Though industries require land, what is requisitioned and acquired is several times more than what is essential, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan alleged on Tuesday.
“The rest goes for real estate for laundering black money and for earning speculative profits. All this too is part of the development process,” he said while addressing a seminar organised in connection with the centenary celebrations of Prabhat Kar, the founder general secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).
Alleging that the farmer in the country was deprived of his land in the name of industrialisation, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), five-star hotels, luxury resorts and even 18-hole golf links, he said the colonial era Land Acquisition Act, 1894, continued to be used for the purpose.
Explaining how irrigation, the key to agricultural production had been overlooked, he said food production had been dropping below population rate, leading to India losing its food sovereignty.
“It has to import food at a higher price than the ruling domestic market price,” he said, and made a strong case for an alternative, pro-people and inclusive development strategy based on land reforms that would defend the interests of farmers and agricultural labourers.
Akhil Ranjan Dutta, professor, Gauhati University, said the principles of democracy, social justice and secularism in India were not sustained by the government, but by the resistance and mobilisation of the people.
A book containing speeches of Prabhat Kar in the Parliament between 1957 and 1967 was released by N. Sampath, former president of the AIBEA. General Secretary Association C.H. Venkatachalam and AIBOA general secretary R.J. Sridharan participated.