February 21st 2012
Jairam Ramesh Ji,
Minister for Rural Development,
Subject: Issues from Jharkhand
Dear Shri Jairam Ramesh Ji
We have completed one week in Jharkhand and were traveling through Kolhan and Chota Nagpur on our way to Palamu district. In almost every district we come across violation of PESA and Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act. Non-implementation of Samata Judgment and Forest Rights Act is another important area of concern. I remember in your speech in Tilda you also expressed your concern on these issues. In Jharkhand I have visited many struggles where people are questioning the government for violating its own laws. Like in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, Jharkhand government is also very keen to write of non-violent agitations as supporters of violent groups, and they use their police and military forces to crush them. What we see on the ground is very poor governance and as a result everyone with money power, and muscle power are trying to use this opportunity in their own interest. I can see two levels of conflicts emerging, one related to industrialization, and the second one related to the conflict between the private army and state army. Both are proving to be disastrous for the local people. No amount of welfare schemes are going to help people when their livelihood resources which are the backbone of the dignity and survival are being taken by force by profit makers. As the Rural Development Minister of India, you have the moral responsibility to protect them. You may also kindly request the Tribal Welfare Ministry to take some position on issues related to Adivasis. Leaving Adivasis completely at the mercy of forest and police will be a huge crime that we would be committing on the Adivasis.
I also had the opportunity to visit Netarhat Fire Range area as well as the Koel Karo project area. The credit goes to local people for protecting their land and livelihood resources through a Gandhian non violent struggle. I feel really proud that the Adivasis have brought back the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi through their non-violent struggle. I think this is the hope for Jharkhand. If we can recognize and encourage such struggles and address their grievances in an amicable way, more and more groups will adopt the same method rather than taking to violence. I would be happy if you can advise the government of Jharkhand to drop the proposal for Koel Karo dam as well as the Netarhat Fire Range.
One serious concern is that like in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand government is also trying to corner voluntary organizations and social movements that are raising issues against the abusive ways of grabbing land or industrialization. Some of them get blacklisted and many are clubbed with the violent groups. Curtailing the democratic space of institutions in the interest of corporate houses is a serious matter. As most of these organizations are serving rural population I request the Rural Development Minister to intervene in support of the voluntary sector.
Ekta Parishad and Saja Manch together will be organizing a consultation with the media on the 3rd of March in Ranchi. May I request you to spare 3rd March for Ranchi to be with us to address this consultation like you did in Tilda? This will also help us to continue the discussion that we begani at the Tilda consultation. Hope to receive a positive response from your side.
With thanks and regards,