Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Singur highlights rise of civil society movements in India

Tata Motors decision to suspend work indefinitely in Singur underlines the rise of civil society movements in the last decade in the context of land acquisition by industry aided by government, and more recently in the context of the SEZ Act.

And in almost all cases, the movements tend to echo and support one another in demanding repeal of both Land Acquisition and SEZ Acts. The villain in most movements appears to be the political leadership, which is seen as colluding with the industry, whether it is in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra or Jharkhand.

The victory of civil society organisations in Singur has meant reaffirmation of other movements against the Tatas, with organisations now hoping for gains in other pending projects of Tata Steel, like the Rs 2,000 crore project in Kalinga Nagar in Orissa, another in Saraikela in Jharkhand, and a 5,000 acre mining project in Lohandiguda in Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh.

The oldest movement against land acquisition and displacement of communities in Kalinga Nagar began in 1999 and continues under the Jana Sangram Samiti along with a movement against Utkal Alumina in Kashipur in Orissa.


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