BJP’s double standards is being exposing day by day on Land Acquisition Bill. No one understands that why they are in so much hurry to pass the bill? Lok Sabha is witnessing a skirmish over Land Acquisition Bill, when it is taken up for voting with opposition parties bent on opposing it even as the government again offered to make changes in the legislation in the “larger interest” of the farming community. Government says it is willing to go in for amendment in the bill for the larger interest of the farmer’s community and the country but their ally Shiv Sena is undecided on this issue. Congress wants the same bill which they had proposed in 2013, though BJP is saying that the Government has not touched the clause of compensation. Government requires land for building dams, construction of airports, highway construction, Railways projects and Government Hospitals etc. Last UPA government has brought the law. The BJP government has removed several clauses of the original bill (presented by UPA) and juggled with words in the name of amendment. The bill passed after the nine changes in the bill. For PPP projects concerning private entities no consent is required in this bill, the government must explain this. BJP, which was in opposition in 2013, opposed the bill brought in by the then UPA regime.
Land owners, gram panchayats must be made stake holders in the proposed company for which land is being taken and the land owners should get proper compensation. If tribals land is acquired without proper consideration, it will further intensify the Naxal menace. Land bill is being opposed across the country, as BJP’s allies are too opposing it. UPA’s land bill envisaged proper compensation to farmers, social impact assessment, and proper compensation for land owners. BJP government’s land bill does not fulfill its claim on food security, farmers’ interest and job creations.
Anna Hazare warns of ‘Sevagram to Delhi’ padyatra over land bill. In order to build consensus on the controversial land bill, senior NDA ministers has also met all top opposition leaders. The barter, bargain and bending by all means is carried away by BJP’s senior leaders to get this bill passed. The Land Acquisition Act, brought as an ordinance, amends the existing law passed by the former UPA regime in 2013. In the new version, the BJP government has removed the need for obtaining the consent of land-owners and carrying out Social Economic Assessment (SEA) for acquiring land under certain categories. The government had earlier said that it was ready to deliberate on opposition suggestions and go the extra mile to prevent any injustice to farmers and to strengthen their hands.
NGOs, farmers, crusaders, social workers, and other political parties however, have strongly voiced their objections to the bill. The Congress party even held a mega rally called ‘Zameen Wapsi Andolan’ at Jantar Mantar to oppose the Land Acquisition Ordinance. Several other political parties including the Trinamool Congress (TMC) opposed to the Land Acquisition Ordinance.
The government’s move to make nine amendments in its Land Acquisition Bill has won the support of key allies Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal. It has proposed to remove social infrastructure projects like schools and hospitals from a list of categories the government wants exempted from requiring the consent of 70 per cent farmers in an area where land is to be acquired. The current law requires that consent for all projects. It has agreed to reinstate a social impact assessment only for social infrastructure projects. The Opposition and allies like the Akali Dal have protested against the government’s move to scrap the social impact assessment clause – mandatory in the current law – for five categories.
It has also proposed amendments to ensure a better mechanism for the redressal of grievances of those whose land is acquired, and also one for providing employment to farm labour rendered jobless when land is acquired. The government says the proposed land reforms balance the rights of farmers with the urgent need to provide land for projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
There are more than 160 million families whose livelihood depends on these lands. Their current per capita is a lowly Rs.6,150 ($102/50). The world average productive land per person is about 1.5 Ha (per capita). India’s current per capita productive land is 0.13 Ha, far below world average. This may be reduced to a low of less than 0.1 Ha, once the Land Acquisition Act comes into force and the farmlands taken over by land-mafia-business nexus. The human side: There are about a billion people who live on these lands, almost all of them being farmers or connected with farming. Any “attack” on these poorest sections of the society who produce foods for us would endanger the livelihood of millions. State cannot choose between two professions. It incorporates prejudice. How can government justify its stand by saying that industry is better than farming? Jobs are not the standard to measure. Financial analysts will know the details of an annuity and time value of money. Blind ‘bhakts’ will never understand this. And, it’s financially a dumb deal for a person who is selling the land. Safety against pollution is not elaborated in it. Do we have pollution laws strong enough to prosecute them? If anyone has visited or seen construction of a factory, they will understand what I mean. If government is keen on settlement of industry, then it must be keen on settlement of displaced people too. The argument cannot be that the money has been received by beneficiaries and they can buy new homes.
It is obvious that most of the people of any region will not agree to give up their lands, given their sentiments or dependence on it for livelihood. Thus, acceptance percentage can be reduced from 80 per cent to some extent but not complete reduction. It is very saddening that Government is bending for the private sector. The land owners have not given any deadlines in the bills for compensations. The profit making private sector already started making money. Will the profits be shared with the public?