Kisan Mahasangh, a federation of farmers, criticised Union Ministers Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma on Monday for openly supporting a “retrograde provision” in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill, 2011, saying this was an attempt to support the corporate lobby and to continue the role of the government in land acquisition for private companies.
Stating that the Bill had been referred to Parliament’s Standing Committee for examination on September 13, 2011, and the committee presented its report on May 16, 2012, Mahasangh co-convener Devender Sehrawat said the Bill would only lead to hobnobbing with the private companies, which were a source of large quantum of black money that is being generated in the country.
To protest against this move, Mr. Sehrawat said a nation-wide contact programme is being launched and a massive rally of farmers from all parts of the country will be organised to protest against the recent moves of the Central Government. “The LARR Bill, 2011, integrated the legislation dealing with land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement while repealing the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. It exempted 16 Central Acts which are utilised for the purpose of land acquisition by the central government from the ambit of the Bill.’’
Noting that provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement were made applicable in case of specified private purchase of land equal to or more than 100 acres in rural areas and equal to or more than 50 acre in urban areas and were made applicable to both the land losers and livelihood losers, Mr. Sehrawat said the Parliamentary committee during its interaction met over 700 farmer organisations, NGOs and other bodies connected to and affected by the land acquisition. “In its report it has observed that the exercise of the doctrine of eminent domain was originally limited to acquiring land for public purpose such as roads, railways, canals, and social purposes; State-run schools and hospitals; and then it was significantly expanded by amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and then acquisition was permitted for a company which is engaged or is taking steps for engaging itself in any industry or work which is for a public purpose. Further amendments made in 1984 extinguished any differentiation between acquisition for a State purpose and acquisition for a private enterprise,” he added.
Stating that this had opened up floodgates for acquisition of land by the State for companies, the Mahasangh leader said however, instead of reverting to the classical concept of eminent domain or diluting it, the present Bill extinguishes the distinction in the original 1894 Act between acquisition by the State for a State purpose from purchase of land by a company for a private purpose.