The Currents of History the Challenge for Movements : Making the Wind Blow
April 26 2006
CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN / CDDB 27 : THE CURRENTS OF HISTORY, THE CHALLENGE FOR MOVEMENTS : MAKING THE WIND BLOW
Even as revolution takes place here in Nepal, the game of passing the buck continues in India – just as it did here in Nepal, for so many years, but which the people of this country have now made clear, to the political parties as much as to the king, that they will not accept any more... Maybe there are things that movements in India can learn from the Nepali experience. And because this is so, no wonder the government of India is so wary of what is happening here – though even in this case, and just as in the case of the Bhopal and Narmada struggles and tragedies, its leadership is so shamelessly shifting its position each day, sensing which way the wind is blowing.
The NBA continues to expose the Sardar Sarovar Project and the manner in which it has been and is continuing to be implemented, in a situation where the lives and homes of 40,000 families are today on the anvil. But is the Supreme Court, that self-anointed supreme arbiter of conscience in the country, which, in this garb, is determining and directing so much public policy in India today, listening ? Does it have the strength to do so ?
The next hearing of the Narmada case is on May 1, only a few days away now. Let’s see whether they are willing to take on board not only the recommendations, even if on a split vote, of the government’s fact-finding mission (the so-called GoM / Group of Ministers; se earlier issues of CDDB) – that further raising of the dam height should be stopped -, but also the evidence that is emerging from the valley in this meanwhile. The political leadership of the country clearly does not have the vision or moral strength to do so.
And in Bhopal… as ever, the mask is once again taken off.
The increasingly militant struggle by the working and labouring poor for a place to live in Delhi, the capital of India, also continues. But it is from here that a call has come again (see item 5), even after the Bhopal and Narmada movements have left Jantar Mantar, for looking to see how movements in the country can bring their struggles onto the same canvas. Their issues might seem very different on the ground, but perhaps they, even now, need to take a step back to see whether they are not, after all, all in the same boat, and being swept along by the same current.
This time, are the other movements listening ? And their supporters ?
The national rally that has been called in New Delhi day after tomorrow, on April 28, by supporters of the Narmada movement, should not be left simply as a protest rally and a candle light vigil – important as these are, as symbolic actions. The opportunity needs to be used as a time also for careful thought, and for planning ahead. We all, and most especially the victims of these and other tragedies, need much more than symbolic actions. Movements must learn how to make the wind blow.
Jai Sen, for CACIM
IN THIS ISSUE OF CDDB :
(1) National Rally Against Forced Evictions And Dispossession (April 25/26)
(2) Oversight Committee Overlooks NWDT, SC Ruling: Why Refer to GRA of MP Only: R&R Norms Already Violated: Stopping SSP Work is Only Option / NBA Demands Clarifications From PM (April 26)
(3) Pol-Khol? Yatra launched from Indore: Nimad exposes claims of resettlement, benefits: People appeal to save fertile land (April 26)
(4) The mask is truly off. It's now absolutely clear whose hand was operating Manmohan Singh last week (April 25/26)
(5) Sajha Manch Update 3 : Delhi actions / Mumbai Consultation on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission / Jantar Mantar and the challenge for movements of being on the same canvas (April 24)
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin), number 0 onwards, are available here
On 25.4.06 11:53am, "Shivani Chaudhry"
The violent and forced eviction of people from their natural habitat and homes, be it in the Narmada Valley, the slums of Mumbai or Delhi, or the adivasi areas of Orissa, is a matter of increasing alarm and worry. It seems to be happening in a more and more systematic, calculated and sinister way. The government is clearly promoting this violent neoliberal paradigm of development at the cost of its people.
We cannot remain silent any more. We will NOT tolerate this violation of democracy and human rights any more.
Peoples' movements and struggles from across the country must come together and unite forces to fight this battle against injustice.
Join the National Rally on 28th April to raise a collective voice: NO MORE FORCED EVICTIONS!!!! NO MORE SLUM DEMOLITIONS!!! NO MORE DISPOSSESSION OF PEOPLE FROM THEIR HOMES, LANDS AND LIVELIHOODS!!!
Come light a candle on 30th April at Jantar Mantar to express your solidarity with people's struggles for their rights.
