Activists seek land for the poor; protection of Yamuna

Staff Reporter

‘Compensation is no solution for displacement’

The group also cautions the Government to not test the patience of the common man

‘Yamuna Satyagraha has completed 74 days and still the Govt. has not given any proposal’

NEW DELHI: Announcing the coming together of two major ongoing protests, representatives from Janadesh-2007 movement of landless people demanding pro-poor land reforms and Yamuna Satyagraha for protection of the river’s floodplains met at Gandhi Peace Foundation here on Saturday to put forward their concerns and register their anguish at “inaction of the Central Government” on the issues. The group also cautioned the Government to not test the patience of the common man and take up the issue of land and water seriously. “Janadesh-2007 is a movement of the landless who are marching to Delhi demanding that the Central Government work for improvement of the poor and its land reform policies should benefit this group of people. With regret we have to say that the Government spends a lot of time in clearing the bottlenecks to acquire land for Special Economic Zones and big industrial houses instead of working for the poor,” said veteran Gandhi Peace Fellow S.N. Subba Rao.

“We are demanding land for the landless, legalised ‘pattas’ to those who are already in possession of forest and revenue land and possession of the land for which they are allotted ‘pattas’. For this we have put forward the proposal to create a national land authority and a single window system for speeding up the land allotment at the grassroots and finalise the land litigations in the interest of poor,” Mr. Rao added.

Gandhian Radha Bhatt said, “the Government has approved a Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy for those displaced by the Special Economic Zones and the industrial houses. We believe compensation is no solution for displacement. We should look at establishing big projects without or less-displacement of the people”.

Meanwhile, taking note of the Yamuna Satyagraha that has been organised against the proposed Commonwealth Games Village to be constructed on the floodplains of the Yamuna in Delhi, Magsaysay Award winner “Waterman” Rajendra Singh said: “Yamuna Satyagraha has completed its 74 days in the city and till now the Government has not come out with any proposal about the protection of the river, its water recharge areas or providing safe drinking water for the people of Delhi in case the floodplains are destroyed. We believe in non-violence and everything can be settled if the primary livelihood interest of the poor are well guarded.”

Eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar said: “Despite several rounds of talks with the Delhi Government we are not sure if they are serious about the issue of protecting the river. We have requested the Government to look into the possibility of putting up non-permanent structures as part of its construction on the floodplains and hope that the suggestion is considered. Progress should not be at the cost of the environment.”

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