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Faultlines in NDA over Land Bill; Sena, SAD red-flag provisions

Faultlines in NDA over Land Bill; Sena, SAD red-flag provisions
The contentious bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week.

While Shiv Sena has, for quite some time, been on record seeking incorporation of a clause providing for 70 <g data-gr-id="54">per cent</g> consent of farmers in the bill, SAD and Paksha have written to the panel headed by S S Ahluwalia that "not an inch" of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

In its written representation to the JPC, five MPs from SAD--- Naresh <g data-gr-id="58">Gurjal</g>, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sher Singh Ghubaiya said that they firmly believe that land is a priceless asset of the farmers.

"Not even an inch of it should be acquired by the government without the consent of the farmers/land owners." they said.

The MPs also insisted that land should only be acquired for public sector projects and the "government should not get into acquisition for private entities".

They added that farmers should not be denied the right to approach <g data-gr-id="67">court</g> for redressal of grievance.
The SAD is a votary of full proof safeguards for compensating not only farmers but also those "dependents on land, including farm labourers", their MPs wrote. 

The Swabhimani Paksha led by Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetty has pitched for "consent of 70 <g data-gr-id="61">per cent</g> of farmers and five-time compensation" for the acquisition of land for the projects undertaken with <g data-gr-id="60">public private</g> partnership for development <g data-gr-id="59">infrastucture</g>.

The 2013 Land Act provides for four-time compensation on the existing market rate, which has been left unchanged in the NDA's bill.

Shetty also made it clear that Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana will support the law "only if the above amendments are included".

Shiv Sena, the largest constituent of the NDA after the BJP, has 18 MPs in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha while Shiromani Akali Dal has 4 in Lok Sabha and 3 in Rajya Sabha. Raju Shetty is the lone MP in Lok Sabha from his party.

The affiliates of RSS including Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram have also opposed the bill and demanded <g data-gr-id="74">restoration</g> of the consent clause and social impact assessment.

Swabhimani Paksha also demanded that if the land remained unused for five years after <g data-gr-id="69">acquisition</g>, it should be returned to its owners. This provision <g data-gr-id="53">exisited</g> in the UPA bill, which has been modified in NDA's bill.

The Paksha also demanded that the government should not allow the change of purpose for <g data-gr-id="55">acquisition</g>.

"In the event any change is proposed, government shall notify and the farmer will be <g data-gr-id="78">entitled for</g> revoking his consent or additional compensation as per market value," it said while red-flagging the acquisition of fertile land.

"Never acquire the fertile land except for military or high priority projects in the interest of the national interest," the Paksha said.

Shiromani Akali Dal said the party is firmly committed to safeguarding the interests of all sections of the society, particularly the poor and the farmers.

The SAD demanded that whenever the land is acquired, farmers should be given the option of accepting compensation on market rate plus displacement allowance of 30 percent of market price of the land or join a land pooling process like what is done under a policy in Punjab.

"Punjab has a land acquisition policy in place, which ensures that no land is acquired forcibly," it said.

Faced with stiff resistance from opposition and allies, the government was forced to refer the controversial Land Acquisition Bill to the Joint Committee of Parliament in May.

The Sena had skipped a key NDA meeting on Land Bill in February this year and party chief Uddhav Thackeray had issued a statement saying they would not support any decision which "throttles" the farmers.

M Post Bureau

M Post Bureau

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