Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Govt might hear landless marchers' plea to retrieve community resources

BS Reporter / New Delhi Oct 09, 2012, 00:18 IST

According to sources, the government is likely to agree to a centrally-sponsored survey of existing common property resources (CPR) in villages and develop a structure to govern and protect the CPRs.

 There is a proposal for setting up a gram panchayat-level committee for the protection of CPRs. A decision is likely to be taken this week.The government might agree to survey all available common village land in the country thanks to a non-violent march being held by landless villagers from different states of the country culminates in Delhi at the end of this month.

About 50,000 villagers demanding land for housing and farming have been walking from Gwalior to Delhi. While the procession, led by P V Rajagopal, will reach Delhi on October 28, its delegations are scheduled to meet central ministers on October 10 and 11 to thrash out solutions to some key demands.

The villagers demand land be made a fundamental right for farmers. They have been meeting state and central revenue ministers to press for a new law that will provide farm land to the landless and residential land for the homeless. They also demand a land reforms policy be made within the next six months.

One of their demands is to seek changes in the Indira Awas Yojana, to enable giving cash to the homeless for building a house and buying a small plot of land, either with the house or separately.

They also seek fast-track land tribunals for speedy disposal of cases pending in revenue and judicial courts. The cost of establishing and maintenance of the tribunals is to be supported under a centrally-sponsored scheme.

Some of the demands are likely to be accepted on October 11, when a delegation of the yatris meet central ministers including Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh in Delhi.

There is also a demand for a re-survey of Bhoodan land to recover them from encroachers and for allotment to the poor.

Meanwhile, those backing the procession have expressed disappointment at the slow response of the government to the demands made by the activists.

S N Subba Rao, a director of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, recently wrote to the Prime Minister saying that he was disappointed by the lack of response to the demands of a peaceful protest.

“The Prime Minister was expected to respond to the non-violent demands of the protesters. But nothing has happened so far. Not only Gandhians, even activists from other countries had come to see the non-violent miracle happen in India as a culmination of the procession from Gwalior to Delhi. But what an anti climax!

What happened to all the promises you had made? Not even a small piece of land for the poor to pitch their huts?’’ he asked.

Jairam Ramesh said that he would be meeting the activists delegation on October 10 and 11. He said his ministry was looking for a way to recover encroached Bhoodan land, and this was one of the demands of the activists.


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