The National Alliance of People’s Movements along with many other movements joined hands under the banner of ‘Sangharsh’ and opposed the renewed attempts by the UPA government to re-introduce the lapsed Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill 2009 and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2009, in the wake of protests by farmers against unjust acquisition in Uttar Pradesh. Some interesting revelations were also made about the Navi Mumbai Airport project. So what all happened when the who’s who of social crusaders came together? It might have received least publicity and most citizens might not have even been aware that social crusaders who are fighting against the “capitalists-pro” policies being framed by those in power were in Navi Mumbai. And when social crusaders of the stature of Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Surekha Dalvi, Suniti S.R, Madhuresh Kumar, Anand Mazgaonkar, Bhau Vispute, Abba Kamble, Jamilaben along with their legal counsel Advocate Y P Singh were on the same platform, it’s not difficult to understand what would have been the impact of their sheer presence, let alone the effect of what they spoke. All these leaders of mass public movements were in Navi Mumbai to address the two days meet of the “Jan Andolan National Co-ordination Committee”. The event marked the National Alliance of People’s Movements along with many other movements joining hands under the banner of ‘Sangharsh’ to oppose the attempts by the UPA government to re-introduce the lapsed “Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill 2009” and “Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2009”. A very interesting revelation was made by Y P Singh when he informed that according to the “Environment Protection Act of 1986”, a single stone cannot be laid for any project without clearance of the Environment Impact Report of the project. While the Navi Mumbai Airport Project is being stalled on this very ground of the Environment Impact Report, surprisingly the Amby Valley Project and the Lavassa city’s that has proclaimed 25000 hectares project along with other major eco-sensitive and environment damaging projects are on without the said Environment Impact Report clearance. The Environment Impact Report clearance demands two very significant compliance * Rehabilitation of the displaced or Project Affected and * Ecology and Environment concerns Y P Singh said that the state had cleared the Panvel site for the airport project, following, which politicians invested money in the same area, which has now become the bottleneck against the Airport Project. In other words, it has become a game of who wins between commercial interests of politicians and environmental concerns. On the other hand on the Lavassa city project, it was alleged that the project was violating Environment Act and that Supriya Sule, daughter of Union Minister Sharad Pawar, and her husband Sadanand Sule were directors in the Lavassa City Project in 2004 when the work started without environment clearance, which is a criminal offence punishable with 5 years imprisonment. The Sule couple resigned in 2006 and yet no action has been taken against them or any other directors, all of whom are responsible. Speaking to the media, Medha Patkar said that they has demanded investigations in the Lavasa project but questioned why the state never made the investigations public. Patkar said that everyone knows who is shielding this project and that is why people from Baramati have even gone to court. Addressing the gathering, Medha Patkar informed that UPA Chief Sonia Gandhi had agreed to the draft a bill that incorporated the progressive elements of rural development but questioned why it was not being taken up in Lok Sabha. She demanded a comprehensive Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill that enunciates the principles of least displacement, just rehabilitation and a de-centralized development planning based on Article 243 of the constitution, PESA 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006 the British era act will continue to be used to benefit capitalists and private entities in land grab.. The National Alliance of People’s Movements will now work with other movements of the country under the banner of ‘Sangharsh’ to oppose the re-introduction of the lapsed Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill 2009 and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2009, which Medha Patkar said would only give away to capitalists and state government easily snatching away farmers and tribals land. The Jan Andolan also opposed the demolition of structures till 2000 and alleged that while encroachments by slums in Thane District were being targeted, the illegal constructions of multi-storied towers were spared. Two tribal crusaders who are braving the alleged Lavasa City land grabbers Leelabai Margale and Thumabai Walekar were also present at the Jan Andolan and shared horrifying stories of the politicians – government nexus that was forcefully taking away lands from tribals. It’s a brave battle that social crusaders Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Surekha Dalvi and scores of people’s movement leaders are fighting. It is also the only hope for immediate suspension of the acquisition of fertile agricultural land and its exploitation for commercial purposes that is the root cause of the food security threat that the nation faces today. With Political Editor Vishwarath Nayar, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
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