(The letter can be sent my e-mail to “email@example.com” , or by post to the below address)
The Prime Minister of India,
The Honourable Manmohan Singh,
New Delhi 110001
Respected Prime Minister
I was very encouraged when your government mandated a committee to implement land reform in a manner beneficial to the poor and marginalized, which came as a response to the Janadesh March of 2007. You agreed to set up the National Land Reform Council, offered to serve as its Chair and promised a national land reforms policy to ensure land for the landless poor.
However, since the Committee’s report was published in October 2009, no action has been taken by your government. Other than through the Forest Rights Act, there has been no redistribution of land to the landless and homeless, while large-scale diversion of land and forests for mines, industries, dams and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is continuing.
I am writing to encourage you and your ministers to engage in dialogue with the Jansatyagraha campaign and help put into practice the objectives it articulates. In the tradition of nonviolent action the campaign advocates poor people’s control over the natural resources they depend on for their very survival. In this light, several specific recommendations have been made, including:
1. A comprehensive land policy and effective implementation and monitoring institutions to provide access to land and livelihood resources to the landless, homeless and marginalized communities
a. In order to begin the process of land re-distribution to the landless and homeless (rural and urban), all available legislation, policies (Central laws as well as State laws) needs to be compiled under a comprehensive compendium and implemented in a time-bound manner.
b. Progressive recommendations made by various committees constituted by the Central and State governments that are pending for attention should be seriously considered and implemented in a time-bound manner.
2. Women should be considered as farmers, get their rights to land and livelihoods and be eligible for all benefits and schemes available to farmers. A legal provision should be made whereby women will have equal rights over the entire property of the family (current holdings as well as new titles that are distributed) and this should be done in a time-bound manner.
3. Natural resources like land, water, forests and mining that provide sustenance livelihood to any group cannot be appropriated for other purposes. Even when full prior consent is obtained, besides compensation and rehabilitation, such groups/individuals should become legal share-holders in the designated project.
4. Non-implementation of pro-poor laws or violation of fundamental and legal rights pertaining to land, water, forests and mining by administrative officials should be made a cognizable offence.
During the yatra, the Jansatyagraha team has interacted with many communities who are frequently marginalized including: adivasis; dalits; nomads; muslim women; fishing communities; unorganized labour; those displaced by mines, dams, national parks and internal conflict; bonded labourers; bidi workers and farmer suicide families.
‘Jansatyagraha 2012’ is an initiative by voluntary sector organizations who aspire to establish a society that is free from hunger, fear and corruption. I request you to respond positively to their demands, which contain genuine hope for food security, the eradication of poverty and greater justice in India.