Friday, December 30, 2011

एफ डी अई: विनाशकाले विपरीध बुद्धी (पूर्वार्ध)

(मार्क्सवादी कम्म्युनिस्ट पक्षाच्या पुस्तिकेचा पहिला भाग या अंकात प्रकाशित करीत आहोत)

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This is a part of the document; the full document can be read in English at

Friday, August 19, 2011

Comrade M. K. Pandhe passes away

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member and long-time President of CITU, Comrade M.K. Pandhe died at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in New Delhi a little after midnight on Friday following a cardiac arrest. He was 86.

Comrade Pandhe was admitted to the hospital around 8 p.m. after he complained of chest pain. His end came at 12.20 a.m. Saturday.

Born July 11, 1925 in Pune, Pandhe joined the undivided Communist Party in 1943 and rose through the ranks to become a secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), a trade union wing, in 1966.

He joined the CPI-M after the division of the Communist Party in 1965 and was elected secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in 1970.

He was elected to the CPI-M central committee in 1978 and took over as CITU general secretary in 1990.

Pandhe, a PhD from Pune's Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, became a CPI-M politburo member in 1998. A year later he became the CITU president.

A brief life history below:
  • Born on July 11, 1925 at Pune, Maharashtra
  • M.A (Pune University), Ph.D from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.
  • Joined the Communist Party in 1943
  • Secretary Solapur Students Union (1943)
  • Went Underground during 1948-51 for 27 months
  •  Elected Secretary Solapur City Committee of CPI
  • Elected Secretary Goa Vimochan Samity, Sholapur Branch in 1955
  • Joined Central office of AITUC in 1958 and Elected Secretary in 1966
  • In-charge Parliamentary Party office from 1964 to 1969
  • Went underground for 14 months during 1965-66
  • Coopted into the underground CC after arrest of leadership
  • Elected Secretary CITU in 1970
  • Elected to the Central Committee in 1978 At the Jalandhar Congress
  • Elected CITU General Secretary in 1990
  • Elected to the Polit Bureau in 1998 at the Kolkata Congress
  • Elected President of CITU in 1999

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maharashtra: Police firing at Maval kills three peasants

Shubha Shamim

On August 9, 1942, our people declared at the August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai that the British should Quit India. This day was later named ‘Kranti Din’. Many struggles are taken up on that day every year to commemorate the events of 1942. On the same day this year, when the peasants from the Maval tehsil of Pune district called for a ‘Maval Bandh’, little did they know that they would be facing the police of their own country, who would be transformed into their predecessors from the times before Independence!

The Maval tehsil situated in the Western Ghats is known for its heavy rains and hilly, green terrain. The region is also known for numerous dams – some built by private companies and used for their (proposed) hydro electric power projects, and some by the government primarily for irrigation and drinking purposes. These have been built over the period of the last century in different decades. Despite the time span one experience remains common for the local peasants – that they are promised compensation, alternative land, jobs, water and rehabilitation. But the promises remain unfulfilled after their land is snatched. There are instances where the people have not got any rehabilitation packages even after 40 years.

Take the example of the Pavana dam, around the water of which the current agitation was centred. Built in 1971, it took the lands from peasants of 40 villages along with their homes and livelihoods. Many of the displaced came to settle in the adjoining plains in the same tehsil. Each family was given three to four guntha of land for their housing (1 guntha is approximately 1000 square feet). Some of the people affected by the private dams were not given land even for housing. The compensation paid was paltry and many were forcibly evicted. They became landless labourers and worked in the farms, poultries or factories that came up in the region. Some of them migrated to Mumbai or Pune, worked hard for years and bought back some of the Maval land and they started cultivating on the waters of the same Pavana river. 

This second generation of peasants had to face similar eviction all over again in the 1990s when the land they had bought through their own hard labour had to be parted with for the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Now it is the turn of the third generation to sacrifice all over again for so-called ‘development’. They were again threatened by the authorities that they would have to part with some of their remaining land along with the water they were using from the Pavana dam to quench the thirst of their land. The state government was proposing to take the major share of the water to the Pimpri-Chinchwad industrial township adjoining Pune in a closed pipeline. The idea of a closed pipeline was to ensure that the farmers should not avail of any water of the Pavana dam, whether by way of the run off after the dam or the water that percolates and is used through wells at the banks of open canals. Besides this, their land would also be taken for the pipeline.

This is the story of Shamrao Tupe (killed by the Pune police on August 9, 2011) and many others like him. Evictions without any compensation from generation to generation, over and over again.

The issue of denying water to the rural people and giving it to cities for drinking or for industries is a delicate issue. There has to be a balance between the two and it should be done in a democratic and participatory way. In this case, the procedure adopted completely lacked transparency and was thoroughly arbitrary and heavy-handed. The farmers were never told how much land they would have to part with, or how much water would be given to the city and how much would be left for them. The unrest had been brewing for the past three years. The last straw came when, without taking the people into confidence, earth moving vehicles were brought into Baur village and the work of digging was started by the administration. The people reacted by giving a call for Maval bandh and a Rasta Roko on August 9 by an All Party Agitation Committee of Maval.

On the fateful day people gathered on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway near Baur village and set up a road-block. A public meeting was held at the spot. Just when the programme was coming to an end the police tried to grab the local leaders who were in the midst of giving a speech. The people at first tried to reason with the police and said that they would disperse within ten minutes – and the police was well aware of this. But they pulled two local leaders Eknath Tile and Dnyaneshwar Dalvi and tried to drag them away. Naturally the people resisted and tried to prevent the police from arresting their leaders. Instead of trying to disperse the people with standard procedures like lathi charge, tear gas etc, most shockingly the police did the most gruesome thing and fired at people from close range – that too directly at the neck and chest and not below the waist. Three people died on the spot and 18 were injured by the bullets. Kanta Thakar of village Yelase, Moreshwar Sathe of Shivane and Shamrao Tupe of Sadawali lost their lives on the spot. But the police were not satisfied only with the firing. The police who are supposed to control riots, vented their ire by indulging in a mindless rampage, smashing the vehicles standing by. The shocking actions of the Pune rural police, recorded by live television, press photographers and other civilians, have sent shock waves through not just Maval or Pune, but through people from across the country.


On August 12, a state level delegation of the CPI(M) visited all the three villages of the martyrs and the hospitals where the injured peasants were admitted. A press conference was held in the evening at Pune where the Party’s stand was put forth. The members of the team were: Dr Ashok Dhawale, State Secretary, CPI(M); Rajaram Ozare, MLA, CPI(M); J P Gavit, ex-MLA, CPI(M) and State President, AIKS; Ajit Abhyankar, State Secretariat member and Pune District Secretary, CPI(M): Kiran Moghe, State President, AIDWA; Shubha Shamim, State General Secretary, Anganwadi Karmachari Sanghatana (CITU); Kisan Gujar, State General Secretary, AIKS; Rajan Kshirsagar, State General Secretary, AIAWU; Adv Milind Sahasrabuddhe, Pune district committee member, CPI(M); Mahendra Thorat, District Secretary, Pune AIKS; Siddharthya Roy – Joint Secretary, Pune DYFI; Anita Kute, Anganwadi worker, Kamshet, Maval; Sunita Joshi, Anganwadi worker, Kamshet, Maval; Mangal Kalekar, Anganwadi worker, Yelase, Maval and four local Anganwadi workers.

