The District Collector: a single bureaucrat. But, in the name of reform, this government wants him or her to control all natural resources in this country. Consider:
On land acquisition: the ordinance removes any ability by anyone – government, affected community or the general public – to have any information or involvement in the decision making process. The Collector decides everything, based purely on information from the company.
On forests: The Environment Ministry is at it yet again, trying to bypass the Forest Rights Act and enable the – you guessed it – District Collector to certify that the Forest Rights Act has been completed. Of course, in every case where Collectors have given any such certification, it has been found to be false.
On other common lands: the District Collector is in any case the primary authority for transferring these lands.
Corporates may cheer the fact that they only need to pay off or tackle a single official. The rest of us ought to wonder – what kind of “development” are we going to get if we hand over all control over this country’s most valuable resources to unaccountable and pliable bureaucrats? Is it a coincidence that most projects never happen, that most land is never used, and that banks are drowning in bad loans to fraudulent infrastructure companies?
On the ground, of course, people continue to fight, everywhere from Mahan to Jagatsinghpur to Delhi. The opposition parties’ unity is only a reflection of the massive popular resistance against this kind of daylight robbery. We hope it is the start of a true change in this country’s institutions of state – towards respecting democratic control rather than vainly trying to institute bureaucrat dictatorship.
Campaign for Survival and Dignity