11 Oct 2013

Jan Satyagraha +1 : the latest updates on the 10 point agreement signed one year ago

Jan Satyagraha +1 : the latest updates on the 10 point agreement signed one year ago

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The Jan Satyagraha March for Justice ended one year ago with the signature of an agreement in 10 points between the marchers, represented by Rajaopal, and Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development, in Agra.

AGREEMENT ON LAND REFORMS BETWEEN THE MINISTRY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT (GOI) AND JAN SATYAGRAHA

The Agreement

Progress by End August 2013

Ekta Parishad Actions

1. National Land Reforms Policy: While land reform is clearly a state subject under the Constitution, the MoRD acknowledges that a National Land Reforms Policy (NLRP) announced by the Central Government could have its own importance. The MoRD will initiate a dialogue with States immediately and put out a draft of this policy for public debate and discussion in the next 4-6 months and to be finalised soon thereafter. The draft Land Reforms Policy prepared by the Jan Satyagraha organized by Ekta Parishad will be an important input into the preparation of this draft. Civil Society Organisations will also be actively involved in this exercise.

Officially declared by the Minister of Rural Development at 17th July meeting of Task Force. Draft policy was circulated to all Chief Ministers, Revenue Ministers and Revenue Secretaries for comment on 31 August. Hindi and English versions of the Policy are available for comment on the MoRD website.

There are two stages to come:

  1. Endorsement at Revenue Ministers meet (an informal process), now expected by end September and

  2. Approval by the Cabinet Ministers group.

Then the policy can be announced. Ekta still hopeful of agreement asap

Published the NRLP in a booklet in Hindi and English and circulated to all key partners during JS2012 (2,000 copies) and soft copies sent to 5,000. Can be found on websites including Christian Aid and Action Aid.

EP has almost completed consultations with civil society groups in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Manipur. Some suggestions have been sent to the Rural Development Minister as he is responsible for incorporating suggestions for Cabinet Ministers’ meet.

EP is planning to organize a National Consultation on Land Reforms Policy and proposed National Homestead Act (2013) in November for strategic planning on next action.

2. Statutory backing to the provision of agricultural land and Homestead Land: MoRD will proactively initiate the dialogue process with States to take up steps on the issue of giving statutory backing (like MGNREGA and FRA) to (a) provision of agricultural land to the landless poor in the backward districts; and (b) provision of Homestead Rights to the landless and shelter less poor of rural areas, all over the country, so as to guarantee 10 cents of homestead to every landless and shelter less rural poor household.

National Homestead Act finalised - draft still pending with Ministry of Law (MoL). The Task Force has not received any comments from MoL. Once it gives approval the Bill will go to a Parliamentary Committee which will comment as per the constitution. The MoRD can then present the Bill to parliament. It also has to go to cabinet. Cannot now be presented till winter session in the last week of November at the earliest

Informal discussions on Homestead Act.

EP is planning to organize a National Consultation on Land Reforms Policy and proposed National Homestead Act (2013) in November for strategic planning on next action.

3. Homestead Land: MoRD will propose doubling the unit cost to enable provision of 10 cents of land as homestead for every landless and shelter less poor family as a component of the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).

Notification for amendments in IAY issued on 4 Feb 2013. States have started to implement at the revised rate, Andhra Pradesh, MP and Chhattisgarh so far.

EP is organizing various consultations for publicizing this at local level.

4. Enhanced Land Access and Land rights for the poor, marginalized and deprived landless: The MoRD agrees to issue detailed advisories in the next two months exhorting the States to focus on the effective implementation of various laws enacted by legislatures aimed at protecting the land rights of dalits, adivasis and all other weaker and marginalized sections of society. Details of these advisories will be worked out in consultation with civil society organisations active on this issue. MoRD will also, through a set of advisories exhort and support the State Governments to take up a time-bound programme, for securing access to land to specific categories of marginalized and deprived landless families.

