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Singur: A Public Hearing Report on Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

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  • Goldy George
    Dear Friends: I am herewith forwarding a report of the public hearing held in a place called Singur against land grabbing. Recently the government of India
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2006
      Dear Friends:
      I am herewith forwarding a report of the public hearing held in a place called Singur against land grabbing. Recently the government of India have passed a new policy according to which the govern can take away land from anyone in any part of the country with a size of not less than 500 acres. It is known as 'Special Economic Zones' (SEZs). These land would be handed over to private companies in which they are free to do anything and everything. In Singur it is meant for the Tatas. This style of land grabbing is basically under the guise of national development and the most funny aspect is that in the boundaries of these land there won't be any law of the entire country that would be active.
      This means that it is not only against the entire constitutional norms of the country but also it is at large a gross violation of human rights and other justice concerns. Singur is one of such places in West Bengal, which ironically falls within the armpit of the most progressive so called governments in India led by the Marxist party. The party and its government all alone had gone ahead with a brutish apprising against the people who had been struggling to save their land.
      The most ridiculous part of this entire story is that the land entitlers all of them live in Kolkatta well placed and they are willing to give of their land to the government without any protest or problem. The worst fact of the story is that it is the tenents and sharecroppers to whom it is their life and livelihood. It is this group of people who are fighting for their survival and life. Majority of them belong to 'Dalit and Adivasi' background.
      This is a report of one of the public hearings that took place in Singur. There are many more SEZs in India number more than 520 in all the states. This is going to be a major challenge to all democratic and peaceful groups in the days to come
      Warm regards

