Government programmes draw flak at mmP meet

With the successive governments giving up their responsibilities and cutting down the social welfare activities and the Planning Commission is not thinking of long-term plans, the people have to reclaim their future because the projects and programmes being proposed and implemented would affect a larger number of people, Sreedhar Ramamurthy, chairperson of mine, minerals and People (mmP), said here on Thursday. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day fourth general assembly of mmP at the Samata’s Balamitra complex, which is being attended by representatives of several NGOs and people’s organisations across the country.

Impact of corridor

Everywhere land was being taken over and people displaced. Owing to proposed industrial corridor between Mumbai and Delhi, 14 per cent of the country’s population would be affected as the corridor would come up over 150 km area on either side of the highway between the two cities.

“We could imagine the situation after this corridor is completed,” Mr. Sreedhar said.

Referring to the Mine, Minerals Regulation Bill pending in Parliament, he said that due to the efforts of the mmP, the government was ready to allot a share to the local people in the profits of a project but due to pressure exerted by the industries, it was now planning to allot a percentage to be given to the district mineral fund.

Ravi Rebbapragada, general secretary of mmP and executive director of Samata, felt that struggles would prevent the government from going ahead with its projects that displace the people and deny them their share in the natural resources. He cited the example of campaign and agitation against bauxite mining in this area, which could not take off even after MoU was reached between the government and the private party. At the same time, though the government cancelled the bauxite lease due to Samata judgment, it did not proceed beyond that to assure that bauxite mining would never take place, he pointed out.

“It is also necessary for us to continue our agitations and at the same time understand the moves of the government and checkmate its procedures. NGOs have to learn this strategy”, Mr. Ravi said.

Gandhian and president of Samata K.S. Sastry said in the background of exploitation of natural resources under market conditions which was worsening the lives of people, it should be remembered that Gandhiji apprehended this situation long ago and cautioned people against destruction of nature and its resources.

“Gandhi viewed a community’s culture as its soul or spirit and its natural habitat as its body. The two formed an indissoluble unity”, Mr. Sastry said.

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