Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Focus on land development instead of acquisition

The Land Acquisition Bill will find more acceptability if the government talks about developing the land. In this manner, the government can inject more positivity to the legislation being introduced. The Congress and other Opposition parties have been opposing the bill terming it as anti-farmer and pro-corporate. The bill has been cleared in the Lok Sabha but it is yet to be passed in Rajya Sabha where the Modi government is in minority. On the other hand, Prime Minister attacked the opposition for trying to mislead farmers on the controversial bill.

Former Prime Minister of India, Chaudhry Charan Singh initiated land development through consolidation of holdings. Earlier, the farmer’s land was scattered over various corners of the village, which was consolidated into 2 or 3 “chaks” for better manageability. It was a very difficult exercise but was implemented reasonably well seeking co-operation of all parties. The acquisition process required travelling in an open jeep on dusty roads inhaling a lot of dust and suffering coughing on daily basis.

Due to this activity, people who never smoked or chewed tobacco developed cancer of the esophagus. In Mumbai authorities are keen to go ahead with the construction of Metro III project. I always get down near entrance to Kalbadevi and often walk upto other end and even upto Parsi dairy without any problem and also notice several products being sold by hawkers on the road side. It is a very crowded place and if the authorities undertake digging and rigging it will create dust pollution which the kids will inhale and their health will deteriorate. Even now, as we move out, we inhale lot of dust and vehicular emissions which will settle in our lungs thereby causing health problems. What is the need for construction the metro? Why can’t citizens walk which will also improve their health?

If the government wants to display its technical expertise then it should construct an underground bridge from Nariman Point to the suburbs or build coastal road in an aesthetic manner. We must consider the land as our asset and take initiative to make it more productive by involving foreign expertise, though agricultural science.

Several articles have already been written about the Land Acquisition Bill in which the consent of the farmer is necessary. Even if the farmer agrees to sell his land we must ascertain the reasons behind it. Is his son twisting his arms or some local leaders pressurizing him to part with his land? Land resource is limited and it should be developed effectively. Acquire land in Fiji, Ethiopia, Angola, Togo, Benin, etc; and promote agriculture or develop industries there. The government must revive sick mills, identify or entrust them to foreign investors.

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