The Times Of India, 6 Jan 2015, Mumbai: The Mumbai chapter of the Aam Aadmi Party launched a protest against the central government’s ordinance to amend the 2013 land acquisition act. AAP has protested the ordinance across Maharashtra.
AAP believes that the new ordinance sets the clock back to the British colonial era, allowing for land grab from farmers and aadivasis without consent.
“Earlier the acquisition for private purposes was limited to ‘Private Companies’, which are registered under the Companies Act. Now it has been extended to any ‘Private Entity’ that includes proprietorship, partnership, NGO or any other entity,” says a statement released by AAP, which goes on to say that the government can acquire land for private educational institutions and private hospitals as well, which were specifically excluded by the original Act.
The new ordinance limits the instances where one is entitled to relief under the Act and dilutes stringent provisions for punishment under the Act.
“The original stringent provision about punishment for violation of this Act by any government official has been reversed. Earlier the head of the department was held responsible if the violation took place with their knowledge and connivance. The amendment removes this provision and actually provides special immunity to government official. There won’t be any action against a Govt official for violating this Act without sanction from the Govt,” says AAP’s statement.
Social activist Medha Patkar, who contested Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai on an AAP ticket in 2014 calls the new ordinance blatantly undemocratic.
“For the first time, the 2013 land acquisition act conceded space in development planning to local communities,” says Patkar, adding that the new ordinance erodes these very same provisions. “In no other country is there a law that allows the government to forcibly acquire land for private interests, says Patkar.