The visits to the three villages Yelase, Shivane and Sadawali were facilitated by the Anganwadi workers who are close relatives of some of the victims of the police firing and many of them are themselves affected by various projects.

Kanta Thakar’s village – Yelase

The team met the husband, the son and the brothers of Kanta Thakar. Kanta’s son was an eye witness to the firing and narrated the incident. He said, “People were staging a dharna on the Expressway and nobody indulged in any violence – it was never on the agenda. Trouble started when Eknath Tile was being pulled away by the police and the police refused to be reasonable. When the police got violent many crossed the fence and started to go away from the road including myself and my mother – who was approximately six feet ahead of me. She turned around to see whether I was coming or not, and the moment she turned, a bullet hit her on the chest and she fell.” He also said that when they got his mother’s body after the post mortem, the police had decamped with all the ornaments that she was wearing, including her mangalsutra!

Kanta Thakar’s anguished brother trained his guns on the political leaders and asked “Where were the leaders who had given a call of Maval Bandh at the time of the Rasta Roko? It was an all party call and the leaders were supposed to be there, but no big leader turned up. Except for Dnyaneshwar Dalvi and Eknath Tile nobody was present. People are asking now why Sanjay Bhegade the BJP MLA of Maval did not turn up for the protest, although it was he who had appealed to the people to gather there. He had arranged the vehicles for people in the villages to go to the spot of protest but he himself was not to be seen!”

Moreshwar Sathe’s village – Shivane

At the time of the visit nearly the whole village had gathered to console Ranjanabai Sathe, the widow of Moreshwar Sathe, whom the police had murdered brutally. Many of the villagers were present at the spot and all of them narrated the ghastly story unanimously. They said that he did not indulge in any violence at all. He was just participating in the protest and when the police started dispersing them, they all started moving towards the fence so that they could go away. Suddenly the police got hold of Moreshwar Sathe and a couple of others. They tried to push the tall and well-built Sathe inside the police van and they almost managed, but Sathe fought back and they seemed to change their mind and let him go. When Moreshwar Sathe started walking away, they suddenly opened fire, the bullet hit him in the neck and he fell down.

Ranjana Sathe, the widow of Moreshwar is not keeping well for a month and is suffering from jaundice. Moreshwar was looking after his wife and told her on the fateful morning that he had to go with the villagers for the protest, but he would come back soon and take her to the hospital. She waited for him to come back. He never came, but news of a bullet hitting him came first and was followed by the news of his demise. She has not eaten anything since and her sister-in-law has been trying to force-feed her, but to no avail. She has become so fragile that her daughter is worried that they have already lost their father, and may have to face the tragedy of losing their mother as well. The paradox is that Moreshwar was not in the list of affected farmers because he owned only 8 gunthas of land, and that too in a stretch which was not very arable. He and his brother depended solely on daily wage labour, and his brother had migrated to Pimpri for his living.

The villagers discussed the problems they were facing after the firing. Some of them had gone there on their vehicles, but the police damaged their vehicles, seized them and also took the parked vehicles to the police station. The police have threatened that if they go there to claim them, they will book them instead for rioting and causing damage to property. The police have not entered their village, sensing the wrath of the villagers, but they have gone to adjoining villages like Kothurne and have started arresting people at random, picking them up from their homes in a bid to terrorise them and their family members so that they abandon their homes and flee elsewhere, bringing the opposition to an end.

Shamrao Tupe’s village - Sadawali

In Sadawali too, people had gathered to console Housabai (the 22 year-old widow of Shamrao), his brothers and their ailing mother. One of their relatives Anil Bhaguji Tupe was an eyewitness to the horrifying incident and narrated the happenings in detail. He too corroborated the story of Moreshwar Sathe being pushed by the police in the van, thrown out and shot at a point blank range in the neck. The police had caught Anil as well, but he resisted, succeeded in freeing himself, went behind the van, but saw that bullets were fired on the group in which his relatives were trying to get away from the police. He saw his nephew Yogesh Tupe hit by a bullet, so he ran towards him and tried to take him away from the spot. Yogesh was later admitted to hospital and is recovering. Ajit Choudhari and Surekha Kude from the same village were also injured in the police firing and they were admitted to hospital. But Shamrao Tupe was not so lucky. He was shot straight in the neck and died on the spot.

Many are still admitted to hospitals in and around Pune city. The people were agitated that no leader from the Congress or the NCP had turned up to meet the aggrieved family members, neither had any senior or junior government official turned up to enquire after them. The people were afraid that once the ten days of mourning are over, the police will unleash terror in their village. The police would terrorise them so that nobody would dare to participate in any struggle in the future, and thus give impunity to the ruling party politicians in their plans to grab first the water and then the land and use it for commercial purposes.


The CPI(M) team has made the following observations and has come to the conclusions given below:
  1. The police firing was totally uncalled for and unjustified, since there was no threat to the lives of police personnel that compelled them to open fire. The police could have avoided the firing and resorted to lathi-charge or teargas shelling to disperse the crowd.
  2. Even if we accept for a moment that the police were forced to resort to firing, they clearly violated the police manual that directs them to fire below the waist. In this case the police flouted the rules and fired on the people, chasing them when they were dispersing or standing peacefully in groups.
  3. Police fired from close range on people, which resulted in the death of three, including a woman, and serious injuries to 18.
  4. The police damaged the vehicles parked by the side of the road and resorted to rioting themselves. They also seized the vehicles which were parked at some distance from the spot.
  5. Police have registered cases of attempt to murder and rioting against nearly 1400 people. Now they may arrest anybody they feel like and implicate anybody in these false cases. They have already arrested eight persons and are now searching for the local leaders.
  6. The local people have alleged that the leaders of the ruling NCP, especially Ajit Pawar, Deputy CM and Guardian Minister of Pune district, had instructed the police to break the back of the agitation at any cost and held him responsible for the firing. Without his patronage it would not have been possible for the police to resort to such draconian measures.
  7. The local people have also blamed the leaders of the main opposition party, the BJP, for abdicating their responsibility to lead from the front, due to which the situation worsened. Some of the leaders, including Sanjay Bhegade, the local BJP MLA who had called for the Maval Bandh and Rasta Roko, did not turn up for the event themselves. Had they been present, the situation could have been different.
  8. The people are afraid that, not content with killing their near and dear ones, the police will now terrorise the people and try to demoralise them by implicating them in false cases. The ruling party leaders, especially Ajit Pawar, have stakes in land deals in Pimpri-Chinchwad and other rural areas of Pune district. They do not want any peoples’ struggles against the loss of livelihood, land and water.
  9. The people are agitated and hurt because no ruling party leader or senior government officer has visited the villages to study the situation or pacify the people. They fear that the promise of compensation to the families of the victims of police firing will be forgotten, just like the promises given to their forefathers affected by the dams.
  10. The six constables and two officers who have been suspended are juniors, but the seniormost officer, the District Superintendent of Police Sandip Karnik (who gave the orders for firing and shot at the people himself) has not been held responsible for the firing. He should be strictly penalized.