From Narmada to Mumbai, from Delhi to Orissa... our struggle is ONE.
This is a critical issue that concerns each one of us. Democracy is at stake.
We must unite to speak truth to power!! The time is NOW!!
PLEASE BE THERE!!! PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW IN DELHI!
Delhi Solidarity Group for the NBA
For further information Please Contact :
9868200316, 9818205234, 9313053093, 9818030423, 20506929, 29232515
On 26.4.06 10:10am, "Sanjay Sangvai"
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
58, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Badwani, M.P. –451551 (07290-222464)
B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Guj –390007 (0265-2282232)
Press Note/ April 26, 2006
OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE OVERLOOKS NWDT, SC RULING: WHY REFER TO GRA OF MP ONLY: R&R NORMS ALREADY VIOLATED: STOPPING SSP WORK IS ONLY OPTION
NBA Demands Clarifications From PM
We are puzzled as to how and why the Prime Minister of India has set up a three-member panel of Sardar Sarovar Project relief and rehabilitation oversight committee. It is unbecoming of the Prime Minister to unilaterally appoint such committee without consulting the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), that too after the indefinite fast of 20 days by the main activists, which triggered off the subsequent developments regarding the dam. It is also curious that the Prime Minister has refused to intervene to protect the lives of the people when the Review Committee of Narmada Control Authority (RCNCA) recommended the suspension of the dam work. At that time he left the matter for the Supreme Court, and when the Court has warned about the possibility of staying the dam work, if the resettlement is not satisfactory, Prime Minister’s office springs into action.
The Committee is supposed to assess the resettlement work and give suggestions in accordance with the provisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) has stipulated and subsequently the Supreme Court verdicts, within three months, till July 2006.
However, by this action, he only reaffirmed the failure of the resettlement. The terms of references (TOR), of this Oversight Group, as was published by the PIB, is contrary to what the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) has stipulated and subsequently the Supreme Court had endorsed in October 2000 and March 2005.
Accordingly, the resettlement and rehabilitation be completed at least 6 months before the submergence and the raising of the corresponding dam height. So the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) of those affected by the height of 122 meters of dam height should have been given the cultivable land and house plot one year before the submergence and the entire resettlement should have been completed 6 months before the submergence, that is by December 2005. The Special Oversight Committee is expected to assess the situation, give suggestions regarding the proper ways of resettlement within three months, that is till July 2006. This is directly contrary to and violation of the NWDT provisions and Court rulings. It admits that the work of resettlement below the height of 122 meters is not complete. The first thing, before constitution of any such committee, would have been to stop the work on the dam, before such committee starts working to give suggestions etc.
The Committee has been asked to the see whether the oustees were offered the alternative land or not and whether those who have rejected the land have done so voluntarily or not. We are not sure what is the measure of such 'voluntary' rejection and what the government wants to drive at.
Moreover the Special Committee has to give suggestions regarding Madhya Pradesh resettlement on the basis of the NWDT provisions, Supreme Court rulings and on the basis of the decisions of the of the Madhya Pradesh Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA). It must be remembered that the GRA has to give decisions regarding the resettlement only according to the NWDT provisions and this is the jurisdiction of its work. In its ruling in March 2005, the Supreme Court has rejected with adverse comments the decisions taken by the Madhya Pradesh GRA regarding discrimination between the oustees affected by temporary and permanent submergence. The Madhya Pradesh GRA also accepted the sate government's policy of giving cash compensation in lieu of the land-based rehabilitation, which was termed as illegal in the meetings of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) till September 2005. However, it is curious that the Prime Minister's announcement does not mention the GRAs of Maharashtra and Gujarat, but reefers specifically to the GRA of Madhya Pradesh.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan demands the clarification on these and other relevant issues from the Prime Minister. We still insist that the Prime Minister or any Court of justice his duty-bound by law and Constitution that the work on the dam could not be irreversibly pushed ahead, which would submerge the homes, farms and rights of thousands and thousands of tribals and farmers. The work on the dam must be immediately stopped and the all the affected families must be ensured full and just rehabilitation in a time bound manner.
