People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 04, 2007
LF Govt Demands Common National
Compensation-Rehabilitation Policy For SEZ’s
BENGAL Left Front government has demanded a common compensation-rehabilitation policy for those affected by the setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country. This was stated by the LF government’s industries minister Nirupam Sen in Kolkata recently. The LF government has proposed to the union government that several initiatives are to be put in place in the SEZs for the benefit and relief of the people affected. These are:
Free vocational education
Economic development via setting up of women’s self-help groups
Potable drinking water supply
Nirupam Sen further said that there should be a common policy at the central level. Otherwise, the issue of rehabilitation would become an elective affair, and corporate industrial houses would take full advantage of the situation. The Bengal proposal also stresses the fact that at least 15 per cent of the concession that the concerned developer would receive from the government must be ploughed back into a development fund. On consultation with the state governments, the Development Commissioner would spend the amount accrued in developing areas abutting the SEZs.
When SEZs are set up, the development causes the land prices to shoot up. The people affected by the takeover of land would witness people outside of the SEZs cashing on this price differentiation. As a solatium to the affected people, there should be an adequate economic rehabilitation for them. The capability of the people should be augmented through training.
In Bengal, quite apart from direct and indirect employment, provisions are in place to set up commercial stalls to be run by the affected people. They can also rent out the stalls if they so prefer. This step is being ensured by the state government for the marginal people affected by the land transfer, in particular.
UNREGISTERED SHARE-CROPPERS TO GET COMPENSATION
In a bold and pro-poor step, the Bengal Left Front government has gone ahead to take upon the considerable financial responsibility involved in offering compensation to unregistered share-croppers or bargadars, at Singur where an automobile factory would be coming up. As reported in these columns, all registered bargadars of the area have received compensation for having lost access to the agricultural parcels they would share-crop.
Indeed, all those hundreds of poor kisans who would eke out a living by tilling and cropping land belonging to others on a crop-sharing basis would stand to benefit from this move. The Bengal Left Front’s move – on an expeditious basis, it needs to be mentioned – was also a response to the demand raised to that effect by the Bengal unit of the AIKS.
The announcement made at Singur itself brought widening smiles on the thin and gaunt faces of unregistered bargadars like Ayub Ali Mullick and Gangadhar Ruhidas, who initially would believe their ears. They rushed to AIKS workers and started to make enquiries about ‘what forms and other papers needed to be filled up and produced.’ There was clear sign of relief on the faces of their family members.
The move was a slap on the face of the anti-development forces led by the Trinamul Congress and the Naxalites. They had earlier made haste to communicate to the kisans how the LF government was adopting an attitude of discrimination against unregistered bargadars. The funeral pall like silence enveloping these forces at Singur and elsewhere in Kolkata was palpable.
As per the regulations framed, the unregistered bargadars would get compensation and solatium at the rate of 25 per cent of the land parcels they had share-cropped but had not owned. They would have to sign an affidavit that they were engaged in barga cultivation on a share-cropping basis. The application form, specially drafted for them, includes columns on name, Mouza number, daag number, and khatian number, and the area cropped on a sharing basis.
Each application would then be countersigned by two kisans of Singur vouchsafing the genuineness of the claim. Enquiries would also be made about the applicants with the district administration moving jointly with the Gram Panchayat of the area. Once the process is gone through, the state government would hand over the compensation through the industrial development corporation. Attention shall also be given to providing the applicants alternative sources of income and livelihood.
Elsewhere, the Trinamul Congress and the Pradesh Congress suffered a blow to their anti-development movement when a case at the Kolkata High Court would leave them in a state of frustration. The media barons, too, appeared disappointed. The High Court has ruled work on the land acquired will continue. In the meanwhile, the task of setting up a brick-built boundary wall around the proposed automotive factory is nearing completion with the participation of thousands of the local populace.
US CONSUL GENERAL VISITS OFFICE OF JAMIAT ULAMA-I HIND
In a development that had been anticipated for some time now, the US consul general Jardin paid a visit to the office of the fundamentalist outfit Jamiat Ulama-i Hind and its supremo Siddiqullah Chaudhuri recently in Kolkata. Closeted together for nearly an hour, the two discussed, as the Jamiat leader later revealed with a flourish or two before the media, among other things, Singur, Nandigram, SEZs, Sachar committee report, and Madrasahs in Bengal. Jamiat has reportedly also sent out papers documenting its anti-development stance in Bengal to the US president Bush through Jardin.
