Govt. to revamp panel on land reform

The people’s movement Ekta Parishad cut short its march of 25,000 landless and tribal people from Gwalior to Delhi last Saturday after the Centre promised to reconstitute the National Taskforce on Land Reforms. The march had been launched on October 2.

Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development Virendra Kumar also agreed to establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure the smooth implementation of existing laws governing land acquisition and the rights of forest dwellers, according to the movement’s founding president P.V. Rajagopal, who briefed reporters in the capital on Tuesday. However, no commitments were made on the protesters' demands for a Women Farmers' Entitlement Act and a National Homestead Rights Act.

Mr. Kumar had met the protesters on behalf of Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was hospitalised and hence unavailable.

Rahul’s promise

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also met with protesters just before the march ended at Morena, Madhya Pradesh, and promised to support such legislations in the Congress-ruled states of Karnataka and Punjab and include it in the party’s poll platform for the five States going to polls soon.

“At this point the people raised their flags in appreciation of these remarks and decided to terminate the march in Morena without going onto Delhi,” said an Ekta Parishad statement. “They felt their onward march would be of little benefit, having now heard from both parties.”

Six years ago, in October 2012, the movement had mobilised more than 60,000 landless people from across the country for a similar padayatra from Gwalior to Delhi. They disbanded at Agra after then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh promised homestead land of ten cents for all landless rural poor households and a draft National Land Reform Policy, as part of a ten point agreement. To enforce the agreement, the Centre set up a 15-member task force on land reforms.

“After Mr. Ramesh, that taskforce was shut down. The government has now agreed to reconstitute it…We need an institutional mechanism to deal with these issues,” said Ekta Parishad convenor Ramesh Sharma. “Mr. Tomar had actually walked with us in 2007 and 2012. He needs to remember what he stood for then.”

Ekta Parishad does not plan any more follow-up rally or protest until the general elections next summer. “Our people will go back and make every candidate accountable on issues of the landless in every constituency,” said Mr. Rajagopal.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:25:40 AM |

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