The same evening, at a jam-packed press conference held in Pune city, state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale and district secretary Ajit Abhyankar denounced the Congress-NCP state government and its police for the totally unwarranted firing and made the following demands:

  1. The state government should give a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the firing, and take responsibility for the education and employment of the children of the deceased.
  2. The state government should give a compensation of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh to those injured, and pay for the entire medical treatment of all the injured. Right now they are paying for their own treatment.
  3. All police officers and constables responsible for the firing should be removed from service and cases under IPC 302 should be lodged against them.
  4. There should be complete rehabilitation of all those affected by the Pavana dam on a priority basis.
  5. All efforts by the government to take away the right to water of the peasants should be stopped.
  6. An enquiry into all those factories responsible for pollution of the local rivers should be conducted and strict action taken against them.
  7. The greed of the builder lobby in Pimpri Chinchwad, which demands water under the plea of drinking water for the city, should be exposed and curbed.
  8. A meeting of all concerned should be convened to discuss and decide on the water distribution from the Pavana dam. Until this time, the construction of the closed pipeline should be stopped.
  9. All police cases on the agitators should be withdrawn and police repression on, and threats to, the people in the Maval area should be brought to an end.
The AIKS and the CPI(M) has promised all possible help to the affected people, has encouraged them to take forward their struggles for justice and assured them that the Party and its activists will be by their side at all times.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

AIKS agitation: Stop excluding poor from BPL lists

Ashok Dhawale

After the major statewide struggle for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) that was led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in Maharashtra in January-February 2011 and which mobilised over one lakh peasants (see report in People’s Democracy, March 21 to 27, 2011 and Loklahar, March 28 to April 3, 2011) another big statewide struggle led by the AIKS recently was for the inclusion of names of the poor in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) lists. This is another burning issue of the rural poor in Maharashtra. Hence this struggle also evoked massive response and once again, over one lakh peasants came out on the streets.

Burning issue of the rural poor

It is a notorious fact that BPL surveys have been fraudulent, often excluding the poor and including the rich in the BPL lists. For this reason, the 2002 BPL survey, which eventually came into force in 2006, was challenged in the Supreme Court. In the Writ Petition (Civil) No 196 of 2001, People’s Union of Civil Liberties versus Union of India & others, the Supreme Court ruled on February 14, 2006 that, provision will be made to allow new names to be added and ineligible names deleted from the BPL list 2002 on a continuous basis during the period that the list will be applicable.

The Maharashtra state government issued a government resolution dated August 27, 2010 that laid down the procedure for implementing this decision of the Supreme Court. The first appeal by an individual who wished to be included in the BPL list is to be made to the tehsildar who will inquire into its merit and will decide whether to accept or reject the appeal. If the appeal is rejected, the second appeal is to be made to the district Collector.

However, in line with the thoroughly anti-people, neoliberal policies of the UPA-2 central government, the state government said that there will be no increase in the total number of BPL beneficiaries that have been arbitrarily decided by the Planning Commission. If new deserving entrants are to be admitted into the BPL lists, the same number of relatively better-off people will have to be excluded.

Poverty in Maharashtra

As per official figures, poverty in Maharashtra as per the revised official estimate of the Suresh Tendulkar Committee for 2004-05 is 38.1 per cent, which is 1 per cent more than the national average of 37.2. The state ranks fourth highest in poverty in the country after Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This revised estimate itself is faulty and unacceptable if we consider the Arjun Sengupta Committee findings, but that is another story.

Poverty in rural Maharashtra increased from 34.6 per cent in 1997, to 35.7 per cent in 2002, to 47.9 per cent in 2004-05, as per the revised estimate. This means that nearly half of rural Maharashtra is poor! Similarly, poverty in urban Maharashtra rose from 8.8 per cent in 1997, to 18.2 per cent in 2002, to 25.6 per cent in 2004-05, as per the revised estimate.

However, in the year 2010, of the total 215.95 lakh ration cards in Maharashtra, the number and percentage of various categories was as follows, according to the Economic Survey of Maharashtra, 2010-11: Antyodaya – 23.40 lakh (10.8 per cent), BPL – 43.75 lakh (20.3 per cent), Annapurna – 0.86 lakh (0.4 per cent), APL – 138.40 lakh (64.1 per cent), White – 9.54 lakh (4.4 per cent). This means that Antyodaya + BPL categories together came to just 31.1 per cent (67.15 lakh cards), which is much less than even the official poverty estimates.

According to the provisional figures of the 2011 Census, Maharashtra has a total population of 11.24 crore, ranking second in all states in India after Uttar Pradesh. Even considering the fraudulent poverty estimate of 38.1 per cent, 4.28 crore people are below the poverty line!

Hence, apart from the campaign for inclusion in the present BPL lists, there has to be a big struggle to increase the total quantum of the people under BPL, using realistic criteria in the new and dubious BPL census that is about to begin. Also, there has to be a struggle for the universalisation of the public distribution system and expansion of the doorstep ration scheme to ensure genuine food security. Along with this, the struggle for remunerative prices to the peasantry based on the cost of production has to be intensified.

Spontaneous response, massive rallies

It was with this basic position that the AIKS began the struggle. After holding tehsil-level workshops to explain the issue and the modus operandi of the struggle, hundreds of activists of the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha began a campaign of going to the rural poor, village to village. They filled up the BPL appeal forms as per the format given by the state government. Massive rallies of the rural poor on the tehsil offices across the state were held to submit these appeal forms to the government authorities. The struggle began from the Akole tehsil of Ahmednagar district and then spread to several other districts in the state.

The AIKS state council gave a call for statewide demonstrations on this issue on May 9 to submit the BPL appeal forms. This struggle elicited spontaneous response from the rural poor. Over one lakh poor peasants, agricultural labourers, unorganised rural workers and artisans took part in 35 tehsil-level demonstrations in 14 districts and over one lakh BPL appeal forms were submitted to the tehsildars. In Thane district, the struggle was jointly led by the AIKS, AIDWA and DYFI. The AIDWA in Ahmednagar district and the SFI in Pune district actively helped in the campaign. The local media gave excellent coverage to the rallies.  

The districtwise total mobilisation figures in this struggle were as follows: Thane – 33,000, Nashik – 31,000, Ahmednagar – 23,500, Pune – 16,000, Kolhapur – 3,500, Nanded – 3,000, Parbhani – 1,500, Beed – 1,000, Yavatmal – 500, Amravati – 350, Satara – 350, Sangli – 350, Solapur – 200, Hingoli – 200, Total – 1,14,450.

