With the new Land Acquisition Bill coming to the forefront, the people of the country are keeping a close watch on the actions taken by Parliament and the Central Government with regard to the atrocities faced by poor farmers and tribal people, especially from police firing in a number of states. The only reason for facing such atrocities is refusal of poor farmers and tribals to give their ancestral land to the Government. The Land Acquisition Bill, 1894. was introduced by the British, and the Government took advantage of this Law after Independence for the sake of greed and helped industrialists by putting the lives of poor people at stake. The death of many poor people during this period was mainly due to the irresponsibility of the Central and the State Governments after the implementation of the Law. After a series of protests by people, the Central Government is planning to bring forward a new Land Acquisition Bill before Parliament. But the Government in lieu of bringing about the Bill is ignoring the recommendations made by the Standing Committee and other major organisations. This will benefit the corporate sector much more than the farmers. Chauthi Duniya brings you the opinions of various social workers and political leaders.
The proposed Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 ignoring the well being of the poor farmers and common people, was scheduled to be presented by the Government during the Monsoon Session of Parliament. Keeping in view the problematic areas of the Bill, Medha Patkar, associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and the Narmada Bachao Andolan has given some valuable suggestions to the Standing Committee. She is also discussing her views regarding the Bill with the leaders of other political parties to make it a farmer favourable Bill. She added that the acceptance of the Bill by Parliament would bring about a position wherein the farmers would be grounded to the state of begging for their survival.
According to several social organisations, this Bill has many drawbacks and this would create many problems for the hardworking farmers and the poor people of the country. The indifferenc of the Rural Development Ministry towards the views and opinions of the Standing Committee raise a lot of questions towards the morality of the Central Government. If the suggestions of the Standing Committee are to be ignored, then the formation of the Committee, which had a lot of expense, is surely questionable.
The Bill gives prime priority to rehabilitation which includes only the compensation part of the loss whereas the Bill, along with the compensatory amount, should provide an alternative income source and a proper settlement for the deprived. Mani Shankar Aiyar, a Congress leader and a Member of the Standing Committee, has commented that the Land Acquisition Bill, 2011 is a conspiracy against the huge population of the country. He also questioned the role of the Ministry of Rural Development and the Government and gave an insight that developed countries like the United States of America, Canada, France and Great Britain do not acquire lands for the gain of the Government and the Corporate Sector. It is quite obvious from the Bill, that the Government is standing in favour of the private sector companies. According to Mani Shankar Aiyar, Australia has 90 per cent of its land in the northern part of the country and states that land acquisition is not conducted without the consent of the residents of the country. He also added that the Land Acquisition Bill, 1894 was introduced by the British for the construction of railway tracks in the country, which was misused by the Government to a large extent after Independence. After 1984, in the name of land acquisition, the Government started loot in almost all the parts of the country which became a regular practice after 1990. Responding to one of the questions, Aiyar said workers, capital and land were the most important factors in the production of a factory, and if workers and capital cannot be acquired then an illegal acquiring of land alone was indeed questionable. The Government should take necessary steps to help the farmers in rehabilitation and finding an income generating source for their livelihood — the Standing Committee in their request to the Government have made certain clause for the same. Commenting on the negative aspects of bureaucracy, he added that Government officials draft their documents in English related to land acquisition and read it in front of the poor farmers which the Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi farmers cannot understand.
Janata Dal (United) Chairman, Mr. Sharad Yadav said that the way in which the Central Government wants to formulate the Bill, there would be strong opposition from his party in Parliament as the recommended Bill contains a lot of faults. Yadav also said that nearly 10 crores people suffered and got displaced after Independence as a result of land acquisition among which the tribal communities were the worst sufferers, as six and a half crore people out of the displaced were from the tribal communities. Leader of the Indian Communist Party, Prabodh Panda said that the Party has kept certain demands in front of the Government which would benefit the farmers including those acquired lands which have not been used from the past five years to be returned to the original owner of the land. Panda also stated that the price of the land should be determined by the owner instead of the Government setting a price according to its will. He further suggested that the land acquisition across the country should be stopped immediately as the process of formation of the new Bill is on the verge of completion. Social worker Indra Sharma said that Haryana has been among the affected states in the country because of land acquisition, with nearly one lakh seventy thousand hectares of agricultural land being acquired because of the same. The State Government has started making a business out of the land acquisition and this has resulted in the Land Ceiling Act losing its viability in the State.
Since the past few years, land acquisition has become a very complicated issue as the Government not only acquires land for roads, damns and mining for the Government companies but also helps private companies for their mining purposes, business and real estate companies with the same way of land acquisition. The Government acquires land from the farmers for the betterment of the entire society but its partnering with business gives a totally different perspective. Before the beginning of the financial liberalisation, the Government used to take the help of land acquisition for building of industries, mining and dams, all mainly focused on the betterment of the society. In this era of Financial Liberalisation, the private companies whose primary objective is to earn profits have not limited themselves to the fields of mining and building of industries, but instead they have spread their boundaries towards building of dams, roads, private universities and five star hotels. Apart from this, there are some other financial fields where the private companies along with provisions of land get special discounts from the Government. The Government has awarded the private companies a discount of Rs. 21 lakh crores in the last five years, which raises questions as to why the Government is favouring the private companies and not taking adequate steps for the betterment of the workers in the same way in which it is favouring the private companies. The farmers, the tribal people and fishermen are making strong protests across the country against the land acquisition done for the betterment of private companies. The important question revolving around the land acquisition is finding suitable solutions to bring about development for the betterment of the common masses. The Standing Committee associated with the Ministry of Rural Development have clearly stated their views and opinions in their report on the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill. The Bill along with the land acquisition part also includes legalising rehabilitation for the displaced people, giving a broader picture on the growth development programme and giving extra compensation to the owner for land acquisition. Yet the Bill somehow gives an edge to the private companies along with public-private enterprises and advocates their cause so that they can take advantage of the Bill.
Main Demands of Social Organisations
- Land for the families of the displaced farmers.
- Assurance of employment in non-irrigation projects.
- Special income guarantee programme for a period of at least five years to the people settling at a different place after land acquisition.
- Homes for all the displaced families.
- New green field and open mining should be stopped.
- Land acquisition to be done with the consent of the Gram Sabha and the Basti Sabha.
- Lands should not be given to the Corporations and builders in the name of common goals.
- White Paper should be introduced on all the land acquisitions, rehabilitation and resettlement made after Independence.
- Even an extra inch of land should not be taken for any centralised development program.
- Fair implementation of the community related Forest Rights in the Forest Rights Act, 2006 should be done.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, Congress leader and a Member of the Standing Committee
The Land Acquisition Bill, 1894 was introduced by the British for the construction of railway tracks in the country, which was misused by the Government to a large extent after Independence. After 1984, in the name of land acquisition, the Government started loot in almost all the parts of the country which became a regular practice after 1990. Government officials draft their documents in English related to land acquisition and read them in front of poor farmers which the Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi farmers cannot understand.
Sharad Yadav Chairman, Janata Dal (United )
Nearly 10 crore people suffered and got displaced after Independence as a result of land acquisition among which the tribal communities were the worst sufferers, as six and a half crore people out of the displaced were from the tribal communities.