Govt moves Land Acquisition Bill in Lok Sabha

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JAIRAMNew Delhi, August 29;   The much-touted Land Acquisition Bill was taken up in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, with UPA ally Samajwadi Party expressing criticism, along with opposition parties, over various provisions of the legislation.

Parties including SP, BJP, BSP, CPI(M) and TMC voiced concern over aspects like adequate remuneration to farmers and the right of farmers to appeal in the bill, which seeks to provide “fair and just compensation” to land owners.

Why target fertile lands, asks Mulayam

Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav questioned the need for acquiring land of farmers, contending that the bill would “ruin” and “devastate” farmers.

Participating in the debate on the ‘Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012’, he asked, “What is there for farmers except land?”

Mr. Yadav, whose party supports UPA government from outside, asked why arable and fertile land is being “targeted” for acquisition.

“When farmers sell land, they (most of the times) do not get remunerative price,” he said, adding that land should not be acquired unless there is requirement, otherwise it would become unproductive.

‘Grey areas’

Initiating the debate, BJP President Rajnath Singh said there are lot of grey areas in the bill.

Despite the proposed bill, there are apprehensions that forcible land acquisition would continue, he added.

Mr. Singh said there should be provision for leasing land in the bill. “Lease can happen only when there is consent from the land owner,” he added.

According to him, poor people have been ignored in the bill.

“This is a comparatively better bill. But after studying it in full, I feel the bill is far far away from its objective… This bill is not meeting the objectives it is meant for,” he said.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh moved the ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency’ bill for consideration and passage in the Lower House.

BSP member Surendra Singh Nagar said the government is suddenly remembering the bill and farmers since elections are round the corner.

Mr. Nagar also said fears about farmers opposing land acquisition are “baseless.” “If they (farmers) are given adequate compensation, they will never stand in the way of industrialisation,” he said.

Streamline land records first: Meenakshi

Congress member Meenakshi Natrajan said the government should streamline information about land records across the country. Without having proper land records, justice cannot be done, she added.

Describing the bill as historic, Ms. Natrajan said it would correct the historic wrong of land owners not getting adequate compensation during land acquisition.

Toothless bill: Lallan

Participating in the debate, Rajeev Ranjan Singh “Lallan” (JD—U) said it was a “toothless bill” with many loopholes which have not been plugged.

He demanded that the bill’s proposal fixing the consent of farmers for acquiring land is 70 per cent and 80 per cent respectively (in both cases) of those whose land is sought to be acquired is against the interest of farmers.

Mr. Lallan said that 100 per cent consent should be made mandatory for acquiring land.

Accept standing committee’s recommendations: Trinamool

Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC), while appreciating Mr. Ramesh for making lot of efforts in bringing this legislation, said that total recommendations of the standing committee on Rural Development, which scrutinized the bill, should be accepted by the Government. “Multi-crop land should never be handed over to industry,” he said.

Mr. Bandyopadhyay said his party will support the legislation if their demands are met.

More amendments needed: Acharia

Basudeb Acharia (CPI(M) also raised concerns about the land bill, saying it should be referred back to the standing committee as there is a need for further amendments in the draft law.

According to Mr. Acharia, the bill does not provide as to how much compensation the farmers will get if his land is acquired.

“There is a need for further amendment in the bill otherwise this will serve the purpose of the corporates. It is not in the interest of the farmers,” Acharia said, “I had moved 160 amendments in the bill. But the minister has accepted only six. This indicates that there is no consensus on the bill.”

Compensate allied labourers too: BJD

BJD member Tathagata Satpathy sought compensation and rehabilitation of people living in areas to be acquired other than land owners like barbers who are affected due to land acquisition.

He also pointed out that the compensation under the land acquisition law is not tax free and this is an unnecessary burden on the farmers.

Intervening at this point, Ramesh said, “We will bring an amendment in this regard. All payments (under this law) will be income tax free.”

He also suggested that the industry or corporates should use one third of the acquired land for water harvesting system and this should be made mandatory under this law.

He also suggested that the agriculture land and inhibited land should not be acquired under this law.

Similar concerns were also raised by the Shiv Sena member P G Jadhav who also demanded better compensation for farmers.

Lalu Prasad (RJD) said the Bill should be enacted for the benefit of farmers and the interference of the government should be limited.

“Private parties are coming to make business and profit. So the interest of farmers should be safeguarded,” he said, adding farmers should directly negotiate with the industry for the price to be paid for the land.

He also said government interference should come only when an individual comes in the way of the contract.

What about Wakf land?

Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) wanted to know how the bill would be used for acquiring Wakf land. He alleged that the government in Andhra Pradesh has illegally acquired several acres of Wakf land in Hyderabad.

Others who participated in the debate include Supriya Sule (NCP), M Thambidurai (AIADMK), Nama Nageswara Rao (TDP), TKS Elangovan (DMK), Prabodh Panda (CPI), Hukmdev Narayan Yadav (BJP), Sharifuddin Shariq (NC), and Jayant Chaudhary (Rashtriya Lok Dal).

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