after 6 decades of independence, no laws have been made for the land re-distribution process in India. Advocate Clifton Rozario spoke about how the state and people both have lost the basic understanding of land and this shift in the perspective has changed the entire debate of land reforms and alienation in India as well as in the whole world. Advocate Leo Saldanha has analyzed the conspiracy behind the badly drafted laws and policies which play a key role in entire state-initiated land alienation today. He emphasized that without strengthening the District Planning Committee processes, it is very difficult to challenge state sponsored land grabbing.
The next session was focused on campaign experiences moderated by Mr Rajendra Prabhakar, a representative of People’s Campaign for Right to Water in Karnatka. He opened the debate with comments about how land should be treated as common property rather than as individual rights. He also argued that the whole process of inward development is a most inhuman violation of basic human rights and the constitution today. Mr Murthy from Slum Janndolan explained that most of the slums are not registered even after safeguards given under Slum Dwellers Registration provisions. Mr Balraj from Budakattu Krishikara Sangha, Nagarhole shows his anger about how even after Forest Rights Act, the state officials are not truly interested to provide the land to the claimants. Mrs Yashoda spoke about how the land given during the time of Kings (14-15th Century) has not yet been properly registered in the government records which created a problem for the people who are cultivating the land today.
In his closing remarks, Prof YJ Rajedra noted with approval the mass movement begun with the campaign of Jan Satyagraha. He also spoke about the increasing number of landless. Mrs Madhu Bhushan and Mrs Shakun Mohini from Vimochana expressed their solidarity with Jan Satyagraha.
Vimochana, Action Aid, ALF, APSA, Bridge Network, CIEDS Collective, ESG, Samagra Grameena Ashram, Samvaada Nele, Sangama, Slum Janadolana, Swaraj Network, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression etc.