Some of the largest and most impressive rallies in this struggle on the BPL issue were as follows: Akole, Dist Ahmednagar – 13,000; Talasari, Dist Thane – 10,000; Junnar, Dist Pune – 10,000; Sangamner, Dist Ahmednagar – 7,000; Jawhar, Dist Thane – 7,000; Ambegaon, Dist Pune – 6,000; Kalwan, Dist Nashik – 5,000; Igatpuri, Dist Nashik – 5,000; Vikramgad, Dist Thane – 5,000; Sinnar, Dist Nashik – 4,000; Rahuri, Dist Ahmednagar – 3,500; Ichalkaranji, Dist Kolhapur – 3,500; Kinwat, Dist Nanded – 3,000; Chandwad, Dist Nashik – 3,000; Dindori, Dist Nashik – 3,000; Selu, Dist Parbhani – 1,500; Ashti, Dist Beed – 1,000.

Now pressure is being exerted by the AIKS on the tehsildars in the above districts to see to it that the talathis and gram sevaks are sent to the villages to actually conduct the inquiry about the appeal forms that have been submitted, so as to include them in the BPL lists.

Among the AIKS leaders who led the above actions were J P Gavit ex-MLA, Rajaram Ozare MLA, Kisan Gujar, Dr Ajit Nawale, Ratan Budhar, Barkya Mangat, Prin. A B Patil, Arjun Adey, Nanasaheb Pokale, Ramkrishna Shere, Uddhav Poul and Dr Ashok Dhawale (all AIKS state office-bearers), Vasant Dhadga, Savliram Pawar, Irfan Shaikh, Shivram Girandhala, Raja Gahala, Yashwant Ghatal, Subhash Nikam, Adv Natha Shingade, Amol Waghmare, Mahendra Thorat, Somnath Mali, Ashok Pekari, Sadashiv Sable, Sahebrao Ghode, Adv Dnyaneshwar Kakad, Balasaheb Walunj, Jijabai Ushir, Ashabai Jadhav, Devidas Adole, Namdev Rakshe, Hanuman Gunjal and Haribhau Tambe. CITU leaders Dr D L Karad, Ajit Abhyankar, Vasant Pawar, Edward Vartha and Ladak Kharpade, AIDWA leaders Mariam Dhawale, Hemlata Kom, Adv Vasudha Karad and Asha Naikwadi, DYFI leader Sunil Dhanwa and SFI leader Prashant Vidhate also worked for the success of, and addressed, some of these major rallies.            

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CPI (M) scores significant election victories in Maharashtra!

In the elections to several gram panchayats held on June 26 in Thane, Nashik and Nandurbar districts, the CPI(M) not only retained most of the gram panchayats that it had held earlier, but also won over 35 new ones, wresting them from opponents like the Congress, NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena. Particularly good results were achieved in the Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Vikramgad and Wada tehsils of Thane district and in the Surgana, Kalwan and Tryambakeshwar tehsils of Nashik district. The CPI (M) won a total of 107 gram panchayats – 60 in Nashik district, 42 in Thane district and 5 in Nandurbar district. Many of the winners in these gram panchayat elections are AIKS activists. 

Thane district: In Thane district, the Party won 42 GPs and 431 seats. 19 GPs were wrested from the opposition. In Talasari tehsil, of the 12 GPs that went to the polls it retained 9 of the 10 GPs held earlier by big majorities. Here the CPI(M) won 107 seats, the BJP won 25 and the NCP just 8. In the Dahanu tehsil, the Party won a total of 105 seats. It retained 4 of the 5 GPs held earlier and wrested 6 new GPs from the NCP. In the Jawhar tehsil, it won 60 seats, retained 4 of the 5 GPs held earlier and wrested 3 new ones. In the Vikramgad tehsil, it won 64 seats, retained 5 of the 6 GPs held earlier and wrested 4 new GPs. In the Wada tehsil, it won 60 seats, retained 1 of the 3 GPs held earlier and wrested 6 new ones. In the weaker Shahapur, Palghar and Mokhada tehsils, the Party won 35 seats.

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Nashik district: In Nashik district, the Party won 60 GPs and over 500 seats. 15 GPs were wrested from the opposition. In the Surgana tehsil, all the 58 GPs went to the polls. The CPI(M) won 36 GPs by a clear majority and 294 of the 532 total GP seats in the tehsil, leaving the combined opposition with only 22 GPs and 238 seats. In Surgana, the Party won all the 28 GPs that it had won earlier and wrested 8 new GPs from the combined opposition. In the Tryambakeshwar tehsil, the Party won 11 GPs, 3 more than last time, and over 100 seats. In the Kalwan tehsil it won 10 GPs. It won a couple of GPs in Peth and Dindori tehsils also.

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Nandurbar district: In Nandurbar district, the Party won 5 GPs, 4 in Shahada tehsil and 1 in Taloda tehsil. It won a number of seats in many GPs in the above two tehsils and also in Akkalkuwa tehsil.

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Earlier, on June 12, CPI (M) and AIKS activists also registered a sweeping victory in the elections to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) of Surgana tehsil in Nashik district by winning 15 of the 16 seats. The single seat we lost was also because of a toss, since the rival candidates had won the same number of votes. Here also we defeated the combined opposition panel of all bourgeois parties like the NCP, INC, BJP and SS. On June 26, in another election to the Hamaal Mapadi (headload workers) constituency in the Parbhani APMC, the CPI(M) scored a significant victory over its opponents and a rebel candidate.

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The significance of these victories was that they were won in an adverse political situation, in the wake of the defeat of the Left in West Bengal and Kerala a month and a half ago. This defeat was utilised to the fullest not only by the media to berate and slander the Left, but also directly by our opponents in all the above three districts in the election campaign. However, thousands of CPI(M) and AIKS activists successfully combated this motivated propaganda and worked hard to ensure these victories, which will stand us in good stead for the statewide Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections that are due in March 2012.

Monday, June 27, 2011

OBITUARY – Comrade Vinayak Gaikwad

Ashok Dhawale

Comrade Vinayak Gaikwad, member of the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee, secretary of the Party’s Buldana district committee, state vice president of the AIKS and former state president of the SFI, passed away at his home on June 22, 2011 due to a sudden heart attack. He was only 58 years old and leaves behind his wife Manda and daughter Sneha.

