People's Democracy

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


No. 19

May 13, 2012



Rally Protests Forcible Land Acquisition


Prafull Linda


RAMPANT loot of natural and mineral resources by corporate houses is going on in Jharkhand, in connivance with the Jharkhand government. While it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908 (CNT Act) is not violated, the union government too is expected to see that an acceptable land acquisition act is in place. This was what Brinda Karat, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, said while addressing a well attended mass meeting at Tantan ground of Sonahatu (East) in Ranchi district on April 30, 2012.


While referring to acquisition of land by the Jindal Group without consent of the landowners, Brinda Karat said the owner of the Jindal Group might be a member of the ruling union government, but the CPI(M) activists would not sit idle if the law of the land is violated.


She also expressed serious concern that Hindalco, a company of the Birla group has acquired the land of several farmers for dumping the aluminium waste, which would degrade the soil permanently.


In spite of scorching sun, thousands of villagers attended the “Save Land Rally” organised by the Ranchi district committee of the all India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). They came holding red flag high and armed with their traditional weapons. Several processions joined the meeting till the end of the programme. A large number of women were gathered under trees.


Before addressing the impressive meeting, Brinda Karat met the women who were awaiting under trees. She enquired from individual women regarding the acquisition of land, and all of them said in one voice, “jaan denge lekin zameen nahin denge” (we would sacrifice our life but not the land).


The meeting was presided over by Rajendra Singh Munda, president of the Jharkhand state unit of AIKS and former MLA of the area. Gopikant Baksi (secretary of the Jharkhand state committee of CPI-M), Rangowati Devi (leader of the All India Democratic Women’s Association and elected member of Ranchi Zila Parishad) and Sufal Mahto (secretary, Ranchi district Kisan Sabha) also addressed the rally.


Prafull Linda (general secretary of the Jharkhand state unit of AIKS), CITU state general secretary D D Ramanandan and Sudhir Das were present in the meeting along with other leaders.


While addressing the rally, Brinda Karat said it was utterly illegal to acquire even a single inch of land forcibly from poor farmers. After losing the land they would have no option but to migrate. She said we are not against industrialisation but barren and dull lands must be used for this purpose. She also said any violation of the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act 1908 would not be allowed.


The Zameen Bachao (Save Land) Rally was organised against acquisition of huge land tracts by the Jindal Group and Hindalco (Birla Group) without consent of the landowners; in fact the so-called land survey was done only to mislead the landowners. Even the gram sabha and gram panchayat were not consulted during this process.


Referring to the huge demand of land, amounting to more than 11,000 acres, made by different industrial houses, she exclaimed that it would mean that around 30,000 villagers would be evacuated from 39 villages of sixteen mauzas in the area in question, and their only source of livelihood would be taken from them.  


Till now around 500 acres of land has been registered and landowners were offered Rs 500 per decimal. The area in question is close to the extremist affected Purulia district of West Bengal. As it is irrigated by three rivers --- Swarnrekha, Rarhu and Kanchi --- and also a long canal from Kanchi river, the area produces huge amounts of vegetables. Lac is an important product of the area which is sold at Rs 325 per kilogram. However, none of the governments, led either by the Congress or BJP or by the regional parties since the formation of Jharkhand state, took care to protect the interests of tribals, dalits and backward people. Rather they were more interested in allowing the corporate houses to exploit the natural and mineral resources of Jharkhand in violation of the CNT Act, the provisions under the fifth schedule of the constitution and also the order of the High Court.


The CPI(M)’s protest action created enthusiasm among the villagers and they have decided not to surrender a single inch of land.