"Economic policies are bulldozing toiling masses"

RINGS ALARM BELL:Social activist Medha Patkar addressing a meeting in Tiruchi on Friday. PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM

RINGS ALARM BELL:Social activist Medha Patkar addressing a meeting in Tiruchi on Friday. PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM  

Special Correspondent

Right to livelihood is in jeopardy, says Medha Patkar

TIRUCHI: Economic decisions taken without consulting the people were seriously undermining the right to livelihood and the right to work of a major section of the country's electorate, the leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar, has said.

The interests of farmers, slum dwellers and the toiling masses were by-passed and bulldozed by the policies pursued by the Central and State governments. The marginalised sections were being deprived of natural resources, the source of their livelihood, under globalisation and liberalisation. The country's food security was also under threat.

Development should acknowledge the rights of the people and implemented with appropriate technology, she said addressing an awareness meeting on the impact of the economic policies of Central and State governments here on Friday.

The meeting was organised by the Unorganised Workers Federation and the National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM).

Rather than aligning with the people, political parties, including the Left and Right parties, were favouring projects such as the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Corporates were being given land almost free of cost and offered concessions under 21 tax-related laws. On the other hand, farmers were deprived of their source of livelihood in several States. There were no proper rehabilitation measures for the displaced.

Farmers, weavers and construction workers were being pushed to suicide in some of the States as they were rendered without any social security. On the other hand, corporates and multi-national companies, both Indian and foreign, were allowed to make huge profits while State exchequers stood to lose revenue.

The struggle was now between the people and the Corporates, who were gaining control over natural resources such as land, oil and water.

The country was also faced with an ecological crisis as the mega projects were devouring the natural resources. The country's poor were pushed into crises owing to inequitable distribution of resources such as land and water.

The NAPM was playing the role of an Opposition party and there was a need to move towards a national movement against the policies that have an adverse impact on the people. This, however, would be a long drawn out struggle, she said.

D. Gabrielle, Coordinator, NAPM, R. Geetha, coordinator, Southern Region, National Movement of Unorganised Labourers, V. Maheswaran, State Joint Secretary, Unorganised Workers Federation, representatives of residents welfare organisations, voluntary agencies, farmers' bodies and consumer activists spoke.

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