Ludhiana: Union Minister Manish Tewari on Sunday warned the Punjab government against "forcible" acquisition of land in nine villages of Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan canal for setting up an industrial park and a township.
The Union Information and Broadcasting minister questioned the rationale behind setting up of the industrial park "when the existing industrial areas and industrial focal points were crying for attention, and the industries were running away."
"Even if the state government needed to acquire the land it should acquire it under the new land acquisition law," he said.
Tewari assured a delegation of people from nine villages, led by Ujjagar Singh Gill, that he will "ensure" that the state government was not allowed to forcibly acquire their land and if at all the land was needed to be acquired it would be only with the consent of the local people and under the provisions of the new Land Acquisition Law.
The Union minister said that the farmers were served the acquisition notices under the old law passed in 1894 when the new farmer-friendly law had already been passed.
"This was being clearly done to deny farmers the benefits of the new law," he said.
Tewari questioned how "a government claiming itself to be farmer-friendly could deny the benefits under new law to the farmers?"
The minister claimed that the state government was planning to acquire 2,100 acres of land in nine villages in Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan Canal on the Northern bye-pass.
The government, he said, is learnt to be planning to set up an industrial park and a water-front city.
"Nobody has any objections if the government`s intentions are genuine about development, but this cannot be done while devastating hundreds of farmers," he said while warning against such a move.
He said that under the new law the government is bound to pay compensation to the farmers which should be four times the prevailing market rate of the land in the area as these all fall in the rural areas (Compensation for urban areas is double of the prevailing market rate).
Besides, there must be consent of 80 per cent people whose land has to be acquired before the government could initiate the acquisition process.