Where, she says, gram sabhas and basti sabhas will decide on rural and urban development respectively

Even as Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Thursday demanded repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984, the All-India Kisan Sabha urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call a special session of Parliament to discuss the issue.

Ms. Patkar, who was arrested at Parsaul village on Thursday and later released, said that instead of an amended Act, there should be a comprehensive Development Planning Act under which development should only be with the consent of gram sabhas in rural areas and basti-sabhas in urban areas with “no or minimum displacement.”

Following her visit two days ago to Bhatta village, she said that because of prohibitory orders in the Bhatta-Parsaul villages, women and children were not getting relief. “They were not even able to file FIRs for their missing male family members. There should be dialogue with farmers to address issues,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Kisan Sabha's national general secretary, Atul Kumar Anjaan, urged the Centre to direct State governments to stop all further acquisition of land and ensure that the conditions and directions of the Supreme Court on rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced people were implemented.

Mr. Anjaan pointed out that the Prime Minister had assured in Parliament that the government would review the Land Acquisition Act, “but no positive step has been taken.”

On the same issue, Rashtriya Lok Dal President Ajit Singh, who has visited the stir-affected villages in Uttar Pradesh twice, met Union Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh here and urged him to introduce a farmer-friendly Bill in the coming session of Parliament.

The RLD raised the issue of ‘definition of public purpose' in the Land Acquisition Act. “What is the purpose of acquiring land from the farmers? Are golf courses and commercial complex also a public purpose? This needs to addressed.”

For private enterprise, the government should not acquire more than 10-15 percent of the land for removing hurdles from the completion of the project, he added.

Mr. Singh said the use of section 17 of the Act (Urgency Clause) should be restricted to matters of national security and natural disasters.

“Also, individual notices must be given at the start of the acquisition process to the farmers to ensure their awareness and ability to express their reservations, if any, to the concerned authorities at the preliminary stage.

“Farmers should get compensation on potential and present market value for the land acquired and the amended act should ensure that if the purpose for which land was acquired was not fulfilled after five years, the farmers should have the first right of ownership over land,” he said.

Mr. Singh also demanded the setting up of a new ‘Land Acquisition (Disputes Settlement) Authority' at the mandal level, which should be headed by a High Court Judge and have on board members with a background in land acquisition and agriculture.


Medha favours dialogue May 10, 2011