Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Singur: Medha supporters face police brunt

SINGUR: Police on Monday resorted to lathicharge to disperse social activist Medha Patkar-led protesters after they tried to approach the fenced area for the Tata Motors small car project at Singur in West Bengal.

Hooghly Superintendent of Police Supratim Sarkar said two persons were arrested. Patkar said two of her associates, Amita Bag and Dhananjay Das, were injured in the lathicharge.

Additional Superintendent of Police, Hooghly, Asit Pal said police removed the demonstrators. Patkar with her associates then began a sit-in demonstration a few metres away from the fence.

Earlier addressing farmers from Goplanagar and Bajemelia villages who had set up camps in the area since Sunday, Patkar came down heavily on the state government for going ahead with the Tata Motors project at Singur and the Salim project in Nandigram in East Midnapur.

She said the government was using the police in favour of the enterprise and added that it should stop the project as the farmers were unwilling to hand over their land.

Slogan-shouting farmers from Beraberi Purbapara marched upto the fenced area of the Tata Motors small car project where they had an altercation with the police who stood guard. Police then resorted to lathicharge to disperse them.

This is Patkar's first visit here after prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC were lifted following the Calcutta High Court's stricture on February 23 against the government's process for acquiring 997 acres for the project.

She had on earlier occasions been prevented from entering Singur.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

One suicide every 8 hours


Jaideep Hardikar

Vidarbha remains a grim statistic. One suicide in every eight hours. More than half of those who committed suicide were between 20 and 45, their most productive years. The Maharashtra government says as many as 1920 farmers committed suicide between January 1, 2001 and August 19, 2006. Nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers are defaulters, reports Jaideep Hardikar

Suicide count

There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Maharashtra government accepts a figure of 1920 from January 1, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ movement, puts the toll at 782 from June 1, 2005 to August 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours.

Cost of cultivation

Across the country, the average cost of cultivation in cotton is a little more than Rs 16,000 per ha. With an average productivity of 460 kg per ha, it costs between Rs 35 to Rs 48 per kg to grow cotton. In Vidarbha, the cost of cultivation could go well beyond Rs 20,000 perha and if marketing cost is added, it crosses Rs 22,000. But the productivity is only 146 kg per ha. In other words, the cost per kg is almost double — well over Rs 70 per kg. In Maharashtra, the cost of growing cotton increased from Rs 17,234/ha in 2001-02 to Rs 20,859 in 2002-03.

Right age, wrong step

Among the farmers who committed suicide in the past year, more than 50% were between 20 and 45 years of age (their most productive years), according to a study by the Sakal Newspapers Limited of the two districts, Amravati and Yavatmal.

Cotton area

The hybrid cotton covers about 73% of the cotton area in Vidarbha, whereas desi varieties cover about 27%. Most of these produce medium to medium-long fibre.

Area under Bt cotton has risen from a mere 0.4% in 2002-03 to 15% in 2005-06 in Vidarbha, according to the agriculture department statistics. Only 3% cotton land falls under assured irrigation. Cotton area has declined from 16.12 lakh ha in 2001 to 12.18 lakh ha in 2005-6. Only 3% of it is under irrigation. The shift is towards soybean.


The Planning Commission’s fact-finding mission members found out that nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers in Vidarbha are defaulters. Of every Rs 100 borrowed, approximately Rs 80 goes back in to servicing of old loans.

PM’s promise

The Prime Minister in his Rs 3750-crore package jacked up an additional credit flow of Rs 1200 crore taking it to Rs 2000 crore for 2006-07. But the ground situation shows a credit disbursal of less than a thousand crore.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Revive traditional crops. Pump money back into the rural economy, say experts

“In Vidharbha, it is too risky to adopt expensive technologies. Small farmers who take loans for cultivation have no capacity to meet the calamity of crop failure. Traditional crops like jowar should again be revived. The funds allotted under the Prime Minister’s package for seed replacement should be used to promote jowar, pulses and legumes. Also, organic farming and crop-livestock integration should be promoted on both ecological and economic grounds. Vidharbha can be declared as the Organic Farming Zone of Maharashtra, so that its oranges, jowar, cotton and other crops become known as organic products and thereby gain in market value.” — MS Swaminathan Chairman, National Commission on Farmers

“It’s not true that suicides are taking place only in Vidarbha. They began in Andhra and spread to other parts of the country. But why did farmer suicides begin after 1994? The answer is we liberalised the economy and devalued our rupee. As a result, the cost of energy went up, the cost of agriculture rose and living costs soared. The 5th Pay Commission was a vindication of this. But the farmers remained in a low-cost economy. The promise that exports in a free market would bring profits to farmers was never kept. We imported 110 lakh bales from 1998 to 2004.” — Vijay Jawandhia Wardha farmers’ leader, social commentator

“The point is we need to understand that green revolution has collapsed. Continuing suicides by farmers is a reflection of that. Suicides are more alarming in those areas where green revolution was pushed with force. But that doesn’t mean there is no agrarian crisis in other areas; it’s all over the country now. A few areas like Vidarbha are peculiar with socio-economic, agro-climatic and other factors. We borrowed a technology that did not fit into our socio-economic milieu. Tractor is today a symbol of suicides. Fertilizers and pesticides have destroyed our natural base. Farmers in Vidarbha and elsewhere are the victims of policies that have siphoned money from the rural economy.” — Devinder Sharma Former journalist, agriculture expert

Vidarbha farmers fight crisis, try out low-cost techniques


Bharsingi (Maharashtra), Feb 22 (IANS) Rather than give in to despondency, farmers in the Vidarbha region have resolved to overcome the daunting agricultural crisis by trying out a set of low-budget, high yield techniques.

As many as 3,500 farmers from six suicide-prone districts of Vidarbha attended a four-day workshop on natural farming in this progressive village near Nagpur and returned home with a pledge to end the sordid saga of suicides.

Most of those who took copious notes of the ‘zero-budget’ farm techniques in eight marathon sessions belonged to the families of debt-trapped farmers, hundreds of whom ended their lives during the last 20 months of acute farm distress.

Giving them lessons on farm operations - from sowing to harvesting - was a down-to-earth agricultural expert Subhash Palekar whose disciples have set up models of successful multi-crop farming at several places in Vidarbha and western Maharashtra.

‘The workshop has given me new strength and confidence to toil on my farm for abundant yield, henceforth using the natural farming techniques taught by Palekar guruji,’ said Pandurang Rathod of village Ambezari of Yavatmal district whose younger brother and sister-in-law had committed suicide in 2002.

‘I will persuade other farmers in my village to adopt the low-budget, high-yield technique and ensure that there are no more suicides,’ he added.

All the inputs that Palekar’s technique involves - such as cow dung and urine; dried leaves and twigs - are available on-farm and thus require little money. Even seeds are supposed to be raised by the farmer employing a treatment that makes them pest-resistant. Besides, it needs less than half the water that conventional farm practices require.

A former employee of the state agriculture department and a farmer in his own right, Palekar has conducted several workshops across the length and breadth of the country benefiting thousands of farmers. Many more visit the models that Palekar’s disciples have been running on their farms with amazing results in terms of both quality and quantity of yield and drastically reduced costs.

A simple treatment with a mixture of cow dung, urine and limewater (’beejamrut’) makes seeds pest-resistant - they also germinate faster. A more or less similar mixture with a larger quantity of water (’jeevamrut’) serves as manure. Covering the sown soil with a bed of dried leaves and twigs (’aachhadan’) prevents loss of water through transpiration and helps maintain optimum soil temperature and humidity, claims Palekar.

A few farmers from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan also attended the four-day workshop organised by former agriculture minister Ranjit Deshmukh under the aegis of Vidarbha Pragatisheel Shetkati Sanghatan and Arvindbabu Deshmukh.

Popular Tribal Communist Leader Manish Kunjam arrested for protesting against the land acquisition by tata steel at Jagdalpur in Bastar region

What right the Tata Group has to disturb the peace of millions of Tribals,Farmers etc all over India?

Was brutal killing of Tribals at Kaling Nagar in Orissa last year not enough for the Tata's?

