Govt. to probe Nandigram clash

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/govt-to-probe-nandigra…

Sougata Mukhopadhyay, CNN-IBN, Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 22:54

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

VIOLENCE SRIKES: The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash.

Nandigram: At least 11 people were dead in clashes on Wednesday between villagers and police in Nandigram. The Rajya Sabha was forced to adjourn over it and the Home ministry is investigating the incident.

The administration however, was once again taken by surprise by the resistance offered after a gap of three months.

When police contingents tried to enter Nandigram, villagers resisted and reportedly started pelting stones and hurling crude bombs. And police started firing in retaliation.

“The police faced heavy brick bating. When it stopped bombs were hurled. Villagers even fired at the police and this forced the police to fire in retaliation,” says chairman, Left Front, Biman Bose.

The West Bengal government has not made an official statement on the incident but the Left has made it clear that no land is being acquired in Nandigram.

Five gram panchayats in Block I of Nandigram have been out of bounds for the administration for the past two-and-a-half months.

The government says land-acquisition cannot become a pretext to cut off Nandigram from the rest of the state.

But then violence seems to be the only possible outcome every time the state uses force and the police instead of getting into a dialogue with the villagers.

The Trinamool Congress has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday protesting Wednesday s incident, forcing board examinations in the state to be rescheduled.

The question that remains unanswered is what led the government to precipitate the clash. Was it another administrative blunder and how much would it cost?

The answer to the question may be found in about a year when panchayat elections take place in Bengal.

(With inputs from Aniruddha Maitra)

Nandigram: CPM faces political backlash

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slu…


CPM faces political backlashSandeep Phukan
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (New Delhi):

The Nandigram violence on Wednesday has resulted in a strong political backlash against the CPM.
Soon after the news of protesters being killed broke, Opposition MLAs stormed out of the West Bengal Assembly. In fact, the political shockwaves of the violence reached Parliament too.
The significance of the incident was made clearer when even smaller Left parties had no hesitation in criticizing the CPM.
The CPI’s General Secretary AB Bardhan led the charge. “The kind of police action at Nandigram is unheard of in Left rule, which I condemn severely,” Bardhan told State Secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.
“What can we say when our own government doesn’t listen to its allies,” said Abani Roy, RSP MP.
Mounting pressure
Just last week the West Bengal CM had something to cheer about as the Prime Minister praised his efforts on industrialization. But now the Centre is not sitting back, and it has now demanded a report from the state police.
The Congress, in fact, has stepped up pressure on the Left even though the two parties are allies at the Centre.
“I have spoken to CPI leader AB Bardhan. He is also concerned,” said Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has demanded a judicial inquiry as they believe the West Bengal government is trying to forcibly suppress protests.
“The CPM has brutally lathicharged and fired upon farmers in West Bengal,” said Rajnath Singh, BJP President.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has once before apologized for his party’s bungling of the Nandigram situation when violence broke out following a CPM MP’s attempt to acquire land for the SEZ.
But now, the violence on Wednesday has perhaps sparked off a much bigger political crisis for the CPM.

Nandigram: CPM faces political backlash

http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slu…


CPM faces political backlashSandeep Phukan
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (New Delhi):

The Nandigram violence on Wednesday has resulted in a strong political backlash against the CPM.
Soon after the news of protesters being killed broke, Opposition MLAs stormed out of the West Bengal Assembly. In fact, the political shockwaves of the violence reached Parliament too.
The significance of the incident was made clearer when even smaller Left parties had no hesitation in criticizing the CPM.
The CPI’s General Secretary AB Bardhan led the charge. “The kind of police action at Nandigram is unheard of in Left rule, which I condemn severely,” Bardhan told State Secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.
“What can we say when our own government doesn’t listen to its allies,” said Abani Roy, RSP MP.
Mounting pressure
Just last week the West Bengal CM had something to cheer about as the Prime Minister praised his efforts on industrialization. But now the Centre is not sitting back, and it has now demanded a report from the state police.
The Congress, in fact, has stepped up pressure on the Left even though the two parties are allies at the Centre.
“I have spoken to CPI leader AB Bardhan. He is also concerned,” said Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA has demanded a judicial inquiry as they believe the West Bengal government is trying to forcibly suppress protests.
“The CPM has brutally lathicharged and fired upon farmers in West Bengal,” said Rajnath Singh, BJP President.
The West Bengal Chief Minister has once before apologized for his party’s bungling of the Nandigram situation when violence broke out following a CPM MP’s attempt to acquire land for the SEZ.
But now, the violence on Wednesday has perhaps sparked off a much bigger political crisis for the CPM.

