Brief History of Our Activities

Set up in 1985, MARG conducts research and provides socio-legal services to the poor and the marginalised. We have worked closely with the rural poor, women, children, unorganized labour and people displaced by development projects.

During the period 1986 – 89, our fact finding teams visited 5 tehsils of Madhya Pradesh to study the displacement consequences of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. It became clear through our field research that the State Government had totally failed in its duty to communicate with the people affected. Many did not even know that a dam was being constructed. This study resulted in the publication of a series of reports entitled, ‘The Sardar Sarovar Oustees in Madhya Pradesh: What Do They Know?’

This was followed by two comparative studies entitled, ‘Big Dams Displaced People: Rivers of Sorrow Rivers of Change’ and ‘Displacement by Sardar Sarovar and Tehri: A Comparative Study of Two Dams’. These were based on our surveys and work on various developmental projects like Pong Dam in Himachal Pradesh, Hirakud in Orissa, Baliraja in Maharashtra and Nagarjunasagar in Andhra Pradesh. Our 1989 film, ‘Baste Ujarte Kal Ke Talash Mein’ captures the plight of the people displaced by the Ukai Dam on river Tapi and poignantly reveals the fate in store for the inhabitants of the Narmada Valley.

From 1993 – 2003, we worked in Korba, Madhya Pradesh, to study the overall impact of development, displacement and rehabilitation. This was the site for multiple displacement due to several projects. Our study was published as ‘Industrial Development and Displacement – the People of Korba’. From 1998-99 MARG studied the efficacy of Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) packages provided by the various developmental projects in Hazaribagh, Bihar. The study resulted in ‘The Role of Monitoring in Implementing R&R Operations in Two Coal Mines of Hazaribagh’.

A study was done for the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, Govt of India entitled ‘Conversion of Agricultural Land into Non-Agricultural Purposes in the state of Maharashtra’. The study compiled the existing laws on the issue and examined how much agricultural land had already been converted for non-agricultural use and the impact of this on the livelihoods of farmers.

In fact over the years MARG has developed a rich resource of legal literature and research, including:

  • A simplified version of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in the form of the manual ‘The Land Acquisition Act and You’ (1990).
  • The film series ‘Bol Basanto’, an engaging legal literacy tool using the medium of film. The series traces the story of Basanto Chachi as she develops from an oppressed petty vendor to a crusader for justice who fights for the rights of her community armed with the rudiments of law and a refusal to accept injustice. The series was aired on Doordarshan and several local channels.
  • Sonal Didi’, a set of 5 audio cassettes with 10 episodes on various provisions of law, was aired on All India Radio.
  • The printed series ‘Our Laws’/ ‘Humare Kanoon’, ‘Our Fundamental Rights’/ ‘Humare Moulik Adhikaar’ is a set of manuals simplifying various laws ranging from fundamental rights, criminal law, labour rights, women’s rights, etc.
  • Manuals for use by activists with slightly higher levels of literacy on the following issues:
    • Land Acquisition And You (English and Hindi)
    • Inter-State Migrant Workmen and Their Rights (English and Hindi)
    • The Law of Resettlement of Project Displaced Persons in Madhya Pradesh(English and Hindi)
    • The Law of Rehabilitation of Project Displaced Persons in Maharashtra (English and Hindi)
    • The Law on Compensation for Motor Accident Victims (English and Hindi)
    • A Manual on Indian Forest Act, 1927 (English and Hindi)
    • Kitna Jana Kitna Seekha
    • The Legal Rights of People Living with HIV/AIDS (English and Hindi)
  • ‘Shahpur Jat, A Village Displaced: A Study in Self Rehabilitation’ is a study on urban displacement in Shahpur Jat area, where agricultural lands of the village were acquired to establish the Asian Games Village.
  • ‘They Call Me Member Saab: Women in Haryana Panchayati Raj’ is a study of the profiles and problems of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and heads from all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Karnal district of Haryana. MARG has also published 3 booklets on Panchayati Raj, with the provisions of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act incorporated into them and published under the titles: ‘Apna Gaon Apni Panchayat’, ‘Gram Panchayat Ki Mahila Sadasyon Ke Davitya’, and ‘Humara Sarpanch’. In March 2000 MARG released its book, ‘Daughters of 74thAmendment – A Study of Women Elected to Municipal Bodies in Karnal and Delhi’.
  • The report, ‘Can We Afford to Leave the Law Aside! – A Study of the Criminal Justice System in Haryana’ gauges the impact of the functioning/non-functioning of the criminal justice system on the human rights of people. It deals withthe law laid down, the system of enforcement, the accused, the victim, and other persons affected by acts of crime.
  • Other reports produced by MARG include, ‘Efficacy of the Enforcement System in Delivering Justice to Raped Scheduled Caste Women’, ‘Within the Four Walls’ (a report on domestic violence), ‘People’s Perceptions and Need for a Sensitive Population Policy’.

MARG has conducted several Legal Literacy Workshops which have served the purpose training groups of people to understand the legal regime of the issues they are working on, ensuring that organizations understood the value of a legal base for their work and orienting cadres of field level workers in training methodology for legal literacy. From training programmes for Elected Women Representatives in Panchayati Raj Institutions, to labour rights, to the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS – MARG has conducted legal awareness trainings on a wide variety of rights and laws. In the process MARG has reached communities and organizations in states ranging from Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh,Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Imphal, Meghalaya, Assam and Mizoram

MARG has worked actively on the issue of legal empowerment particularly through the method of training paralegals. A trained, aware and informed cadre of paralegals – a majority of whom are women – has been developed in Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. These paralegals are now functioning as a resource within the community to assist marginalized and discriminated groups counter discrimination and injustice. They actively spread legal awareness in the community and facilitate the use of law by disadvantaged communities.

MARG has had an active internship-cum-volunteers programme where students from law colleges and other universities from all over the country have interacted with marginalized people on legal issues pertaining to their everyday lives. The students are trained in communicating law in simple terms and in interacting at the level of the community. The training also consists of basics of professional ethics, dealing with poor and disadvantaged clients, and developing a human rights perspective in professional life.

MARG also provides legal assistance to marginalized sections through its pool of lawyers. Our legal support programme entails:

  • Counselling
  • Legal aid through MARG’s network of lawyers
  • Referrals to Legal Services Authorities