Modi says land bill is not anti-farmer

Modi says land bill is not anti-farmer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday used his “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme to reach out to farmers and counter the Opposition campaign against the land acquisition bill.

He said “lies” were being spread by the Opposition parties to create “confusion” among farmers. Modi said his government proposed changes to the 2013 act only after it realised there were “lacunae” in the earlier law as it was enacted “in a hurried manner”. He said the proposed changes were in the interest of farmers.

The Congress, however, was quick to hit back, accusing Modi of “lying and spreading myth” on the issue. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the NDA government's move to bring changes in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, was a “smoke screen” to benefit industrialists.

The biggest lacuna in the 2013 act was that laws concerning 13 sectors, including railways, national highways and mining, for which maximum land is acquired for implementation of projects, were kept out of its ambit.  This meant compensation for acquiring land for implementation of projects under these 13 sectors would be paid on the basis of the 120-year-old law. “Those who are going around as sympathisers of farmers and making speeches are not answering this question. We corrected this and brought all 13 sectors under the ambit of the law in the new bill, so farmers get fourfold compensation for giving land for projects. But rumours are being spread that farmers will not get adequate compensation. I can not commit such a sin,” said Modi.

“We, too, supported it (the earlier law). But later we felt we were deceiving farmers with the enactment of this law. Besides, states also raised many issues, demanding amendment of the law...  So, we decided to review the act,” he said.

“The new bill has the same provisions for giving relief as in the 2013 Act. If anything is done in a hurry, some lacunae remain. Maybe the intent was not wrong, but lacunae need to be corrected. I am not levelling any allegation against the previous government as to what it wanted or not. Our intention is only to see that farmers benefit, their children benefit, villages benefit. This is our priority,” said Modi.

Ramesh, however, rejected Modi’s claim, saying amendments in the 2013 Act were already part of the mandatory provisions of it.

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