Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Land Struggles

Growing Participation In Land Struggles - Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) : R Govindarajan: "THE communist movement in Tamilnadu has been consistently carrying out struggles for genuine land reforms in the state. Successive governments of the state undertook measures which could only be termed “a farce of land reforms”. It is tellingly brought out by the fact that the surplus land distributed in Tamilnadu is less than one per cent of the total arable land in the state.

The Tamilnadu Vivasayigal Sangam, (Tamilnadu unit of the AIKS) has been consistently waging struggles to reclaim those lands for proper distribution. When the Sangam started the agitation, there was initial hesitation by the people to join the movement. But the consistent manner in which the movement was built brought the people into the vortex of struggles which was evident from the participation of thousands in the movement.

The Congress government enacted the Land Ceiling Act in 1961 and later the DMK government made certain amendments. All in all, innumerable exemptions were granted in the name of temples, trusts, livestock maintenance, sugarcane cultivation, vineyards etc. Only 2,04,095 acres of land were declared as surplus under the Act and of that 1,85,945 acres were acquired by the government. According to government records, this land was distributed to 1,46,673 persons, among who included 65,038 persons belonging to scheduled castes and a mere 205 to scheduled tribes. But, the bulk of the land – 1,14,927 acres – was distributed to non SC/ST sections. This was despite the statutes clearly mandating to give priority to SC/ST sections of the people.

5,000 acres of Zamin lands in the villages of Periyamma Patti, Andipatti and Balasumuthuram of Palani Taluk in Dindigul district had been distributed to people belonging to dalit and other backward castes. But on the ground, those lands have been appropriated by MRP Kumarasamy, former MP of AIADMK, Chinnasamy, MLA and other influential persons from places like Darapuram, Pollachi and also from Kerala with the help of conniving officials. In the land taken over by the former MP, two deep bore wells have been sunk and power connection has been obtained in the names of two dalits. In fact, an approach road to this land was laid utilising the money from MP constituency fund.

The Tamilnadu Vivasayigal Sangam is in the forefront of the struggle to reclaim those lands for real distribution. The movement launched by the Sangam has resulted in distribution of 513 acres 61 cents of lands reclaimed by the government after our struggles to 310 families.

When Kisan Sabha unit started the land agitation, there was initial hesitation by the people to join the movement. But our consistent struggles enthused them and drew them into the movement. More than 2000 men and women participated in the land entry struggle organised by the Sangam on September 20, 2004. K Balakrishnan, general secretary of the Sangam and P Shanmugam, treasurer led this struggle in which people descended on the land illegally held by others and planted red flags. AIKS general secretary, K Varadarajan went round the villages and enthused the people to participate in our struggles. D Pandi, state secretary of AIKS unit of Tamilnadu stated that the CPI(M) Dindigul district committee actively involved itself in giving proper shape and orientation to the movement. Party MLA K Balabarathy directly participated in the struggle.

In Thirupananthal village of Tanjore district, 500 acres of such land are yet to be distributed for which agitations are being carried out by the Kisan Sabha unit. In another struggle for land entry at Vasanthapalli in Krishnagiri district, the Sangam, overcoming police repression, was successful in forcing an agreement through which the state government will acquire the land illegally occupied by influential persons and distribute it among the poor. K Balakrishnan led this struggle."

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