Nadigram violence kills 14

http://www.ndtv.com/topstories/showtopstory.asp?sl…


Nandigram violence kills 14<br />  - News India
Monideepa Banerjie, Bano Haralu, Sourav Sanyal
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 (Nandigram):

On Wednesday, once again violence erupted in Nandigram and at least 14 people have died and 30 injured in clashes between police and protesters.
The trouble started when a large police force tried to break the Nandigram blockade. However, they were confronted by a 5000-strong mob which began hurling bricks on them.
The police resorted with teargas and a mild lathicharge and then rubber bullets. But when the villagers started shooting with pipe guns, the police opened fire.
The police have recovered large caches of arms and ammunition from the villages that they marched into. They have been unable to enter these villages for two months.
“We used loudhalers and mikes to announce that we are only entering the area to restore peace and law and order and not any other motive. But the mob did not just listen,” said AN Vohra, DG, West Bengal Police.
Bandh called
Mamata Banerjee, of course, is not buying the police version of events. She has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday to protest what she calls a government-sponsored blood-bath.
“There has been a mass killing, there has been a massacre. This is state sponsored blood war. The chief minister must resign, he must resign,” said Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Leader.
The Congress has backed the bandh call and even echoed her demand for President’s Rule in the state.
In fact, even the ruling Left Front is taken aback by the scale of the violence, and the CPI-M’s partners, including the RSP and Forward Bloc have demanded an emergency meeting which has now been scheduled for 6 pm (IST) on Thursday.
The March 16 bandh has forced the government to reschedule the state board’s higher secondary exams due to begin on Friday.
Friday’s exam will now be held on April 18 and the higher secondary exams will commence on March 19.
Meanwhile, the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has said that he will update the State Assembly on the Nandigram violence on Thursday.

Farmers wont buy Relience SEZ deal

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsN…

GIRISH KUBER

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2007 02:37:37 AM]

PEN: The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group’s relief and rehabilitation package for those affected by the Maha Mumbai SEZ near Mumbai doesn’t seem to have evoked much response. According to government sources, land transactions have not shown any significant pick-up since the announcement of the package. The company also admits that it has acquired just around 200 acres.
Compare this with the total land requirement of 35,000 acres (13,000 hectares), of which 10,000 acres would come as part of the Cidco-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZ. The rest, 25,000 acres, are being acquired for the Maha Mumbai SEZ. To speed up land procurement, the company had announced a relief and rehabilitation package on February 19. The package offers three options. First, the company will allocate 12.5% of the original land holding as developed land to the legal landholder. The second option is a one-time payment of Rs 10 lakh per acre of land. The third option is a payment of Rs 5,000 a month for the lifetime. The package also offers employment to a member of the family, to be nominated by the landowner.
As late as Monday the Reliance arm, Mumbai Integrated SEZ, claimed that farmers have welcomed the package and are queuing up to offer their land. However, after visiting a dozen villages (of the 45 villages identified for the twin SEZs)), ET learnt that the ground reality was quite different. “We will not surrender even an inch of our land,” said Suvarna Sakharam Patil, Sarpanch of Sarade village.
She is upset over two reasons. One, the company was eyeing her prime farm land. Second, the price Reliance paying is a pittance. When pointed out that RIL is offering as much as Rs 10 lakh per acre, she shot back: “What’s the big deal? Cidco was offering Rs 5 crore for the same piece of land. RIL offer is nothing compared to that.” Septuagenarian Balkrishna Tukaram Mhatre of Koroli village, raised another point. “Why should we give our land so that someone can trade it? RIL will resell our land at a premium. We will not let this happen,” he said.
He ridiculed the company’s employment offer. “They are promising job to only one in the family. As of now, my whole family, including all the sons, their wives and kids, are making a living out of the land. We earn enough to feed all. What will happen to the family if only one is assured a job, that too with a salary of Rs 5,000 a month,” he asked.
Mr Mhatre also came down heavily on Maharashtra government’s, what he calls, “dubious role” in the whole affair. “Why should the state have a soft corner for one company? The Maharashtra government should walk out of this. We will deal directly with the company.”
Tukaram Gharat from Dhakati Jui village also wants the government to keep out of the affair. “The government says our land is non-cultivable. If that is the case the region should have faced a serious agrarian crisis like Vidarbha where thousands of farmers have committed suicides. Where is the crisis in our region? On the contrary, we are sitting on one of the most fertile stretches of land in the state. We will not let this land slip out of our hand,” he said.
When contacted, state government officials refused to go on record on the tricky issue. However, an official from the state revenue department said on conditions of anonymity that no significant land transaction has been recorded by the department after the announcement of the relief and rehabilitation package. The revenue department is the central depository of all land records in the state.
The RIL spokesperson, however, disagreed. “The response to our package has been encouraging,” he said. According to him, the company has acquired nearly 200 acres of land since February 19, the day it announced the package. “The March 11 Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections somewhat slowed down the process. We expect things to speed up after March 15,” he said.