Is Singur not enough for Mr.Ratan Tata?

When the BJP government came to power there were huge posters of speaking bird "Bastar Hill Myna"

all over Raipur City but all is forgotten now.It had to be forgotten because if the State Government started

talking about wild life,Birds,forest and enviroment then how will they exploit the mineral reserve of Bastar?

My question to the exploiters is that what happens to Bastar once these mineral reserves are over?

Do these MNC's and Politicians care for the future generations?Will they be able to see the rich forest

reserve of Bastar?I seriously doubt it.

SAIL has given 5 crores to the State Government for acquiring land for the Railway Line from RaoGhat to Jagdalpur.

This is the same Railway Line which was rejected by the Environment Ministry of India in the year 1999.How has the

equations changed now?When there should be more concerned in these days of Global Warming,Tsunami etc still the Government

of India is pushing the country towards environmental disaster.

But who cares since as long as the MNC's are throwing there money at the Politicians everthing is fair.

It is believed that both Tata Steel and Essar have distributed money in the tunes of hundreds of crores amongst the Politicians

of the State Government,Mahendra Karma,K.M Seth etc to make "Salwa Judum" happen.

Does this not make Ratan Tata responsible for the death of thousands of Tribals since the start of "Salwa Judum"?

Please give it a thought...


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Invitation to Swim Against the Tide Together

We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
On just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.
--Emmanuel Ortiz

This letter reaches you amidst tall claims… about a strong and secure India riding the high tide of prosperity in South Asia in the 21st century. Growth, Security and Development are the buzzwords on the lips of anyone and everyone who matters in the sub-continent. A kaleidoscope of the emerging big picture—surfeit of images of super highways, malls, flyovers, golf courses, tourist resorts, mega-dams as hydel power projects, corporate farming, Special Economic Zones, urban beautification and finally a boomimg sensex—in the sub-continent as signs of growth, security and development is also being flaunted in the sensation driven media.

The vast sections of the people have been subjected to the worst kind of socio-economic crisis in the name of development. Today more and more tribals, dalits, minorities and the poorest of the poor are most cruelly removed from their forests, fields, lands, homes and cultures. They are being evicted from their lives and livelihoods.

When this letter reaches you probably many more farmers might have committed suicide. In the rich belts of the so-called ‘green revolution’ in Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh… .The granaries of India have become the graveyards for the farmers. More than a lakh farmers have so far committed suicide. Due to debt peonage. For the farmers agriculture is no more a viable economic enterprise. There is no economic incentive for the farmer to continue with the same agricultural produce. There is no way the landless agricultural labourer can work in the fields as the wages have gone down.

Peasants as a community also has become economically unviable for the state. As per experts (the bane of our times) the purchasing power of an IT professional is considered equivalent to 100 peasants put together.
In the name of development the best of arable lands in Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra is being sold for a pittance to the MNCs for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The violence of an uncertain future have abounded the lives of vast sections of the masses who stand displaced in every possible way in this ‘model of development’. Displaced from their farmland, forest land, slums, small scale industries, villages, national territories. Displaced from their productive living. It is not to say that their lives till now have been devoid of any uncertainties, any form of exploitation or oppression.

The people of South Asia are subjected to most violent accumulation of capital. The position of the vast sections of the masses should not be confused with the dreams that are being peddled by the money merchants who want to sell the land, its resources, its peoples and their memories and dreams for a pittance.

The need of the hour is to come together, join hands and raise the voice of our conviction to redefine the world. For it is only through struggle that we can stop these designs: Of not only to exploit us economically, but also to reshape our reality so that we become willing slaves and willing servants. And it is only through uncompromising struggles that we redefine our world, where the people and only the people are the masters of their destiny. It is only possible through a united struggle of all fighting people and their organisations.

We invite you to be part of this anti-imperialist resistance, a platform against all forms of displacement to stop forever all displacement in the name of ‘development’. A note in this regard is enclosed. Let us discuss and initiate a peoples’ front against all kinds of displacement. We look forward to your participation in a meeting of people’s organisations and individuals in Ranchi on 20th and 21st January, 2007. The meeting begins at 11 A.M. The venue is Patel Bhawan, Lalpur Chowk, Ranchi, Jharkhand.

Endorsed by:
1. Dr. B. D. Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan;
2. Gursharan Singh, Eminent People’s Artist, Punjab
3. Mahasweta Devi, Writer
4. Surendra Mohan, Socialist Front
5. K G Kannabiran, Eminent Human Rights Advcocate
6. Shyam Gaekwad, Labour Front, Maharashtra
7. Arundhati Roy, Writer
8. GN Saibaba, Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)
9. Shamsher Singh Bisht, Loksangarsh Vahini, Uttarakhand
10. A.K. Roy, Marxist Co-ordination Committee, Jharkhand
11. Debranjan & Bhagwan Majhi, PSSP, Orissa
12. Bojja Tarakam, Eminent Human Rights Advcocate and Convenor, PDFI, Andhra Pradesh Committee
13. Anand Teltumbde, Writer, Human Rights Activist, Maharashtra
14. M T Khan, Prominent Civil Rights Activist
15. Vittal Raj, All India Federation of Trade Unions (AIFTU)
16. Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha
17. Professor Keshav Rao Jadav, Eminent Socialist leader and Prominent Civil Rights Activist
18. Prof. KR Chowdry, Andhra Pradesh
19. Suguna Rao, Telengana Aikya Vedika
20. BP Kesari, Jharkhand
21. Shashibhushan Pathak, PUCL, Jharkhand
22. Thomas Mathew, Samajik Nyaya Morcha, Delhi
23. Harish Chandola, Senior Journalist, Uttarakhand
24. Rakesh Rafiq, Yuva Bharat
25. Tridib Ghosh, PDFI
26. PC Tiwari, Jan Adhikar Manch, Uttarakhand
27. Madhuri, Jagruti Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan, Bardwani, Madhya Pradesh
28. Gopal Naidu, Vidrohi Sanskritik Chalwal, Maharashtra
29. Revolutionary People’s Front, Kerala
30. Sini Soy, Kaling Nagar Bisthapan Birodhi Activist, Orissa
31. Amin Mharana, Jan Jamin Jungle Khani Surakhya Samiti, Sukinda Orissa
32. Partap Chinara, Chasi Mulia Dalit Sangha, Puri, Orissa
33. DR. Bisvajit Roy, Rastriya Yuva Sangathan, Orissa
34. Nav Nirman Samiti, Orissa
35. Bhakta Batshal Mohanty, Kendujhar Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch, Orissa
36. Suraj Tekam, Vananchal Kamgar Sarvangin Vikas Samiti, Chattishgarh
37. Judge Tirki. Jal Jangal Jamin Surakhsa Parishad, Orissa
38. Ram Chandra Sahoo, Rourkela Local Displaced Association 32 Villages
39. Vistapan Virodhi Jan Sangharsh Manch, Jharkhand
40. Auranga Bandh Virodhi Sangarsh Samithi, Latehar, Jharkhand
41. Kutkoo Dam Visthapan Virodhi Sangharsh Samithi, Garhwa, Jharkhand
42. Hindalko Visthapan Sangharsh Samithi, Richu Gutha, Jharkhand
43. Jameen Raksha Visthapan Sangarsh Samithi, Amrapada, Jharkhand
44. Tiger Project Visthapan Samithi, Betala, Jharkhand
45. Khutkathi Sangh, West Singhbhum, Jharkhand
46. Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Mukti Vani, Chandel, Jharkhand
47. Visthapan Mukti Vahini, Chandel, Jharkhand
48. Netrahat Field Firing Range Virodhi Manch, Netrahat, Jharkhand

