Land activist Dayamani Barla addresses a news meet at Kute village in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
Fears of community displacement in the wake of Ranchi’s proposed core capital project were raised at a United Nations meeting in Geneva from June 25 to July 5.
Capital resident and former member of state women commission Vasvi Kiro, who was one of the four Indian tribals invited to participate in a meeting of the committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW), the UN, voiced her concerns.
Her statement, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, said protests against displacement were gathering momentum across India but states were disinterested in implementing Land Acquisition Resettlement And Rehabilitation Act 2013, commonly known as LARRA.
Kiro also spoke about Ranchi’s Kute village near HEC area, where fresh protests were on against the state government’s proposed core capital, including Assembly, secretariat buildings and other infrastructure.
In the early 1960s, the government had acquired 32 villages near HEC land, but people of some 12 villages continue to live there because successive governments did not bother with the “surplus land”. But now, since the past couple of years, Jharkhand state government is trying to uproot people of these 12 tribal villages, Kute being the most famous, without a rehab package.
“Kute and other villages apart, I spoke on tribal rights on forestland and non-integration of tribal medicine with AYUSH, a unit of the ministry of health, family planning, which however works to promote traditional system of medicine. I was given two minutes to speak on June 30 and a minute on July 1. But I did my job. Ameline Nicole of France chaired our meeting. I hope the issues I spoke on, however briefly, will be communicated to the government of India for further actions,” Kiro said.
On how issues were relevant to elimination of discrimination against women, Kiro said: “Women’s consent is never taken when governments acquire land. Lives of countless tribal women are integrated with land and its produce.”
Prem Prakash Nath Shahdeo, a villager agitating against the core capital, said they were ready to intensify their struggle.
“We are happy our issue was raised in a UN meeting. We will intensify our agitation with a massive meeting on July 26 and we will also fix the date to march to the state Assembly to make the government aware that we villagers won’t allow the core capital to come up on our land at any cost,” Shahdeo said.
Fearing the state government is pushing off tribals from ancestral land, Kute residents have been agitating vehemently ever since chief minister Hemant Soren laid the foundation of the new Assembly building, a part of core capital, on the outskirts of Ranchi this January 21.
Last month, villagers led by former human resource development minister Bandhu Tirkey also ploughed on the proposed site, planting maize and paddy to protest against the 2,342-acre project, 15km from Ranchi district headquarters.