2 million in Gujarat displaced due to development projects: study

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsi…

FIGURE THIS: Vadodara-based Centre for Culture and Development lists displacements in Gujarat right from 1947 to 2004

Ayesha Khan

Vadodara, March 12: EVEN as a national debate rages on the rehabilitation package for Special Economic Zones (SEZs), a study by the Vadodara-based Centre for Culture and Development (CCD), is a stark reminder of the toll taken by displacements due to development projects. The study details all displacements in Gujarat from 1947 to 2004, including the ever-debatable Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), and says around 2 million people, a neat five percent of state’s population, were displaced as 32 lakh hectares of land was used up for development projects in all these years.

The study, also carried out in Orissa, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala, took two years to be completed in Gujarat. Lancy Lobo, sociologist and CCD director, said that the study becomes all the more necessary, as the country is still debating a National Rehabilitation Policy that has yet to see the light of day. Also, experts feel that with SSP hogging the limelight in Gujarat, equal focus is needed on the impact of other development projects, for industries, mines, sanctuaries, or even roads and transport systems, which have induced displacement.

The report, which was prepared after studying the state gazetteer, revenue records, using the Right to Information (RTI) Act and also carrying out field studies across the state to survey the condition of those displaced, will now be released.

According to the report, the land acquisition in Gujarat has been divided into four phases; first from 1947 till 1960, secondly during 1961-1980 where the focus was agriculture, industrial development and urbanisation, the ’80s decades witnessed agriculture bearing the brunt of development works, and from 1992-2004, the focus was again on agriculture through SSP, and industry through SEZs. And of the total land acquired, 61 per cent has been used for big and medium dams, 23 per cent for transport and communications, six per cent for industries, four per cent for urban development and a miniscule 2 per cent for human resources.

Interestingly, the study reports that it is after 1990 that the state witnessed a larger transition of cultivable lands for non-agricultural uses. The highest increase in land compensation in South Gujarat, along the national highway, was recorded during this period. But the per capita receipt in the region has declined, suggesting a greater displacement of the people in the wake of the industrialisation of the districts, i.e. Navsari and Valsad, affecting the tribals the most. At the same time, the highest compensation was recorded in Jamnagar for land acquired by the state government on behalf of industrial giants Reliance Industries Limited and Essar Limited. Land values also rose in other districts of Saurashtra and Kutch, like Bhavnagar and Rajkot, due to the quick development of the industries along the coasts and the State highway.

The quantum of acquisition has remained higher in backward districts, mostly due to cheap and easy availability of land. “This has resulted in trends such as the government acquiring more than 35 per cent of the geographical area in Narmada and Bharuch districts,” observed the report. “People have been neglected in the name of development and national interest. It is not just the economic cost, but social and cultural deprivation, which has to be addressed,” said Lobo.

Maximum displacements are from Central Gujarat
NEARLY 2.5 million persons in Gujarat, i.e., five percent of the total population of the state are affected or displaced. Sixty per cent of this figure is due to water-related projects, 23 per cent due to transport and communication systems; and 7 per cent is due to industries. Forty per cent of the 18,700 villages of Gujarat are affected, some partially and others totally.