49. Coal Visthapan Sangharsh Samithi, Peeparvar, Jharkhand
50. Bauxite Khanan Visthapan Sangharsh Samithi, Gumla- Lohardaggah, Jharkhand
51. Visthapit Sangharsh Samiti, Tetheriakhad, Jharkhand
52. Caol Visthapit Sansharsh Samiti, N K Area, Jharkhand
53. Visthapan Virodhi Samanvay Samithi, Jharkhand
54. Hul Jharkhand Kranti Dal, Jharkhand
55. Nau Janwadi Chetana Manch, Jharkhand
56. NTPC Vistthapan Sangharsh Samithi, Chandwa, Jharkhand
57. Surangi Visthapan Sangharsh Samithi, Singhbhum, Jharkhand
58. Birsa Ulugulan Manch, Namkum, Jharkhand
59. Mahila Ulugulan Manch, Namkum, Jharkhand
60. Ravi Study Circle, Ranchi, Jharkhand
61. HEC Vishapan Munch, Ranchi, Jharkhand
62. Paryavaran Bachavo Samithi, Kaandra Raghunathpur, Jharkhand
63. D C Gohai, Boakaro Visthapan Sangh, Jharkhand
64. Gautam Bose, Tatanagar, Jharkhand
65. Bapikar Samanyay Samiti, Jharkhand
66. Angami Pandey, Sajha Jan Sangharsh Abhiyan, Jharkhand
67. Sambhu Mahato, Jharkhand
68. Professor Ramsharan, Ranchi College, Jharkhand
69. Lambada Hakkula Poratha Samithi, Andhra Pradesh
70. Tudum Debba, Andhra Pradesh
71. Adivasi Vidyardhi Samskhema Parishad, Andhra Pradesh
72. Adivasi Aikya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh
73. Patriotic and Democratic Front, Andhra Pradesh
74. Adivasi Swayam Prathipathti Sadhana Samithi, Vishakha Agency, Andhra Pradesh.
75. People’s Land Commission, Andhra Pradesh

(A complete list of Signatories will be provided soon.)

20 January 2007

Venue: Patel Bhawan, Lalpur Chowk, Ranchi, Jharkhand
Date: 20, 21 January 2007
Time: 11 AM

First conference of Anti-Displacement Front

Chalo Ranchi! Chalo Ranchi! Chalo Ranchi! Chalo Ranchi! Chalo Ranchi!

Onwards to the First Conference,
Anti-Displacement Front
March 22nd, 23rd 2007, Ranchi, Jharkhand
Observe 76th Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh as Anti-imperialist Day

In Lieu of an Invitation

Heaven is a forest of miles and miles of Mohua trees
And hell is a forest of miles and miles of Mohua trees with a forest guard in it.
--A popular saying of the Muria Adivasi of Bastar, Chhattisgarh

Whatever contributes to forcefully assimilating people to Nature is a dangerous threat… At least that has been the lesson, of any discernible reading of the history of humankind. Here too, in the South Asian sub-continent, the experiences of the vast sections of the people have not been an exception. Specifically, after the advent of British colonialism…

Post-1947, there has hardly been any difference in the experiences of the people of the sub-continent. “If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of our country”, this was what Jawaharlal Nehru asked the villagers, while laying the foundation stone of the Hirakud dam in Sambalpur, Orissa. Hirakud, or the dam at Bhakra, Nehru termed these ‘temples of modern India’. Ever since then, through the years of the so-called ‘green revolution’, canal irrigation cultivation, introduction of cash crops and hybrid variety of seeds we have daily proof that we create our world against Nature for want of profit. That people are forced to be the mute recipients of this expropriation of wealth in the name of development; of creating a new world out of Nature that is useful for a few rich and powerful. Even the most conservative estimate of the Government of India in 1994, after lot of jugglery with statistics, had to admit that more than 10 million (1 crore) people are still to be rehabilitated displaced by dams, mines, deforestation and other ‘development projects’.

Today this logic of creating a world against Nature have taken the most aggressive turn; voluminous in its scope of exploitation and destruction; murderous in its reach in that it ravages the lives and livelihoods of lakhs and lakhs of peoples. The tall claims of Special Economic Zones as havens of employment generation and productivity with legal provisions totally different from the law of the land is further evidence of recolonisation of the land and its people for brutal exploitation of imperialist and local capital. The innumerous Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) that are being signed by the GoI with various monopolies for mining in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand are open invitations to loot and plunder the natural resources for the predatory needs of the market.

The grand design to construct mega-dams in hundreds across the sub-continent so as to generate power to sell it to the far-east market and massive super highways to access every nook and cranny of the region to the reach of big capital will without fail ravage various cultures, memories, lives and livelihoods of these peoples. Not to say, this package to loot and plunder the wealth of these regions will pit the various peoples in this region against each other.

Big labour, big industry and big capital have forced the people of the sub-continent to adjust and be assimilated in accordance to its needs. These experiences legitimized with it a history of exploitation, of domination, of considering human beings as ‘human resources’. Significantly, the use of the word ‘human resources’ confirms the dangerous threat of forcing people to comply with the needs of imperialism and its domestic lackeys. The poorest and the most vulnerable become easy targets. The tribal whether in Orissa, Jharkhand, Arunachal or Meghalaya and the worker in the small scale sector in Delhi, Mumbai or Calcutta, the landless agricultural labourer in Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh or Andhra Pradesh and even the small and middle peasant in Punjab, Haryana, Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh all are classified, registered alongside the mineral, vegetal and animal resources. Mind you, people so designated are not the aim of production, but its raw material.

From Polavaram to Tipaimukh, from Nandigram, Singur Shalgoni, Dadri to Vidharbha, from Kalinganagar, Kashipur to Chhattisgarh and North Andhra and Telengana and Karnataka this language is not deceptive: as we all know, resources are to be exploited, and in our world they are bound to be destroyed. The struggle has increasingly become between two worlds in opposition: that of the world of the greatest number of people labeled as ‘natural resources’ and the world of those who treat them as such.

The reckoning of the hour is to forge an uncompromising resistance at the ground level while building a massive public opinion against this politics of loot and plunder in the name of development. At the South Asian and international level.

Significantly, this year marks the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, whose death defying martyrdom had stoked the flames of revolution among the youth and the vast section of the impoverished masses in the sub-continent against British colonialism. Moreover, that March 23rd his Martyrdom day marks the conclusion of the founding conference of Anti-Displacement Front will be a resounding start for a militant movement against all forms of displacement. It is time that we once again reclaim the revolutionary legacy of this great freedom fighter. It is important and inevitable that the resistance be forged at as many levels as possible.

As you may know, a process towards building a mighty resistance against these displacements under the garb of ‘development’ has been initiated. The first preparatory meeting was at Ranchi, in Jharkhand on the 20, 21st of January 2007. Over 100 organizations and individuals are part of this process to build a massive people’s resistance against all forms of displacement at the South Asian level.

The first conference of this Anti-Displacement Front will be on the 22nd, 23rd of March 2007 at Ranchi, Jharkhand. We invite you to be part of and hence strengthen this process.

Cultural performances against displacement and anti-imperialism by eminent theatres and people’s cultural artistes will start on 21st March onwards.
A detailed programme will be sent a week before the Conference.

Please let us know your response and inform us your participation in advance.

No to Displacement! No to Rehabilitation!
Only Change with Equity & Justice!

On behalf of the Preparatory Committee
Against Displacement
Dr. B D Sharma & G N Saibaba
Phones: 011-24353997, 9910455993.

13 February 2007.

A Note on the Question of Displacement

Anti-Displacement Front

The natural and legal rights of the people are being trampled on a scale unprecedented in post-1947 India. Successive governments at the centre would call this the needed drive for a New India marching forward in the 21st century as a major power. Development and Security are the twin needs of the Brave New World in which India and the sub-continent of South Asia is a vital cog. This development can only happen with the massive inflow of Foreign Direct Investment in the form of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), Foreign Institutional Investments (FII). Inequality has been considered as a necessary condition for mobilising savings and capital formation. To envisage the provision of infrastructure in the form of transport, communication, power, services etc. While it will give windfall profits to the imperialist multinationals and their domestic allies—big business houses, bureaucrats, politicians, et al, the masses have become further impoverished.
A decade-and-a-half of these policies have, pushed more than one lakh peasants to suicide. Massive unemployment have further impoverished an already devastated people in both rural and urban areas and marginalized millions.
The second wave of ‘economic reforms’ is a violent assault on the right to life and livelihood of the masses. Apart from continuing the ‘development’ driven through big dams, super highways and other infrastructural projects, the new phase of accumulation of capital involves gigantic mining projects, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), urban renewal and beautification.

