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Mainstream, VOL L, No 43, October 13, 2012

Half a Battle Won, the Wider Task Ahead

Tuesday 16 October 2012, by Bharat Dogra

The agreement reached on October 11 between the government and Jan Satyagraha, the Gandhian movement for land reforms, has created conducive conditions for the foot-march of over 50,000 people to end at Agra, instead of the original plan of the marchers coming all the way to Delhi.

The agreement has emphasised the setting up of a task force and homestead land for all land-less rural people. Beyond the immediate terms of the agreement, however, the bigger and hard-won victory is that of putting land reforms back on the national agenda. It’ll now be difficult even for the UPA Government, with all its pre-vious record of neglecting land reforms, to ignore land reforms. This by itself is a major achieve-ment of the efforts of the nearly 60,000 people who gathered, walked and worked in other ways for this achievement.

However, the efforts for many-sided land-justice should continue. The land rights of far-mers, threatened by displacement and/or the many-sided economic crisis, should be protected. All poor rural households should get at least some land. Those who have already received such land but could not occupy it should be helped by the government to occupy and cultivate this land.

Possibilities of displacement should be reduced to the minimum. All avoidable displacement should be stopped immediately. Those displaced people who suffered in the past should also be extended the necessary help.

Satisfactory rehabilitation should be worked out for all those who face displacement now. Land-alienation among tribals should be stopped. The Forests Rights Act should be improved to check the displacement being caused by its faulty implementation.

The activists of Jan Satyagraha have rightly said that the march may have stopped, but the Satyagraha will continue. This is the spirit with which the much wider task ahead should be approached.

The author is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.

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