The Hindu, 6 Jan 2014, New Delhi: The Aam Admi Party (AAP) continued with public meetings against the ordinance amending the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013 all over the country. The party’s State units submitted memorandum to District Collectors with letters addressed to the Prime Minister opposing the ordinance’s provisions in more than 200 districts all over the country, said party leaders.
On January 4, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had held a “Village Dialogue” in Chhatarpur in Delhi saying 20 to 25 lakh people in Delhi’s rural areas would be affected adversely by the ordinance. Similar meetings were held in Haryana, Rajasthan, Goa, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh on January 5, and more meetings are scheduled in Punjab on January 7 and later in the week in Andhra Pradesh.
“We submitted memorandum to District Collectors in seven districts including Panchkula, Yamuna Nagar, Sonepat, Kurukshetra. We have constituted village teams to discuss the ordinance with farmers. BJP has left farmers’ rights in a perpetual state of Emergency and will allow land to be acquired for even golf courses, private schools with this ordinance,” said Paramjeet Katyal, secretary, AAP Haryana.
In Madhya Pradesh, meetings were held in 35 of 51 districts and over 100 party cadre were detained by the police in Khanwa district, said Alok Aggarwal, AAP convenor in MP.
“The ordinance dilutes the retrospective clause which said that land will go back to the land owner if compensation has not been paid or acquisition is not complete even after five years. In Andhra, 200 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been notified since 2007 and thousands of acres of land have been allotted but no work has happened on it and these have become private land banks,” said Kiran Vissa, AAP State committee member in Andhra Pradesh. “A day after the ordinance, the Telugu Desam Party notified over 7,000 sq km as Capital Region, most of which lies in the Krishna Delta which is fertile and irrigated land. The 2013 Act had said that irrigated land will be acquired only as demonstrable last resort, but the ordinance has diluted this too,” he added.
“Ëvery positive feature of the original Act (which was passed with BJP’s active support) has been annulled. This Ordinance must be opposed by all those who respect democracy and who care for the farmers,” noted AAP leader Yogendra Yadav.
“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed live on media stating that the higher compensation to farmers after the changes in Land Acquisition Act will continue and the interest of farmers have been taken care of. However State Government of Haryana headed by BJP has illegally changed the ‘Multiplication Factor for Rural Areas from 2 to 1 on 4-Dec-2014” thereby ensuring that the farmers of rural areas get a minimum of 50% less compensation,” noted the party in its statement.
The ordinance exempted land acquisition for industrial corridors, defence including preparation and production, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, infrastructure and social infrastructure, including private health and educational institutions, from requirements of consent clause and Social Impact Assessment in which an expert group would check if land was really being acquired for a public purpose, if it was the minimum land required. It says “private entity” in public private projects includes “a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organization or any other entity under any law for the time being in force.” It exempts these five categories of projects from the 2013 Act’s requirement that if land remains unutilised for five years, it can be claimed back by the original land owner as well as the clause that multi-crop, irrigated land will be acquired only as a demonstratable last resort.