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Govt may hear plea of landless villagers

Sreelatha Menon/New Delhi 08 Oct 12 | 05:14 PM

Government may agree to survey all available common village lands in the country thanks to a non-violent march being held by landless villagers from different states culminating in Delhi at the end of this month.

The government is likely to agree to a centrally sponsored survey of existing common property resources in the village 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 . Whether this would get a green signal from the Ministry is to be seen this week.

About  50,000 villagers demanding land for housing and farming have been walking from Gwalior to Delhi led by P V Rajagopal. While the procession would end its journey in Delhi on October 28, its delegations are meeting Central ministers on October 10 and 11 to thrash out solutions to some of the key demands they have raised.

While they are demanding nothing less than land as a fundamental right for the countless landless people in the country, they have been  meeting with state revenue ministers and Central ministers to clinch an assurance for a new law that would provide farm land to the landless, residential land for the homeless, within a month.

They have also been asking for a land reforms policy in the next six months. They were seeking changes in the Indira Awas Yojana to enable provision of cash for building a house and also a small plot of land either with the house or separately.

Another demand is for setting up of 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 lands 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 protestors. But nothing has happened so far. Not only Gandhians but activists from different countries came 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 lands, and this was one of the demands of the activists.

Farm groups to oppose FDI in retail

Prominent farmers associations, political parties and traders will gather tomorrow in the capital to work out a strategy to oppose the recent government decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

According to Rakesh Tikait, senior leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), the meeting will attended by prominent representative of political parties and traders to protest against FDI in retail.

Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary of Confederation of All India Traders, hawkers, small industries, transporters and others have also consented to join the discussion to deliberate on a joint strategy for nationwide agitation to oppose FDI in retail.

He said senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and CPM MP, Basudeb Acharia have also consented to participate in the meeting.

Some farmers’ leader said that past experience has shown that multinational retail chains exploit farmers through monopolization of procurement and logistics systems.

“Farmers across the country want to know how the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail will benefit the growers," said MJ Khan, National Convener of the Federation of Indian Farmers Organisation had said.

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