An anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-social plan dictated by capitalist greed
The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a joint collaboration of the governments of India and Japan, is one of the several major industrial corridors being planned at this time. It has figured in all the high level meetings between the Government of India and the Government of Japan for the past seven years and more.
DMIC is a mega rail transport-cum-urban infrastructure project covering an overall length of 1483 km between Delhi and Mumbai. This will be aligned with the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) of the Indian Railways between Delhi and Mumbai, passing through six states – namely, NCR of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, with end terminals at Tughlakabad and Dadri in NCR Delhi and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai. The “project area” stretches for 200 km. on both sides of the DFC. The project envisages the creation of seven new cities along this corridor, developed in record time. The state will organize rail and road connectivity between the DFC, the existing rail route, as well as the Delhi Mumbai super expressway.
The Project Influence Area for DMIC comprises 4,36,486 sq. km, which is 13.8% of the geographical area of India as a whole! An estimated 17.8 crore people will be directly affected. More than 22 power plants are envisaged to come up in this area, including 3 nuclear, 5 thermal, 5 gas-based, 3 wind farms, and 6 solar power plants.
The DMIC is one of the several major industrial corridors planned by the bourgeoisie under the ten year rule of the UPA. Another one is the Eastern corridor, extending from Amritsar through Delhi to Kolkota (ADKIC). Other corridors have also been envisaged, connecting the different metros of our country — Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkota, Delhi. But it is the DMIC, followed by the ADKIC which are on fast track, as they are linked with the first two proposed Dedicated Freight Corridors of the Indian railways, linking Nava Sheva near Mumbai to Delhi, and Delhi to Kolkota. Land acquisition and awarding of contracts by the state, is already in full swing, with respect to these two mega projects.
Role of monopoly capitalist greed
Japanese capitalist groups own 26% of the equity capital invested in DMIC, through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Both Japanese and Indian capitalist monopolies are salivating at the prospect of massive orders and mega-profits from this project. That is why DMIC has been one of the main points on the agenda during meetings of Indian and Japanese Prime Ministers, as also the main agenda of CII and FICCI, two leading associations of Indian big capitalists.
The concept of DMIC is based on the so-called Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. It is a lopsided “partnership”, in which profits go into private pockets while losses and liabilities fall on the heads of the public.
As per the project plan, Logistics infrastructure, Power plants, Ports, Airports, Special Economic Zones, Agro processing hubs, augmentation of selected national and state highways have been categorized as Category 1 projects which will be implemented through Public Private Partnerships (PPP model). In this model, the state guarantees maximum and assured profits to the private partners.
Land acquisition, the most difficult activity, is the responsibility of the Central and state governments. Land acquisition for the freight corridor is already a done deed, as the law permits the state to acquire land for "public purpose" such as railways, highways, etc.
Land acquisition for the Industrial corridor is being organized in a manner as to divide the affected peasantry. Once private capitalists eye large tracts of land as ideal location for their profit maximizing ventures, the Central and State Governments begin this acquisition, using the police, courts and jails to ensure their dictate.
Genesis of the project
In December 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of the Government of Japan and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion of the Government of India. A concept note was presented to the two Prime Ministers in August 2007. Then a contract was awarded to IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd., to lay down the implementation plan for DMIC. None of the parties in Parliament raised any voice questioning the wisdom of this mega-project. However, there has been widespread opposition outside the parliament.
Mass opposition to land acquisition
In the last one year, opposition to DMIC is gathering strength in the majority of the affected districts. Peasants have formed joint action committees in Aurangabad, Raigad, Nasik and Dhule districts of Maharashtra; Valsad, Surat, Bharuch and Narmada districts of Gujarat; Indore, Ujjain and Ratlam districts of Madhya Pradesh; Jaipur, Bhilwara, Ajmer, Udaipur and Jhalawad districts of Rajasthan; as well as in Manesar, Dadri, Noida and Ghaziabad.
In Maharashtra, thousands of farmers of 78 villages of Raigad put up such a united resistance that the authorities were compelled to declare that this area would be excluded from DMIC.
Due to fierce opposition from farmers of Mandal-Bahucharaji Special Investment Region, the Gujarat Government, headed by Narendra Modi, was forced to stop land acquisition and set up a committee to review the situation. In September and October of 2013, people of more than 21 villages of Bawal in Haryana protested so vigorously that a public hearing had to be called by the state government. In that public hearing, peasants registered their protest against the Manesar–Bawal segment of DMIC.
Anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-social
The government propaganda makes out that DMIC and other such corridors are aimed at employment generation. However, the real motive is to ensure maximum profits for Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists, through maximum degree of exploitation of Indian labour. Right from the initial discussions which began in 2006, the Government of Japan has been raising the issue of the need to change labour laws in favour of the capitalists.
Experience of SEZs in our country, of industrial belts such as Manesar and Dharukheda in Haryana and Sri Perambudur in Tamilnadu has shown that these projects are aimed at enabling Indian and foreign capitalists to violate labour laws with impunity, with the state governments working overtime to attack workers who organise for their rights. This is also the experience of China, South Korea and other countries. Under the pretext that development is not possible if workers are allowed to organise in defence of their rights, the government ensures a free hand to the capitalists to super exploit the labour of workers.
In the DMIC-impacted states, more than 3.5 lakh hectares of agricultural land is proposed to be acquired from the peasants. Overall, the project area consists of 70% agricultural land and 10% forest land. Removal of such a large area of land from agricultural use not only threatens the livelihood of millions of peasants. It also threatens the potential for India to be self-reliant with respect to feeding our population.
The project area already faces water scarcity. Diversion of large amounts of water for industrial and urban use would have a catastrophic impact on farming and on other users of water in the affected districts.
The government has in recent years been making a big noise how all projects have to begin with an Environment Impact Assessment. But seven years after the project was conceived, no such study has been undertaken by the Government of India. Clearly, the bourgeoisie does not want to publicize the additional pollution and destruction of the natural environment that will result from DMIC.
The entire concept of PPP and the process in which decisions about land and other natural resource use are being taken is fundamentally flawed. The flaw is that it is capital-centric. The interests of a group of capitalists who seek to reap maximum profits dictate the choice of location and the commitments of the State. Once the capitalists are promised their pound of flesh, the entire State machinery is activated to suppress and criminalise all dissent. Those who oppose or question the project are deemed to be “anti-development” and a threat to India’s progress.
Communists and parties of the working class and peasantry must not accept this capital-centric approach. We must reject and oppose the diabolical plans that are being made in the name of development. We must defend the rights of peasants, tribal peoples and others to secure possession of their land and to prevent its acquisition against their will.
We must demand and fight for a State that places human beings and their need for prosperity and protection at the centre of all considerations. Our goal is to reorient the economy to fulfill the rising material and cultural needs of the entire working population, and of all the children and the elderly.
A State that is committed to develop and defend an economic system that provides prosperity and protection for all will harmonise individual and collective interests with one another, and with the general interest of society. It will harmonise the need for industrial development with the need for self-reliance and for preservation of the natural environment. It is the capital-centric approach that is preventing such harmonization, and causing untold miseries in the name of development.