Land rights group calls for a direct relationship between the farmer and the government

In keeping with the Gandhian principle of equality and Babasaheb Ambedkar’s notions of social justice, the land rights organisation Bhumi Bachao Andolan has mooted the idea of “Kisan Sarkar Sajhedari’’ (Farmer-government partnership) for establishing a direct relationship between the farmer and the government, without mediators.

Power issue

“The farmers will not sell, but lease out their land. This includes agricultural land owned by farmers as well as common gaon sabha (village community) land — owned collectively by all the members of the village, including the landless. Industries can build their units and pay lease rent to the farmer; with every successive rise in price of the land, the rent can increase,’’ said Jan Sangharsh Vahini convenor Bhupendra Singh Rawat, who is also the leader of the Andolan, while floating the idea.

Bhumi Bachao Andolan has suggested these provisions to respective ministries, parliamentary committees and political parties. It said the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, formulated during the British Raj, is being following 68 years after Independence even though it has promoted forcible land acquisition across the country, helping the class-in-power to grab the agricultural land while dispossessing the farmers, making them jobless and denying them the fair market rate.

“In the aftermath of the land acquisition, the agricultural plots are distributed. Those who have got this land are extracting maximum benefit from it but those dispossessed despite living off it for generations are not even given a share of it.’’

Mr. Rawat, while addressing a press conference here, said the provisions formulated to benefit the capitalists in the Land Acquisition Act cannot be democratic. So, the Act should be scrapped and in its place such provisions should be included in the law for using and sharing the agricultural land, which is needed for acquisition for some developmental work, in a democratic way with the farmers and the villagers.

A major victory

He said at an all-party meeting recently on the issue of provision of acquiring land of the farmers, it was demanded that the government come up with a provision to take it on lease. The meeting had also discussed provisions pertaining to farmers’ right to ownership of land.

“The consensus on the provisions of the right to fair compensation, resettlement, rehabilitation and transparency in the Land Acquisition Bill is a major victory to farmers’ struggle launched by Bhumi Bachao Andolan,” Mr. Rawat said.

Those who have got land are extracting maximum benefit from it, but those dispossessed despite living off it for generations are not even given a share of itBhupendra Singh RawatJan Sangharsh Vahini convenor