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Tribal, Kisans Misery :STOP DISPLACEMENT POLICIES, by Suraj Saraf, 2 Feb, 2011 Print E-mail
Open Forum New Delhi, 2 February 2011 Tribal, Kisans Misery STOP DISPLACEMENT POLICIESBy Suraj Saraf Displacement oriented development policies are causing great misery to peasants, forest dwellers and other rural communities. Consequently, promoting only corporate interests at the cost of millions of children of lesser Gods.  Indeed, the 71-day All India Kisan Swaraj Yatra to cry a halt to this seriously flawed development policy which toured the country to focus attention on this anomaly recently had highlighted the serious agriculture crisis and emphasized the need to protect farmers’ rights over their resources.  Touring 100 districts in 20 States, the yatra supported the struggle for sustainable agriculture and registered a strong protest against the approach of policy makers who, they said, wanted to displace farmers and create business opportunities for big multi-nationals. In this process the country’s agricultural sovereignty would be seriously compromised. “Isn’t it a national shame that more than two lakh farmers, unable to bear adversities and debts, committed suicide and million are struggling to make both ends meet everyday,”   said the yatra’s leader Kavita Kuruganti. Her mission is to bring the challenges faced by the agriculture and rural economy to the Government’s attention.  Specially, farmers displacement and grievances relating to input subsidies, organic farming, minimum support prices, overall neglect of the farming sector, flagrant violation of farmers’ rights in various States and genetically modified food. Further, the yatra demanded immediate annulment of the agreement with Monsanto Company, a legislation on acquisition of farmers lands, appointment of a Farmer’s Income Commission, a law protecting peasants’ rights over natural resources and granting autonomy to agricultural research institutions. Towards that end, it proclaimed the farmers right over farming and food. Importantly, the yatra called for a comprehensive new path for agriculture that would provide farmers livelihood, keep their soil fertile, poison-free food and food security. Already, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has assured them of Government’s support to end the “sufferings of farmers and examining proposals for a Kisan Swaraj policy.”  Not only farmers but also tribals are facing the same situation. Whereby lands which should have passed on to them under the Forest Rights Act, are being used by corporates for mining, commercial crops et al. Notwithstanding, the Government is proactive in finding a remedy to this situation.  According to tribal rights activists, commercial crops plantation is resulting in tribals being deprived of their livelihood. As they depend on forest produce especially non-wood products. Today, the Center has asked States to ensure that tribals are not evicted from national parks and sanctuaries till their rights under Forest Rights Act are settled.  The Union Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria has written to tribal populated States that “critical wild-life habitats in national parks and sanctuaries had still to be determined and notified thus and no action could be taken in this regard. No eviction and resettlement is permissible till all formalities are completed,” he wrote. Notable too, is the Mining Ministry’s action in stalling bauxite mining in the tribal Arky in Visakhapatnam region.  Recall, the Union Government approved the Mines and Minerals (Dev) Bill draft prepared on the 2008 National Mineral Policy directions and recommendations by the Hooda Committee along-with a Group of Ministers. Namely, this asked companies to share 26% of their profits with the tribal people whose lands are required or who are affected by mining projects. This was a sequel to the storm raised over the eviction of tribals in the name of development.  Further, the Union Minister of Mine Handique assured the tribals that the Government was contemplating addressing the issue of alienation and rehabilitation whereby the Bill would provide for dealing with economic balance in mining, tackle illegal mining, discourage and prevent sub-optimal attention for correctives.  Adding, that the proposed National Mining Regulatory Authority would have the powers to inspect and detect, investigate and prosecute cases of illegal mining. The Centre too would have the power to terminate the lease if the State Government did not act and the lease holder would also become ineligible to secure the lease in future.  Towards that end, the farmers passed a resolution against unscientific mining and asked the Government to set up a regulatory authority conducive to technology and investments and provide security of tenure to the concessionaires. In order to increase employment and integrate locals with the Administration, they advocated the need to impart tribals with some basic education so that they could be hired as community forest officers on a seasonal basis.  This apart, taking strong exception to a recent agreement signed by the Rajasthan Government with    multi-national Monsanto, entrusting it the task of seed production and processing, R&D and farmers development, stated a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Prof. Vyas, “this pact would bring the State’s farmers under the US company’s control. “There was no need to shift to focus away from the State’s investment in agriculture as the network of credit, research, marketing and extension institutions developed with private participation had benefited only big and influential farmers. We know by experience that private players always give preference to commercial crops and neglect staples”.  The noted economist added, “approach involving less input, more output would benefit small and marginal farmers amidst the shrinking size of land holdings. The ‘euphoria’ visible both in Government machinery and among the agriculturists after this year’s good monsoon rains should not give way to complacency.”  According to the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, “The Green Gaurds” scheme would be incorporated in the Green India Mission, as one of the 8 missions to fight climate change. The Missions would have non- permanent wage workers for intensive forest management.  There duties would include fire management, handling invasive species, pests and diseases, climate change that had worsened many of the tribals problems. These part-time workers would supplement the Departments under- staffed teams, improve forest adaptation to the climate change and provide well-paid employment to tribals in critical areas.  In sum, the fundamental questions vis-à-vis the industrial system of agriculture dictated by narrow corporate interests of maximum profit and market control needs to be rejected. Given that diabolical GM and hybrid seeds as also poisonous chemicals ruin India’s biodiversity, economy and people’s health. ---- INFA  (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance) 
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