      >   C/o Chemical Mazdoor Sabha, Haji Habib Building,
      > Naigaon Cross Road,
      >   Dadar (E) Mumbai 400014 P. No. 022-24150529
      > OF SINGUR
      >     The background
      >     Singur,  the area with thickly populated, mostly
      > farming rural communities, is  not more than 40 kms
      > away from Kolkata, the capital of the
      Left Front
      > ruled-state, West Bengal. As in any other rural part
      > of India, the  habitat offers a diversity of
      > occupations pursued by the population for
      > generations – agriculturalists (landholding farmers
      > and farm  labourers), artisans, small traders and
      > other self-employed like share  croppers, landless
      > migrants and resident labourers.
      >     As  in the rural hinterland of all cities,
      > especially the large metropolis,  across the
      > country, here too, democratic spaces, social,
      > economic, and  geographical have been occupied– with
      > the resources of the region  having been
      > redistributed, land-use pattern changed over years
      > and  decades. Not only did this happen through
      > voluntary mobility of the  people for jobs and
      > opportunities in and
      near Kolkata, but also due to
      > the land acquired or purchased by the State for
      > various public projects  and by the private
      > investors taking over the land for non-agricultural
      > business. As long as the processes of change were
      > acceptable to the  people, in spite of economic and
      > social compulsions, inequality within  and pull to
      > push from outside, there was no conflict over the
      > scenario  of transformation at a pace, manageable
      > for the most.
      >     The  conflict over the land takeover in Singur
      > by the government of West  Bengal was begun by the
      > newly elected Left front government's CM, Shri
      > Buddhadev Bhattacharya's declaration that about 1000
      > acres of land in  the villages, Gopalnagar,
      > Beraberi, Bajemelia, Khaser Bheri and Singher  Bheri
      > was
      to be acquired under the British Land
      > Acquisition Act (1894)  within months, for a Tata's
      > cheap automobile factory.
      >     The  news from Singur and Kolkata informed every
      > one that the local farmers  and workers, especially
      > women, had decided to protest and not give  their
      > land but drive away the corporates. Men and Women,
      > united, were  successful in keeping away the
      > officials. Dharnas to rallies, open  strikes to
      > home-based fasts and various forms of struggle were
      > resorted  to by the local, would-be-affected people
      > with the various human rights  defenders and
      > peoples' organizations for democratic development.
      > The  small and large political parties in opposition
      > especially the  Trinamool Congress and the Socialist
      > Unity
      Centre of India (SUCI), also  played a major
      > role in mobilizing people and representing them in
      > and  outside the democratic forum of the state
      > assembly. Tata's officials  during their visit to
      > the area were chased away, yet the swords  remained
      > hanging over their heads; the conflict worsened and
      > was not  resolved.
      >     It  was in this context, when determination of
      > the government to go ahead  was expressed, the
      > Singur-based mass organizations of the affected,
      > Krishi Bhumi Raksha Committee and "Samhati Udyog"-an
      > alliance of about  ten organizations including the
      > long serving Association for the  Protection of
      > Democratic Rights, NAPM, Khet Mazdoor Samiti, MKP,
      > Nari  Atyachar Virodhi Manch and others decided to
      > organize a
      Public Hearing  in Singur area and
      > invited us to be members of the Panel. A number of
      > other organizations endorsed the hearing that took
      > place at Gopalnagar  on October 27, 2006. We
      > accepted the invitation promptly with an  intention
      > to investigate into the vision and issues raised by
      > the  farmers here in Singur, related to the
      > ideological arguments made in  the public debate
      > over present form of industrialization to SEZs in
      > the  country and if possible, help resolve the
      > conflict.
      >     The Hearing:
      >     We,  the members of the Panel, met to receive
      > the first briefing on the  objectives and modus
      > operandi of the Public Hearing from the host
      > organizers which were discussed further and answers
      > to the
      following  questions sought:
      >    What  is the socio-economic profile of the Singur
      > block in general and the  villages / communities to
      > be affected / displaced due to Tata Motors in
      > particular?
      >    What  is Tata Motor project – production plan,
      > economics, its proposal as  well as Memorandum of
      > Understanding or other contracts / agreements  with
      > the West Bengal Government? What dealings if any,
      > have already  taken place pertaining to the project?
      >    What  has been the process of planning the
      > project – how transparent and  participatory has it
      > been and was the consent of the affected persons
      > sought?
      >    What  is the perception of the common people –
      > farmers,
      labourers and others  affected, of the Tata
      > Project, the State's role and the process till
      > date, including land acquisition?
      >    Has there been State Repression during the
      > peoples' struggle and how far was it justified?
      >    Can  the Project bring in better life to the
      > people of Singur? What is their  share in the
      > benefits? What is the land-use policy and the
      > rehabilitation policy and plan that is officially
      > declared?
      >    How  do the Left Front government and the parties
      > view the Project and the  peoples' struggle? What is
      > the politics involved in the struggle and  the
      > State's response?
      >    What are the implications of Singur Project and
      > the struggle for future industrialization in West
      > Bengal and
      >    What could be the next step?
      >     The  Public Hearing was organized on October 27,
      > 2006, in an open square in  Gopalnagar where a large
      > crowd of the Project affected women and men  was
      > gathered along with a few hundred activists
      > belonging to a wider  spectrum of peoples'
      > organizations. Chairs were kept reserved for the
      > invitees from the West Bengal government, including
      > the Chief Minister,  and the Ministers for
      > Industries, Agriculture, Land reforms as well as
      > the senior officials in the district administration
      > (A sample letter of  invitation: Annx A). None of
      > them turned up and the Chairs remained  vacant
      > throughout the Hearing.
      >     With  a welcome and background presentation, Mr
      > Amidyuti Kumar, a senior  activist of APDR and
      > Sanhati Udyog and one of the supporters of Krishi
      > Jami Raksha Samiti, described the aims and
      > objectives of the Hearing  and its modus operandi.
      > The floor was then opened to the local  residents.
      > The presentation began with a comprehensive
      > deposition by Mr  Becha Ram Manna, one of the
      > leaders of the organisation, Krishi Jami  Raksha
      > Samiti, the organization at the forefront of the
      > movement. The  local residents spoke with great
      > articulation, vivid description,  determination and
      > a vision, but also with anguish and pain. Others
      > included landholders, joint landholders, recorded
      > sharecroppers  (bargadars), unregistered bargadars,
      > agricultural labourers and other  self-employed.
      > Some senior activists, eminent
      educationists and
      > advocates joined them. (A list of selected speakers
      > and a gist of their  depositions before the panel is
      > annexed as Annexure B)
      >     The facts that emerged include the following:
      >    There  are more than 10,000 families who live on
      > the 1000 acres of land and  other natural resources
      > to be acquisitioned and destroyed for the  upcoming
      > Tata Motors (small, cheap car production) Project.
      > They  include about 6000 landholders, almost 1200
      > registered share-croppers,  hundred unregistered
      > sharecroppers. Others residing in the area since
      > generations are landless labourers, artisans, small
      > traders. There are  thousands of regular, seasonal
      > migrant workers who also live on the  same
      >    The  land records and the records of rights,
      > including those related to  mutation for the area,
      > are not updated since years, even 2 to 3  decades. A
      > few cases such as one of Ramachandra Koley of
      > Gopalnagar  were pointed out: in which the land is
      > being legally acquired by the  State for the private
      > industry, yet the sale of land 20 years and more
      > ago is not recorded in the name of purchasers,
      > creating complication in  land acquisition process
      > and stalling payment of compensation.
      >    The  land to be affected is the prime
      > agricultural land with multiple  cropping, growing
      > paddy,

      Dalit Study Circle, A unit of Dalit Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh
      Creation of a casteless and peaceful society is indeed the first step towards just, egalitarian, and harmonious society. A society of equals, neither unequal nor more-equals, beyond the strings of caste, class, gender, race, etc. Otherwise it leads to social oppression, political exploitation, economic deprivation, cultural domination, gender discrimination, class isolation, deliberate exclusion. Lets’ believe in a society beyond this. Dalit Mukti Morcha is a mass based Dalit Organisation in Chhattisgarh. For further information on DMM, write to dalitmuktimorcha@...

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