Civic society to protest land law draft

Group of MPs lends their support to protesters, Mani Shankar Aiyar flays changes in bill

In a bid to stall the tabling of the proposed bill on land acquisition in Parliament, rights groups from across the country will gather next week at Jantar Mantar to demonstrate against the draft.

The bill is likely to come up in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.The three-day protest rally will begin on August 21 and end on August 23.

The groups have ensured support from a group of MPs of different political parties including the Congress.

The groups are opposed to the government’s role in acquiring land for private  and Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects.

 “We believe government must not have any such role, it can’t transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of ‘public interest’ and ‘public purpose’,” says Medha Patkar who is leading the struggle. 

The Bill is being introduced under the changed title of Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, 2012.

 Many of the changes which the Rural Development Ministry has brought in after several consultations with Planning Commission, the Prime Minister’s Office and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi are against the recommendations of the Standing Committee.

Standing panel

The Standing Committee had recommended no forcible acquisition for private projects, or for PPP, which can not be categorised as “public purpose”. The committee had also recommended against forcible acquisition of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose.

The Ministry has rejected the recommendations and made a provision that consent of 80 per cent of project- affected people would be sought before acquisition for any private project.

With regard to acquisition of agricultural land, the ministry has excluded only multi-crop land. Rights groups are also opposed to provisions related to resettlement and rehabilitation. “The proposed provisions of compensating employment with money and high rates for land acquired will only lead to speculative land market,” they say.In a meeting organised on Monday, MPs including Manishankar Aiyar, Manik Rao Gavit (Congress), Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and Probodh Panda (CPI), voiced their opposition to the land bill. Aiyar even criticised Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for making such changes.

However, Ramesh has already made it clear that for speedy industrialisation of the country, these changes were necessary.

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