August 24, 2009

life in general: subversive ciruclars & notifications by state governments in india

The constitution of India and the various Parliament-enacted legislations may not be the most foolproof democracy-enhancing documents but they are certainly worthy of implementation. But the ruling state governments in India subvert this rights-protection umbrella through manipulative and rights-circumventing circulars and notifications. Below is one example of how this happens (its an email that I received, as a part of being on a mailing list).

Here goes:

Date: 2009/8/24
Subject: [nbapresslist] Narmada Valley roars: LOK SABHA ke oopar GRAM SABHA


• 62 M.G Marg, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh - 451551
Telefax: 07290-222464; E-mail:
•Maitri Niwas, Tembewadi, Behind Kakawadi, Dhadgav, Dist. Nandurbar,
Maharashtra - 425414 – Telefax: 02595-220620

For Immediate Release Date: 24th August, 2009



Hundreds of adivasis, farmers, fish workers, potters, artisans, women and men,
including various persons affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project, Indira Sagar
and Omkareshwar Canal Project, Jobat Dam, Goi and Gomai Projects and many
others took out a huge ‘mashaal juloos’ through the main streets of Badwani
today and gathered before the Old Collector office to participate in a mass
Sammelan to assert their constitutional and fundamental right to development
planning within their Gram Sabhas.

People at the Sammelan welcomed the recent Order of the Hon’ble High Court of
Madhya Pradesh ordering a status quo on the land acquisition and canal
excavation work in the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar Canals since the concerned
Gram Sabhas in the scheduled areas were not consulted before the land
acquisition as per the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas), Act, 1996;
which the Court said “is a legislation that has been enacted by the
Parliament by virtue of the power conferred by Article 243-M 4(b) of the

Prominent speakers at the Sammelan included Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Former
Professor of Political Science, Delhi University, Shri Kalyan Jain, Former
Parliamentarian and Shri Gautam Bandopadhyay; Social Activist, Nadi Ghati
Morcha, Chattisgarh. They all, in their fiery address to the people asserted
the fact that the first right to plan and decide how the resources must be
utilized in their regions must only taken place with the informed consultation
and consent of the local people.

Bava Mahariya of Jalsindhi, Kamla Yadav, Chhota Barda (Badwani), Kesariabhai
from Goi (Badwani) Devenbhai from Piplaj (Tehsil Manawar, Dhar Dist.),
Mansarambhai from Kothada (Manawar Tehsil), Jagdish bhai from Gogawa (Maheshwar
Tehsil, Khargone Dist) and many other representatives of the above mentioned
project – affected persons from the villages of Badwani, Khargone, Alirajpur
and Dhar districts also spoke in detail on how planning within their Gram
Sabhas is becoming a challenge in the face of an insensitive and bureaucratic
State. Nevertheless they shall struggle tooth and nail to ensure that their
basic democratic rights within the Gram Sabha are not snatched away by the
State. Medha Patkar and Ashish Mandloi of Narmada Bachao Andolan also
addressed the gathering on the pivotal role and rights of Gram Sabhas within
the constitutional scheme and called upon people not to relent in their
non-violent struggle. The Sammelan was also attended by some Janpad Members
from Badwani, Manawar and Kukshi Tehsils who also expressed concern that there
is a need to consult the people at the Gram Sabha.

It is unfortunate and infact unconstitutional that the Government of Madhya
Pradesh is making fervent attempts to weaken the constitutional mandate and
democratic processes by bringing out ‘Circulars’ and ‘Notifications’ to
violate the PESA Act. While the State Gram Swaraj Adhiniyam itself has omitted
by the non-negotiable features of the PESA Act, GoMP has issued one more
Circular on the 30th July (even as the High Court stay is in vogue) declaring
that “for Narmada valley projects ‘Janpad’ will be the ‘appropriate
Panchayat’ for consultation and not the Gram Sabha! The people have
challenged this inside and outside the Court and today, the speakers joined the
people of the valley in publicly burning off this Notification and demanded
that this state-sponsored attempt to finish off the villages and Gram Sabhas in
the adivasi areas would not be brooked.

The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (Section 4) makes
consultation with the Gram Sabhas pre-conditional not just before land
acquisition and before resettlement and rehabilitation but infact before any
scheme is planned in the scheduled areas. But the Government of Madhya Pradesh
is till date openly flouting this law, which is seriously compromising the
rights of adivasis.

We, the nature-based communities see the Order of the High Court as a step in
the just direction and an opportunity before us to really participate in the
planning process in our Gram Sabhas before large projects such as dams and
canals are imposed upon us by mis-information and force. While today, the lands
and resources of farmers and adivasis is being looted and given at throwaway
prices to huge builders, corporates and capitalists, owing to the pressure of
the latter and ignoring the interests of the country’s majority, the people
don’t have a choice but to fight back this exploitation and injustice and
guard their common resources such as water, lands, forests, minerals and fish
from going into private profiteering hands.

Towards the end of the Sammelan, the Tehsildar had to come to the people on
behalf of the District Collector Mr. N.B.S. Rajput to accept the memorandum
which was read out in his presence and would be reached to the Collector who
would also, it was demanded, have to forward this to the Chief Minister with a
detailed covering letter of his own. The hundreds of people present also took
out a resolve to fully endeavour to assert all their constitutional rights,
working towards the protection of human interests and the environment and stall
any related destruction.

It was also declared that soon after the Sammelan; people from the valley would
reach Bhopal on the 26th of August to meet the Governor Shri Rameshwar Thakur
and convincingly remind him of his constitutional duty towards ‘peace and
good governance’ in the adivasi areas.

With this Sammelan, thousands of adivasis and farmers have flagged off a
massive campaign for democratic rights-assertion in the Narmada Valley and give
a call to all fellow-organizations in the country to come together to translate
our long-pending vision of Gram Swaraj into reality by demanding for a
comprehensive legislation based on Article 243 of the Constitution. We also
appeal to all the intellectuals and concerned citizens of the country to
support this people’s struggle to achieve our constitutional goals of
equality and justice.

Mohanbhai Patidar Surbhanbhai Bhilala Gopalbhai Kamla Yadav
Kailash Awasya
Bhavaria Kakrana Mandil Chhota Barda

Ranveersingh Patel Jamsingh Richa Kishore Bhilala
Teekambhai Devram Kanera
Semalda Limbi Kharya Bhadal Jatpur

Kailash Yadav Devendra Tomar Dayaram Yadav Kailashbhai
Balabhai / Karan Patel
Kasravad Piplaj Piplood
Karondiya Pipri

Khaja Baba Kesariyabhai Jagdishbhai Mukheshbhai
Bhagore Khemabhai / Samratbhai
Malkotar, Pansemal Goi Gogawa, Maheshwar,
Nimola Jobat

Mohanbhai Sahdevbhai
Pipari Maan Shirsala

Contact: Ashish Mandloi (094248555042) Shrikanth (07290-222464)

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