Ramesh optimistic of resolving demands of Jan Satyagraha

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 09, 2012 07:35 hrs

New Delhi: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Monday expressed optimisim over his talks with activists of Jan Satyagraha (people's agitation for truth) yatra who are demanding land for the country's shelterless people.

Ramesh, who met a Jan Satyagraha team here, said the government was planning to give time-bound assurances on their demands. He said talks would continue Tuesday.

"I hope some way will be found," Ramesh said.

The Jan Satyagraha yatra, which started from Gwalior Oct 2, will culminate in New Delhi Oct 28 if no agreement is reached with the government. Speaking to reporters after the talks, Ramesh hoped that the march would end at Agra following an agreement with the government.

Ramesh said the government was sensitive to the demands of the activists concerning Dalits and weaker sections of society and was keen to find a solution. He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told him to "to keep them (people on march) fully engaged".

"I have 99 percent support and agreement with their demands," Ramesh said.

He said land reforms is a state subject but the activists think it is the central government's responsibility.

"It is the responsibility of states. We can provide guidelines, support them," Ramesh said. He added that the central government was "active" on some state subjects such as agriculture but on land reforms, the state governments have to provide necessary assurances.

Ramesh said the government has already made provisions for the homeless in its schemes such as Indra Awas Yojana, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Forest Rights Act.

"We will give a time limit to every assurance we give. We are not fully responsible (as land reforms is state subject) but still taking responsibility," Ramesh said.

Sharad Chandra Behar, an activist of Jan Satyagraha, said: "There was a good attempt to understand each other." He said that the central government should be as "active" on land reforms as on agriculture as it will help them in their talks with the state governments.

The activists' main demands include a guarantee of "home state land" for the shelterless, agricultural land for the poor, a land reforms policy and fast-track courts to try land cases.

Activists said nearly 35,000 people had started Oct 2 from Gwalior and were now close to Agra.

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