NEW DELHI, March 9: Opposition parties on Monday attacked the central government over the land acquisition bill even as the government said amendments would be brought in to address their concerns.
As the government moved The Right to Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2015 for discussion, leader after leader of the opposition questioned the urgency of the government in bringing in an ordince to amend the 2013 law in December last year.
In the new bill, the government has removed the need for obtaining the consent of landowners and carrying out Social Economic Assessment (SIA) for acquiring land under certain categories.
Many parties in the Lok Sabha on Monday, including the Congress and the tiolist Congress Party, demanded that the bill be sent to the standing committee.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah idu said the government has brought in the amendments after extensive consultations with the state governments. “It was suggested that the act was flawed and we have tried to improve it”.
“We will come out with further appropriate amendments to the bill from the government side,” he said.
“It is not a unilateral decision. It is a decision taken after proper consultation by the states. The government felt that there was a need to make certain amendments”.
idu assured that the Modi government will not take any step which will go against the weaker sections.
Opposition leaders, meanwhile, argued that taking away farmers’ lands will affect the country’s food security.
“Farmers in our country do not have water for irrigation and fertilizers; now they will also not have any land,” Congress member Jyotiraditya Scindia said. Asserting that the Congress will oppose the new law from the streets to parliament, Scindia said: “It will affect the food security of the country.”
“If you take tribal land, then be prepared for a spurt in Maoist activities,” the member said, adding the country cannot have islands of prosperity.
The Right to Fair Compensation, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2015, would replace an ordince which was promulgated by the government in December 2014.
Scindia also asked if the government respects the president. “The president had said ordinces need to be promulgated in emergency situations only.”
“This bill should have been sent to the standing committee, but you vetoed it as you have a majority,” he said.
Trimool Congress leader Kalyan Banerjee said: “We are opposing the bill 100 percent.”
“In 2007, our leader fasted for 26 days to protect the interests of farmers in Singur in West Bengal,” he said.
Banerjee said his party was struggling for farmers’ rights. “By this amendment, the honour of farmers in this country is being taken away.”
“We have seen a number of cases where farmers have not been given back the land though the project has not been completed,” he said, asking why should multi-crop land be given away for industry.
“This will affect the food security of the country,” he said.
Biju Jata Dal member Tathagat Satpathy said the bill was detrimental to farmers owning small tracts of land in rural India.
“Are we in 2015, or have we been dragged back to the British era? Development for whom? That is a basic question that troubles my mind.”
Satpathy said his party strongly opposed the elimition of the social impact assessment clause.
“On the one hand we are talking about providing irrigation to farmers, and on the other hand we are taking away their land.”
NCP’s Supriya Sule said: “An ordince is brought in only when there is an emergency. Who is pressurising you? Please tell us,” she said.
“We are not against development, but I haven’t been able to understand what is the hurry”, she said.
“There is no hurry...please send it to the standing committee,” Sule said.
Her stand was supported by Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge who said let the standing committee decide on the merits of the bill.
BJP ally Shiv Se also opposed the bill.
“Farmers’ land should not be taken without their consent,” Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Se said. IANS