Bihar wide Protests against Displacements of Poor

All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association (AIARLA) and MNREGA Mazdoor Sabha held protests on 11 July against forced evictions of poor and dalit families being done on the pretext of various government schemes in Bihar. AIARLA leader and CPIML Politburo member Dhirendra Jha said that bulldozers will not be allowed to rampage the poor households in the state, on the contrary, the time is now ripe to enact a law to guarantee Housing as a constitutional right for everyone. He demanded an increase in the allocation of PMAY to Rs. 5 lakhs.

The protests held at hundreds of blocks in the state reiterated the demand to rehabilitate all poor whose houses or shanties have been demolished. They also demanded a Bihar-wide survey of all households to identify the poor who need a proper house or proper rehabilitation.

Thousands of protesters at hundreds of places asked the Mahagathbandhan government to withdraw already served eviction notices in all districts and make a policy to guarantee a house for everyone.

They also declared to hold a statewide strike of rural workers on 1 August if the government fails to take any step in this direction.

AIARLA has said in a statement that almost 1 crore population in Bihar doesn’t have any ownership or patta or titles for their homestead lands which makes them vulnerable for eviction notices and forced displacements.

CPIML MLAs have raised this issue inside the Bihar Assembly and demanded a survey of needy households and also that the government should submit an Affidavit in the court so that no further evictions could be done through judicial interventions by vested interests of any kind. The state government had earlier assured to not displace any poor household without proper rehabilitation but this promise was not kept. AIARLA leader Shatrughna Sahni led a massive protest in Muzaffarpur where he criticised Modi government for decreasing the fund allocations in PM Awas Yojana when there is need for more funds because of deteriorating financial situation and rising costs in rural areas. He demanded to raise the PMAY allocation to minimum 5 lakh rupees.

Another important demand raised during these protests is to increase the MNREGA wages to the central government’s Minimum Wage level for unskilled workers. The Modi government has fixed the MNREGA wages to very exploitative levels which must be raised to Rs. 429 per day which is the existing minimum wage rate for unskilled workers.