Millennium Post

Medha Patkar pushes for strengthening old Land Bill

While talking to Millennium Post, Patkar, the founding member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said, “The new land bill is just a duplicate copy of Land Acquisition Act 1894 sans rehabilitation clause, which was not in the British-era law. The Modi government, which had come to power promising acche din for poors in 2014, has started formulating anti-farmer policies.”

“In comparison to the land bill of 2013, which was passed in the UPA-II regime, the Modi government’s legislation has diluted all the provisions which were enacted by Sumitra Mahajan, the then chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2013. Not only Mahajan, even another senior BJP leader Kalyan Singh had also strongly pitched for clauses in the bill to ensure justified say of farmer in the law,” said Patkar, former convenor of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM).

Demanding to strengthen the old land act, Patkar said, “We demand immediate scrapping of land act ordinance and implement the previous legislation. The older law had provisions of development planning process, which had ensured farmer’s right over the land. Only weaker part of the 2013 bill was no the rehabilitation clause, while it is in the new bill, that can be added.”

Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee has said that the interest of farmers and land owners has been protected in the fine-tuning of the bill. “Protecting the interest of the farmers, their right to fair compensation, rehabilitation, resettlement and financial compensation has been refined,” Mukherjee told the joint sitting of parliament on the opening day of the budget session. “Land acquisition is required for critical public projects like rural hospitals and schools,” the President added.

In December, by an executive ordinance the government made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act, including removal of a consent clause for acquiring land for purposes of industrial corridors, public-private partnership projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence. The bill is likely to be introduced in the ongoing session to replace the ordinance.
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