Over 50,000 landless poor from across the country have assembled in Gwalior and will march to New Delhi to present their demands that each of them need a piece of land.
On Tuesday, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh appealed the agitating workers of Ekta Parishad to return back home with message that Congress will uphold their dignity, identity and security. The UPA government is determined to address concern of land-related issues of the poor and the landless with utmost sensitivity, he said.
“We will do everything possible to protect the dignity, identity and security of tribals and the poor”, asserted the minister. Addressing a large gathering of Ekta Parishad activists and workers at Mela ground in Gwalior, he however pointed out at the constitutional restriction to deal the matter under state jurisdiction. Land is a state subject and any deviation by the Centre would amount to infringe on federal structure. Nevertheless sincere attempts will be made to find long lasting solution of the problem by taking everyone onboard.
Ramesh furher said that the Union government wants to evolve a policy framework on national land development or reforms for the poor and the tribals in line with the food security, employment guarantee, right to education and health etc. “A meeting involving various stakeholders has been arranged in Delhi on October 11 and we are hopeful of positive outcome”, he added. The minister also recalled various welfare schemes such as national forest policy, water policy, education, health policies, Indira Awas Yojana, the scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers act, 2006, and MNREGA etc being initiated by the Centre.
Minister of state Jyotiraditya Scindia also took a dig at the BJP for highhandedness and misrule in the state while on the other lauded policy initiatives taken by the UPA government. He recalled the state government apathy towards Jal Satyagraha workers. He reiterated the UPA government’s commitment for uplift and integration of the Dalits, tribals and the poor into the mainstream. He said in recognition to their contribution in various fields Gandhiji had preached and advocated for initiating of policy framework to benefit the last man in row. Congress while following the footprints of Gandhiji continues to frame policies with holistic approach, added Scindia. But these poor centric policies suffered a setback whenever and wherever Congress was voted out of power. Besides policy initiative fell prey to corruption, malpractices due to lack of proper implementation by state agencies. In MP reports of malpractices in MNREGA with ministers and their relatives’ names figuring in muster roll is no secret.
The minister said reports of corruption in government schemes funded by Cente continue to be ignored, charged Scindia. In collusion with state agency, the mining lease in Shivpuri district was allotted to big industrial house. He said he worked hard to ensure the ban on mining activities was lifted. But the actual beneficiaries were deprived of their right to mine.
President of Ekta Parishad Rajagopal PV said the moment has reached at crossroad and government has to take a final call. “We’re optimistic that the UPA government will consider our demand for Jal, Jungle and Jamin (water, forest and land) in earnest manner. We aren’t asking for any concession or bounties from the government but a small piece of land to build house and agriculture land for sustaining livelihood”, Ralgopal added. Gandhian leader SN Subbarao dwelt on the importance of the place (Gwalior) to start onward march by workers to Delhi.