People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 02, 2010


Subhas Ray


AFTER a month long break since March 16, the second phase of the budget session began on April 15 to pass the demands for grants for railways, external affairs, rural development, tribal affairs, water resources and road transport and highways. Lok Sabha will take up the discussion on finance bill on April 28 and pass it on April 29. Rajya Sabha will discuss the working of ministry of power; home affairs; youth affairs and sports; consumer affairs, food and public distribution; and housing and urban poverty alleviation. Apart from passing the railway appropriation bill, it may also take up the anti-farmers seeds bill for consideration.




The first day, April 15, witnessed an all out attack on the government on the question of its lackadaisical dealing with the Maoist menace in the country. The issue of Maoist attack on CRPF personnel in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh came up for discussion in both the houses. The CPI(M) leaders, Sitaram Yechury in Rajya Sabha and Basudeb Acharia in Lok Sabha, charged the ruling parties for compromising with the anti-national forces for mere survival of the government. Earlier they had displayed similar opportunism in 14th Lok Sabha on the issue of a nuclear deal with the US. (For Yechury�s Speech, see our April 25 issue.)

In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia said the massacre of 76 CRPF personnel had shocked the entire nation. What has happened at Dantewada is not the result of a long preparation for several days. The problem of Maoism has spread over about 82 districts in several states including three districts of West Bengal --- Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore. Why has this problem proliferated? Because the government cannot dare antagonise a UPA partner. The latter is also pressing the government to withdraw the central paramilitary forces employed in West Midnapore. The Maoists were invited and given shelter by the same UPA partner. How can, then, this government be able to tackle the situation? A Trinamul Congress MP openly extended support to Maoists and wrote a song praising the Maoists. But the government has not issued any statement against these activities of UPA partner, Trinamul Congress. As a result there is proliferation of Maoist activities in West Bengal. Their motive is to spread anarchy in parts of West Bengal. In order to tackle this menace, there should be a coordinated approach. There is displacement and dispossession among the tribals. We have been demanding a policy for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement. But the government is sitting idle. There is in fact the need for a coordinated approach and united effort, with the government speaking in one voice. 




Lok Sabha has passed the National Green Tribunal Bill, 2009. Participating in the debate, CPI(M)�s M B Rajesh objected to the content of the bill. He said India was going to be the first country to set up a separate tribunal for the adjudication of environmental matters but the government cannot do justice to the issue because of its obsession with neo-liberalism. In the era of liberalisation, there is a contradiction between development and the environmental and social concerns throughout the world including our country. The growing greed for grabbing natural resources for profit has led to exploitation of nature and environment, but this legislation cannot be an effective instrument to protect our people�s interest in environmental battles. On the contrary, it may become a sharp-edged weapon in corporate hands. The bill would also restrict access to justice with centralisation of powers with the union government. Clause 3 of the bill gives too much power to the executive. In keeping with the Law Commission�s recommendations, Rajesh suggested the each state must have a bench. Clause 22(2) has a provision to declare a claim �untenable� and another provision to impose penalty on a claimant. This is a deliberate attempt to prevent people from bringing issues before the tribunal. There is a five-year stipulation for filing application for compensation though damage may occur over a long period. Therefore, this fixed period of five years should be removed. Civil courts are barred from adjudicating matters that lie within the tribunal�s jurisdiction. This is completely contradictory to the Law Commission�s recommendations. So the jurisdiction of other courts must not be barred and there is no provision for appeal in this bill.

As most projects are located in tribal and rural India, the local community�s livelihood and rights are always in jeopardy. So we must have the criteria that enable the appointment of social scientists and non-bureaucrats. But there is no space for social scientists and there is no mention of the socio-economic impact of environmental issues. The bill narrows the culpability and responsibility for environmental accidents. The definition of polluting activities should be more comprehensive and inclusive.

The most unacceptable aspect of the bill is its pro-corporate orientation, with many provisions favouring the private sector. There is a reference to workmen but it is not comprehensive enough to include contract labourers, casual or daily wage workers. Earlier, private companies could not appeal in a court against the government�s refusal to grant environmental clearance but now the bill provides its possibility. Expressing his serious concern, Rajesh said the bill would encourage exploitation of Palakkad type in Kerala which is experiencing large-scale loot and exploitation of groundwater by Coca Cola. He demanded increase in the provision of imprisonment from 3 to 14 years. The bill, in its sum and substance, is undemocratic and does not protect the interest of the people, he concluded.




