Patkar criticises Ramesh over Land Bill

Rights activists led by Medha Patkar will target Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for his support to the new version of Land Acquisition Bill. Ramesh, who has been popular among civil society groups for his friendly approach, is now being accused of betrayal for supporting the Bill.

“Standing Committee headed by Sumitra Mahajan had recommended against many provisions. Committee recommended that all appraisals be done in consultation with Gram Sabhas, but the ministry is emphasising on only consent of 80 per cent of the project-affected people,” Patkar told reporters on Tuesday.

She accused the ministry of succumbing to corporate pressure and accepting provisions of  conversion of agricultural land which are detrimental to the interest of farmers and also to the agriculture.

“The standing committee has recommended that all 16 central acts should be brought under the purview of the new act, to make all equal before law (Article 14 of the Constitution). But the Ministry of Rural Development wants to exclude 13 out of 16 Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act and others from the purview of the new act. This means that 90 per cent of the land acquired as of today will continue with injustice and force used, with no change at all,” she said.

“The ministry headed by Ramesh is supposed to protect the interest of farmers. Instead, it is protecting the interest of corporates,” Patkar charged.

The activists are planning a protest from August 21 to August 23 before Parliament to oppose the passage of the bill. “We demand Land Protection Bill, not the Acqusition Bill,” said Patkar.

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