Sunday 31 July 2011

Resisting Displacement in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is the largest sate of India in terms of geographical area. People in many parts of the state are facing  risk of being displaced from their villages, forests, land and water bodies. Illegal mining, widening of roads and new road construction, industries, urban housing projects, sanctuary, all kind of projects are threatening to displace people in the state. The people are organizing and resisting these efforts by the government.  Two days ago farmers around the Jaipur city resisted the Jaipur Development Authority’s (JDA) move to acquire land for a 90 meter wide ring road. The JDA is acquiring 360 meter wide land for the purpose. Many of the farmers who are loosing land to the ring road have earlier lost their lands to Bisalpur Dam project (Rajasthan Patrika, Jaipur, July 29, 2011, pg. 2). According to the Times of India, farmers are ready to give land required for the road, but they are opposing the extra land being acquired for development on both sides of the road.
Only one day ago (July 27, 2011), hundreds of people from all corners of the state gathered in Jaipur in a state level conference against “Land Acquisition, Displacement and Illegal Mining“. The leaders of anti land acquisition, anti displacement and anti-illegal mining movements in the state and the people who are suffering because of these so called development efforts shared their views, problems, agonies and frustrations with the national level leaders like Medha Patekar, Sandip Singh and Himanshu Kumar, who have been part of anti-displacement movements in various parts of the country.

Deep Singh Shekhawat, an ex army man from Shekhawati region, told about the protest against the acquisition of land in 20 villages of Navalgarh, Jhunjhunu and 5 villages of Sikar for three cement factories in the area. 50,000 people face the risk of  displacement and loosing their fertile land, giving three to four crops a year. The area is also home of thousands of peacocks, the national bird. The companies which are going set up their cement factories are: Birla Group’s Grasim Industries Limited, UltraTech Cement Limited, Samrudhi Cement Limited, Bangur Group’s Shri Cement Limited and The India Cement Limited. Kailash Meena, from Neem ka Thana, Sikar, reported the havoc created by illegal mining in the Aravalis. Protesting people are being harassed by the district administration and being arrested and many criminal charges slapped at them. The farmers in Barmer are losing land to oil and coal companies and to the Indian Army. The villagers in Rawatbhata tehsil of Chittorgarh district are going to displaced second time after 40 years, when they were displaced in 1961 for Rana Pratap Sagar dam. Now they are being asked to leave their habitation and livelihood again for expansion of National Park, which is going to relocate 32 villages. 10,000  people living in Sita Mata Sanctuary in  Pratapgarh district are also facing this tragedy for the second time. Earlier they were displaced by the Mahi-Kadhana Dam and now they are being asked to move again for the sanctuary.
Some media coverage to the conference:


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