attention towards pro-poor land reforms

Ref No: JSY/001/03/2012
Date: March 10th 2012

To
Honourable Prime Minister
Chair person National Council for Land Reforms,
Government of India,
New Delhi

Subject: Your urgent attention towards pro-poor land reforms
Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,

As a member of National Council for Land Reforms I have sent many
letters to you as the Chairperson of the council. I am sorry and
surprised that none of my letters were neither acknowledged nor
answered by your office. This is very shocking and disturbing that the
office of the Chairperson of an important council will not even
acknowledge letters of a member who is repeatedly making important
suggestions to the council. I don’t even know whether my letters are
brought to your notice or they are handled by lower level bureaucrats.
Having written many polite letters to you as the chair of the council,
let me record my unhappiness and displeasure through this letter about
the way your office is handling all my correspondence. I think this
amounts to total disrespect toward a known official member of the
council. I am sure as a member I deserve an acknowledgment or a reply
to the suggestions I am making to the Chairperson. I’ll be happy if
Prime Minister’s Office can treat members of the council with some
level of dignity and respect and if that is not possible wind up the
council.

Election in West Bengal was a clear indication that land can make or
unmake the government. Now in Uttar Pradesh it has become clear again
that the government of BSP was thrown out as they didn’t care of the
sentiment of farmers and landless people. Kindly understand that land
is a crucial issue for farmers and landless people in this country.
Any economic development model by destroying rural economy and rural
people will be challenged and will not be acceptable for the people of
this country. This was revealed through studies that about 92,000
villages have disappeared from the map of India in the name of
urbanization and development. This development model has also brought
about outward migration from rural India in a big way and it has also
introduced conflict and violence in rural areas.

My travel through Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand during the last
two months and large number of public hearing sessions that I have
attended during this yatra have contributed to my understanding about
the ground reality in these states. The Land Acquisition Act or the
Coal Mines Act and many other central acts are used very effectively
to displace people in a big way. Legal and illegal mining is taking
place in these regions and the local people are running for their
life. Government officials side with corporate houses to facilitate
the process of resource grabbing instead of regulating this process,
ensuring that rules and laws are adhered to and attending to the
grievances of villagers and deprived communities affected by these
processes. Those who are protesting against this process are generally
called naxal supporters and their voices are being suppressed.

As Prime Minister of this country, you are the only person who can do
something in order to bring about some change in the life of millions
of people who are deprived for very long. Kindly don’t shut your eyes
to the reality that there are millions of people who are marginalized
since independence and they also have the right to live a life that is
better than the life they are living today. As head of the State you
have the moral responsibility to listen to their voices and mold the
system in a way that justice can be delivered to these people as well.
As I have travelled for the last 5 months from district to district,
from village to village, looking at the reality I am only trying to
wake you up to the reality India. I hope you will take it in a right
spirit and ask one of your senior team members to begin a dialogue
with the Jan Satyagraha team. In order to make it convenient let me
repeat my proposal :

1. Put a full stop for the land acquisition until all those who are
displaced till the date are properly rehabilitated. A high level
review committee should be established to look into this backlog of
people who need to be rehabilitated and design strategies to
rehabilitate those who have lost everything and forced to live in
abject poverty and in slums.

2. Many Adivasis and poor people have lost their land to companies and
powerful people even they have the documents to prove that the land
belongs to them. Retrieval of the lost land to the original owner and
development of their land in order to provide them a decent living is
a very old agenda that has so far not being implemented. There should
be a national task force to complete this task in a time bound manner.

3. Homestead land to all homeless people is a very old promise of the
government. I don’t think any government will say we don’t have enough
land to provide homestead land to the homeless. Providing homestead
land to all those rural poor and settling the claims of urban poor
should be taken up in a campaign mode. There are millions of people
living in very unhealthy situation and constantly under fear as they
don’t have a place of their own. I think this is a minimum that the
government should achieve without wasting any more time.

4. Providing land to landless laborers who are totally dependent on
land should be a priority for the government. There should be a
serious effort on the side of the government to implement all pro-poor
laws in this direction and also to formulate new laws for
redistribution of land in order to improve the living conditions of
landless agriculture laborers.

I hope at least this letter will reach your table and you will kindly
initiate some steps to deal with the challenges mentioned above. As
you know there are more than 2000 organizations that are part of Jan
Satyagraha 2012. All these organizations will be fully committed to
support you in case you initiate a serious process in this direction.
This will set a historical example for how the government can draw the
energy of voluntary sector to solve the problems of the marginalized
communities on the ground through a joint action. Let me repeat that
Jan Satyagraha 2012 is organized in order to draw the attention of the
government to the problems of the marginalized communities in India
rather than confronting with the government.
With thanks and regards,

Rajagopal P.V

President- Ekta Parishad
Member- National Council for Land Reforms, Government of India
House No. A2/3, Second Floor, Block A
Jangpura, New Delhi-110014, India
Phone:+91-11-24373998/3999
Mobile No: +91-99935-92421
Website: www.ektaparishad.com , www.jansatyagraha.org

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