Displacement as ‘Development’
All these policies are being implemented in the name of ‘development’, ‘modernization’, taking India into the club of elite countries. This is no doubt ‘development’, of a particular kind. It is the model of ‘development’ that gives gigantic amounts of wealth to the super-rich (foreign and Indian) while increasingly impoverishing more and more people. It is unmitigated loot of all our natural wealth and mineral resources on a scale never witnessed before. It is development OF and FOR the market; FOR the creation of a market based on the expenditure OF the very rich together with a growing upper middle class who live off crumbs thrown off the table of the super-rich. This development of displacement have pervaded the entire spectrum of diverse production of material life of the sub-continent—from hunters and gatherers, pastorals, shifting cultivators, forest dwellers especially in protected areas like sanctuaries, traditional cultivators, advanced farmers, trading centres, service and industrial centres, towns and cities. All the four dreaded Ds are fast engulfing our societies—Displacement, Disorganisation, Destitution and Decimation.

Massive Mining Projects of MNCs: Opening the Veins of South Asia
The mining projects in just the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh entail investments of about Rs.5 lakh crores. Some 20 percent of the tribal people have already been uprooted from their homes. The resource rich region of Dandakaranya and its vicinity in the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and the adjoining areas in West Bengal, Vidharbha and eastern Madhya Pradesh account for more than three fourth of the total mineral wealth of India. On a smaller scale, mining projects are also coming up in all the states wherever there is some wealth to extract. The regions within these states that have been set aside as prospective areas rich in mineral wealth such as coal, iron ore, bauxite, diamonds, uranium, thorium etc. is inhabited by the poorest of the poor in India. Hundreds of MoUs have been signed by the government with various Multinational Corporations and Indian Monopolies. Much of the mineral wealth is exported while the rest is used to serve the palatial needs of India’s neo-rich. New laws are being enacted to undo the rights of the people over these resources. The better known examples are the Indian Forest Act, Indian Fisheries Act, Indian Mineral Act, and various Urban Development Acts. In the process, lakhs and lakhs will be displaced—not only will their land and forests be seized, but also their livelihood, their right to a dignified existence destroyed.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs): Enclaves of Foreign Occupation
The rural areas in India are facing massive unemployment due to lack of opportunities. A backlash of the state policy of opening up of the markets to monopolies. The traditional crafts have collapsed as machine goods are flooding the rural markets. The labour displacing machines have reduced the labour input per acre to less than one-third compared to the post-47 situation. Even in the so-called Employment Generation Programmes of the government commission agents and contractors are on to make a fast buck by using machines. Moreover a large part of the land is held by the absentee owners which results in a heavy drain of current income of the rural economy. These absentee land owners are prone to sell away their lands for profit. The crisis in the rural scenario is further exemplified with the abysmally low entitlement for work in agriculture hovering around 30 rupees a day. The ‘educated youth’ who are rather the deskilled force in rural India are not ready to soil their hands for such a low pay. The massive alienation of people in the rural areas from their current means of livelihood with no worthwhile substitute in sight is imminent.
The Special Economic Zones have been showcased as the panacea for skyrocketing unemployment and lack of opportunities in the urban and rural regions in India. These zones throughout the country will create enclosures where no laws of the land would hold. This tantamount to a modern form of the East India Company; foreign enclaves within the territory of the country which facilitates the SEZs. Even conservative estimates of the RBI projects a loss of about Rs.1.7 lakh crores in revenue for the Indian government over the next four years due to the Special Economic Zones. But the worst hit will be the rural populace whose prime lands are being forcibly seized. Lakhs of acres have already been taken over and every day new announcements come of more and more SEZs being granted permission. In the much hyped ‘Green Revolution’ belts of Haryana and Punjab where the suicide deaths of farmers are the order of the day, farmers who are deep in debt are even ready to take whatever crumbs thrown by the government as compensation for the acquired land. In fact this has proved to be the last straw on the farmer’s back leading to large scale alienation of land and unabating strings of suicides. The man made crisis is so acute in the Green Revolution pockets that for the farmer to hold on to the farming land as a viable enterprise has become an unenviable task.
There is no economic incentive for the farmer to continue agriculture in these lands. The government has refused to look into the root causes of agriculture being rendered non-viable as the insidious policy of the state. Instead it legalised the practice of usury by credit institution including even the cooperatives through the ingenious legal jugglery of excluding them from the very definition of moneylenders. In 1947, 70 per cent of the people in India were engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Their share in the Gross National Income was 65 percent. According to the Farmer’s Commission while the number of persons in the above category has marginally declined from 70 to 65 percent, their share in the National Income has nose dived to 20 percent. The projections of Vision 2020 envisages only a 6 percent share for the 60 percent depending on agriculture.
Already unofficial estimates show that more than 300 SEZs are on the pipeline. As per official estimates about 35-40% of existing industry and finance (including IT sector) will move to these enclaves to avail of the tax-free profits that these havens allow. The government talks much trash of generating employment but the reality is that it is mostly existing business that will shift location to these SEZs to avail of the huge benefits.

Urban ‘Visions’: Fortifying Urban Spaces for Free Exploitation of Monopoly Capital
Global policy advisory groups like the Mckinsey from the US is formulating and pushing the initiatives of organising and streamlining the urban spaces under the camouflage of urban beautification. This streamlining of the urban spaces offers minimum security risk for the operational needs of foreign and local capital in these areas.
It not only entails marginalizing the already impoverished poor, it is even hitting at the middle classes, small traders and industries. Lakhs of slum-dwellers have already been pushed out in the process. Small retailers must be crushed (as in Delhi) in order to make way for giant retailers like Reliance, Wal-Mart and a host of others; small scale industries must be pushed out, not only to ‘clean up’ the cities, but also to allow big business to widen its captive-market reach.
Urban ‘Visions’, with their creation of infrastructural and beautification projects for the elite is wrecking havoc in all the main cities of the country. The main metropolitan cities are the hub of operations of the money-bags. They demand all the best facilities in the form of infrastructure and entertainment. Dance bars in Mumbai must be forcibly closed so that 5-star cabarets thrive. And the beautification must proceed apace so that the rich and powerful can enjoy their ill-gotten wealth without the ‘polluting’ effect of the poor who are further ghettoised.
Thus 21st Century India means mega dams, mammoth power plants, oil and gas pipelines, super highways, flyovers, golf courses, fancy clubs and tourist resorts, national parks, malls, theme parks…

North East Power Grid: Development as Domination or Development as Counterinsurgency
The entire region of the North East will be inundated with no less than 168 mega-dams with a cumulative capacity to generate 100000 Megawatts of power. Only 5000 megawatts would be utilised in the entire region which has been witnessing various struggles for the right to self-determination of the peoples in this region. The rest of the power generated (95000 megawatts) would go to satiate the needs of the Southeast Asian market. The region has been often cited as a fragile zone prone to earthquakes. The surfeit of big dams under the garb of development will endanger the fragile eco-zone of this region not to say that it will totally subvert the cultural, political, social specificities of the various peoples of this region who will be displaced from their very territory which is central in their struggle for their right to self-determination. Many of their indigenous institutions also would be destroyed in this process.
Along with this is the plan to link the entire region of the North East with the Southeast Asian market by road. There are also efforts to combine the markets of these regions with separate market regime principles to make them as combined economic regions. The super highway that is being built from North Bengal to the Mekong Valley under the much hyped ‘Look East Policy’ is a definite step in this direction which is nothing but ‘Development’ as counterinsurgency.

