Jan Satyagrah close to Delhi doors | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Jan Satyagrah close to Delhi doors

Amidst hopes that an agreement may be reached between Ekta Parishad and the Union government over demands for extensive land reforms, more than 45,000 persons participating in the foot march organised by the former entered Utttar Pradesh on Monday. The foot march titled 'Jan Satyagrah' had begun on Gwalior on October 3 and will culminate at Delhi.

bhopal Updated: Oct 09, 2012 15:06 IST
Ashutosh Shukla

Amidst hopes that an agreement may be reached between Ekta Parishad and the Union government over demands for extensive land reforms, more than 45,000 persons participating in the foot march organised by the former entered Uttar Pradesh on Monday. The foot march titled 'Jan Satyagrah' had begun on Gwalior on October 3 and will culminate at Delhi.

On Monday, while the satygrahis marched towards Agra, their representative Ramesh Sharma was in Delhi to talk to Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Ekta Paritshad's 16-point charter of demands. After talks with the Union minister, Ekta Parishad activists seemed optimistic and said a solution appeared to be in sight.

"The talks were positive. Members of our advisory committee will meet Ramesh on Tuesday and an agreement is likely to be signed during the meeting," said Ekta Parishad activist Anil over telephone from near Agra.

Jairam Ramesh was in touch with Ekta Parishad president PV Rajgopal and members of his core team even before the foot march began. He along with Union minister of state for commerce & industry Jyotiraditya Scindia had participated in the Ekta Parishad public meeting before the march began and had promised to consider their demands sympathetically at the same time maintaining that it's upto the state governments to implement laws on land reforms and the Union government could do little beyond framing laws in that regard. However, his attempts to stall the foot march had not paid off then.

Ekta Parishad activists, however, say that in 2007 when they had taken out a simlar "Janadesh Yatra", the Union government had formed two committees to examine the issue of problems relating to use of land and provision of land to all landless persons. The two committees had submitted their reports to National Land Reforms Council on January 3, 2009 but the council never met to examine recommendations of the two committees and contemplate further action.
"It was a betrayal and one major reason why we have undertaken the foot march to Delhi is to remind the Union government of its pledge to carry out land reforms through legislation in a manner that all the landless persons have cultivable land and houseless families have shelter," said Anil.

He further said the Union government is suggesting that grant under Indira Awas Yojana would be doubled from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 but Ekta Parishad was not agreeing to it because it won't make any palpable difference at the grassroots. "We are demanding Right to shelter bill," said Anil.

Among other prominent demands of Ekta Parishad are a national policy on land reforms and a draft on land use. "How can a situation, as it exists at Singrauli in MP or some places in Jharkhand or Orissa be allowed to persist. Tribals in tribal-dominated Singrauli district are being thrown out and their land acquired for mining and setting up of thermal power plants. How can you convert an entire district into a power hub or a mining hub," said Anil.

Ekta Parishad is also demanding implementation of PESA (Panchayat- Extension to Schedule Areas Act) in tribal areas so that local population has a say in how the land and natural resources in their respective areas is used. They are also demanding setting up of fast-track courts to settle thousands of land disputes pending in the civil court and a survey among persons displaced in various projects and their proper rehabilitation.