Vinayak Gaikwad was born in a peasant family on March 10, 1953 in his village Durgadaitya in the Sangrampur tehsil of Buldana district in the Vidarbha region. He did his MA in Political Science at Khamgaon in the same district. While a student, he founded the SFI in Buldana district in 1978 and successfully organised its second state conference at Khamgaon in 1979. He led several victorious student struggles and was elected state president of the SFI in the period from 1987 to 1990. He was also elected to the SFI central executive committee for two terms. He was among the SFI-DYFI delegates to the World Youth Festival held in Moscow in the then Soviet Union in 1988.
After working in the DYFI in the state leadership during the early 1990s, Vinayak joined the AIKS and led several struggles of the cotton growing peasants in Vidarbha. Along with his comrades, he was arrested on several occasions in the course of these struggles. During one such militant struggle of cotton farmers at Malkapur, the police resorted to a severe lathi-charge, in which an arm of the veteran AIKS leader Krishna Khopkar was fractured. Vinayak was among those who played a major role in the successful hosting of the 31st AIKS national conference at Nashik in January 2006. In 1999 he was elected AIKS state joint secretary and in 2009 as AIKS state vice president.
Vinayak Gaikwad, along with Mangala Singh Thakur, Dr Virendra Kavishwar, Dada Raipure, Prof Sadashiv Kulli and Narendra Kavishwar (another CPI(M) and AIKS leader who also passed away two months ago) took the lead in the formation of the CPI(M) in Buldana district in 1978. In the early 1990s, after leaving Khamgaon at the end of his SFI tenure, Vinayak went back to live in his village and, through painstaking efforts, built up the Party from scratch in his own Sangrampur tehsil and also in the adjoining Jalgaon Jamod tehsil. In 1995, Vinayak was elected district secretary of the CPI(M) and later the same year, he was elected to the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee. He was elected a delegate to the 19th Party Congress held at Coimbatore in 2008.
Vinayak was known and loved for his simple, selfless and straightforward nature. He built up a dedicated team of young Party activists throughout the district. He had a fine political grasp and sharp organisational sense, with an uncanny ability of observing and correctly evaluating cadres. In spite of coming from an extremely backward rural background, Vinayak always consciously opposed religious and obscurantist rituals and also all forms of caste, communal and gender discrimination.
On June 23, thousands of people and Party activists from all over the district came to his village and bade him a tearful farewell. A condolence message sent by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, with whom Vinayak had worked in his SFI days, was read out. Among those who addressed the condolence meeting were CPI(M) state secretary and AIKS CKC member Dr Ashok Dhawale, CPI(M) state secretariat member Manohar Muley, CPI(M) state committee member and AIKS state general secretary Kisan Gujar, CPI(M) Amravati district secretary Subhash Pandey, AIKS Nagpur district secretary Arun Latkar, CPI(M) Buldana district secretariat member and AIKS state vice president Dada Raipure, renowned physician Dr Virendra Kavishwar, CITU district leader Punjabrao Gaikwad, journalist Narendra Lanjewar, leaders of the PWP and other political parties.     
The CPI(M) and AIKS Maharashtra state committees pay heartfelt homage to the memory of Comrade Vinayak Gaikwad, an excellent, selfless and dedicated Communist fighter. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Interview: Land Acquisition Imperatives

We are happy to refer the readers to a brief video interview with Dr Smita Gupta, senior economist with the Institute of Human Development, New Delhi and someone who is actively involved with the activities of farmers' organisations. She comments here on the issues related to land acquisition in India.

This is a Newsclick production. We have borrowed it from

Monday, May 30, 2011

AIKS on the Rehabilitation And Resettlement Bill, 2007

The demand for a Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was based on the understanding that it is better to have a law since statute rights defined (or denied) in law are binding, while a R&R Policy would only have persuasive value that can be ignored by both the Government and Courts. Seen in this light, the present Bill is an important step towards recognizing rehabilitation and resettlement rights of displaced persons.

Unfortunately, however, the proposed Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 is toothless as it is full of platitudes without any binding provisions. The several conditions associated with rehabilitation and resettlement and the un-enforceability of different provisions render the proposed legislation ineffective. It focuses more on form and governance framework with a multitude of Committees and processes rather than granting substantive rights beyond recognition of status.

1. Extension to Entire Country: 

In the present form of the R&R Bill, the Government can bring the legislation into force at different points in time in different parts of the country.

Suggestion: The R&R Act must come into force in the entire country upon its notification.

2. Numerical Restrictions on the Number of Displaced Families: 

Presently, there are numerical restrictions of the number of displaced families for the applicability of the R&R Bill. Clause 20(1) suggests that an area would be declared as an affected area only in case of “involuntary displacement of four hundred or more families en masse in plain areas, or two hundred or more families en masse in tribal or hilly areas, DDP blocks or areas mentioned in the Fifth Schedule or Sixth Schedule to the Constitution”. These numerical restrictions are arbitrary.

Suggestion: These restrictions must be removed. All en masse displacements should come under the purview of the R&R Act. There can be some minimum number of displaced families (which must be lower than the present provision of 400 for plain areas and 200 for hilly areas) for the applicability of the provision for a Social Impact Assessment, but the provision of rehabilitation and resettlement should apply to displaced families in all cases.

3. Definition Of Affected Families And Areas:

a. The current definitions neglect common property resources on land from which people derive private income (like fish, weeds, minor forest produce, etc.) as well as sustain livelihoods (fodder, fuel, water, etc). Nor does it include habitats that go beyond private land use through cultivation or labour (farm and off-farm).

Suggestion: Common Property Resources and users must be included in the definitions.

b. The definition of “family” is seriously deficient from a gender perspective, since it subsumes adult unmarried women and unmarried dependent sisters within the natal family instead of treating them as independent families as in the case of all adult sons and brothers (married or single).

Suggestion: Adult unmarried women and unmarried dependent sisters should be treated at par with their male counterparts.

c. The current definitions limit the applicability of the R&R Act to “involuntary” acquisitions, implying thereby that market-based displacement shall be treated as “voluntary” displacement. However, market-based displacements are often distress-driven or forced.

Suggestion: All displacement, whether involuntary or voluntary, should be covered by the R&R Act.

d. The insistence on ‘continuous’ residence for a period of five years for being eligible will exclude several migrants workers who work away from their residences. Tribals who practice traditional modes of agriculture, involving temporary shifting from one place to another place every two-three years for cultivation of crops, and other nomadic forms of life, and other seasonal migrants may not be residing continuously for the required period in a particular place and hence not qualify as an “affected family”.

Suggestion: The criteria should be changed to residence for at least half the year for the past three years.

e. The R&R Bill repeatedly refers to Scheduled Tribes in occupation of forest land from prior to 2005, except in section 49(11), which refers to Other Traditional Forest Dwellers as well.

Suggestion: It should refer to all holders of forest rights under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

f. The definition of ‘affected area’ is narrow and restrictive, limited to the following three conditions:

(i) involuntary displacement due to acquisition of land

(ii) displacement of four hundred or more families en masse in plain areas, or two hundred or more families en masse in tribal or hilly areas, DDP blocks or areas in the Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule to the Constitution,

(iii) area of village or locality

When fewer persons are displaced, or when displacement is not ‘en masse’ but dispersed in time and space, or when the amended LAA permits 70 per cent acquisition through market purchases, or when the lands involved are outside the village or locality, the RRB will not come into operation. The definition of agricultural land too is flawed, as it does not include fallows, wasteland, culturable wasteland and land under agro-silvi-pastoral plants and agro-forestry. The exclusion of ‘land used for cutting of wood only’ is inexplicable.

