RSS affiliates up in arms against Modi govt on land bill

RSS affiliates up in arms against Modi govt on land bill

As the Modi government struggles to get the land bill passed, key RSS affiliates have slammed as "detestable and unacceptable" several provisions in the ordinance brought by it replacing the Land Acquisition Law passed by the UPA dispensation.

They have pitched against the proposed legislation of the NDA government in its present form and insisted on incorporation of the consent clause and social impact assessment in the new law.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS outfit, has also demanded that change of land use not be allowed and land not developed for five years be returned to the original owners.

Another RSS affiliate, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, has called for consent of at least 51 per cent of farmers being taken before land is required.

In its written submission to the Joint Committee of Parliament looking into the bill, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has said the 2014 Land Ordinance replaced the 2013 Act, passed by the UPA government, "in undue hurry" and the re-promulgated Ordinance contains several "detestable and unacceptable" sections even after incorporation of several amendments.

Joining forces with opposition parties, the Manch said, "SJM is of the considered view that the LAAR Act 2013 passed by the Parliament unanimously was replaced by LAAR (Amendment) ordinance 2014 in undue hurry.

"Re-promulgated LAAR (Amendment) ordinance issued on April 3, 2015 contains several detestable and unacceptable sections, even after incorporation of several amendments that have been included in 2015 ordinance under intense public pressure," Manch's national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said in its submission before the panel.

The Manch said as per internationally established practice, a project could be undertaken only after making social and environmental impact assessment, something which is followed by World Bank even for roads built by its funding.

"Why the same should not be followed by Government of India in construction of Public-Private Partnership infrastructure projects?

"This well-established practice has been violated in the new ordinance, which is against natural justice for those affected by proposed land acquisition," Mahajan said.

The Manch said, "Swadeshi Jagran Manch demands from the government that – Consent of farmers ensured before land acquisition on any kind. Have a comprehensive assessment about need, social and environmental impact of the land acquisition before actual acquisition."

The SJM also said, "Land use change (from the purpose for which land has been acquired) must not be allowed, and in case the beneficiary of land acquisition fails to use the land within specified period, land be returned to the original owners, without applying any conditions."

The Manch also demanded that the clause providing for return of land to original owner after expiry of five years has been "diluted" and "This amendment needs to be deleted or suitably amended to ensure return of land if the project for which the land is acquired, does not initiate, as per the scheduled time."

In its written submission to the panel, the BKS too has said that farmers' interests have been ignored by doing away with the provisions of social impact assessment and the clause relating to returning unutilised land.

Prabhakar Kelkar, BKS general secretary, said the consent of a minimum of 51 per cent of farmers must be obtained before acquiring land.

SJM's Mahajan said land being a scarce resource, the government should come out with a comprehensive Land Use Policy under which ceiling be fixed for its use for agriculture, forests, industry roads etc.

The Manch also demanded issue of a White Paper about land acquisition by the governments since 1947 stating its present status, unused land lying with government and also with big industries.

"Agricultural and forest land should not be allowed to be acquired for any other purpose, in the interest of food security of the nation.

"Government should not own the responsibility to acquire land for the needs of private industries," it further said.

In another representation, Santosh Golechha, the Rajya Sampark Pramukh of VHP in Chhattisgarh flagged the concerns about amending section 24 (2)of the Act.

He deamnded that in case of section 24 (2) coming into force, the maximum market price of the acquired land on January 2015 should be applicable in all pending cases under the old Act.

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