Repeal Land Acquisition Act | Protect Land Rights
Legislate A Comprehensive Development Planning Act
New Delhi, May 9: The issue of land acquisition and agitation is at its violent peak again, on the outskirts of the Capital, in NOIDA and across Western UP. The British legacy and law (of 1894) is still being used to forcibly acquire land for the designs of the new masters even if in the name of public purpose and the farmers have realised the game. Land which has become gold and is leading to a mad rush by not just the corporate but the politicians – bureaucrats to all sections of our elite class, the neo-investors. It is forgotten that land is a life support of the farming population along with landless agricultural labourers, coastal fish workers to urban poor and necessary for food security of the nation. The ambitious plan of urbanisation and infrastructure are therefore taking a toll of the people’s capital : land with minerals, ground water, tree cover and forest to fish – the aquatic wealth as well as the living communities / habitats and their commons.
The land acquisition which the foreign rulers had to make forcible is now being challenged directly and indirectly by affected communities demanding “no forcible acquisition of land” or “replacement of resources ensuring alternative sustainable livelihood options” for truly public purpose projects. The urban elite to industrial investors earning huge profits out of the land which the state transfers to them for ‘development’ ‘activity’ are also questioned and a share in the supposed national development is demanded, rightly so.
The farmers of NOIDA, Aligarh, Nandigram, Jagatsinghpur, or Narmada all have raised questions regarding the purpose which indicates private interest when politicians too behave like profiteers. Time has, therefore, come not only to amend the Land Acquisition Act for further favouring the nexus but to repeal the age old British Act and grant the communities its right to plan development as also to accept or reject any proposal (from the state or investor) or proposal for the same.
Such a democratic principle goes well with the constitutional provision regarding ‘local self government’ which are further strengthened through Article 243 and further through PESA 1996-97 for the Scheduled tribe areas.
UPA Government, Ajit Singh, Rajnath Singh, Mayawati everyone is at the most talking of the package and amending the land acquisition act, getting it passed in the parliament at the earliest. This however, is no solution. It is the cure worst than the disease.
This amendment proposed since 2007 even if with rehabilitation policy – 2009 is trying to legitimise private purpose and interests as a part of the ‘public purpose’ as a category and will then further and facilitate acquisition cum purchase for the scale of displacement but not even do justice in terms of fair compensation, rehabilitation, security and livelihood.
It is unfortunate that many a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the XIV Lok Sabha, which gave a patient hearing to diverse positions, consulted various ministries and state government are not fully incorporated in the Drafts of the amended Bills of 2009. This is an undemocratic and unparliamentary action, which needs urgent correction before anything is placed in the legislatures.
Majority of the political parties demanding the amendments have not engaged critically and merely asked the government to revise it. It needs to be reiterated that it is not only a question of creating a win – win situation for farmers and industry which can be solved by doling more and more money, as it is being projected by political parties and certain politicians who are vouching for the Haryana model.
The fact remains that it is not only the landed farmers whose interest are involved and need to be protected but millions of farm workers, landless labourerers, dalits, adivasis who are dependent on land and other resources and it is a question of their right to life and livelihood.Any legislation has to protect their right to livelihood and ensure protection of the rights of communities over the land and common property resources.
PS : All related documents, Bills etc. on this issues @ http://napm-india.org/node/326
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