On 26.4.06 10:10am, "Sanjay Sangvai"
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
58, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Badwani, M.P. –451551 (07290-222464)
B-13, Shivam Flats, Ellora Park, Baroda, Guj –390007 (0265-2282232)
Press Note/ April 26, 2006
POL-KHOL YATRA LAUNCHED FROM INDORE: NIMAD EXPOSES CLAIMS OF RESETTLEMENT, BENEFITS: PEOPLE APPEAL TO SAVE FERTILE LAND
Hundreds of villagers, along with the supporters from many parts of India have launched the Pol-Khol? Yatra (Exposé March), on Tuesday, April 25, to highlight the enormous incongruity between the government's claims regarding the displacement and resettlement, the benefits and costs of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).
Along with the representatives of scores of organizations from all over India, prominent persons including Social activists Sandeep Pandey, peasant leader Dr. Sunilam, and educationist Dr. Anil Sadgopal have along with Medha Patkar and Mohanbhai, Rayjibhai of Narmada Bachao Andolan, waved the blue Narmada flag launching of Yatra in the morning from Indore. Activists of the organizations from various places from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, U.P. and from Gujarat are participating in the Yatra.
While launching the Yatra, Medha Patkar reproached the government about its stance on the rights of tribals and farmers and their livelihood. She wondered, "Though over 10,000 families affected by the SSP have been given land-based resettlement due to the NBA's struggle during the last 30 years – the largest ever resettlement with land in Independent India – there are about 40,000 families still remaining to be resettled. And the Central government had claimed to resettle them all within three months!".
She reminded that the submergence in the valley due to the height of 122 meters would destroy the homes, fertile farms and livelihoods of over 35,000 families of the most ancient human settlement in Asia, and will damage to the letter and spirit of law, Constitution and the humanity.
The Madhya Pradesh MLA and farmer leader, Dr. Sunilam castigated the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister of sacrificing the lives of peasants from his own state for the sake of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's interests. Dr. Sadgopal pointed out that NBA is not only a struggle for resettlement, but for the true development. Bhagwanhbai, the proud farmer from Nimad, made a moving appeal to the nation to save their villages, fertile lands and the valley, which he claimed, were also parts of this nation. Rayjibhai, displaced from Gadher in Gujarat to the resettlement site Parveta in Gujarat, told that the Gujarat government has been treating the oustees of their own state like dirt. "Sardar Sarovar might be life-line of politicians and bureaucrats but it is a death noose for the oustees", he said. Gujarat organizations too are participating in the Yatra.
In the evening, the Yatra reached Khalghat, where hundreds of villagers welcomed and showed the participants the evidences of the fraudulent claims of resettlement by the Government of M.P. The Yatra went through the fertile tracts of Chhota Barda and Pipri and the affectionate welcome from the peasants of this nation. That was the first stay of the Yatra.
Sanjay Sangvai Rakesh Dewan Ashish Mandloi
On 25.4.06 8:14 pm, "tim edwards"
Bhopal liabilities key to US-India trade deals
THE MASK IS TRULY OFF. IT'S NOW ABSOLUTELY CLEAR WHOSE HAND WAS OPERATING MANMOHAN SINGH LAST WEEK:
(CDDB Note to readers : In the multicultural world that we live in today, don't be confused by the fact that the Deputy US Trade Representative quoted here, commenting on US-India relations and also the Bhopal situation, happens to be have such an ‘Indian’ name, Karan Bhatia.)
“At the same time, Bhatia said USTR was aware that many American companies have liability and insurance concerns about doing business in India after the 1984 gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, which killed an estimated 3,800 people and disabled thousands more.
"We've raised those concerns with the Indians. I'm hoping that they will be addressed to the satisfaction of our companies ...," he said. "At the end of the day, India has worked very hard for this deal and ... I would assume is not going to want their own domestic corporate laws to stand in the way of them actually benefiting meaningfully." ' ?
U.S. excited by India trade, despite WTO woes
By Doug Palmer
The United States expects economic ties with India to grow rapidly in the new few years, despite frustration that New Delhi has not been more helpful in world trade talks, a top U.S. trade official said on Monday.
A landmark civil nuclear agreement, which still must be approved by Congress, "is a crucial component in moving the relationship to the next level," Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia said in an interview.