Suggestion: “Affected Area” must include all areas of displacement irrespective of the cause, extent and frequency. The requirement of number of affected families for notification of affected areas is too high. This should be reduced to… families in case of plain areas and …families in case of tribal or hilly areas. All Blocks covered by the Drought Prone Areas Programme should be included.

g. There is only a top-down procedure for identification and verification of Project Affected Persons (PAPs). At the moment, the Administrator is required to conduct a Survey to identify PAPs, and allows for objections after completion of Survey.

Suggestion: There must instead be a procedure for application and verification of claims by people who claim to be affected. The verification process must involve the Gram Sabha. There must be a proper appeals process against faulty exclusion. The information of likely displacement in the declaration should be served as a notice on all ‘interested persons’ under Sec 4 of the LAA. In the case of land situated in or around a village, the declaration should be displayed on the notice board at the office of the panchayat within whose jurisdiction the land lies, and a notice board specially erected for this purpose on the land to be acquired. Affected areas must also include commons, habitats and forests.

4. Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

The provision for a Social Impact Assessment is welcome. But the process needs to be further strengthened in terms of scope, institutions and methodology.

Suggestion: SIA should be done by an Expert Committee comprising official, elected representatives, representatives of affected persons and non-official experts. It should be done in all cases of displacement involving… or more families. It should cover all categories of land acquisition permitted under the LAA either directly or as an adjunct. There should be no exemptions, in the name of defence or national security. It should examine the Project proposal on the basis of (i) public purpose, (ii) least displacing option (iii) costs and benefits. The SIA must cover any rights / activities covered by The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement requirements too must form a part of the consultations and requirements and expectations must be discussed. There must be consultations with the persons likely to be affected, the gram sabha (if the entire or substantial part of a gram panchayat is affected) or assembly of affected persons (if a small part of a gram panchayat is affected) after proactively providing relevant information. The SIA and the clearance must apply to the project as a whole and piecemeal clearance of applications should not be permitted.

The present R&R Bill also proposes to include a representative of the requiring body (i.e. the entity causing displacement) on the SIA expert group. This is an obvious conflict of interest, since they end up assessing their own project, and should therefore be removed.

5. Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authorities

The role and functions of the National Monitoring Committee proposed in the R&R Bill are in violation of the federal principles and structure. There are far too many Committees – seven from Project to Centre - which are needlessly dominated by officials and give a consultative role to the requiring body. This is undesirable. It is not at all clear who the Ombudsman is: an official or a non-official?

Suggestion: The R&R committees at various levels must not be dominated by officials and there must be a strong presence of elected representatives and of the affected families. The ‘formulation, execution and monitoring of the rehabilitation and resettlement Plan’ must be done in consultation with the affected persons and the final package must have their prior informed consent. Affected persons must be clearly informed about the extent to which the costs of R&R shall be realized from their compensation package under the LAA. The post-implementation social audits must be carried out by the gram sabha (if the entire or substantial part of a gram panchayat is affected) or assembly of affected persons (if a small part of a gram panchayat is affected).

6. R&R Package

The present R&R package does not ensure livelihood security for the displaced persons. The emphasis on lump sum cash compensation rather than sharing the benefits of the development process by creating sustainable and decent livelihood opportunities is disappointing. There are all kinds of numerical restrictions for the applicability of its provisions, which must be removed. It actually gives far less than what several Awards and state government policies have given in the past. Moreover, the provisions remain mostly recommendatory in nature rather than being binding.

Suggestions: (i) Employment for the displaced persons in the projects has been linked to the “availability of vacancies and suitability of the affected person for the employment”. If employment for displaced persons cannot be provided in a project, the affected persons must be provided guaranteed employment for 200 days each year at the statutory minimum wages for unskilled rural/urban labour. (ii) The provision which provides for rehabilitation of affected families displaced by linear acquisitions, says that they would only be provided if they become “landless or is reduced to the status of a ‘small’ or ‘marginal’ farmer”, failing which only ex-gratia payment which is not less than Rs 20,000 will be given. This is unduly restrictive and should be removed. (iii) References at several points to limiting certain types of compensation to only those below the poverty line (BPL) should be removed. (iv) Complete and not ‘adequate’ rehabilitation must precede displacement. (v) Fishing rights must be provided to PAPs in case of reservoirs. (vi) All assets/compensation must be in the joint name of spouses. (vii) The provision of land in irrigation projects should be compulsory. (viii) The option of lump sum payment in lieu of all entitlements must be deleted since it is effectively a nullifying clause.

7. Grievance Redressal

Besides banning access to Courts, the R&R Bill does very little by way of addressing grievances. The same officials who are acquiring the land and carrying out R&R are supposed to hear appeals against themselves. The R&R administration is all-powerful, with civil courts barred from admitting suits on matters that are the responsibility of the R&R administration, which include (1) Identification of “affected families”, (2) the resettlement plan and (3) the implementation of the plan. Thus, right-holders and their benefits are determined solely by the Government except if the process is violated.

Suggestion: The designated judicial bench that hears appeals in the LAA Bill must also have jurisdiction over the R&R Bill.

Monday, May 16, 2011

AIKS on the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007

(Land acquisition for non-agricultural development is inevitable in the course of economic growth and development. The real issues herein are about the fairness of the process, the purposes for which such acquisition is done, its democratic character,  its transparency and appropriate relief and rehabilitation measures for all affected by acquisition. The Government of India has come out with two draft bills in this regard. One is the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill (LAA Bill) and the other is the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2007 (R and R Bill). The AIKS has put forward a number of suggestions on both Bills to eliminate the anti-people provisions and strengthen pro-people aspects. Here we present the position of the AIKS on the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill. In the next post in the blog, we shall present AIKS’ position on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill.)


At the moment, the legal framework for land acquisition for public purpose is provided by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (LAA), last amended in 1984. The main purpose of the LAA under the British colonial administration was to acquire land in a quick, cheap and easy manner with little concern for adequate compensation and rehabilitation of landowners. Public purpose was essentially an administrative decision with opaque and authoritarian procedures with token avenues for appeal or objection. The 1984 amendments essentially did little more than bring Companies within the purview of the Act.

Over the years, judicial exposition has highlighted its numerous lacunae, as has the ground experience of its adverse impact on the livelihood of those giving up land and being displaced. The All India Kisan Sabha therefore believes that the Land Acquisition Act should be comprehensively amended to ensure that while pursuing genuine public interest, it is made more democratic, transparent and accountable, safeguarding the rights and interests of displaced persons and securing their livelihoods through improved and sustainable livelihood-generation and fair compensation. The Government’s proposed amendments to the LAA unfortunately, do not address several core deficiencies and anomalies, while introducing several amendments that are examples of the cure being worse than the disease.

