The two-day National Convention of Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) that was held in Delhi on 26-27 September 2022 resolved to fight against land and forests grab by the Government and the Corporates. Over 200 leaders and activists of 70 organisations from 20 states vowed to join hands to safeguard the country’s resources in the hands of the working people.
It decided to resist the Monetization and Digitization of Land. It is Capital, and not Land which is the main reason for failure of development projects. 45% of the projects are stalled due to lack of capital and investments, while non-availability of land contributes only 8%.
People came from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab.
The Convention called for an intensive campaign and struggle against industrialists and businessmen all over the country who have forcibly grabbed the lands from the local people; have taken the public resources which have been with the people for centuries such as water, forest, land and minerals.
The research wing of the Land Rights Movement has compiled 80 cases of such places of loot happening all across the country where all their resources are being taken without following legal procedures.
The Bhumi Adhikar Andolan since its formation is in solidarity with all such local struggles and resistance. It has pushed forward for all these struggles to come together. The BAA was formed in 2015 and led a victorious struggle, forcing the Modi-led BJP government to take back the anti-peasant and pro-corporate Land Acquisition Ordinance. Since then it has always been against the state-sponsored loot of resources held by the local communities, tribals, dalits, fishermen and the urban poor.
The BAA as a national forum, has been opposing and has stood with organized resistance against this plunder, and has always advocated land rights as a form of identity and livelihood. The Constitution of India guarantees this to every citizen. The movement is committed to protect this right given by the Constitution, but also to protect the historical rights prevailing in the country. It also strongly advocates the fight to establish equality against inequality and peaceful and democratic people’s movements towards achieving this together with working people and disadvantaged communities.
Representatives of people’s movements and activists fighting against the land grab by Government and Corporates in different states of the country participated in the 4th National Convention of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan. Hannan Mollah, Medha Patkar, Ulka Mahajan, Prafulla Samantray, Dayamani Barla, Dr. Sunilam, Dr Ashok Dhawale, Arvind Anjum, Madhuri, Roma Malik, Satyawan, Vijoo Krishnan came together along with others to intensify the struggle for land and forest rights.
In present times, the land, forests, and commons are being handed over to corporates using legislations, amendments, and concessions at the expense of communities and environment. On one hand, the Govt. had left it to the states to amend the central land acquisition act and on the other, it is centrally amending the environment legislations paving the way for corporates in the garb of private management and afforestation.
The rights of Gram Sabhas and Autonomous District Councils in fifth and sixth schedule areas are being undermined and bypassed, as shared by the activists from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tripura and other states.
While inaugurating the convention, Hannan Mollah said, “There is a consistent all-round attack on rights of adivasis, farmers, dalits, and workers of this country. After a long struggle put up by farmers’ organisations led by the SKM, the Govt. was forced to repeal the three farm laws. Now such unity is needed to save our lands, forests, and people’s rights over natural resources. The BAA will intensify its struggle for this in the coming days.”
“If you transpose the area threatened by land acquisition under five national industrial corridors on India’s map, there will be hardly anything left for people of this country. The Country is being sold to corporates and more than 43% of the country’s lands are in danger of land grab by corporates”, said Ulka Mahajan.
“The land banks have taken over our commons and have dispossessed the community of pastures, water bodies, community lands etc. This is an ease of doing business, taking over the people’s resources as shown by the draconian anti-people BJP Govt at the centre and in Jharkhand in the past regime.”, said Dayamani Barla.
“Corporate profiteering has not only taken over lands and forests but has also impacted the climate all over the world.”, said Medha Patkar.
Madhuri said,” The changes which are proposed in Forest Conservation Rules violate the Forest Rights Act, 2006, as it dilutes the sprit of FRA. These changes attempt to attack the long struggle to undo the historical injustice against the Adivasi communities.”
Ashok Choudhary said, “The Forest Rights Act was passed in spite of the strong opposition by vested interests. It superseded all earlier laws related to forest land and tribals. But even this is being attacked now by the BJP regime. This attack must be repulsed.”
Concluding the convention, Dr Ashok Dhawale said, “The Telangana struggle was the largest and most militant land struggle in the history of India. That was against feudalism. While the struggle against feudalism continues, the struggle against corporate land grab and for the land rights of the Adivasis has now intensified. The battle against Manuwadi corporate communalism must be strengthened manifold.”
The Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan condemns the changes made in the rules of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 by the Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change. BAA considers the changes to be against the dignity and livelihood of tribal communities and other traditional communities and sees it as playing with the spirit of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, a progressive landmark law passed by the Parliament of India. The mass organizations in all the states associated with BAA will pass resolutions against these Rules from the Gram Sabhas on a large scale.
BAA strongly opposes the destruction of rich forests like the Hasdeo Aranya, Chhattisgarh which is called the lungs of Central India just to establish a monopoly on coal by the Modi government’s master Adani. Even after giving assurances to the local communities, today the state orchestred felling of trees in the presence of armed forces where local activists have been arrested. BAA stands in solidarity with the struggle of people of Hasdeo Aranya which continued for 170 days and condemns this barbaric action of the Chhattisgarh state government .
BAA strongly condemned the repression on the democratic movements and activists in the country and warned the government to stop its fascistic activities.
- State level meetings will be held in all the states associated with BAA within a month and they will work out a strategy keeping in mind the local issues and the conditions there.
- On 10th December Human Rights Day there will be a massive movement against the attack s on forests, land, minerals, water and labour laws.
- On January 30, when Nafrat Chhodo Samvidhan Bachao Yatra will be held in Delhi, BAA will express solidarity with this yatra in Delhi and will call for support for this yatra across the country.
- BAA will form a legal cell to help the movements fighting on land issues.
- The BAA has so far worked in a very flexible and voluntary manner, but now the need for a secretariat is being felt. BAA will soon take a concrete initiative in this direction.
Charter of Demands
Stop corporate takeover of land, stop all unlawful displacement and eviction and ensure land rights of the peasantry.
Strictly implement LARR 2013. Do not let loose repression on peasant resistance against unlawful displacement and eviction.
Strictly implement the clauses to protect agricultural land from conversion for other purposes and adhere to the stipulations in the land laws for proper compensation on lawful and just acquisition of land.
Strict implementation of Forest Rights Act in all the states within a stipulated time frame of one year.
Withdraw the Forest Conservation Rules 2022. Withdraw Biodiversity (Amendment) Act 2022.
Community rights of fish workers on the coastal lands should be recognised and recorded.
Comprehensive implementation of MNREGA linking with agriculture, fisheries, dairy and all allied sectors and ensure minimum wage of Rs. 600/day to all rural workers.
Legalise cattle trade market across the country to ensure freedom of the peasantry to exchange their cattle wealth.
Direct State Governments to include a clause – the State Government shall procure cattle, paying market price to the farmers and protect in cow shelters ensuring proper feed and water.
Ensure strict legal action against the communal elements unleashing violence and mob lynching especially against Muslims and Dalits in the name of ‘cow protection’.
The Central Government and all State Governments must enact laws to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 50% above cost of production to all crops, guarantee purchase centres as recommended by National Farmers’ Commission and promote peasant cooperatives for crop wise large scale modern agro-processing industrial and marketing networks.
Ensure minimum wage of Rs. 600 per day in all the states and withdraw the 4 labour codes that negate the rights of the working class to negotiate for higher wages, right to form associations and right to strike.
Comprehensive loan waiver to the peasantry covering institutional as well as private credit for agriculture to cover all peasant households and take strict measures on a war footing to stop peasant suicides.
Ensure universal monthly pension of Rs 5000 at the age of 60 to all agricultural workers and small and marginal peasants holding up to 2 hectares of land.
Stop contract farming under the corporatisation of agriculture. Ban corporate takeover of agricultural production. Promote co-operative agriculture to transcend petty production to large scale production by linking with modern crop wise agro-processing industries and market network.
Reverse Free Trade Agreements and reinstall subsidy to farmers on seeds, fertiliser, power, irrigation and input industries.
Reverse GST and stop centralisation of wealth that annihilates the character of the Constitution of India and thus of the Union of India that is detrimental to the peasantry and agriculture.
Control unemployment and ensure right to employment as fundamental right.
Immediately halt price rise of essential commodities and reverse the deregulation on petroleum products.
Ensure effective implementation of the Public Distribution System and NFSA. The current provision of grains should not be replaced by Direct Cash Benefit transfer.
Digitalisation of land records should be done in order to protect the objectives of land reforms and the rights of vulnerable coomunities, unregistered tenants should be protected. The implementation of this process should be transparent.
Stop privatisation of Health and Education.
Halt NMP – National Monetisation Pipeline that aims to hand over all the public assets and PSUs to corporate forces.
Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan