Left parties to press for referring land acquisition bill to panel

Continuing her tirade against attempts by the UPA Government to adopt the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, in Parliament without addressing the concerns expressed by many, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Sunday accused Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh of dancing to the tune of the corporate lobby.

At a seminar on ‘Tribal issues: Problems and solutions’ organised as part of the two-day national executive meeting of Adivasi Adhikar Rashtra Manch here, she said Mr. Ramesh had moved 154 amendments to the original Bill without allowing any scrutiny. She said the Left parties would reiterate its demand both in and outside Parliament to refer the Bill to a Select Committee.

Ms. Karat said the interests of the corporate and mining lobbies had been protected by substituting traditional rights of tribal people with forest rights.

“They have the right to protect their culture and rights. Even the Supreme Court in the Posco case has ruled that grama sabha mandate is a must for mining leases,” she pointed out.

Ms. Karat came down heavily on growing incidents of attacks on tribal people in West Bengal, and said after Trinamool Congress formed the government, 63 Adivasi cadres had been killed.

‘Tribal women vulnerable’

Brinda Karat said tribal women were most vulnerable to sexual attacks and regretted that the new rape laws had failed to envisage ‘enhanced and exemplary’ punishment to those committing atrocities against them.

She said tribal women, who live in forests and work in remote areas were highly vulnerable to sexual harassment and attacks from forest guards and others and needed better protection particularly after December 16 gangrape in Delhi. Referring to the child rape in Delhi, she said the civilised society should hang its head in shame and said Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar had lost the moral right to continue in office.

Hailing enactment of legislation by Andhra Pradesh government for allotment of funds for welfare of SCs and STs in proportion to their population, she underlined the need to introduce such legislation at the national level. She said the Andhra Pradesh Girijan Sangham played a key role in mounting pressure for adoption of the Bill to ensure sufficient allocation of funds to the underprivileged sections.

Tripura Minister for Rural Development, Industries and Commerce Jiten Choudhury, former Bhadrachalam MP Midiam Babu Rao and others spoke.