About 4,32,636 families in Gujarat have been displaced so far due to various development projects. And the regional share of displaced families comes to 20.23 per cent in North Gujarat, 38:42 % in Central Gujarat, 32:30 % in South Gujarat and 10:5 % in Saurashtra and Kutch.

Source: Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodara

Resoulutions passed in 35th National Convention of Bharat Krishak Samaj

http://raagbhairav.blogspot.com/2007/03/resolution…
The 35th National Convention of Bharat Krishak Samaj was held at Erode (Tamilnadu) from 17th to 18th February, 2007. The following resolutions have been passed:
Minimum Support Price

The minimum support prices (MSPs) of different crops estimated by the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) and subsequently endorsed by the government are low and not remunerative. There is a need for up-gradation of the methods for estimation of real cost of production and arriving at the real remunerative prices. The process should be transparent and open to farmers.
Scrap SEZs, promote AEZs

Government should scrap all Special Economic Zones set-up on farmlands acquired from farmers against a mere compensation. SEZs should not be promoted; as such policy tends to usurp fertile farmlands leading to food security problems. Rather Government should promote and encourage Agri Export Zones (AEZs), which is aimed at integrated rural development.
Seed Bill-2004

If the government wants to re-introduce the “Seed Bill-2004”, it should incorporate the all recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, because seed is the basic need for food security which should not be surrendered to corporates & MNCs at any cost. Further there is no need for any new act for regulating the seed sector. The Plant Varieties Protection & Farmers Rights (PVP&FR) Act is sufficient to regulate the seed sector and should be the only law in the country. The PVP&FR Act should be further amended to provide greater protection to farmers’ rights. The PVP&FR Act is already TRIPS consistent and there is no need for a patent regime on micro-organisms, genes and other life forms.
Agricultural Credit

Rate of interest on all agricultural credit should be brought down to 4% and made uniformally applicable in every State. The loans to farmers should be waved off subsequent on crop failure.
Impact of WTO

Unfortunately Indian agriculture has been dragged into the ambit of the WTO and we have given market access for some agro produces at a time when the developed counties have distorted global prices by their huge support to their farm sector. In this situation Indian farmers cannot compete with the farmers in the developed world. Both EU and US have protected their markets through high tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers. The US through its recent Farm Bill 2007 has increased direct payments to farmers by 10% over the previous years. It has increased direct payments by $ 5.5 billion.
Unethical manipulations and distortions by developed countries in Agreement on Agriculture (A.O.A) and unequal globalisation have negatively impacted Indian agriculture. Government should work out strategy to rectify the inequalities and try to restore the legitimate demands of India pertaining to phasing out of all types of subsidies and support by developed countries, reduction of import tariff, rationalisation of trade imbalances, enhanced market access for India.
Special Product & Special Safeguard Mechanism

As the developed countries have not fulfilled their commitments in the agreement on agriculture for reducing their subsidies and support to the farm sector, India should not open up its markets. For Indian farmers every crop is a Special Product and not a matter for negotiation. If the government wants to save agriculture from any consequent disaster, it should fight for recognition of every crop as Special Product at the WTO and seek for effective application of special safeguard mechanism. If this is not possible then India should ask for restoration of the right to impose quantitative restrictions (QRs) on imports.

Technology Mission on Oil Seeds & Pulses

The Technology Mission on Oil Seeds & Pulses should be revived and reactivated on war-footing because Oil Seeds & Pulses are the vital pillars of National Economy.

Immediate Ban on all GM Crops

Worldwide there are reports of farmers being put to heavy losses on account of cultivation of GM crops. There is a conspiracy being hatched against farmers in the name of increasing production for food security by forcibly introducing genetically modified (GM) crops. India should learn lessons from the failure of GM crops across the world. Recently the US court has called for a review of the approvals of GM crops in that country.
The failure of Bt Cotton, financially crippling thousands of Cotton growers, impelling a large number of them unable to repay the debt to commit suicides by the farming community is a National shame. The Government should put immediate ban on commercial cultivation and trials of all GM crops in the country, because GM crops will cause health & environmental hazards and destruction of bio-diversity.
Marketing of Agro-produce

