Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | 'Bhrasht Janata Party' sought to dilute Adivasi rights, says Jairam Ramesh

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rally in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur.
Last Updated : 19 May 2024, 06:29 IST
Last Updated : 19 May 2024, 06:29 IST

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New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday claimed that the Modi government's Forest Conservation Amendment Act had "undid" the progress of the historic Forest Rights Act of 2006 and accused the BJP of diluting tribal rights.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rally in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur.

"Why do the people of Jamshedpur still suffer from poor connectivity? Why is it that the 2As and their tempo-loads of black money roam free, while Jharkhand's Adivasi CM was put in jail? Why is the Adityapur Industrial Area still waiting for environmental clearance? Why has the PM denied Adivasis their religious identity and refused to recognize the Sarna code?" Ramesh said.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla details", he said Jamshedpur, despite being an industrial hub, has poor transport connectivity.

The number of trains running to key cities such as Bhagalpur, Bengaluru, and Delhi are inadequate, he said.

The city had a functional airport until 2016 but despite being inducted into the UDAN scheme in 2018, plans for a new airport have failed to materialise, Ramesh said.

In January 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Jharkhand Government and the Airports Authority of India for the construction of Dhalbhumgarh Airport by December 2022, he said.

"This would have been a massive boost to the industrial sector, from major players like Tata to the MSME sector in Adityapur. When the December 2022 deadline came and went, BJP's own MPs were compelled to raise the issue in Parliament. On February 27, 2023, the Union Civil Aviation Minister responded and confirmed that the project had been abandoned," Ramesh said.

Now, after much hassle, environmental permission seems to have been granted, he said.

Why has the Modi government neglected such essential infrastructure in Jharkhand, Ramesh asked.

"What happened to 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas'?" he said.

"The outgoing PM's two best friends have been safe from the ED and CBI despite their tempos full of black money but Jharkhand's Adivasi Chief Minister was shamelessly thrown into jail. This is hardly surprising given how the Bhrasht Janata Party has sought to undermine Adivasi identity and dilute Adivasi rights," Ramesh said.

Last year, the Modi government passed the Forest Conservation Amendment Act which undid the progress of the historic Forest Rights Act of 2006 and scrapped provisions for the consent of local communities and other statutory requirements for forest clearance in vast areas, he said.

"The intention, of course, is to hand over access to the Prime Minister's best friends. Will the PM ever stop paying lip service to the slogan of Jal-Jangal-Zameen and meaningfully commit himself to Adivasi welfare?" the Congress leader said.

"Can he shed some light on why the ED and CBI are yet to investigate his best friends' tempos?" Ramesh said.

He further said that more than half of Jamshedpur's vital industrial hub - the Adityapur Industrial Area - has remained in regulatory limbo since 2015.

"This Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is home to 1,200 units, including 11 large-scale, 64 small-scale, and 166 tiny industries. In 2015, the Jharkhand State Industry Department provided clarifications regarding 54 acres of forest land within the 276-acre Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at the Adityapur Industrial Zone," Ramesh said.

However, the Modi government's delay in granting forest and environmental clearances have hindered development, he claimed.

"While this project has languished, the Modi Sarkar, in 2019, approved a Rs 14,000 crore SEZ project for Adani Power in Godda. Why is it that the Adityapur Industrial Area has waited almost 10 years, while Adani projects have been quickly pushed through? Was it during this deal that the outgoing PM saw the tempo-loads of black money that he told us about?" Ramesh said.

He said for years, Jharkhand's tribal communities, followers of the Sarna faith, have sought official recognition of their distinct religious identity in India.

"However, the recent decision to remove the 'Others' option from the religion column in the census poses a dilemma for Sarna adherents, who must now choose between leaving the column blank or aligning themselves with specified religions," Ramesh said.

In November 2020, the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly passed a resolution endorsing this demand, he pointed out.

"Despite former BJP Chief Minister Raghubar Das's assurance of enacting the Sarna Code by 2021, and Home Minister Amit Shah promising the same in 2019, no progress has been made by the Modi Sarkar. As Prime Minister Modi visits Jharkhand, will he address this issue and clarify where he stands on enacting the Sarna Code? Were the promises made by Raghubar Das and Amit Shah mere jumlas?" Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

Published 19 May 2024, 06:29 IST

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