While there are some positive features in the present Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 proposed by the Government, which needs to be further strengthened, there are some provisions, which are quite objectionable. These objectionable features include:
  • Redefining public purpose to include all private companies and entities and force the privatization of public services.
  • Allow un-scrutinized and un-monitored market-based land acquisition, thereby undermining the State and people’s right to interrogate public purpose
  • Reduce the amount of the compensation awarded by linking it to stamp value, registrations, etc.
  • In the name of fast-tracking, deny interested persons access to Courts by creating a separate Authority constituted by the Government itself with a clear merger of judicial and executive roles

The Government has also introduced the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 (RRB). The RRB should essentially deal with the process and components of resettlement and rehabilitation when there is displacement while the LAA should identify persons affected adversely by the land acquisition and land use change and compensate them after due process of scrutiny, consultation and appeal.


1. Narrow And Restricted Definition Of ‘Persons Interested’ with a Top-Down Bureaucratic Procedure for their Identification

Problem: The definition of interested persons covers only landowning peasants and tenant farmers, excluding landless agricultural labourers, collectors/users of common property resources, artisans and others servicing the farmers’ needs – persons whose livelihoods depend on the land. Additionally, the Collector is the sole Authority to identify ‘interested persons’ and there is no procedure for filing claims verifiable by the Gram Sabha and the Collector. Furthermore, the LAA deals with the landed and tenants while the RRB deals with the compensation package for the landless and other service providers through two different definitions. Finally, ambiguity in the definition of interested parties has resulted in Courts putting those who pay compensation at par with those who receive it.

Suggestion: Definition of interested persons in the LAA Bill should include the non-landed and non-cultivating persons dependent on the land and local economy for livelihoods and common property. The Act must contain a procedure for filing of claims and application for self-identification as interested person to eliminate wrong exclusion. There should be a single inclusive definition of ‘interested persons’ (LAA) and ‘affected family’ (RRB). Moreover, the rights of Objections, Appeals, etc. should only apply to those receiving compensation, not those who are acquiring the land.

2.     Exclusion of Common Property Resources from Assets and Land

Problem: The present version of the Act only estimates and compensates private property. Large-scale acquisition covers entire villages and their common property resources - tanks, grazing lands and village forests. Common property resources play a major role in supporting the livelihood of the villagers, specially the poorer ones.

Suggestion:  The loss of access to these common property resources too must be listed and compensated. They should be included in the Notification, Declaration and Compensation.

3.     Definition and Scrutiny of Public Purpose provides Sole and Absolute Prerogative of Executive/Administration without Consideration of Extent of Displacement

Problem: The “public purpose” needs to be properly defined. If the definition of “public purpose” is to remain as a purely administrative/executive prerogative, which is not subject to democratic and judicial scrutiny, the basic problem arising from the present LAA will not be addressed. Furthermore, no attempt is made to scrutinize the Project as the least displacing option in order to fulfill the stated “public purpose”. Finally, land is often acquired in the guise of a more plausible purpose and then transferred to some other use. This has not been properly addressed.

Government’s Proposed Amendment Clause 3(f)(iii).:  The proposed definition of ‘public purpose’ is made limited to the requirements of land for (i) strategic purposes relating to naval, military and Air force works or other work vital to the State, (ii) Land for infrastructure projects (including mining) and (iii) to the extent of 30% for the companies where they have already procured 70 per cent for a vague and all-inclusive “any other purpose useful to the general public”.

Critique of Government’s Proposed Amendment: (1) This severely restricts the scope of the State to fulfill pro-poor public purpose since it can no longer acquire land for inter alia, the schemes for planned development of villages and towns or for providing housing for landless and poor or for carrying out any educational, housing or health or land distribution schemes, leaving these services to the private sector; (2) Denies the 70 per cent whose lands are bought in the ‘market’ their due legal rights to compensation under the LAA and relief under the RRB, since they are outside the definition of ‘interested persons’ in the former and ‘affected family’ in the latter (since it is treated as voluntary dispossession and/or displacement through ‘free’ market contract); (3)Allows a free play of market forces resulting in large scale and cheap land alienation and dispossession in a context of acute rural distress through deceitful and forced land purchases by private entities and real estate speculators; (4) Reduces the Government to a formal rubber stamp with the ‘public purpose’ becoming a fait accompli, with the Project and its purpose effectively outside government examination thus pre-empting any a priori scrutiny of the proposed project as the least displacing one or as contributing to ‘public purpose’; (5) All-inclusive and vague nature of “any purpose useful to the general public” ensures that virtually any possible economic and non-economic activity can fit in.

Suggestion: These proposals should be completely rejected. Public purpose should be clearly and unambiguously defined and limited in the law to certain types of pro-poor, redistributive, employment-intensive and public good oriented activities, which are Government-owned to the extent of at least 50 per cent. The decision of what constitutes public purpose should be democratized and the legislature involved along with the PRIs. This should not remain in the hands of the executive alone. All project proposals should be scrutinized based on three yardsticks: (i) public purpose, (ii) least displacing and (iii) in accordance with land-use policy and plan. The mechanisms for this are: 
  • Social Impact Assessment by an Expert Committee with official, non-official and elected representatives.
  • State-level Project Approval Committee comprising elected representatives of all levels, experts and bureaucrats.
  • Public consultation with affected Gram Sabhas or Assemblies of interested persons in case an entire village is not affected
  • All transfer from one public purpose to another to require scrutiny of the new public purpose by Social Impact Assessment, Project Approval Committee and under Sec 5 to eliminate proxy acquisition.

4.     Land Acquisition through Surrogate Land Use Changes

Problem: Private companies and land speculators attempt backdoor land acquisition through benaami and other instruments and subsequently change land use, with or without post facto clearances, leaving landowners at the mercy of the market and speculators. These are usually in violation of the land use plans and laws of the relevant state, UT, Central or State governments.

Suggestion: The Act should define “major land use alteration” as a change in the purpose for which land is utilized and classified, including but not restricted to changes from agriculture (including fallows and wasteland) to non-agriculture, government-owned public land to privately leased or owned land, and forest to non-forest use, that exceeds the relevant agricultural land ceiling in the case of land use change from agriculture (including fallows, wastelands, etc.) to non-agriculture; or exceeds an area of fifty hectares in all other cases of change in land use, or violates the Land Use Plan of the relevant State or UT government or the concerned local government’s plans under 243 G. All such alterations in land use should require (1) Social Impact Study (2) prior prima facie approval subject to Sec 5 of the Act from the Project Approval Committee after SIAs and (3) MoUs to be signed with the Government. Subsequently, they should be treated as land acquisition to be brought under the provisions of the LAA, with the Government undertaking the land acquisition. Violations and un-scrutinized “major land use alterations” should invite penalties.

5.     Regulation of Private Companies to avoid Unscrupulous Land Acquisition

Problem: Part VII of the LAA Bill deals with private companies in a very limited set of cases. While the Government can, after 1984, acquire land for a Company as defined in the Act, the Companies are only required to state their ability and willingness to meet the cost of acquisition. There is a marked absence of the requirements and its due process in the case of such Projects. 

Government’s Proposed Amendment: The Government proposes to leave Companies entirely out of the purview of the Act and delete Part VII entirely except in cases specified under proposed Clause 3(f)(iii).

