Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday expressed her government’s opposition to the land acquisition bill, maintaining certain provisions take away the safeguards required for farmers in the country.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jayalalithaa expressed her inability to attend the second meeting of the Governing Council of NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog in New Delhi on Wednesday due to other pressing engagements.
The meeting would deliberate on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and amendments sought to be brought about by the NDA government.
As the Niti Aayog meeting has to be attended only by the chief ministers of different states, Jayalalithaa sent her speech conveying the state government’s views that are to be taken on record.
She said her government was opposed to Chapter III of Right to Fair Compensation and Tranparencey in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
According to Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu farmers were strongly opposed to the provisions in the bill that empower state governments to exempt specified projects from the ambit of the Act.
Jayalalithaa said the amendment bill’s provisions were hence also unacceptable to the government of Tamil Nadu.
“We believe that the present amendments take away important safeguards that farmers and agriculture require. Hence, I urge the government of India not to press ahead with these amendments,” she said.
As per provisions of Chapter III, consent of 80 percent of the landowners have to be obtained if the land is acquired for private project.
If the land is proposed to be acquired for public-private-partnership projects, then consent of 70 percent of the landowners is to be obtained.
Further, a social impact assessment has to be made and there are limits on acquiring agricultural and multi-cropped land.
However these provisions would not apply to projects in defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including electrification, affordable housing and housing for the poor, industrial corridors, infrastructure and social infrastructure projects, including projects under public-private partnership, where the ownership of the land continues to vest with the government.
8th Nov, 2017, Jharkhand:Armed with just water bottles and sticks, a group of poor tribal women in Muturkham village of Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhandtrekked miles to the sal forest that surrounded their habitat. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the “forest mafia”.
Accompanied by just a dog for their safety, these determined women made frequent forays into the deep forest — with which they shared a symbiotic relationship — and have been able, over the years, to successfully conserve 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna deep in the heart of a territory that has also been a battle zone between government forces and left-wing extremists.
This group was brought together by Jamuna Tudu, 37, who has spent the last two decades of her life fighting against deforestation. It was in 1998, after her marriage, that Jamuna took up this challenge of preserving the forest by making villagers develop a stake in it.
Today, her Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Group) has about 60 active women members who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day: Morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night, as the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.
Jamuna’s fight has not gone unnoticed. The President of India has honoured her conservation efforts.
“Few days after my marriage, when my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a few other women from the village took me to the forest to cut wood and get it to cook food, I felt that if we keep cutting the trees this way, all our forests will be wiped out,” Jamuna recalled to IANS in an interview.
In her quest, she had to battle against the mafia that was chopping down trees for their precious sal timber with complete disregard for the law or the tribal tradition that prohibits cutting of the trees.
Realising that she would get little help from authorities, who may well have been hand in glove with the mafia, she took matters in her own hands. She spoke to a few women of the village who were quite aghast at the task she had taken on. We won’t do it; this will require us to fight the men in the village, they told her.
But Jamuna, who has studied up to Class X, foresaw a bleak green-less future for herself and her community with no trees and forests to sustain or protect them.
‘Jungle nahi rahega toh paryavaran kaise bachega (how will we protect the environment if the forest is destroyed)?’ she asked.
Jamuna’s clear understanding of the issue soon trickled down to the other women and even men in her village.
“I was brought up with a love and respect for nature. My father used to plant numerous trees in our farms in Odisha. That’s where I learnt the importance of the environment,” she said.
Pointing out how the mafia was exploiting the wood from Muturkham to fund their alcohol needs, she said she was bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being slowly destroyed.
“I went on to speak to a few women in the village. I held a meeting with them several times to be able to convince them that we needed to protect our beautiful forests,” she said.
Gradually, she mobilised a group of 25 women from the village and armed them with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears, they marched into the forest to take on the forest predators.
With time, many men also became part of the campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be from women, said Jamuna.
There are many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication towards their cause kept them going.
“There were too many altercations with the village people initially.. many scuffles with the mafia… and I told those women that in this journey, we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle to keep the forest,” said Jamuna.
The group convinced the railway authorities to bar the plundered wood from being exported.
“Some time in 2008-09, we were brutally attacked by the mafia,” she said.
“They pelted stones at us while we were coming back from the railway station after speaking to the station master. Everybody got injured,” she added.
For obvious reasons, Jamuna, the woman whose initiatives were hampering their business, was their main target. She and her husband suffered most in the assault.
“My husband got hit on his head as he tried to save me. It was dark and we somehow managed to run away. We narrowly escaped death that day.” But she did not give up.
Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitisation of the community, Jamuna, and the Van Suraksha Samiti that she formed, have succeeded in protecting and conserving the 50 hectares of forest land not just surrounding her village, but around many others as well.
Tribal communities cannot survive without wood. They need it for various things — mostly to cook food. But they ensure that their requirements remain within sustainable limits.
“We don’t cut trees on purpose any more and use the fallen trees and branches for all our needs,” Jamuna said. “The amount we are able to save up during the rains is sufficient for the whole year.”
The Forest Department has “adopted” her village, which has led to Muturkham getting a water connection and a school.
In 2013, Jamuna was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category and this year in August, she was awarded with Women Transforming India Award by the NITI Aayog.
Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan Division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.
She wants to do a lot more. “I wish to do a lot… to make a lot more difference, but I am bound by limited resources. I can’t in many ways afford to go beyond the villages in my state.”
But if I get more support, many more forests like ours can be saved, she declared.
(This feature is part of a special series that seeks to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India, and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mudita Girotra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanjavur, Dec 13, 2016: In an area of about 150 square feet, a small temple was built near a statue of MGR on Mela Veedhi in Thanjavur. This is in the memory of none other than late Chief Minister and AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa.
A die-hard fan, M. Swaminathan, who is a former councillor and represented ward 18 of the Thanjavur Municipal Corporation. The temple which is set to be opened in the next few days is named the temple ‘Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Alayam’.
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“Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) demise was an unbearable loss. On the day of her death, I spent the whole evening in front of Apollo Hospitals and was heartbroken. I had great affection for Amma all these years and this is my way of paying my tribute to her,” he said to The Hindu.
A big portrait of Jayalalithaa will be present at the “sanctum sanctorum” and it will also have portraits of former Chief Ministers M.G. Ramachandran and C.N. Annadurai. Swaminathan mentioned that he started working on the temple on December 7 after paying homage to Jayalalithaa at Rajaji Hall in Chennai, the previous day.
“Most of the work, except for some finishing touches, have been completed. The temple will be opened in the next few days after a few rituals,” he said to The Hindu.
A big sized statue of Jayalalithaa, made of bronze will be installed at the temple. Further, there are arrangements made to keep a lamp lit perpetually over there. There will also be an audio system, which will play songs praising the late leader.
Chennai, Dec 11, 2016: The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday decided to recommend to the Union government to confer the BharatRatna on late Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa.
A meeting of the state Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam, passed a condolence resolution on Jayalalithaa’s death, and also passed a resolution to recommending to the central government that she be conferred the country’s highest honour.
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The cabinet also decided to request the Union government to install a brass statue of Jayalalithaa in the Parliament’s central hall.
The other decisions taken at the cabinet meeting were to build a memorial for Jayalalithaa at an outlay of Rs 15 crore; rename Bharat Ratnaj Dr MGR (M.G.Ramachandran) memorial to BharatRatna Dr.Puratchi Thalaivar MGR and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Selvi J.Jayalalithaa memorial. (IANS)