Stir against proposed land acquisition bill begins

Rights groups from across the country on Tuesday started a three-day demonstration at Jantar Mantar here to protest against the draft Land Acquisition Bill and demanded revision of the draft to incorporate changes suggested by a Parliamentary panel and civil society.

The Bill is likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament. The protesters are demanding that the development policy draft passed by the National Advisory Council (NAC)  in 2006 should form the basis of discussion on the proposed legislation for land acquisition. The NAC headed by Sonia Gandhi had recommended not to allow any acquisition without proper compensation and rehabilitation. Social activist Aruna Roy and others had played an important role in preparing the draft. 

“We had demanded a wider consultation on the present draft Bill, but the Rural Development Ministry rejected or diluted even recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee ,” Madhuresh, convenor of Medha Patkar-led National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) told Deccan Herald.

“Parliamentary panel had recommended no forcible acquisition of agricultural land. But, the ministry agreed to exclude only multiple-crop land. India has 75 per cent of agricultural land which is rain-fed and most of it single-cropped. Such lands are mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farmers,” he added.

Madhuresh alleged that the Ministry diluted the panel’s suggestion of not allowing forcible acquisition for private or PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects by providing for consent of 80 per cent of project-affected people for such acquisitions. 

This provision is also against the recommendation that acquisitions should be made in consultation with Gram Sabha or Basti Sabha, he argued.

The Bill, which is being introduced under a new title of Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 carries many other provisions that are being opposed by the civil society.

The Parliamentary committee recommended bringing of 16 Central Acts under the purview of the new law, but the ministry decided to exclude 13, including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition(Mines) Act and National Highways Act.

It means the new law will not apply to 90 per cent of land acquisitions, protesters alleged.

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