Displacement as State Building
Already, the logic and the necessity of this kind of a development has been stated. But there is a method to this madness that is being parotted by policy pundits as ‘development’.
The question that has often been debated among the western academia and the ‘nation builders’ foreign and desi is that whether resources are at the centre of ‘conflicts’ in poor countries like India, Afghanistan or countries in Africa and Latin America. In a series of studies supported by the World Bank and as the result of a broad statistical analysis of virtually all civil wars since the mid-1960s it was concluded that the causes for conflicts cannot be due to the existing rulers, economic mismanagement, political rights or levels of ethnic homogeneity or heterogeneity. These studies concluded that economic factors were crucial. It emphasised that countries that were highly dependent on the export of primary commodities and were populated by large numbers of young men, with limited or no education were also highly susceptible to civil conflict and political instability. These ‘hordes’ of poorly educated youths and readily accessible resources were particularly susceptible to civil conflict and the emergence of rebels driven primarily by powerful economic (‘greed’) need to use violence to acquire wealth. Thus as per this logic the need of the hour is to promote ‘development’ for ‘security’ and ‘stability’.
The resources in these regions have to be extracted for ‘development’. The poorly educated youths have to be transformed through ‘capacity building’ with the help of ‘modern’ institutions of ‘good governance’. Hence in the North East and other regions such as Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh tribal institutions of governance are deemed unfit to empower the tribal youth. There are already projects supported by London School of Economics and other premier institutions from the West being undertaken in India by NGOs and a section of the academia which are promoting the process of ‘institution building’ for facilitating ‘good governance’. Premier institutions in India are also including courses on Good Governance, Peace and Reconciliation through which there is an effort to decontextualise and reduce the real reasons underlying the socio-economic plight of the vast sections of the various peoples in the sub-continent.
Thus the model of ‘development’ that is being promoted under the aegis of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation creates a greater class of rentiers, retainers, pimps, prostitutes, servants, lumpens, etc—a growing class of hangers-on, all at the service of this neo-rich generated in the process. It destroys the bulk of the agrarian masses; displaces millions from permanent employment and generates in its place thousands of temporary and contract jobs for a pittance; drives the bulk of the middle classes to destitution while accommodating a small section into the elite club. Significantly, it displaces lakhs and lakhs of people from their land and all possible source of livelihood. It is a ‘development’ of the destruction of people, natural resources not to say environment with the complete support of the violent state machinery, including the judiciary and the executive.
The ‘victims’ of these development projects are projected as a liability as they are unable to fit into the mutational changes that have been forcefully brought into their productive labour. They found their way into their familiar forest home where they deemed to be intruders or on to the cities as beasts of burden, rickshaw pullers, or as commodities for the flourishing ‘flesh market’.
This ‘development’ also brings with it an increasingly fascistic state as the extremes of rich and poor are creating acute social tension with the masses having no other alternative than militant resistance. The intensifying contradiction between the rich and the poor, between regions, between various peoples, communities have made it a necessity for the state to resort to a combination of brutal repression and numerous diversionary tactics. Both fascist repression and diversionary tactics of Hindutva communal hysteria are also an outcome of the existing policies of this model of development.

What then could be the alternative?
The only alternative can be a model that really enhances the well-being of the vast masses, preserves the people’s natural wealth, and protects its environment. That builds the domestic market for commodities by enhancing the purchasing power of the masses and thereby becoming the motor for industrial growth and development of the economy; which is holistic, serving both the needs of the people and environment. A model of development that is equitable, just, and humane.
But such an alternative is not possible without, opposing tooth-and-nail, the present model of development. There can be no half-way measures as the present model is an integrated whole, with each aspect linked to the other, all serving to extract maximum profit for the imperialists and their hangers-on in the country. Whether it is the mining projects, or the schemes for the SEZs, or the infrastructural developmental projects, or that of urban ‘renewal’—all are part and parcel of the present phase of ‘economic reforms’ inspired by globalization. These are nothing but a continuation of the earlier phase of ‘economic reforms’ started vigorously in the early 1990s and continuing apace no matter which government has been in power. Any attempt to find formulas of adjustment with the existing polices are doomed to failure as they have their own dynamics dictated by the needs of profit maximization and imperialist loot. There is no other way than to oppose in total all these projects and the policies that facilitate them.
And this challenge calls for a massive movement of the people to resist these projects at the ground level and also awaken the entire country against this model of ruin and penury for the people resulting in more and more enslavement to the imperialist exploitative machine, particularly the US. The various peoples of the region need to be aroused against the imperialists and their local lackeys who are selling the wealth of the people for a few dollars.

What then is the alternative model of development?

  • It is a people oriented model based on a self-reliant economy free from enslavement by imperialism. The polices of development must, first-and-foremost, develop the well-being of the masses and must be in their interest—not at their cost.

  • The natural wealth of the country must only be extracted to the extent that it serves the needs of the mass of people—neither for imperialist loot nor for the extravagant infrastructural needs of these money-bags. Not only should the SEZ policy be totally reversed but the emphasis must be on developing indigenous industry, protecting labour rights, and introducing land reforms. Land must not go to the big industrialists and imperialists through the SEZ policy but be redistributed to the landless and poor.

  • Infrastructural development must also be people oriented where the prime need and immediate priorities are health care, hygiene and education.

  • Environmental regeneration must be an important factor in this model which has been destroyed by rapacious rape of the environment for profit and the green revolution–type polices—this by extensive reforestation, scientific water management (inclusive of lakhs of small water projects) and top-soil regeneration.

  • In this new model of development all decisions must be made by the people themselves at the grass-root level and built upwards in a genuine form of people’s government. It is the people themselves who know best what type of development is in their interest and what is harmful. They are the best to decide their future. For this they must take the future into their own hands and wrest control of it from the hands of the money-bags and their agents. This alone can assure all-round growth and not its ruin and destruction as is happening today.

  • There should be also be resistance to build on a short term, people’s sectors which would have the negotiating power and will to initiate short-term relief measures for the vast sections of the masses while fighting the state.

But to build this new model it first requires an uncompromising opposition to the present model and all the policies that are coming up. For this, there is need to build a huge movement against displacement and the very model of development itself. All genuine democratic and anti-imperialist forces should unite to create a tornado of dissent that forces the rulers to stop this juggernaut trampling the lives of the people of the Sub-continent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Haripur: Land for Nuclear Plant

'Nagarik Mancha' has prepared a report on the proposed Nuclear Plant in Haripur, West Bengal.

Even as the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal was 'under-consideration', the Government of India decided to set up five coastal nuclear power projects in the country. A 12-member Site Selection Panel, under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), visited a number of coastal districts in India during November 2006. The Site Selection Panel is said to have zeroed in on sites in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. Based on its final report to be submitted to the Atomic Energy Commission, the Government of India will finally decide on the sites. Only after that the Central Government-owned Public Sector Undertaking, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), 'spearheading' India's nuclear power programme, will undertake the job.

The NPCIL, the sole nuclear utility implementing authority, has a total of 16 operational plants with a capacity to generate around 3,900 MW, which is about 2.8% of the total electricity generated in the country. Seven more plants with a combined capacity of 3,000 MW are in advanced stages of construction, the first of which is expected to be operational by March 2007.

In all probability the proposed nuclear power plants will use light water reactors to be run on imported fuel. It is reported that Haripur will boast of six nuclear reactors each of 1650 MW – a total of 10,000 MW of electricity. Since the NPCIL can indigenously produce reactors capable of generating up to 700 MW, the Indo-US Agreement on Sharing of Nuclear Technology could pave the way for the transfer of US technology too.

Download pdf

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dankuni-Deal is going to be signed on today

On 19 Feb, 2007, Monday, in presence of Buddha, in his conference room, KMDA chief executive officer will sign the deal with DLF (a Delhi based company) for the proposed township in Dankuni. West Bengal government has decided to ‘develop’ Dankuni as the third, after Saltlake and Rajarhat, the largest township in the West Bengal. According to the government sources, Rs 32,000 crore will be invested in the proposed project, which will acquire 4769 acres of land. Out of 4769 acres, 700 acres will be allotted for industrial hub and rest will be used for construction businesses.
About 600 families will be evicted from their land in the first phase in which 1,644 acres of land will be acquired.

Shops, houses set afire in Nandigram

Nandigram: The on-going protests against the proposed SEZ project in Nandigram, turned violent as CPIM members intervened and allegedly burnt houses and fired gun shots in the area.

Members of Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee—the organization spearheading the protests—said the CPIM men hurled bombs and fired gunshots at people on Sunday.

Over 11 shops were ransacked in the Tekhali Bazar area. BUPC members alleged that a mob of over 300 CPI-M supporters set ablaze houses, including a bakery at Tekhali Bazar village, where jewellery and garment shops were looted.

