On 16 and 17 February 2017, a global investors’ summit, ‘Momentum Jharkhand’ was organized in Ranchi under the aegis of the Raghuvar government and it 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—1 lakh in the steel industry, 74000 in energy, 51000 in production, 34000 in basic infrastructure, 23000 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 majarua 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. 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) 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, Kumardhuvi 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.
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. 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. The Left parties 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. The Opposition parties in Jharkhand should break this silence and stand up for the rights of the people. The protests by the Left parties and the people of Jharkhand are perhaps a precursor to a greater people’s rebellion in Jharkhand.