There is no doubt Industrialisation lays path for the development of the State and the country. We have number of lessons to be learnt from the current impasse and siege at Singur with people who are for setting up the Tata’s Nano plant (mostly the farmers who have willingly given their land and also their siblings are into daily wage labour currently at the plant) against a backdrop of people who are against the plant (Presumably the farmers whose land had been forcefully taken without their consent and now aided by political groups ). Now the tussle has come to a point of literal war between political parties and hopefully the dialogue will not loose sight of the issue.
Having working experience of more than two decades in the State of Jharkhand – we have seen closely the plight of the hapless tribals and the deprived in the region whose lands have been usurped forcefully with no adequate compensation on par with the market value. The rampant industrialisation of Jharkhand is fetching handsome returns to the government but there is absolutely no participation of the poor to share the revenues. In this state more than 50% of its population is living below the poverty line which itself is an indicator the poor are never partnered with in sharing the riches of the State.
The poor come into picture only when their land is required. Their consent or their participation is never sought and using the extra constitutional power of the State , the lands are forcefully acquired. While the farmers are fully conversant with only farming , the cash is of to no avail to them. In Jharkhand large tracts of land have been acquired for industrialisation, mining of various minerals . The white collared jobs are occupied by the citizens from the other states and the locals are engaged only for casual labour or menial work most often of contractual basis citing lack of skill as the reason. The Subarnarekha Multipurpose Dam, Koel Karo Dam , the ravaged and abandoned mica mines , coal mines ,bauxite and copper mines are the living examples of Jharkhand. We have several paradoxical situations of the villages adjacent to the Thermal power stations are in dark due to lack of electrification, the cash compensation of the Subarnarekha dam has been spent by the locals unproductively and now they are neither with cash nor with land and neither the project completed. The recurrent accidents in the coal mining and the underground fires ravaging in Jharia are contextual when the interests of one segment of the white collared is catered to and the plight of the poor is left to the mercy of the God !!!
The genesis of the whole issue is that the Government be it State or Central are more bent towards the corporates and their needs and the people’s needs are enlisted at last. The kind of red carpet treatment they receive , the handsome tax holidays and the innumerable priveleges they enjoy even if a part of the same is made for the affected people then such impasse never occurs. The participation, engagement of the local community in constructive dialogue , taking the concurrence of the majority of the locals before venturing into plans, land for land compensation, if the land cost is paid then it should be on par with the market value and not the outdated government values which is never the market rate should be the lead step taken by the government.
Always the poor are asked to sacrifice their land in the name of National interest but their basic needs are never catered to. As our past history of industrialisation or development programs have not addressed the needs of the people , the apprehensions of the people are well placed. At this stage careful balancing act in the best interests of the local people and the corporate is needed for which a very sensitive participatory dialogue of all concerned stake holders is required to come to a consensus agreeable to all. Singur episode should be eye opener for all the future industrial or development programs of the country.
Since after inception of the State of Jharkhand it is learnt the different governments which were in power in the state have signed 43 MOU’s with various industrial groups. It invariably means 1000’s of hectares of land is required for executing the same. Already the tiff off between the business groups and locals have started in the region and it could be tougher with growing awareness among the communities with due thanks to various activists and civil society groups.
The paradox in the state of Jharkhand is that the genesis for which a separate state has been demanded by the then leaders is lost sight off and many of the same leaders who were part of the movement then are now vouching for development of the state at the cost of the displacement of thousands of villagers . The ugly political and administrative power is further used to suppress the people’s movements through direct and veiled threats and by foisting false cases . In the beginning of the 20th century movement picked up to push out the foreign rulers and in the beginning of the 21st century a people’s movement is again emerging albeit in different locations to fight against the forced occupation, evictions of the villagers with due thanks to SEZ’s and Industrialisation .