Protests against land acquisition in Jharkhand

The BJP government of Jharkhand is pulling out all stops to welcome Indian and foreign multinationals to plunder the land, labour and rich mineral resources of the state. Over 200 MOU’s with Indian and foreign capitalists were signed on 16-17 February at a Momentum Jharkhand Investors’ Summit 2017.

The Government of Jharkhand has announced that it has 20,00,000 acres of land available for prospective investors. This was a clear signal that government was ready with plans to sell off the land and natural resources of the people of the state to satisfy the greed of private capitalists.

Earlier, on 23rd November, 2016, the state government had amended two laws governing land use – the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Act – to enable cultivable lands to be sold for non-agricultural purposes. The amendments were tabled in the Assembly and passed within three minutes, overriding objections from opposition members. The original Tenancy Acts had provisions that conferred special protection to small cultivators and agricultural lands of tribal communities.

 An amendment to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act permits the transfer of Adivasi land for projects “like road, canal, railway, cable transmission, pipelines, and schools, colleges, universities, panchayat buildings, hospitals, anganwadis” as well as any other “government purpose” as is notified by state government in the official gazette. A new clause in it vests the state with enormous powers to permit taking over of tribal lands for any purpose or activity it may specify. The Amendment to the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act was aimed at reducing the compensation to be paid to the villagers for acquiring their land.

People in Godda district have alleged that the government has changed the land records to show that majority of land holdings were not being used for agriculture. Cultivable land belonging to the people has been given to the Adani monopoly capitalist group.

The villagers in the districts of Khunti and Godda who are most affected by these amendments have been opposing the moves of the state government to acquire their land. They have been undeterred by the repression let loose by the government. They have organized rallies to the state capital and demonstrated during visits of the Chief Minister to their district.

Several villages in Godda have refused entry to their village to all “Adani” officials without the Gram Pradhan’s permission. The Jharkhand Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha organised a jan panchayat, as well as a protest outside the Governor’s residence, on 16th and 17th February. to coincide with the overseas investment promotion summit organized by the government.

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