New Delhi, Oct. 2: A civil society group today announced it would mobilise a march to the capital tomorrow to press for a land reforms policy and shelter for the homeless after a meeting with minister Jairam Ramesh failed to reach a consensus.
Nearly one lakh people are expected to take part in the Jan Satyagraha March from Gwalior that would culminate in New Delhi within a month.
Ramesh today failed to dissuade the Ekta Parishad from launching the march when he met members of the group in Gwalior. The group and the rural development ministry were to sign an agreement reflecting a roadmap on issues like land reforms and shelter as a right for every homeless person in the country.
Ramesh, however, did not give any specific assurance on the key demands of the group. Two other ministers — V.K.C. Deo and Mukul Wasnik — who were also supposed to attend the meeting had opted out.
The Parishad then announced it would go ahead with tomorrow’s scheduled launch of the march to Delhi. “There were expectations that an agreement would be signed between the Union rural development ministry and Ekta Parishad outlining a concrete roadmap on land reforms and right to shelter. But the minister did not give any specific commitment on any of the issues,” said Jill Carr-Harris, the group’s international co-ordinator.
Parishad president P.V. Rajagopal had met Manmohan Singh last week, but the Prime Minister had not given any commitment regarding these issues.
The Parishad had taken out a similar march four years ago. The Centre had later set up the National Council for Land Reforms headed by the Prime Minister. The council has not held a single meeting so far.
In a letter to Rajagopal, Ramesh has communicated the difficulties in accepting all the demands of the Parishad. Since land was a state subject, the minister said, the Centre would examine the feasibility and usefulness of having a central land reforms policy.
On the right to shelter, Ramesh said the Centre has been conducting the Indira Awas Yojana scheme, which had a provision for financial assistance to landless families so that they could buy land and construct houses.
Ramesh said the assistance of Rs 10,000 from the Centre might be reviewed to see if the amount was adequate.