Chandigarh: The Centre on Friday said it is up to the states how much multi-crop irrigated land they could acquire for urban and industrial infrastructure, but noted "it should be the last resort".
Chief Ministers of Punjab, Haryana and Kerala had expressed concerns that urbanisation and industrialization process in their states would be adversely affected if acquisition of multi-crop irrigated land under the new land acquisition law was not allowed as multi-crop irrigated land is the major portion in their states, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here today.
"I have found a mid way (of this problem). States should first give priority to barren land. Acquisition of multi-crop irrigated land will be the last resort...Demonstrable last resort.. After exhausting all other options," Ramesh said.
Earlier, acquisition of multi-crop irrigated land was not allowed in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, keeping in mind the country`s food security, he said.
"It is now up to the states how much multi-crop irrigated land they want to acquire as per their respective laws," he said, adding the new law on land acquisition was kept in the concurrent list which means states could not reduce the amount of land acquisition compensation or any other benefits.
Ramesh further said, under the new law, land could not be acquired until the Gram Sabha gives its nod.
"I know in Punjab, MLAs chair Gram Sabha meetings. But, the law says, land can only be acquired in consultation with the Gram Sabha. If any provision is violated, then action can be taken against Punjab," he said.
Sharing his experience regarding his visit to several states, Ramesh said he found farmers in Gujarat were protesting against land acquisition for a Maruti plant.
"I have visited Gujarat and found 35 out of 45 villages are protesting (against land acquisition). They do not want to give their land (for the project)," he claimed.
However, "farmers` organisations said they will be happy if compensation is given as per the new law. Now it is up to the Gujarat government to take a call," he said.
Ramesh added a retrospective clause has been inserted whereby compensation for land acquisition would be given as per the new law in cases when land acquisition process is underway under the old law, but award is not announced, physical possession of land is not taken and majority of farmers have not accepted the compensation.