‘We have not negotiated with farmers on behalf of the corporates’

Surendra Singh Nagar
Surendra Singh Nagar
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Samarth Saran
New Delhi

Why is your party always at loggerheads with farmers, be it Tappal in 2010 or Bhatta- Parsaul this year?
If the farmers are unhappy with the BSP, we wouldn’t have three MLAs and an MP from here. Other parties keep trying to instigate the farmers against us.

What about allegations that the government, at the behest of private players like Jaypee, is acquiring land from the farmers forcefully? Our government’s policy is that no farmer will be forced to give up his land. The Land Acquisition Act is the Central government’s. We have been telling the Centre about the amendments that need to be made in it for a long time. But the UPA government has stalled this for five years now.

But the government says they sent a notice saying “your land will be acquired” after they found “no consensus” among the villagers?
In the Land Acquisition Act, according to Sections 4 and 6, the farmer is given an opportunity to express his say in the matter. Consensus is on the basis of compromise. There is no provision in the law that a public meeting is to be held; but yes, it requires us to give a notice and we did that.

But do you think is it right for a government to negotiate on behalf of a corporate company for land acquisition?
The UP government has never negotiated with farmers on behalf of the corporates. When our government came to power, the disputed region of Jewa was compensated by the previous government for a mere Rs 200 per metre. We brought it up to Rs 800 per metre.

If a corporate goes to acquire land from the farmers, should the government intervene?
No. In UP, there is a separate law regarding hi-tech cities. It says the corporate will acquire 75 percent of the land on its own while the government will acquire the remaining 25 percent.

What should be the role of the government in this case then? The role of the government is policy formation. They should make sure the farmer is not exploited and development still takes place.

But the compensation is quite less than the market value of these lands.
We want to give 6 to 7 percent of developed land to the farmers as well. If you add up the value of this developed land and the compensation, then the value will go up a lot. That will become nearly Rs 16-17 lakh per 1,000 metres. Also, we’ll be providing them jobs.

But isn’t giving a temporary contracted job in return for arable land unfair?
This is an area where the Centre should intervene. Why has the amendment in the Land Acquisition Act not been passed in the past five years?

So do you think the farmers should be made stakeholders in the land?
Definitely. The Centre should include that provision in the amendment. The farmer should have a choice to sell his land.

Do you have any demands about what should go into the amendment? 
We want the UP government’s policies to be included in it.

Ever since this issue has started, not a single minister has visited the place. Why so?
That isn’t correct. We have deputed a minister to have talks with them. You will see the results In two or three days.

Samarth Saran is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com


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