Medha Patkar joins chorus for CBI probe into Odisha land, mining scams

Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Aug 26:

Eminent social activist and National Convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) Medha Patkar today demanded a CBI inquiry into multi- thousand crore mega scams in the fields of mining, land and house allotment and forest land loot in Odisha.

Photo: Biswaranjan Mishra
Photo: Biswaranjan Mishra

Talking to newsmen at the Lohiya Academy here in the presence of Prafulla Samatray, State Convenor of NAPM, Patkar said she was surprised after hearing that the State Government run by the Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, which is yet to provide land pattas to several tribals in the State under the Forest Right Act, has allotted several houses, plots and valuable land, including forest land, to ruling party leaders, bureaucrats and influential people.

Apart from the land, house allotment and forest land scams, Patkar also raised the mining scam issue and demanded an unbiased probe by the Central agency into the loot of natural resources by the corporates.

The well known activist said her organisation would protest against the Polavaram project, which would displace around three lakh of tribals in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. People’s organisations would also strongly protest Vedanta’s expansion plan at Lanjigarh, construction of Lower Suktel Project without consent of the people and other anti-people projects in the State and country, she said.

Recalling the efforts of former Union Minister and economist Jairam Ramesh in the UPA government passing a farmer-friendly Land Acquisition Bill (The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act) in August 2013, Patkar said the newly formed NDA government wants to amend the bill, which is completely unacceptable to the people’s movements and will face tough opposition across the country.

The activist said that more than 200 people’s organisations in the country working with the NAPM would protest the Central Government if it tries to amend the Bill. “The Centre is trying to amend two key provisions of the Act- ‘Consent of the land holders’ and ‘Social Impact Assessment’, which would help the industrialists to grab land from the poor,” said Patkar, adding, “We will protest the amendment countrywide to put pressure on the Government.”

The NDA government should ensure strict implementation of the new Act that gives farmers a fair share, protects their right to property and ensured that whole villages in our country are not uprooted for the benefit of private industry, the winner of the Magsaysay award said urging the Ministry of Environment to back off from making amendments of the FC and EC processes of the Act, she added.

NAPM is going to organise a three-day National Convention in Pune from October 31 where the people’s issues will be discussed and the outfit will give a call for national struggle to protect people’s rights over natural resources and right to livelihood, informed Samantray.

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