Farmers wins Land Rights after Three Years of Struggle

Three years back in 2013, tribal farmers of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh had unlawfully lost their lands to a local sponge iron manufacturing factory, Navdurga Pvt. Ltd. The 14 acres worth agricultural land of three farmers was illegally acquired by local land dealers, without informing them their rights under the Forest Rights Act. Under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, these lands that belong to the tribal farmers cannot be acquired for industrial purposes. In 2013, local land dealers had aided the company to acquire over 14 acres of land from three farmers. The farmers, at that time, were unaware of the laws made for the protection of their land, their primary source of livelihood. However, when they realised that they have been wronged, they started legal proceedings against the company. But even after winning the case, the company did not return their lands.

Rajesh Gupta, a Human Rights activist and Video Volunteers correspondent made a video on this illegal issue and decided to support the farmers in their fight for justice. Together with the farmers, Rajesh went to the district magistrate, local courts, Block Development Officer and many other administrative and legal heads armed with the proof of how the farmers were wronged. Rajesh made a video of the issue and started gathering public support for the rights of the farmers. He held community screenings and meeting, where he motivated the people to stand for their fellow farmers’ rights. Rajesh also attempted at holding a dialogue with the factory manager by holding a private screening for the factory. Finally, he conducted a screening at the Raigarh Collector’s office, which is where the administration decided to take definitive action against Navdurga Factory, which prompted the factory to take a rightful recourse.

He held community screenings and meeting, where he motivated the people to stand for their fellow farmers’ rights. Rajesh also attempted at holding a dialogue with the factory manager by holding a private screening for the factory. Finally, he conducted a screening at the Raigarh Collector’s office, which is where the administration decided to take definitive action against Navdurga Factory, which prompted the factory to take a rightful recourse.

After three years of constant struggle, Rajesh and the farmers tasted victory in 2016 in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. While two farmers have reclaimed their land and started agricultural activities on the land, one farmer's land succumbed to the pollution, covered with metal dust.  However, this farmer has legally leased out the land to the factory for coming 30 years for a fair price which ensures that the farmers are well compensated for giving up his piece of land.

COMMUNITY CORRESPONDENT RAJESH GUPTA REPORTS FROM CHHATTISGARH FOR VIDEO VOLUNTEERS.

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change. we could hyperlink to some VV pages, like our take action page.

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