Satyen Karan, a resident of Dangra locality, was beaten up when he went to Tekhali Bazar and found his shop being looted. Houses were set ablaze, shops were looted and some people were reported missing from the area on Saturday.

The Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee organised a procession in Tekhali Bazar to protest the looting of shops and damage to property. BUPC convenor Sheikh Sufiyan vowed that the body would resist attempts by the CPI-M to foment trouble in the area.


One more report on Singur

At the behest of the " Singur Bachao Mahila Mancha" (a platform of women's organisations and individual women who have come together to support the land struggle in Singur) three women activists - Ilina Sen, Scholar on women's studies and founder member of Rupantar, Chattisgarh, Madhuri of National Alliance of Agricultural Workers Unions and the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, M.P. and Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary of the PUCL (all three active in people's struggles in the country) visited the affected villages of Singur over the 16th to the 18th of December.

The objective of their visit was to understand:

  • To understand the reasons for the opposition to the Tata Small Car project in Singur, Hoogly District and examine the impact that the consequent displacement and dispossession from land and agriculture would have on the villagers, particularly women.
  • Whether force and terror had been used by the West Bengal Government on the people, particularly women in order to acquire the 997.11 acres of land for the purpose of giving it to Tata Motors for setting up a small car plant.
  • To understand the process of land acquisition used by the Government of West Bengal in Singur and the nature and amount of compensations being provided to the affected people.
  • To examine the issue of a motor vehicle factory being the "Public Purpose" for displacement of people from their multi crop agriculture land. and to examine the viability of the project vis-a vis the stated purpose of "employment generation and socio-economic development."

The team met various stakeholders, including concerned Government officials, those who support the project as well as those who oppose it. The concerned team of women activists met the press on 18th December, 2006 at the Kolkata Press Club to narrate their experience at Singur to the press and electronic media. Later on, their report was published by Paschimbanga Khet Majoor Samity.

Download full report.

A Mass Song on Singur

Listen a Bengali Mass Song "Mati amader pran", sung by Sutapa Bandyopadhyay. The song is written and composed by Rajesh Datta on the land struggle in Singur.

You are requested to download. Unzip the folder and then open HTML file. You can also play flash file if you have "shockwave flash player" in your computer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bombs hurled near Nandigram

Monday, February 12, 2007 (Nandigram) (Press Trust of India):

Suspected CPI-M workers on Monday night hurled bombs indiscriminately at Tekhali Bazar near Nandigram setting off panic.

Nandigram is the scene of opposition agitation against proposed farmland acquisition for SEZ.

A core committee member of the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (Save Eviction Committee) Abu Tayeb said the bombs rained on from the side of Khejuri towards Nandigram.

The villagers came out of their houses and assembled at Tekhali Bazar in panic.

Meanwhile, 50 peasant women belonging to the committee gheraoed the local police station demanding return of normalcy in the area, which witnessed prolonged violence since last month over acquisition of farmland for the proposed SEZ.

The women also demanded restoration of ferry services, which was stopped in the wake of the violence, investigation into violent incidents, withdrawal of 'false cases' and government action against 'intimidation by CPI (M) cadres' to the peasants.

The women also held a rally, attended by about 3,000 people, near the police station voicing their demands.

The speakers said the car of a team of women intellectuals, who were coming from outside to participate in the rally, had been intercepted by CPI (M) cadres near Nandigram.

Police, however, said they had received no such complaint.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Report on the Condition of Workers in Asansol

We found a report on the condition of workers in Asansol. It not only exposed the myth of 'Development by Industrialization', but also presented a very serious approach. We believe it would encourage us to study our society in dialectical and materialistic way.

A Report on Condition of Workers in Asansol

Sudipta Paul

The wheel of industrialization of West Bengal is running very fast with frequent closure of many industries. It does not allow any resistance through out the path of industrialization. The movement against the closure of industries, the scarcity of land, militant movement of the land losers, demand of job of land losers, demand of minimum wages and other facilities etc - whatever happens it is running smoothly at any cost. It's true that with industrialization a number of people will get jobs. One new industrialist of Asansol, Paban Ghugutia said in an interview with a correspondent of "Ananda Bazar Patrika": "Suppose an industry is built up. Unemployed youths will get the jobs. They will earn money. Economic status of the workers will be changed. They will go to market to buy the necessary commodities. Then there will be some sort of economic transactions. So with increase of industry, the life of human beings will also develop." In the course of the economic development, a number of new industrial estates are developing in last fifteen to sixteen years in Asansol area. Mangalpur and Kannyapur are two of them in the Asansol Subdivision. There is also a plan to develop industrial estates adjacent to 55 KM area of G. T. Road from Durgapur to Barakar. Let's see how much industrialization has taken place and how much employment has been generated at the two industrial estates in the field of closed industrial areas of Asansol.

Before 80's, renowned Hindusthan Pilkinton Glass Factory was closed. After that Bengal Paper Mill was closed. From 90's the closing of the industries took an acceleration and within last fifteen years a number of industries have been closed very rapidly.
We give a list of closed industries with manpower.

Hindusthan Pilkinton Glass factory -1600
Bengal Paper Mill -1500
Bharat Aluminium Co. Ltd. -3000
Burn & Co. 1&2 -1400
Cycle Corporation -3000
Indian Iron and Steel Company (Kulty)-3000

Nearly 15000 workers have lost job due to closure of industry. This is only reported and available data of closed industry. There are a number of unreported and unregistered industries which have been closed. The residential area of those industries is becoming abandoned almost. Most of the workers left their companies' quarters to their homeland or went to other places like Kolkata and also Asansol proper in search of their lively hood. A vast area of Kulty Works of IISCO has become a ghost area. The fifth largest Golf Ground of Kulty is remaining in unused condition. However, within the short distance of 250-300 meters a new township is developing surrounding Kulty College which was mostly a forest area. The residential area of the workers of the glass factory is in the same condition. The officers quarters became abundant. But the families of the workers, who have no alternative are remaining in the damaged quarters of the company. Near about 200 families are spending their life in a very miserable condition. Most of the next generation of glass factory workers are day labours or unemployed. Third generation of these families are mostly illiterate due to poverty. One jute mill owner bought the 150 bigha of land of glass factory including the area of quarters at a paltry sum of 4.05 crores. He wants to evict the workers families. But the people unitedly made resistance against the displacement without the banner of any political party one and half years back. This glass factory colony is also a subsidence prone area due to the unscientific coal mining according to the official record of coal company.

Download full report


Monday, February 12, 2007


A debate is going on here in this blog. Readers are requesteded to participate and post their comment.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ratan Tata-From Steel Magnet to Scrap Dealer to Arms Dealer to Land Mafia...

By Prabhat (http://bhumkal.blogspot.com)

New Faces of Ratan Tata....

1.Scrap Dealer - Recently in Bhopal there was a huge protest (above photo) when Ratan
Tata offered to clean the scrape lying at the Union Carbide Factory at the heart of
Bhopal city.He was trying to make it look as if he was doing a social work but the people of Bhopal know his devilish intentions.In the name of cleaning Bhopal Ratan Tata is after the Chemicals worth millions which is still there in the Union Carbide Factory which had killed more than 30,000 thousands people in their sleep.This tragedy if popularly know as "Bhopal Gas Tragedy".Since Union Carbide was an American Company,is Ratan Tata an agent (Dalal) of American Imperialism?

2.Arms Dealer - By flying the American made F-16 and F-18 Super Hornet recently at Bangalore Ratan Tata has almost confirmed the buying of these Fighter Planes by Indian Air Force thus confirming he is an Agent (Dalal) of the American Imperialism.

3.Land Mafia - By displacing thousands of farmers,tribals,dalits in the name of development Ratan Tata is making sure that he is the biggest land holder in the whole of the world thus qualifying himself as a ruthless Land Mafia.

Is he doing all this because he bought Corus just to satisfy his ego?Is he doing all this because he has to pay the Banks who financed him in the Corus Deal?
Shame on you Ratan Tata...


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Now a 'Singur' in Madhya Pradesh?

