‘Land Acquisition Bill should focus on farmers’

Senior BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan stressed that the focus of the Land Acquisition Bill should be on farmers.

Mumbai: Senior BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan,
who heads the Parliament`s Standing Committee on Rural
Development, has stressed that the focus of the Land
Acquisition Bill should be on farmers.

"Farmers should be at the centre (of the legislation)
because they are losing the land," Mahajan said. The
bill has been referred to the panel chaired by her.

On the use of fertile agricultural land for industrial
development, Mahajan said, "I am of the view that as far as
possible, minimum fertile land should be acquired."

Observing that the bill will affect a large number of
people, she said "It will have repercussions. We should not
rush into this. We will have to think from all angles".

Mahajan is expected to submit the committee`s
recommendations within three months.

"We have to take states into confidence and leave some
space for them. We have to take industrialists, corporates and
builders into confidence as they have their own views on the
subject," she said.

"It is essential that when you are acquiring land,
interests of those who give the land, should be protected.
Land is national wealth," Mahajan said.

Problems related to land acquisition are different
from state to state and this aspect needs to be looked into,
Mahajan, who represents Indore Lok Sabha seat, said.

"There are some states where the infertile land is
more. But there are some areas, like Malwa region where I come
from, which are totally fertile. Does this mean that in Malwa,
there won`t be any development?" she said.

Density of population, status of village and farmers
are some of the criteria which will have to be taken into
account, Mahajan said, adding development is necessary but
protecting interests of farmers is also necessary.

Asked if she sees a political consensus on the
contentious issue of land acquisition, the senior BJP leader
said, "although a difficult task, there could be a consensus."

"We say India is a predominantly agricultural economy.
We have to pay more attention to farmers," she said.

To a query on social activist Anna Hazare`s demand
that approval of village `gram sabha` should be sought before
going ahead with any development project, Mahajan said, "while
formulating laws we should speak to everyone."

One of the things can be done is that the gram sabha
should be taken into confidence in case a big project or
factory is coming up in the area.

"If the land is for a factory, you give a few crores
to the farmer for his land, but what after that? Will he get
another land? First of all, you are decreasing arable land. Is
it possible that the same farmer would buy agricultural land
using the compensation amount? Not necessary. Then what will
he do? The amount will be spent just like that. The maximum he
will do is buy a house, a vehicle," she said.

"We have to give our recommendations within three
months. No doubt, we will try our best. But we also have to
consult state governments, bodies like corporates, builders,
farmers` associations and social organisations," Mahajan said.


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