Critique of Government’s Proposed Amendment: The Government has basically allowed a free run to Companies and market-based land acquisition by bringing them under the definition of public purpose itself provided that at least 70 per cent of the land is acquired by them. Having done that, the Government too becomes free from its obligations to protect the interests of the peasantry and other land-dependents and common property users on the one hand and regulate land use and public purpose, on the other.

Suggestion: Acquisition by Companies and individuals should be brought strictly under the purview of the Act. Companies should first approach the Government with their proposals, and only after the public purpose and displacement is examined through Social Impact Assessment and the Project Approval Committee and given prima facie approval subject to Sec 5 of the Act, and a MoU signed, should the Government acquire the land for Companies through the provisions of the LAA.

6.  Compensation : Basis, Scope and Profit Sharing

Problem: The Act keeps acquisition costs low by an unfair and arbitrary method of evaluating the price of land and restrictive coverage of persons and assets resulting in very low compensation. This is achieved through five devices: (1) basing the valuation on past sale deeds that are officially recorded; the land prices in these deeds are often under-reported in order to escape taxes and duties and therefore do not reflect the operative market rates. (2) refusal to transfer any part of the gains of the higher values accruing from the proposed change in land use to the affected persons. (3) Payment of depreciated value for assets making it impossible to replace them. (4) The procurer (the Government) deciding the price, a system antithetical to a fair and democratic valuation. (5) Land-dependence through labour and services and common property resources as well as unrecorded occupancy is not compensated.

Government’s Proposed Amendment: The proposed Amendment 11B links compensation to ‘market’ value based on recorded transactions and officially determined stamp value which invariably undervalue real market rates. This results in the acquirer of land continuing to have an upper hand. The government also proposes an increase in solatium.

Critique of Government’s Proposed Amendment: This will make acquisition even cheaper and result in systematic undervaluation to underestimate project costs. It will override the entire Case Law that provides for calculation of the value on the basis of the highest exemplar amongst proximate land, where proximity is defined in terms of time, space, quality and area of the sale (and not averages). The increase in solatium is miserly and inadequate.

Suggestion: The Act must shift to a methodology in which compensation ensures livelihood security and improves living standards. The present proposal is one of market-based valuations, of which shares may be a part to a ‘fair’ valuation that is computed as the highest amongst the following:  the basis of market prices, replacement cost, augmented value and output value. This paradigm of calculating the compensation needs to change. The land prices must be determined on the basis of a Survey by an Evaluation Team which should include elected respresentatives and representatives of the ‘interested persons’ whose lands are being acquired besides the Collector and Government representatives. In addition, there must be higher solatium given the compulsory nature of the acquisition.

The affected persons should also get a share in the increased income arising from the change in land use, which is expressly prohibited in Section 24. Shares and Debentures should be given over and above the compensation, as a part of ‘profit-sharing’ and not as a portion of the compensation. For this, the State Governments should create a Corpus Fund/Depository which can manage the Shares and Debentures of the affected persons and provide them with a future stream of monthly/annual income. The award of shares and debentures should be made by the Expert Group undertaking the Social Impact. The arrangement should be such that the affected persons do not have to bear any risk of loss from the project, while they gain in case profits are being made.

Furthermore, there must be compensation for loss of livelihood and income of land-dependent workers, service providers, artisans, as well as loss of access to CPRs at four years minimum wages. All interested persons who loose their livelihood and/or land must be provided 200 days annual guaranteed employment at minimum wages as a part of their compensation and rehabilitation.

There should be reversion of unused land to original owners without recompense to the State.

7.     Timely and Comprehensive Information on Acquisition Details

Problem: Section 4 of the LAA provides for preliminary notification for proposed or likely acquisition, without the requirement of individual notice to the person concerned. However, the notices are published in the Gazette in newspapers to which people do not have access. The notices are vague and imprecise in terms of the exact land parcel involved, its categorization and description, the purpose of acquisition and the interested persons. It is therefore incapable of conveying a clear description of the land to be acquired, the very foundation on which objections can be submitted under Sec 5A of the Act. Since the Section does not require individual notices to all interested persons, there is no opportunity for the wrongly excluded to either know of their exclusion or object under section 5A.

Suggestion: The affected persons must be individually served the notification at the very beginning with complete description of land parcels and the conspicuous places in the locality too must be specified, to prevent it from becoming a mere formality. Furthermore, no notification should be made prior to the complete recognition and vesting of rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition Of Forest Rights) Act, 2007 if their rights are to be protected during land acquisition proceedings.

8. Objection, Appeal and Grievance Redressal

Problem: There are broadly seven deficiencies in the Act in relation to the appeals process: (1) information about the procedure and sequence, (2) locus standi or who can appeal, (3) the grounds on which appeals are permissible, (4) the time limitation within which appeals must be made (5) slow pace of dispute resolution and (6) the agency/body to which appeals can be made and (7) absence of democratic process for grievance redressal.

Government’s Proposed Amendment: The amendment proposes an Authority for the State and Centre comprising handpicked appointees of the relevant Government and brings all these matters outside the purview of Civil Courts.

Critique of Government’s Proposed Amendment: None of the existing problems except of slow pace of dispute resolution has been addressed by the proposed amendment. There are several problems with this. Firstly, the Constitution is based on a separation of functions between the legislature, executive and judiciary and it seems patently unfair and undemocratic that a body appointed by the executive will scrutinize its own decisions. It violates the basic premise of independent functioning of the judiciary. Secondly, denying access to Courts in this manner is not in keeping with the Constitution. Finally, if the Courts take too long, it is better to address that issue directly by increasing the size of the judiciary or simplifying procedures rather than bypassing the judiciary completely.

Suggestion: In the interest of justice and independence, a far better approach would be to increase the strength of the judiciary by creating a separate judicial bench for fast-tracking disputes on the Land Acquisition Act. The better option is a Designated Court presided over by a Judge appointed by the State. The Supreme Court must certainly have the authority to hear cases.

There should be procedural simplicity and fairness in the appeals and objections process and removal of unjust barriers to appeal. Time limitation should become less rigid for interested persons while requiring a time bound response from the Appellate Authority.

The Gram Sabhas should have more consultative and deliberative powers where entire villages are involved as shall assemblies of those affected where entire villages are not affected.

9. Emergency Powers

Problem: Under the ‘Emergency’ clause, land can be acquired without Enquiry and Objections or giving the interested persons an opportunity of being heard. In recent times, a lot of land has been acquired for corporate mining and infrastructure projects using this extraordinary power.

Suggestion: The Act must contain adequate safeguards against its misuse. Section 17(1) must be deleted.

10. Resettlement to Precede Displacement

Problem: Possession of land is often taken prior to rehabilitation and payment of due compensation.

Solution: The Government correctly proposes that people should not be dispossessed from their land until compensation has been paid. However, it is important to ensure that in all cases of displacement, rehabilitation and resettlement must precede the physical possession of the land by the acquirer.