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Activists urge Vibrant Gujarat CEOs to 'spare rural livelihoods'

By Ians English

Gandhinagar, Jan 12: A group of activists and organisations have written to "CEOs at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit 2015" appealing to them to "spare rural livelihoods and follow ethical path".

Now an open letter for Vibrant Guj CEOs
In an open letter, they called themselves "representatives (but not political representatives) of the rural, agricultural, landless, farming, fishing and the marginalised communities reeling under the onslaught of relentless industrialisation".

"The government of Gujarat's blind race towards mindless industrialisation, because of crony capitalism has endangered traditional livelihoods and rendered these people unemployed and unemployable," notes the letter, released by the National Association of People's Movements (NAPM).

Terming the "Gujarat model of development" fraudulent, they said that the poor people have lost their water, land and coasts for fishing and have not received any sustainable rehabilitative support except a one-time compensation for land lost.

"Before signing MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with the government of Gujarat, please do ensure that you meet and interact seriously with the impacted people/communities.

"Hundreds of NGOs representing several million members of civil society are already opposing extremely strongly the MoUs/agreements signed which not only affect their livelihoods but also their sense of dignity which we are sure you would not wish to happen. Hundreds of people's movements are ongoing and more may be launched across the country to oppose the fake promises made by Shri Narendra Modi and his government."

The signatories include former Gujarat finance minister and president of Khedut Samaj (farmers' society) Sanat Mehta, its secretary Sagar Rabari, environmental activists Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah, Father Cedric Prakash, activists Saroop Dhruv and Hiren Gandhi, Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal president Rajnibhai Dave, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Gujarat general secretary Gautam Thaker and Prakash N. Shah, editor, Nirikshak.

Another "open letter" was addressed to United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, who inaugurated a solar power project on the canal of the Sardar Sarovar mega dam. Activists and organisations wrote to him pointing out that thousands of families of farmers and tribals were facing the threat of ouster due to the ambitious but controversial project.

"The oustees have once again knocked the doors of the Supreme Court of India and it is urged that the UNSG and the world body will show all sensitivity to the legitimate struggles of lakhs of oustees displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project and cascade of dams and canals on Narmada, fighting for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, upheld by the UN," the letter said.

The signatories included Delhi University economist Amit Bhaduri, Supreme Court senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, environmentalist Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, environmentalist Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh and Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Farmers were stopped by police Sunday as they marched to Ahmedabad, the state's main city near the capital Gandhinagar, to raise the issue of "farmers' suicides and low cotton prices". The protest was organised by the non-party platform Sanyukta Khedut Sangharsh Samiti to coincide with the grand inaugural of Vibrant Gujarat.

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