Amid the Gujarat government gearing up with plans to give wasteland to corporates for contract farming, Dalits, Adivasis and landless people across Gujarat are going to gather in Gandhinagar on November 26, demanding land and other rights.
“The BJP-led state government has been giving land to various corporate houses for contract farming despite the long struggle of the landless people across the state for land,” said Gova Rathod, the convenor of Jamin Adhikar Zumbesh (JAZ)- a platform of various land rights organisations including Gujarat Dalit Sangathan, Saurashtra Dalit Sanghatan and Adivasi Mahasabha Gujarat.
In 2005, the then government had released a notification allowing the allotment of wasteland to corporates for contract farming. “Gujarat government has 45 lakh hectors of cultivable wasteland and they are planning to give these land to corporates for farming. So far, 27,000 hectors of land have been allotted to 55 industrialists across the state. At the same time, the government has failed to distribute land for the landless people,” Rathod told Newsclick. Wastelands comprise more than 20 percent of the state’s total land which is 196 lakh hectors.
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At the same time, nearly 1,25,000 families have applied for land to which the government has not given any reply yet. “First give land to these landless,” Rathod urged.
Unskilled Workers Not Employed in Contract Farming
“In corporate farms, these landless people don’t get the opportunity to work since they are unskilled workers. The corporates recruit workers through other companies and NGOs,” Rathod said, explaining how contract farming works. Citing the example of a corporate farm in Mundra, Kutch, Rathod explained: “Mangoes and other fruits are being cultivated in those fields and these are exported. Though these farms extend over an area of around 1000 acres, very few unskilled people are employed there.”
Demanding that the state distribute the land to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other landless families with physical possession on an immediate basis as per their demand under various land reform acts and policies of the state, JAZ has put forward a set of demands. JAZ also urged that the state could not acquire land for any developmental project and should not allocate the lands to the industries or corporates until and unless the land distribution is finished as per the demand by the landless families.
Their other demands include:
- The state should come up with a Comprehensive Land Use Policy and only after that the land acquisition or land allotment should be done for developmental project or industries.
- The state should immediately distribute the land among the claimants by the Santhani process under various land reform acts and policy as well as under Land Ceiling Act.
- The state should immediately allocate at least 100 square yards plots to each and every homeless family with financial support to build their house and this should be done by enacting the State Homestead Act on immediate basis.
- The State should review all the cases of “Shri Sarkar” land within a six month period (the land previously allocated under land reform but taken back due to various reasons) and again provide physical possession and record by giving them one chance as per State policy.
- The State should proactively legalise the cremation ground and create record under 7/12 of the particular villages for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes wherever it is not on land record.
- The State should review all the claims made by the indigenous community under Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, where the claims have been rejected or less land sanctioned than the claimed by overtaking the decision of the Gramsabha. The State should not interfere in the claims approved by the Gramsabha until and unless they find some major issue. The State should take strict legal action against the harassment by the forest department to the forest cultivators under FRA and SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
- The State should immediately declare the records of displaced families through various developmental projects till date and proactively review their claims for compensation according to displacement policy and provide cultivable agriculture land with farming facilities.
- The State should strictly follow the procedure provided under the 5th Schedule and protect the rights of community as given in the 5th Schedule. The State should immediately stop the inappropriate land acquisition in scheduled areas and should properly and proactively implement the 5th Schedule.
- The State should set up district and state level fast track courts for speedy trial and time bound resolution of various land related cases of the deprived community against the State.
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