On 16 and 17 February 2017 a global investors’ summit, ‘Momentum Jharkhand’ was organized in Ranchi under the aegis of the Raghubar Das government. This was attended by over 1000 representatives from 219 companies including 62 of the biggest corporate companies from 26 countries. MOUs worth a total of Rs 3.76 cores were signed in 12 sectors— Rs. 1 lakh crore in the steel industry, Rs. 74000 crore in energy, Rs. 51000 crore in production, Rs. 34000 crore in basic infrastructure and Rs. 23000 crore in mining. 7 Union Ministers, 46 State guests, Ambassadors from 4 countries were part of this summit. PM Narendra Modi addressed the summit through video conferencing.
It has been agreed through the MOUs to hand out to global investors through land banks lakhs of hectares of agricultural land, gair mazarua government land, and bandobasti land belonging to the adivasis and indigenous people of Jharkhand. There are also reports that this time the land is not going to be given on lease; it will be allotted on a permanent basis and payment will have to be made within 5 years.
It was to create a pro-corporate momentum for this summit and facilitate the loot of Jharkhand’s resources that the Raghubar Das government has been working throughout its term, especially in April 2016 when it made pro-corporate amendments to the CNT-SPT Act. The government not only did not consult the people of Jharkhand through gram sabhas but also repeatedly ignored the people’s voices of protest through left, democratic and people’s organizations over the last 9 months. The amendments to the CNT-SPT Act were forcibly passed in the Assembly within 3 minutes with opposition voices being marshaled out. Brutal police firing and killings were done at Badkagaon, Gola, Saiko and other places. Police atrocities were heaped on adivasis and youth at Dumka.
Thus the global investors’ summit is the auction ground for selling off Jharkhand. The government should make public the land deals in each of these MOUs and first get consent from the affected population. The Raghuvar government has attacked land and environment under the pretext of development. Land, forests and water are being handed over to corporate companies. 25 amendments have been made to labour laws in order to make it easy for looting companies to milk the mineral resources of Jharkhand which constitute 40% of the country’s total mineral resources. Tax waivers and subsidies have been granted. The CPI (ML) opposes this loot of Jharkhand and avers that the people of Jharkhand will never allow this loot to become a ground reality despite the MOUs being signed. 60 lakh people have already been displaced in Jharkhand due to industrialization. How the government treats the displaced persons is clear from the Badkagaon and Gola firings. If the government really feels that industrialization is the path to development, it shoud open up the factories which are lying closed in industrial areas in every district—Bokaro industrial area, Sindri fertilizer factories, Kumardhubi refractory plant and several others. Before new land is acquired, why are not the factories on lands acquired earlier made to function?
The CPI (ML) believes that agricultural development should be the priority for the true development of Jharkhand. The government should invest in agricultural development, protect agricultural land, forests, hills and rivers, and ensure good irrigation. The lands reserved under land banks should be allotted to the poor of the State. Amendments to the CNT-SPT Act should be withdrawn and closed factories should be rejuvenated.
The Raghubar government is being criminally negligent towards a big work force in Jharkhand. About 60 lakh migrant workers bring Rs 21.8 lakhs annually to Jharkhand. But they have n government recognition. If they meet with an accident the government pays no heed. Even in far flung places like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia if a Jharkhandi worker dies the family has to make all efforts to bring back the body without any help from the government. Instead of a summit for corporate looters the government should hold a summit for these migrant workers.
To oppose the Momentum Jharkhand summit and to demand opening of closed factories, agricultural land development, irrigation facilities, and a summit for migrant Jharkhandi workers, the CPI (ML), CPI, CPM, Forward Bloc, SUCI (C)and MCC held a joint statewide protest from 14 to 16 February. A Jan Panchayat was held in front of the Raj Bhawan on 14 February. 10,000 leaflets were distributed to expose the truth of Momentum Jharkhand. Representatives from adivasi and people’s organizations also spoke at the Panchayat. Adivasi organizations also took to the streets to voice their protest. 16 February was observed as Protest Day in all districts of the State. Dharnas and marches were held at Dhanbad, Bokaro, Ramgarh, Bharkunda, Jamatada, Godda, Pedeyahat, Hazaribagh, Giridih, Tata, Lohardaga, Gadhwa, and other districts. A memorandum with the demand to cancel the decisions taken at the Momentum Jharkhand Summit and the other demands listed above was submitted to the Chief Minister through the District Commissioners.
Thus the Left parties have asserted that they will not allow the interests of the adivasis and indigenous people of Jharkhand to be auctioned off to corporate companies. The other Opposition parties, though they had stood in protest against the amendments to the CNT-SPT Act, are supporting the global investors’ summit and remain silent on the issue of Jharkhand’s people.