'The compensation package is not satisfactory as it does not take care of the permanent loss to the next generation of farmers whose land is being acquired,' said senior BJP leader and former union minister Vikram Verma, who is also from Dhar.
[RxPG] Bhopal, Feb 10 - A place in Madhya Pradesh may see a repeat of Singur, the area in West Bengal that is on the boil over land acquisition for a Tata Motors car project.

The state government is acquiring nearly 4,000 acres of land near the Dhar district's Pithampur industrial area for a world-class auto-testing track.

But the farmers in 10 villages who have been made to part with their land for the project are unhappy with the compensation package, giving the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party - affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh - a chance to protest the government's decision to acquire farmland.

The track, approved by the central government, would be an international standard centre to provide testing facilities to Indian and foreign companies for all kinds of automobile machinery - one of the most significant initiatives in the automotive sector.

To be set up by the National Automotive Testing and Research and Development Infrastructure Project at a cost of Rs.10 billion, the track would be equipped with the facility of testing vehicles in various climatic conditions at different stages after which 'standardisation' certificates would be issued for vehicles produced in India and abroad.

'What makes the project more significant for Madhya Pradesh is because developed states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were competing for this scheme,' Industries Minister Babulal Gaur said.

But opposition leader Jamuna Devi, who is also an MLA from Dhar, has threatened that if local farmers are subjected to injustice, a Singur-type protest will be launched. The BKS too is up in arms against the land acquisition.

Alleging that fertile land is being wrested from the peasants in tribal-dominated areas like Khandwa, Kalyansikhedi, Madhopur and Sagaur, Jamuna Devi has warned that farmers would take on the government if it continues with land acquisition.

She has also written a letter to BJP president Rajnath Singh, asking him to exhibit his might against farmland acquisition in Dhar.

'Thousands of acres of fertile land, belonging to farmers, is being acquired by the BJP government for being provided to the industry even as thousands of peasants are consequently facing starvation,' Jamuna Devi told Rajanth Singh urging him to direct the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to halt the acquisition of land.

'We expect the same kind of opposition to the Pithampur project from the BJP as it displayed against the Tata Motors project in Singur in West Bengal,' she wrote.

Rajnath Singh had supported Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's protests against similar land acquisition at Singur for a Tata Motors small car project.

State BJP spokesman Umashankar Gupta, however, dismisses comparisons between Singur and Pithampur.

'The Dhar project belongs to the Congress-led central government where Devi's own party is in power. She should first ask her party leaders to scrap the project if her concern is genuine,' Gupta said.

But BKS has warned of an intensified campaign if the government does not mend its ways. 'The stir may turn violent if the track site is not shifted to a barren plot or adequate compensation is not offered to the farmers,' said Pop Singh Nagar, BKS state executive member.

BJP leaders in Dhar too seem to be opposed to the farmland acquisition.

'The compensation package is not satisfactory as it does not take care of the permanent loss to the next generation of farmers whose land is being acquired,' said senior BJP leader and former union minister Vikram Verma, who is also from Dhar.

He has written to Chief Minister Chouhan and Industry Minister Gaur but to no avail.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Violence erupts again in Nandigram

Kolkata/ Nandigram: There have been fresh clashes between land eviction resistance committee members and CPM cadre in Khejuri area of Nandigram, the proposed SEZ in East Midnapur district.

According to reports, both the parties sustained bullet injuries and the situation remains tense in the area.

On Sunday Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee had stepped up pressure on the West Bengal government over the two controversial projects in Nandigram and Singur.

With renewed protests in Singur, police lathicharged protesters and fired tear gas shells when they tried to break the fence guarding the Tata Motors site.

The protesters retaliated hurling crude bombs at the police. Several activists were injured and arrested.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tension prevails at Nandigram as CPI(M) threatens BUP committee

Nandigram, Feb 05: Tension prevailed at Nandigram, the scene of proposed special economic zone which had witnessed violence last month, with the CPI-M threatening to teach the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh committee a lesson.

''They (the Pratirodh Committee) have created terror. Now we will show our strength. And if we demonstrate our strength they will be finished,'' Himanshu Das, a local CPI-M leader and Sabhadhipati of local Panchayet Samity said after a meeting of the Left Front at Khejuri in East Midnapore district.

The committee, however, said that they would not allow the police to enter the villages and repair roads which were dug up, until the West Bengal Government announced officially that it has shelved the plan of land acquisition for the SEZ.

Tension also prevailed in Bartala, Panchuria, Pukuria, Oaselchak villages which had witnessed hurling of bombs allegedly by CPI-M activists.


Violence after reimposition of prohibitory orders at Singur

Kamarkundu (Hooghly), February 5: Singur turned into a veritable battlefield on Monday as police lathi-charged and lobbed teargas shells to disperse a violent mob that broke Section 144 and tried to march towards Kamarkundu railway colony ground.

According to reports, 12 persons, including two police personnel, were injured in today’s violence. Six people were arrested and put in a police van but were taken out by fellow protesters, reports said.

Police said they had to use force after the mob started throwing stones on them.

The state government has re-imposed Section 144 till February 14, thereby outlawing all rallies and assemblage in Singur, the site for Tata Motors’ small car project.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, scheduled to address a rally in Singur on February 15, today said: “Things will be all right there. There will be no problem.”

According to reports, the mob today also burnt down a truck and tried to torch the railway track near Kmarkundu railway station. They also put up a blockade at the railway station, and on the road leading there. The police removed the blockade later.

Even journalists could not escape the police ire today, with a few media persons ending up on the wrong side of the khaki baton. The police lobbed teargas shells in the area where journalists hid themselves.

Apologising to the journalists for the police excesses, District Superintendent of Police Supratim Sarker later said: “It was unfortunate. I will look into the matter and fix responsibility for whoever did this.”

Earlier in the day, some villagers uprooted parts of the fence guarding the project site in Beraberi village. The fencing was later put back in place, and a large police contingent was posted there.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Automotive Mission Plan in nutshell

Ministries of heavy industries and public enterprise of the government of India has released a policy named “Automotive Mission Plan” (AMP) 2006-16.

Let us quote some "recommended interventions” from the plan:

Investment Support
In order to spur further growth, the Industry has requested that the automotive industry may be brought under the purview of existing incentive structure (which exist for other sectors of the economy or which are available in some of the competing countries). Some of the specific policies, that Industry has requested for consideration includes:

Tax holiday for Automotive Industry for investment exceeding Rs.500 crore (as given to power projects, firms engaged in exports, EOUs, infrastructure projects, etc.)
• One-stop clearance for FDI proposals in automotive sector including the local clearances required for setting up manufacturing facilities.
Tax deductions of 100 per cent of export profits.
Deduction of 30 per cent of net (total) income for 10 years for new industrial undertakings.
• Concession of Import duty on machinery for setting up of new plant or capacity expansion
Deduction of 50 per cent on foreign exchange earnings by automotive companies (like Construction companies, hotels, etc.)

• State Government to be urged to offer the following:

Preferential allotment of land
to automotive plants as is given to IT sector by different State governments
Ensuring Continuous uninterrupted power supply as is done by many states to some sectors
Captive Generation in the sector could be promoted, for instance, by exemption of Electricity Duty for five years as is done for biotech industry in some states.

On the issue of Labour Law Reforms Industry has submitted that :
(i) Labour laws adversely impact competitiveness despite being a low labour cost economy.
(ii) There are 45 Central Acts and 16 associated rules that deal directly with labour. There are others Acts that indirectly deal with labour, like the Boilers Act (1923), the Collection of Statistics Act (1953), the Dangerous Machines (Regulations) Act (1983) and Emigration Act (1983). There are total 154 labour laws.
(iii) Some of the recommendations made by the Industry are as follows:

(a) Factories Act, 1948: The State Government using its powers under Section 65(2) of the Factories Act may grant exemption to all EOUs/ SEZs from all provisions of Section 51, 52, 54 and 56 of the Act. Thus, the working hours should be increased from 48 to 60 per week (Section 51), from 9 to 11 per day (Section 54) and spread over from 10.5 to 13.0 hours per day (Section 56). Such exemptions will be a progressive step in enhancing the competitiveness of the industry.