During the Lok Sabha discussion on the demands for grants for the ministry of external affairs, A Sampath, CPI(M), said there is a need to ascertain the exact number of Indians living and working abroad, and it is the government�s duty to protect their interests. We need post in Indian embassies such officers as are well versed in regional languages, improve the functioning of and provide better infrastructure facilities to passport offices, arrange more aircraft and more services for the passengers going abroad or coming back, and give the Indians living and working abroad the voting right. Funds must be provided for the welfare schemes for non-resident Indians. There must be coordination between the ministries of external affairs, overseas Indian affairs, home, finance, commerce etc. We must open more passport offices and provide sufficient staff in our passport offices and Indian missions.

In the course of his intervention, the member also warned against playing second fiddle to the US interests, adding that will not be tolerated by the people of India. We have to strengthen our relations with the third world countries.




The government was put on the mat on the IPL issue. Describing the IPL as scandalous and abuse of the people�s affection for cricket, Sitaram Yechury said while a vast majority of people were suffering economic hardships because of so-called resource crunch, the income tax department had not investigated the IPL�s failure to file tax return for two years and why it was exempted from any tax in the name of sports. The base price of one IPL team was Rs 15,000 crore. The money is coming through the Mauritius route. We have been asking for a review of the double taxation avoidance treaty with that country for long time. How dubious money is being legalised through this route, needs to be investigated. He demanded a joint parliamentary committee to probe into the matter. In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia demanded constitution of a JPC to examine the irregularities and malpractices in IPL.

In Rajya Sabha, the CPI(M)�s Shyamal Chakraborty initiated the discussion on the working of the ministry of power. He expressed his agony to the acute power crisis for a long time, saying the Planning Commission never fixed its target as per the need of the people, industries and agricultural sector, and its target was never fulfilled. For example, its target for the current five year plan is 79,000 MW but achievement is only 27,000 MW in three years. Is it possible to achieve 73 per cent of the target fixed in these remaining two years, he asked.

Now thermal power stations are fully dependent on coal supply. The short supply of railway wagon and non-availability of quality coal are hurdles in power generation. As for the plant load factor and transmission loss, these are highest in India in the world. In public sector power plants, workers are deprived of their legitimate rights. In NHPC, they are being treated as anti-nationals or militants because of their agitation for legitimate and constitutional rights.  On the Hyde Act, he said we opposed the very agreement which endangers our sovereignty and our capacity independent nuclear power generation. We have huge reserves of thorium which can help us generate power for 400 years.

The member also complained that Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is denying the West Bengal of its rights, not supplying it the required power. The sudden release of water by the DVC causes flood in a vast area in West Bengal. If the Balpahari reservoir is constructed, the people of West Bengal will certainly get rid of this recurrent suffering. He appealed to the minister to visit the state to see the suffering of affected people there.

During the discussion on the ministry of youth affairs and sports, Saman Pathak, CPI(M), said the youth policy formulated in 2003 has various schemes for encouraging the youth. A number of announcements were made and a number of organisations were set up. But this policy has not benefited the rural and tribal youth. They are unemployed but there is no policy to financially empower them. We still lack a comprehensive national policy for sports and are unable to bring the talent of tribal youth in the arena of sports; the benefits of various schemes are not reaching them. Cricket is the only game getting everyone�s attention and the government is not caring for other sports. Today, cricket has itself become an arena of gambling and the talent of a player is auctioned. The IPL has become the conduit for using black money. Where is the fund coming from? This is a serious issue and needs a JPC probe. Big stars, politicians and businessmen are involved in IPL, and so many concessions have been given to IPL.

Expressing anguish over our standing in the sports world, Pathak said we need to provide proper infrastructure in all areas, including tribal and rural areas, in order to promote the sports spirit among the youth. He also expressed concern over the reported delays in creation of the necessary infrastructures for the Commonwealth games.

                                      April 25, 2010