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Friday, November 9, 2007

Action Against SEZ

Unity of anti-SEZ forces - an appeal from Lokshashan Andolan - November 3, 2007


‘Samata’, C-48, Pashan Road, Pune – 411 008.
Email : lokshashanandolan@gmail.com
3rd November 2007
Sub: Initiative For An Effective All India United Movement Against SEZs,
Land Grabbing and Displacement

Dear Friends,

Uprooting of massive population from their lands and livelihoods for establishment of large sized ‘industries’, infrastructure projects and SEZs has become a country-wide phenomenon. With the enactment of the SEZ Act 2005 this process of land grabbing and displacement has gathered momentum. The implementation of the SEZ policy is creating exclusive enclaves where no laws of the land that protects the rights of the labour and that of the people at large will be applicable, which indicates near total lack of sovereignty of our country. This great offensive of anti-people forces within and without is against whatever rights the workers, peasants and the masses had earned due to their relentless struggles. The people who are struggling against such policies and the people in general have begun to understand the implications of these pro-imperialist industrial and SEZ policies. Massive unemployment, fall in food grain production, exhausting of country’s mineral resources (vital for the development of our country and safeguarding of country’s strategic interests) in the next 20-30 years, plundering of forest, water and other natural resources, handing over of the reigns of the Indian economy to the MNCs and their Indian agents, massive destitution of Indians and the spectre of slavery are some of the most drastic consequences of the policies of the Government. A path of industrialisation that converts the vast masses as destitutes and serves imperialist forces is no path of industrialisation for India. Industrial development has to be in the interest of the vast masses of India and to satisfy their needs i.e. catering primarily to the home market of products of mass consumption. The policies of pro-imperialist industrialisation and SEZs that is being thrust on the people of India have to be therefore rejected.

Rightly, therefore, the affected people are resisting such projects and have launched powerful movements against such mindless, anti-people ‘industrialisation’ and SEZs. Anti-SEZ and anti-displacement movements such as in Raigad, Kalinganagar and Nandigram have shown the path to all such movements across the country. The Anti-Posco movement in Erasama of Orissa against the proposed SEZ by South Korean company Posco, Singur Movement against land grabbing and other anti-SEZ, anti-land grabbing movements across the country have come into forefront. By resorting to state repression in the form of lodging hundreds of false police cases, by resorting to terrorising the local population and resorting to firing on the unarmed protesters all the state governments have demonstrated that they do not care for the democratic rights of the people to protest. In spite of such repression mass movements against SEZs, Land Grabbing and Displacement are cropping up across the length and breadth of the country. People are rising against the Government and the corporates across the country and are prepared to lay down their lives to protect their lands and livelihoods. This upsurge of mass movements is perhaps unprecedented. The political forces that continuously work amongst the people are raising their voice against pro-imperialist, anti-people industrialisation and SEZ polices of the Government. Many of these political forces are also active in some of the mass movements. Many political forces have launched campaigns against these policies. The mass movements and the political forces have also come together in a few conventions (Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Delhi and Kolkata) with the objective of highlighting the issue and the need for united action. However, we all will agree that effective All-India united action, which is the need of the hour, is yet to materialise.

Our experience in anti-SEZ struggle in Raigad in particular and the anti-SEZ and anti-land grabbing movements in general has underlined the importance for concerted effort to unite all these struggles to launch an effective all-India united movement against SEZs, Land Grabbing and Displacement. In this regard we believe that we have to understand the dynamics of each mass movement concretely and appreciate the realities of the situation and the tactics followed to stall the land grabbing projects in question. All struggle committees opposed to SEZs, Land Grabbing and Displacement and the underlying policies have to be involved and their suggestions considered for arriving at the much needed effective all-India united movement against SEZs, Land Grabbing and Displacement. Similarly all genuinely pro-people political forces who are continuously engaged in movements against the pro-imperialist policies and other anti-people policies of the Government of India and that of the various state Governments have to be involved and their suggestions taken into consideration. Many distinguished Individuals would have to be involved and their views taken into consideration. Past experiences of such initiatives have to be also taken into consideration. Although launching an effective All-India Movement is extremely urgent we understand that such a process may take some time.

To be clear about the forces to be involved in this initiative I may offer the suggestion that we make efforts to involve all struggling forces and political forces who would support the main demand “Scrap SEZ Act 2005 and state SEZ Acts, Scrap All SEZs declared/established so far, stop land grabbing & displacement and return grabbed land”. It would be worthwhile to point out that foreign funded NGO’s and the forces implementing pro-imperialist policies under the garb of mass movements would not be invited. Our effort should be to build the broadest possible effective alliance of mass movements, political forces and individuals against SEZs, land grabbing and displacement so that genuine and effective united action at the all-India level can be launched.

With all humility we suggest that all the forces described above come together for a preparatory meeting where all the suggestions can be discussed and a course of action can be chalked out. we hope you will agree to this suggestion and send your representative to the first preparatory meeting. Since we may have to discuss several questions on the issue and a significant amount of time may be required for arriving at consensus on several aspects we suggest that we meet for 2 days some time in the middle of December 2007 (or as per the suggestion of the different forces being invited) in Delhi. The venue of the meeting can be fixed later on and can be communicated separately once the date is finalized based on the suggestions of invitees. May we request you to please acknowledge the receipt of this letter through return post or e-mail and send in your suggestions (including a list of organizations who according to you should be invited) for the preparatory meeting in advance (say by end November 2007). If thought appropriate by the invitees we will venture to circulate a background note separately before the preparatory meeting. We would request you to formulate your suggestions for the proposed Effective All India United Movement so that the same can be placed in the first preparatory meeting when it is held. We sincerely look forward to receiving your views/suggestions and opinions in this regard.

The people of India are faced with a historic challenge to launch a determined struggle against the economic policies that is subjugating India’s workers, peasants and masses. Hope we all can together rise to this cause and accept the challenge with all the forces at our command. With the creative effort of all of us the proposed effective all-India united movement against SEZs, Land Grabbing and Displacement can be made into a reality which will be a historic one.

We sincerely look forward for your response.

With warm regards,

P. B. Sawant
(Retd. Supreme Court Judge)

Founder – Lokshashan Andolan.
Advisor – Mahamumbai Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti, Raigad, Maharashtra.

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values