The area around the Jamiat office roared into an anti-imperialist protest as the local people led by the activists of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) shouted anti-imperialist, anti-fundamentalist, and anti-US slogans, calling upon Jardin to go back. Siddiqullah later called the RJD protesters ‘plants of the CPI(M).’ One recalls the free and frank way the Jamiat and Siddiqullah would go about spreading dangerous communal propaganda against land take over at Nandigram and Singur, calling for violent means to resist all industrial development in Bengal.
Elsewhere, the Trinamul Congress chief was reported to be in a huff at the way she had been ignored by the US consul general by not visiting what she keeps calling ‘her humble abode’.
SFI WINS IN 349 OF 426 COLLEGE UNION ELECTIONS
Giving the lie to the massive propaganda being orchestrated by the elements of reaction and sectarianism and focussed upon by the corporate media, Bengal SFI has swept the college students’ unions (SUs) in elections held recently. The opposition groups included a banding together of the students wings of the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, the BJP, the various Naxalite factions, along with a few ‘independent’ outfits who work furiously and slavishly for the elements of reaction.
In the 96 students’ unions in the metropolis, elections have seen the SFI walk away with 73 with the opposition in combine having to be satisfied with 23. SFI routed three ‘independent’ outfits that were holding the students union for some years now in three Kolkata colleges. These are Beliaghata Ceramic, Jute Technology, and Deshbandhu Girls. In each instance, the SFI candidates won by impressive margins.
In north 24 Parganas, the SFI has won the union elections in 36 of 40 colleges. In Burdwan, SFI has captured the students’ union in 25 out of 30 colleges. 23 students’ union elections out of the 26 held in Midnapore west have gone to the SFI. In Midnapore east, the SFI has won in 15 out of 20 colleges where elections to the students’ unions were organised.
In Hooghly, the SFI has proved victorious in 24 of 26 college SUs. Murshidabad has seen the SFI triumph in a big way in 13 out of the 14 SUs that went for elections this year. 20 of 24 SUs in north 24 Parganas belong to the SFI. Howrah has witnessed the SFI chalk up victories in 17 out of 22 college SUs. The figure is 13 out of 17 in Nadia.
Up in Jalpaiguri, the SFI has emerged triumphant in 11 of the 15 colleges where elections to the SUs were held. It has recovered the Alipurduar College that it had lost to the reactionaries last year. In Darjeeling, the SFI is in office in 12 out of 17 college SUs. It could win back two college unions that it had lost last year: Bagdogra College, and North Bengal Law College.
In Maldah, 8 out of 10 SUs belong now to the SFI. In Purulia, the SFI has formed the SU boards in 12 of 15 colleges. In Birbhum, the figure is 11 out of 13. The SFI has run away with five of the five SUs where elections were held recently in Dinajpore south. In Dinajpore north, the opposition has won only in one SU; six SUs belong to the SFI.
SCHEMES FOR BACKWARD VILLAGES
The Bengal Left Front government, ever eager to ensure that the pace of rural development never slackens off, has identified sometime back 4612 villages that are less-developed. The villages are spread over 18 districts of the state where rural stretches have thrived. In a recent step taken, the LF government has identified health and education development schemes for these villages.
Village Development Committees (VDC) would be set up speedily in each of these less-developed villages. These bodies will look after health and education schemes that would be put in place in a wide way. The LF government would provide a fund of Rs 10,000 to each VDC. The VDC will allocate appropriate amount of money out of this fund for health and education schemes. The money can also be spent in strengthening the women-led self-help groups.
A survey has revealed that almost each of the less-developed villages possess child education centres. However, not all such centres have brick-built houses, supply of potable water, and toilets. These must be looked to and work started during the current financial year. A target has also been fixed to set up secondary education centres in these less-developed villages, panchayat minister, Dr Surjya Kanta Mishra has revealed.
The VDC is the lowest rung of the panchayat system. 3568 VDCs have prepared pass books; the VDCs look after development work in close cooperation with the gram panchayats. People of every political persuasion are represented in the VDCs. VDCs have been asked to go in for plan formulation for each of the less-developed villages of Bengal.