The free entry of corporates and multinationals in agriculture marketing has raised new problems. They purchase produce from farmers slightly higher than the MSP to capture the market and dismantle the government’s procurement system. Subsequently they hoard the stock, manipulate the market prices and sell at high prices. This is the major cause for the present rise in prices of essential commodities. The manipulations in the futures market is another cause for price rise. Thus the present rise in prices benefits only traders and corporates. Government should immediately ban futures trading on agriculture commodities and restrict direct entry of corporates and multinationals in agricultural marketing.
Imports of Agro-produce

With a view to contain rising prices, the government is encouraging import of agro produces. This measure will be detrimental to farmers’ interest in the long run and destroy country’s food security. Imports of agro commodities should not be encouraged when they are available in plenty in the country.
Food Standard & Safety Act

With a view to destroy the traditional food habits and culture and to encourage the processed junk food of the MNCs and discourage consumption of fresh food, the Food Standard & Safety Act has been brought in. This Act should be immediately repealed.
Subsidy

The government does not give any direct subsidy to farmers. Whatever minimum subsidy the government intends to give for agriculture should be given directly to farmers.

Irrigation facilities

The Government should plan the policies to recharge the level of ground water. The irrigation projects and schemes to be made on priorities and the funds allotted to state Govt’s should not be diverted to other heads. Irrigation projects and linking of rivers should not be done at a cost to the ecology. The projects displaced persons should be compensated in full.
Because the water is the lifeline of agriculture, therefore, it should be saved. The farmers should use the sprinkler and drip irrigation system for irrigation to save the water. The Government should give 50% subsidy on it directly to farmers. The Government should also ensure availability of electricity for agricultural purposes at concessional rates. Exempt Agro Machines, Tools, Equipments etc., from Excise & Vat.
Utility items like tractor, agricultural equipments & machinaries, drip and sprinkler irrigation installations, fertilizers, seeds and agro-chemicals should be kept out from the ambit of excise and vat. Also, the subsidy on them should be enhanced and given directly to the farmers.

Export of Organic Foods

There is an increasing demand and unlimited scope for t
he export of organic food across the world and Indian farmers are missing this opportunity. The Government should bear the cost of certification of organic produces, which is presently high, and beyond the reach of farmers. The National Horticultural Board & APEDA should bear this responsibility immediately. The Government should also give adequate level of subsidies for cultivation of organic produce and for encouraging their exports.

Testing Laboratories

Well equipped soil, fertilizer, agro-chemicals and seeds Testing Laboratories should be established in every District Headquarter of the Country for the benefit of the farmers.
Promotion of Agro based Industrial Units
Sustenance is just not possible from ever increasing fragmentation of family farms. The Government therefore, should come-up with need based and area specific comprehensive blue print on agro based small and cottage industrial units in the villages and provide adequate incentive and financial assistance to the enterprising public of the rural belt.

Agricultural Insurance

Agri-insurance schemes must be made very responsive and its scope should be enlarged and widened to cover all sorts of calamities and the losses inflicted on the farmers should be adequately compensated. The assessment of losses should be done at village level as a unit in consultation with local farmers. Crop insurance programme should cover all crops in all areas of the country.

Employment Generation in Rural Belt

To generate employment opportunities in the rural belt, the Government should provide ready financial and infrastructural assistance to the farmers for dairy farming, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry and bee keeping etc.

Agricultural Research

The cost of production has increased phenomenally due to the introduction of capital-intensive unsustainable agriculture. The use of costly chemicals has not only degraded the soil health and factor productivity.
Requisites of Indian agriculture and needs of the peasantry must be given top priority in the formulation of R/D policies. The Government should refrain from thrusting alien technologies on the farming community. Agri scientists should study traditional farming system and upgrade them, if necessary for implementation in farmers field. All farm policies and researches should be done in consultation with local farmers of the area.
Farmers’ representation

We demand that the Central and the State Governments should co-opt farmer leaders in all decision making bodies related to agriculture so as to make the policies more realistic, effective and action-oriented.
US-India Knowledge Initiative Agreement on Agriculture

Indo-US Knowledge Initiative Agreement on Agriculture should be immediately scraped as this treaty is designed to surrender country’s food security and research to US Government and US based multinationals.