Amendments unacceptable, says RSS outfit

Farmers across the country have been up in arms against the amended Bill.— File photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Farmers across the country have been up in arms against the amended Bill.— File photo: Sushil Kumar Verma  

Joint Parliamentary Committee seeks one week more to present report

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) scrutinising the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2015, has sought a week’s extension for presenting its report to Parliament.

This was announced by its chairman S.S. Ahluwalia at the ninth meeting of the panel on Tuesday, which saw RSS outfit Swadeshi Jagran Manch express strong reservations to the amendments proposed by the government to the 2013 Land Act.

In a major embarrassment to the National Democratic Alliance government, the SJM observed that the government showed “undue hurry’’ in replacing the 2013 Land Act with LARR (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 and described some of the official amendments as “detestable’’ and “unacceptable’’.

Consent clause

Appearing before the Committee, SJM co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan emphasised that the consent and social impact assessment clauses could not be diluted and made it clear that the “problems in non-acquisition of land were not coming in the way of industrialisation.” He sought a land use policy that sets a judicious ceiling on land use for agriculture, forests and industry and said farmland should not be acquired for any other purpose in the interest of food security for the country. Acquisition of multi-crop land should be avoided.

The SJM observations echoed the reservations expressed by farmers’ organisations making it obvious that the government remains on a sticky wicket on the issue and will find it difficult to get the amended Bill passed in Parliament with several Opposition parties having reservations.

Speaking to The Hindu , a panel member said of the 50-odd organisations and individuals that have appeared before the 30-member committee in its nine sittings, at least 90 per cent have expressed opposition to the Bill.

Asserting that social impact assessment of big projects on society, environment and economy was a well-established international practice, the SJM said violation of the norm as well as not seeking consent was “against natural justice’’ for those affected by proposed land acquisition. Consent of farmers should be obtained, government should not acquire for private entities and land use change must not be allowed.

The All-India Kisan Sabha also opposed the Bill. Scientific and agriculture institutions including the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Pusa, and National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, Nagpur, which also appeared before the panel, cautioned the government against using productive soil for industrial purposes which may jeopardise food security.

Only, representatives of the industry body, FICCI, backed the major amendments, including doing away with clauses for consent and social impact assessment. It wanted no burden of rehabilitation of displaced people to fall on private purchasers of land.

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