Although the deal, which provides India with U.S. nuclear technology
including reactors and nuclear fuels is controversial with some members of Congress, Bhatia said he expected it to be approved. "I think there is sufficient momentum behind this. I think everybody recognizes the important role that this deal plays in our relationship with India," he said.
U.S.-India trade totaled about .76 billion last year, less than one-tenth of the 5.3 billion in trade between the United States and China. "We should have a very substantial economic relationship with India and although we're getting there, we're not there yet," Bhatia said. "We need to do more to grow the relationship."
The United States and India recently set a goal of doubling trade within three years and conditions are ripe for investment between the two countries "to take off," he added.
Major Indian companies like the Tata conglomerate and drug manufacturer Ranbaxy already have invested the U.S. market and many small and medium-sized Indian companies are following their lead, Bhatia said.
"You're also seeing American companies obviously look at India as an attractive investment opportunity. You're looking at 1.1 billion people, a fast-growing middle class."
The nuclear deal opens the door for U.S. companies to help India meet its fast-growing energy needs and should have positive spillover effects in other sectors.
"I ... think you're going to see it build a level of confidence in high-technology trade that will lead to greater U.S. exports and investment there," he said.
At the same time, Bhatia said USTR was aware that many American companies have liability and insurance concerns about doing business in India after the 1984 gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, which killed an estimated 3,800 people and disabled thousands more.
"We've raised those concerns with the Indians. I'm hoping that they will be addressed to the satisfaction of our companies ...," he said. "At the end of the day, India has worked very hard for this deal and ... I would assume is not going to want their own domestic corporate laws to stand in the way of them actually benefiting meaningfully."
But many U.S. business leaders believe India is playing a negative role in world trade talks by insisting that developing nations be allowed to block imports, while developed countries open their markets to more foreign goods.
Bhatia said he agreed that India, along with many other leading developing countries, needs to "be more forthcoming in the current round."
While it is understandable New Delhi is worried about hundreds of millions of farmers who depend upon agriculture, a new world trade pact would open new markets for Indian service companies and manufacturers, he said.
Your voice counts!!
Support Bhopal's Demand for Justice and Dignity by Sending a FREE FAX to the Indian Government!
On 25.4.06 4:56 pm, "Hazards Centre"
Sajha Manch Update (3) April 24, 2006
DELHI ACTIONS / MUMBAI CONSULTATION ON THE JAWAHARLAL NEHRU NATIONAL URBAN RENEWAL MISSION / JANTAR MANTAR AND THE CHALLENGE OF BEING ON THE SAME CANVAS
Delhi actions :
The last update (2) of April 6 had presented news of the Nagla Machi demolitions and the concerted effort to try and save it. On April 7, members of the Manch stormed the office of the Vice-Chairman?, Delhi Development Authority to try and get an assurance from him of proper and adequate resettlement. Although the siege succeeded in paralysing work at DDA for over two hours and the Vice-Chairman? had to finally meet a delegation, he and his officers refused to give any specific assurances other than those of speedy and nearby resettlement. Subsequently, Banuwal Nagar was demolished on April 10 and two settlements at Bhatti Mines are currently being razed to the ground. News has also come in of demolitions at Mayur Vihar and Yamuna Pushta, while settlements in Vikaspuri have received notice of demolition. The Sajha Manch has clearly failed to prevent these demolitions, but a somewhat consolation achievement has been that the MCD and DDA have been pressurised to put neglected families on the list of those entitled to resettlement, most people have got alternative plots, and they have been allowed to move together and peacefully so that their possessions are not destroyed and some community security remains at the new site. Some relief has also been provided in the interim period by constituent members of the Manch in the form of free community kitchens and support.
