A march to highlight land struggles in India

Beginning October 2, activists will cover 75,000 km in a year

 
By Jyotika Sood
Last Updated: Thursday 17 September 2015

Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, this year is going to witness a new movement. Activists belonging to a non-profit, Ekta Parishad, will undertake a Jan Satyagraha Samwad Yatra to highlight the ongoing land and livelihood struggles across the country.

The Jan Satyagraha Samwad Yatra will highlight the ongoing land and livelihood struggles across the country
The yatra will start from Kanyakumari and reach out to cover various grass-root level struggles to lend them support
The yatra plans to cover a distance of 75,000 km, spread across 339 districts and 24 states in 358 days
Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh will flag off the Jan Satyagraha Samwad Yatra from Vivekanand Smarak
 
The yatra will start from Kanyakumari and reach out to cover various grass-root level struggles to lend them support. “The aim of the yatra is to ask all the people involved in grass-root struggles to come together so that we can push in for land reforms,” says P V Rajagopal, Ekta Parishad president. The yatra plans to cover a distance of 75,000 km, spread across 339 districts and 24 states in 358 days.

Ajoy Chaudhuri, Ekta Parishad national member says the main reason behind undertaking such a yatra is to understand what types of land struggle are underway throughout the country. “Land struggles not only involve acquisition of land by companies for big projects like POSCO. You have other types too. For example, in Jharkhand, the state government is giving land to adivasis and not to others living in the same village.

imageThis results in disharmony. Then there are struggles for common land,” he says. “The number of such struggles is over 500, according to our estimates,” he adds. 

“There are hundreds of movements where people are trying hard to resist takeover of the land by corporates and to convince the government to adopt more sustainable strategies, but the planners and decision makers are not willing to listen as their focus is just economic growth,” says Rajagopal.  He adds that similar circumstances forced the non-profit to take out a Janadesh Campaign in 2007.

Jairam to flag off the yatra
Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh will flag off the Jan Satyagraha Samwad Yatra from Vivekanand Smarak on October 1, though the yatra will officially start on October 2. Sources in the ministry of rural development said that minister will also attend the inaugural seminar organised by Ekta Parishad to be held on October 1. The minister is trying to convene a meeting of National Council for Land Reforms soon. “Some of the reforms that NGOs are demanding are important. I am writing to the prime minister explaining need for reforms like control of benami transactions and constitution of land tribunals,” the minister was quoted in media.
 
The aim of the campaign was to press the government to give people who depend on land and forest ownership over these resources.

To press for the demand, the non-profit organised a dharna of 25,000 landless people from across India in October 2007. Following this, the UPA government at the Centre set up a National Council for Land Reforms under prime minister Manmohan Singh. The council has not met even once since it was formed.

The yatra is also a pre-preparation march for The Jan Satyagraha 2012 that will be held across the globe. The month-long yatra will be kicked off on the UN International Non-Violence Day, October 2, next year.

 

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