(b) The Contract Labour (Regulation and abolition) Act, 1970: Fixed term contractual employment may be permitted in relation to the business needs. Contract labour will be allowed in core areas for temporary periods to meet the market demand. Fixed term employment of contracts could eventually be allowed in core activities.

(c) The provision 9-A in the Industrial Disputes Act requires a stringent process for Item number 10 and 11. Some flexibility will be required to recruit workforce as per the demand fluctuation in the market.

(d) The Second National Labour Commission recommendation that prior permission should not be required in respect of lay-off and retrenchment in an establishment of any employment size would be examined for its implementation in auto sector. The prior permission required in case of a unit employing more than 100 employees for closure of the establishment may be examined to raise it to 300.”

This plan is the road map from the government of India for development of the automobile industry.
So, what does this road map essentially mean?

Huge tax deductions, ‘preferential land allocations’ and other facilities such as
Exemption of electricity duty for five years.

Obviously this is to satisfy the thirst of multinational companies and comprador capitalists who are dieing to secure maximum profit.

And what would be for us who will work there?

Labours will work 11 hours a day.
Labours will be recruited on contractual basis as much as possible.

But, this is not enough.

Finally, the companies will have the authority to lay-off and retrenchment of any employment size whenever they wish.

Does the government have any role other than securing the plunder and exploitation at the highest level?

What do you think?

Battlefield Singur erupts yet again

SINGUR/KOLKATA: In a fresh spurt of violence, Naxalites and SUCI members, backed by a group of villagers including women, torched five and uprooted more than 30 posts surrounding the Tata Motors' small-car factory site in Singur on Sunday. They clashed with the police, in intervals that continued till late Sunday evening at Bajemelia, against the Buddhadeb government's land acquisition drive. The police fired tear-gas shells and also used rubber bullets to disperse the mob that took shelter in the villages only to come back a little later with household articles and kerosene.

Trouble broke out at 11 in the morning when a motley crowd headed towards the fencing from three different points. Paschimbanga Ganatantrik Mahila Khetmajoor Samity president Anuradha Talwar led a group of 75-100 protesting villagers. Naxal leader Amitava Bhattacharya was leading a rally, while Becharam Manna, convener of the Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee organised another rally at Bajemelia. CPI(M-L) activists were also with him.

The policemen on duty were few in numbers. And before a huge police force from the Durgapur Expressway camp could reach the spot, the protesters led by women clashed with the police with brickbats and started torching the posts along the fencing and uprooted many of them. "The government can't take away our lands at gunpoint," one of the protesters said.

Eight cops were injured in the clash, Hooghly SP Supratim Sarkar said. The protesters had sneaked into the villages on Saturday late night and held a secret meeting with the villagers, apparently without the knowledge of the district administration. Interestingly, the district intelligence branch and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation officials had warned the district administration of a fresh confrontation. Mamata will go to Singur on Monday and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind's Sidiquallah Chowdhury is planning a stir in Singur on February 7, the CPM is planning a gathering on February 10.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Fact finding report on Nandigram

A team consisting of Adrish Das, Chiraranjan Paul, Panchali Ray, Sandip Sinha and Rajesh Datta visited Nandigram of East Midnapore on 22-24 January, 2007 to ascertain the present situation there.

Download the report

Friday, February 2, 2007

Peasants clash with police in Barnala

Now we see the influence of Singur and Nandigram in Channi, Punjab.

Chandigarh, Jan 31: Agitating farmers here made an attempt to break the boundary wall of a factory at Channi village in Barnala today forcing police to fire tear gas shells, Sahara Samay sources said.

Interacting with newsmen, Barnala police chief Naresh Kumar said: "A group of about 1,000 farmers tried to break the boundary wall of the factory of the Trident group of companies. Police only fired some tear gas shells to disperse the farmers and succeeded in disbursing them".

He said the situation could have become volatile, "but the police took every care to handle the situation and we managed to prevail upon the farmers".

On being questioned whether the farmers were protesting the acquisition of their lands in the area, Kumar said, "they have some demands, but our main concern is to maintain the law and order, which we did. As far their demands, that is for the government to see".


Condition of guards in Singur

Now it is known to everybody that the West Bengal industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) has the responsibility to guard the fence of the acquired land of Singur as the agent of TATA. WBIDC has recruited 350 guards on a daily wage basis. Thanks to CPM’s fascist propaganda machinery that we knew the wage; it is Rs 68/- daily.

Can you imagine the condition of these guards now?

First couple of days after recruitment they received their wages. Then the administration promised to pay on weekly basis instead of daily. Then, after almost two months have passed and they didn’t receive single coin.

Till now CPM and government are claiming that this plant will bring development in Singur and open the scope of employment. We can see that the scope of employment doesn’t secure the wages in hand. And it is one of the policies of exploitation.

Sing a song for Singur

Sing a song for Singur.
Ring the bell for Singur.
Fire the flame for Singur.
Be united, be united
Be united for Singur.

Hear the voice of Singur.
Raise your voice for Singur.
Fight for rights of Singur.
Be united, be united
Be united for Singur.

The name of rage is Singur.
The name of courage is Singur.
The name of blaze is Singur.
Be united, be united
Be united for Singur.

Join the struggle in Singur.
Free the land of Singur.
Be united, be united
Be united for Singur.

Lyrics and Composition : Rajesh Datta
Bharater Manabatabadi Samity,
31st December, 2006

The State Machine At Singur

The state machine moves inexorably. On the one hand is the armed police, the Rapid Action Force, the Combat Force- names galore for a well armed army, who are paid for by the tax payers of Singur and all other citizens of the country. They are being paid to protect the interests of a company (the Tatas). They protect the building up of one corporate’s property at the expense of many rural workers and farmers. On the other hand are farmers, rural workers and their families in Singur, who are fighting an unequal battle with the might of the state and the Tatas.

Since the 10th of January, the people of Singur have tried burning down the fence on five separate occasions at separate spots. They have met with an immediate rush by the police to the fence and a dousing of flames. The Tatas were prevented from entering the area by groups of militant women on 15th January. There was a procession by about 3000 people on 26th January. In reply to the Tatas’ Bhumi Puja (land consecration ceremony), the people performed the Shradha or death ceremony of the Tatas. Today, on the 31st, the people of Singur have asked their children and women to organise a protest. There have been cases filed against 4-6 people in the last 2 weeks and a couple were taken into custody on the 28th. One of them is still in jail. Two local youth clubs were raided on the 25th of January by the police on the pretext that they were harbouring weapons . Nothing was found.

Section 144 was lifted in Singur finally on the 28th night, but no let up has been there in the police presence. The CPI(M) immediately took out a procession of about 300-400 people on the 29th . A concrete wall is being quickly put into place, with police protection. Benoy Konar has said that if Mamta Banerjee or Medha Patkar enter areas where land is being acquired the CPI(M)’s women wing will greet them with a show of their buttocks! Tarit Topdar has threatened to stop the entry of agitators into the area with the formation of a wall of CPI(M) cadres.

The people of Singur are frustrated and fed up. After the Nandigram experience many now feel it was a mistake to have been peaceful in their agitation. So far, not one injury of any consequence has been caused to anyone in the police or amongst those supporting the Tatas. There have on the other hand been three deaths/murders amongst those opposing them - Rajkumar Bhul, Tapasi Malik and Tapasi Malik’s uncle.

The question that all of us would like to ask the CPI(M) and the Tatas – is it more bloodshed that they want before they stop? Will a civil war like Nandigram have to start? Will one or more of the people who are opposing the project have to die in their attempts to resist before the concrete fence stops?

As citizens of a democratic country we demand from both Tatas and the CPI(M) – you must speak to the agitating people and address their grievances . Please stop behaving like machines that have no hearts or minds.

We also appeal to all of you to put pressure in all ways possible on the Tatas, the CPI(M) and the other Left partners (Forward Bloc, RSP and CPI). Please insist that a dialogue must be take place with the agitating people.
Paschim Banga Khet Majur Samity

This blog doubts whether we are citizens of a democratic country in true sense.