The conceptual formulation of land development as a partnership between the developing agency (public or private) and the farmers (including landless labourers) within the existing legal framework was suggested as a means of ensuring participation of the farmers in the country's development at a “Jansabha” (public meeting) organised at Kanjhawala in North-West Delhi.

The meeting was attended by farmer leaders protesting against acquisition of their lands in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The “inclusive development” model was suggested by the farmer leaders at the meeting. It was also demanded that the Central and State governments stop acquisition of agricultural land and make proper amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and devise ways to include the farmers in the projects by allowing them ownership in the developed land.

The public meeting, that concluded on this past Sunday, brought together protesting farmers from Aligarh and Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, and Jhajjar and Sonepat in Haryana. From Delhi, the farmers from Kanjhawala, who have been protesting against denotification of agricultural land since March 2008, participated in the meet.

Jan Sangarsh Vahini and Bhumi Bachao Andolan convenor Bhupendra Singh Rawat charged that the State governments have been “grabbing” the land of farmers through various agencies in the name of development of special economic zones, expressways, highways, large dams or coastal management zones.

“The basic question is what kind of amendment is needed to the Land Acquisition Act? One that favours the corporations or one that is for the welfare of the farmers? While the children of politicians often become successful politicians, and those of businessmen earn a name in the corporate sector, the children of farmers are not even able to become farmers as their land is being snatched away,” he rued.

Acknowledging that the governments do not have enough land to provide alternate areas to the farmers, Mr. Rawat said that inclusive policy was the need of the hour. “Farmer-government partnership should be there to secure future of farmers and their descendants,” he added.

The meeting demanded that the Gram Sabha of the village concerned should be consulted on the desirability of acquisition under Section 4. This would enable the whole village to deliberate on the issue. Then an open hearing be held by the competent authority in the village so that views including on terms on which the land should be acquired can be discussed. A declaration issued under section-6 should specify the terms on which the land would be acquired, the farmers said.

At the meeting, Tevatiya from Tappal village of Aligarh spoke of the threats issued to farmer leaders protesting in Aligarh against the State Government's land acquisition policy that sought to help the private business houses.

Bhoop Singh Dalal of Bharat Bhumi Bachao Sangarsh Samiti, Jhajjar, nursed a similar grudge. He said Congress-ruled Haryana was no different from U.P. and while farmers were not in favour of giving away their lands, it was being forcibly taken away. “If land acquisition is necessary in national interest, then amendments should be made in the Act by including the concept of farmer-government partnership,” he demanded.

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