The other issue that is emerging (as mentioned in the last Update), largely because of the agitation of shopkeepers and traders, is the possibility of a Bill in Parliament next month to put an end to all demolitions and sealing for a period of one year until the new Master Plan is in place with mixed land use provisions. The Sajha Manch has been assured by at least two Ministers that the demolition of slums will also figure in this or another Bill, but the affidavit filed by the Union Govt. in the Supreme Court, while citing data from Sajha Manch Document regarding the non-construction of authorised commercial space, asked for protection of only those illegal constructions that are on private land. A similar assurance has been given by the Urban Development Minister to the Jan Chetna Manch led by Shri V P Singh. Hence, pressure has to be maintained to put the issue of demolition of slums in the Bill in proper perspective, as part of a critique of the failure of government to provide adequate housing. The Sajha Manch has been invited to suggest a possible Bill and work is going on to frame a Right to Shelter Act, which will be circulated widely for comments later this week. The basic idea is to locate Shelter within the Constitutional Right to Life as well as Directive Principles which mandate it as a “public purpose” and to argue for complete cessation of demolition and eviction until alternative livelihoods and housing with services have been provided. This should, therefore, not only address the concerns of the Delhi slums, but of urban and rural settlements facing eviction everywhere.
The monthly meeting of the Manch took place on April 8 and discussed both the processes of ‘demolition’, as seen in the evictions of slum dwellers and the closure of shops and other forms of livelihood, as well as those of ‘construction’, as observed in the UNDP project for strategising for the urban poor – of which the Manch is a part. Some of the elements of a strategy that emerged from the discussion were: (a) exploring legal avenues to challenge the encroachment by the rich (Radha Swami Ashram on the Ridge at Bhatti) and the non-provision of promised facilities to the poor (cooperative housing at Banuwal Nagar); (b) delegations meeting MLAs and MPs in different parts of Delhi to build pressure for a Bill to stop demolitions; (c) promoting a public debate on a Right to Shelter Bill that can be presented to the Union Government for consideration before Parliament reconvenes; (d) lobbying with the UPA Government and its Left allies for the implementation of the CMP (as a follow-up to the 21st march rally); and (e) organising a national seminar to highlight the anti-poor and anti-labour nature of Court judgements. In addition, the issue of building larger alliances around these themes was discussed and earmarked for a more detailed discussion during a proposed one-day workshop on May 6, that would also deliberate on the kind of network the Manch should be.
Mumbai Consultation on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission :
On April 15 and 16, the Hazards Centre and Committee for the Right to Housing organised a two-day consultation at Mumbai on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which was attended by several members of the Sajha Manch, as well as delegates from 16 other cities and towns. The discussions focussed on a critique of the JNNURM, as well as a consideration of what was happening in urban areas within the context of globalisation and liberalisation. This illustrated the common pattern of commercialisation of land, privatisation of services, exclusion of the poor, and undermining of democratic governance. The five thematic questions that emerged underlined the need to (i) define new forms of “participation” and “mobilisation” (as against those defined by the mainstream discourse); (ii) balance concepts of “self-help” against “self-assertion” (as part of genuine democracy); (iii) build alliances across sectors and issues (economic, political, social, and cultural); (iv) explore notions of “sustainability” and “technology” (as manifested in the people’s struggle for livelihoods and shelter); and (v) resolve the issue of growing violence (within and between nations, classes, castes, gender, ethnic and religious groups – all catalysed by the global competition for control over resources). Regional consultations have now been planned in Jamshedpur, Jaipur, Nashik, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Varanasi to debate these questions further.
Jantar Mantar and the challenge for movements of being on the same canvas :
The Jantar Mantar is quieter now that the Narmada and Bhopal demonstrators have packed up and gone, so the battle appears to be over. But the war continues in many subtle ways. While the issue of demolitions of lives and livelihoods is still alive all over Delhi, the space around Jantar Mantar is still occupied by other issues, other demonstrators, and other concerns. The challenge before many of us is how to be part of the combined effort to bring all these on the same canvas to build solidarity across all the sections struggling against global (and local) forces of exploitation and subjugation. One of the key issues facing the struggle is the gradual dismantling of democratic institutions, including those of the judiciary, the media, and the legislature, which are solely focusing on the theme of the “world class” city that caters to tourism, conventions, sport, and commerce, without any consideration for the real needs of the citizens. The change from manufacturing to services, the growing informal sector, the commandeering of all resources in the name of beautification, the massive increase in prices of land, housing, and all necessary commodities, the growth of a middle-class consumerist and individualistic culture, and the marginalisation of the poor are all part of this global theme. This debate will continue and, as usual, we ask for your support, suggestions, and comments to help in carrying it further.