Jayalalithaa asks Centre not to go ahead with land bill

Tamil Nadu on Wednesday asked the Centre not to go ahead with enacting the new land acquisition bill saying some of the provisions like the one relating to social impact assessment were strongly opposed by the farmers in the State.

In her remarks at the meeting of NITI Aayog’s Governing Council on Wednesday, to which she had sent her printed speech to be taken on record as she could not make it due to “pressing official work”, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa said her government has been consistent in its stance that land is a State subject.

“Even at the very beginning, we were firm on the principle that the concept of ‘eminent domain’ should not be invoked for acquisition of land for use by private companies as was proposed in the original bill.

“I had also strongly opposed the amendment proposed in the (NDA government’s) ordinance that the consent clause should not cover land acquisition for private hospitals and private educational institutions,” she said.

A key feature of the amendment bill was the introduction of a ‘new Section 10A,’ which she said lists projects in defence and defence production besides rural infrastructure.

It also covers electrification, affordable housing and housing for the poor, industrial corridors, infrastructure and social infrastructure projects, including projects under public private partnership (PPP), where the ownership of the land continues to vest with the government.

Powers had been conferred on State governments to exempt such projects from the requirement of conducting “social impact assessment” and “special provisions for safeguarding food security” as well as the requirement of obtaining “consent” from a fixed percentage of affected families when land is acquired for PPP and private sector projects, she said.

Ms. Jayalalithaa recalled that her party had voted in favour of the land bill in Lok Sabha in March 2015 as the Centre had accepted its suggestion to exclude acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from the purview of the amendment.

“Since the amendment bill conferred powers on the State governments to exempt specified projects from the application of the provisions of Chapter III of the Act, in the full knowledge and understanding that the State government headed by the AIADMK party, which has always strongly acted in favour of the welfare of farmers, small traders and the marginalised in the society, would never have put the clause to use, the Amendment was supported,” the AIADMK general secretary said.

She recalled that her government had earlier taken a “similar stand” that it would not allow FDI in retail in her state though the previous UPA government had made “necessary enabling provisions”.

“However, the farmers in the State are strongly opposed to the provisions which empower State Governments to exempt specified projects from the application of Chapter III of the Act.

“Hence, these provisions in the amendment bill are unacceptable to the Government of Tamil Nadu. We believe that the present Amendments take away important safeguards that farmers and agriculture require. Hence, I urge the Government of India not to press these amendments,” she said.

Further, the agenda note for today’s meeting ‘indicates’ that as far as the status of implementation of the proposed amended Act was concerned, many States were yet to formulate rules under the Act, notify the multiplication factor for determination of compensation in rural areas, and notify the extent of land purchased through private negotiation which would trigger the rehabilitation and resettlement provisions contained in the Act.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said only after the final contours of the proposed amended Act became clear “would we be in a position to notify the rules and issue other related notifications.”

She expressed confidence that the Centre would take an “appropriate decision” giving due consideration to her party’s “principled and consistent” stand on the land law of 2013 and the proposed amendments, besides “respecting the widespread sentiments of a broad spectrum of public opinion”.

“This would not only be in keeping with democratic conventions and traditions but also in the interest of the farmers and food security in the country,” she added.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 12:27:01 PM |

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