Activists say that the agricultural land should not be acquired for non-agricultural purposes
A group of activists on Tuesday 7 August raised concerns about the land acquisition bill in its new form. The activists have demanded a white paper stating the extent of land acquired by the government.
The new bill, called the Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, is at odds with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report on rural development. Medha Patkar, an activist associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, who is also a member of the National Alliance for People’s Movements, said, “What even the British didn’t dare to do, this government is going to do. The new bill is pushing for acquisition for private purposes. It only talks about fair compensation and cash compensation. It’s not in the favour of farmers.” Patkar said that gram sabhas and basti sabhas should also be involved on the issues of land acquisition.
Listing out an important recommendation of the Standing Committee, Patkar said that agricultural land, including single-crop land, should not be acquired for non-agricultural purposes. The new bill, however, has provision which protects only the multiple-crop land.
The activists of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and National Forum of Forests People and Forests Workers said that unutilised land, after five years of acquisition, should be returned to farmers and the landless instead of pooling it in a land bank for giving it to other industries. They have also demanded that the government should reconsider the provisions of land acquisition for private and public-private partnership projects.
Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.