Workers, Farmers and Unions resist Industrialisation in Pune: Yatra Day 66.

On the way to Pune, the yatra was given a welcome at Lonawala by people from Moul village.  The yatra was welcomed at a site where 3 people were killed as a result of police firing on a people’s protest against the acquisition of land for expanding the Mumbai-Pune Express-way.  Rajagopal P.V laid a wreath to honour the martyrs and highlighted the importance of local struggles on local issues coming together in broader national struggles for structural policy changes.

After a press meeting, the yatra team visited Hamaal Panchayat’s food production centre for lunch.

Hamaal Panchayat is a trade-union of loaders who work in the unorganized sector. Hamaal Panchayat is a women’s cooperative associated with this union with the sole purpose of providing good quality food at highly affordable rates to the members and poor sections of the society. The cooperative provides food for 10,000 people in Pune. The food is produced at a central location and sold through 7 outlets , each at a public place like bus-stand, railway stations etc. For Rs 12, one can get two large chapatthis and a bowl of vegetables. The food is sold at-cost and prepared in a hygienic environment.

Later Rajagopal P.V participated in a public meeting organized by National Advocacy Centre of Pune. Representatives of several local organizations also participated in this meeting. Shri. Lakshman Rao Pasalkar, a local farmer’s leader said that Maharashtra was the first state where a rehabilitation policy was framed but it was also the state that acquired maximum land for industrialization through Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. The state government is strongly promoting urbanization leading to a very high rate of transfer of agricultural land for real-estate purposes. For example, agricultural land in 200 villages around Mumbai has been converted for residential and commercial purposes. He added that farmers who are able to sustain themselves through their agricultural produce need compensation that enables them to be self-sufficient for their entire life (because the cash compensation that is given for land acquisition is used up in a few years.)

Sowshri. Latha of National Advocacy centre suggested that giving land to women can help in reducing attrocities against women. She added that in addition to advocating for issuing joint-land-ownership title for couples we should also give equal importance to issuing land titles to single-women. Dr. Baba Saheb Adav, a very senior trade union leader, spoke about the need to bring two larger issues into discussion as part of Jansatyagraha yatra. The first issue was the challenge posed by Industrialization and mechanization to food security in India and the second issue was the importance of developing strong policies in favour of unorganized labour in the agricultural sector. He added that there is a growing concentration of wealth in the hands of few and this is because we lack a clear agricultural policy and an industrial policy. A strong agricultural policy would ensure that agriculture remains profitable and a site for wealth generation. A strong industrial policy that is pro-unorganized workers would have prevented the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and distribution of profits among the workers through fair wage and better employment conditions.

 

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