Advisories on land reform sent to 17 state governments on 20th March. A few states are known to have responded, Kerala, Andhra and Rajasthan (all Congress states). State elections timetable is having a negative effect – Chhattisgarh and MP, for example, due very soon.

There is an indication that MoRD will come up with new set of notifications for north eastern states (8 states).

The Agreement has been published in a booklet in Hindi and distributed to all groups involved in JS2012. They are now meeting politicians and media to build pressure on the state governments to take action

5. Fast Track Land Tribunals: The MoRD agrees to initiate a dialogue with States to establish Fast Track Land Tribunals /Courts for speedy disposal of the cases pending in revenue and judicial courts. In addition to the Central Scheme for legal aid, States too will be exhorted to extend legal aid to all the persons belonging to socially deprived sections, whose lands are involved in litigation, particularly dalits and tribal communities.

Directive for Land Tribunals and Legal Aid sent to all States on 20th March. Only Andhra and Kerala have responded and Andhra has begun to implement.

In Chhattisgarh, a petition has been sent to the state government attaching the specific order and the Agreement.

EP is organizing various consultations for publicizing this at local level.

6. Effective Implementation of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA): MoRD will work with the Ministries of Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj to complete stakeholder consultations over the next four months so that detailed circulars to States could be issued for ensuring effective implementation of PESA by empowering the Gram Sabhas to exercise the powers given to them under the Act.

Advisories on PESA sent to the 17 state governments on 20th March.

The Task Force and the National Advisory Council sent a document based on the advisories, asking for amendments in PESA to ensure that it is enforced on the ground to Minister for Tribal Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee. EP heard that Cabinet members have not yet approved. States need to frame the rules for PESA, Jharkhand, MP and Andhra are taking action.

EP is organizing various consultations for publicizing this at local level.

7. Effective implementation of Forest Rights Act: Ministry of Tribal Affairs have issued a comprehensive set of revised rules on 13th September, 2012 under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. States will be actively exhorted and supported for effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act in the light of the revised rules and directives issued by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and in light of suggestions received from civil society organisations.

Advisories on FRA sent to the 17 state governments on 20th March.

There has been a major amendment in FRA with specific focus on Community Forest Rights (CFR). A revised order has been sent to nodal agencies in the state governments. Jharkhand, Odisha, MP, Andhra, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra have reopened the call for fresh individual and CFR claims under the Act. In Chhattisgarh alone, the government is ready to announce about 50,000 new entitlements and more are on the way in MP and Odisha.

Throughout the country, there are constant discussions with groups and officials in concerned departments on FRA implementation. FRA now more open and more will benefit, but mostly it is small amounts of land (10 acres maximum). Amending PESA is more difficult for the government as it is stronger legislation.

8. Forest and Revenue Boundary Disputes: MORD agrees to issue an advisory to States to set up joint teams of Forest and Revenue Departments to undertake a thorough survey of the forest and revenue boundaries to resolve disputes. The Gram Panchayats and Gram Sabhas will be fully involved in the survey and settlement process.

Advisories on Forest Revenue Boundary Disputes sent to the 17 state governments on 20th March.

So far only Andhra has taken any initiative and Chhattisgarh is following.


9. Survey, updating of records and governing Common Property Resources: The MoRD will exhort and support the States to carry out survey of Common Property Resources with the direct involvement of the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayats concerned. The States will also be advised to ensure full implementation of recent Supreme Court’s directions on this matter.

Advisories on CPRs sent to the17 state governments on 20th March.

No news!


10. Task Force on Land Reforms: The MoRD will immediately set up a Task Force on Land Reforms headed by the Union Minister for Rural Development to implement the above agenda. Members of the Task Force will include representatives of MoRD, state governments, civil society organisations working on land reform issues and all stakeholders concerned.

Task Force set up on 22 October 2012, 2 from Ekta Parishad are amongst the 18 members. Meets quarterly. Last meeting 17 July.

Land Acquisition Act has now passed. Ekta’s position is that there was a need for the Land Policy first.

 

 

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