Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — The peasant and workers group, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), has announced that it will hold a nationwide protest demonstration on July 22 against the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act (1927).
It has also expressed concern that millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest-dwelling communities have been facing the imminent danger of eviction due to the Supreme Court ruling of February 13, owing to the fact that the court will hear different petitions on the matter this month.
Addressing a press conference, AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah and joint secretary Vijoo Krishnan said the protest demonstration will be held jointly with the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, All India Agricultural Workers’ Union and constituents of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan at the village, block, district and state levels across the country. A protest demonstration is also reported to be held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, on the same day.
They also briefed about the 3-day meeting of the All India Kisan Council of AIKS held at Hyderabad from July 12 to 14. The council discussed the agrarian scenario prevailing in the country, thereby chalking out a future course of action.
This was preceded by a National Workshop on ‘Agrarian Crisis and Role of Worker-Peasant Social Cooperatives in Building Alternatives’, inaugurated by Dr. Thomas Isaac, the Finance Minister of Kerala.
“The experiences of successful cooperatives were shared, and the possibilities of building a movement for Cooperative action were deliberated upon”, Mollah said, with regard to the workshop which witnessed the participation of more than 300 delegates from across the country.
He said the AIKC meeting discussed at length the drought situation in the country, and expressed serious concerns over the complete apathy of the BJP-led Central Government, including the different State Governments.
A separate resolution on the drought situation called for the scrapping of the Manual for Drought Management of 2016, which almost absolves the Central Government of any responsibilities in times of drought. Under the changed criteria, drought-hit regions can be excluded from compensation from the National Disaster Response Fund.
The AIKC demanded that the unprecedented drought be declared a National Calamity and called for effective relief measures including compensation for crop losses, provision of free rations, waiver of loans and creation of jobs under MGNREGA.
With regard to the Supreme Court ruling, if the claims under the FRA are rejected, then the states had been directed to evict Adivasis and traditional forest dwellers from the forests. After countrywide protests, the Supreme Court amended its ruling and stayed it till July 10, and is due to hear the different petitions on 24th July 2019.
Mollah said the BJP government is also proposing rather “draconian” amendments to the Indian Forest Act (1927), which may pave the way for corporate exploitation.
He also added that the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee will hold rallies at all District Collectorates on August 3 and submit memorandums through the Collectors to the President of India, demanding the passage of the two Bills proposed by the Kisan Parliament. These include remunerative prices for all crops as per Swaminathan Commission recommendations with assured procurement and freedom from indebtedness by waiving off all loans of farmers.
“If the proposed Bill is passed by the Parliament, then it would lead to 70% of the workers now under the protection of the labour codes to be at the mercy of their employer”, Mollah said.
The Union Cabinet also approved a floor level minimum wage of Rs 178/- per day (Rs.4628/-per month) which is way below the minimum wage available in most states. This will, however, lead to further depressing incomes and subsequently, will aid corporate profiteering.