PM assures Rahul on Land Acquisition Bill
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 21:17
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that the pending Land Acquisition Amendment Bill will be brought in the next session of Parliament.

Singh gave the assurance to Gandhi when he met him with a delegation of Congress leaders and farmers from Uttar Pradesh who were agitating against "forcible" acquisition of land of farmers in Aligarh and adjoining areas in the state.

Gandhi said "land acquisition is a very important issue. What happened in Aligarh is very unfair. We need to have a view on it."

Asked about the pendency of the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, Gandhi remarked "I am aware of it." The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which seeks to bring changes in the Land Acquisition Act, 1994, is being withheld owing to strong opposition of Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee who heads Trinamool Congress, a key UPA ally.

The Bill redefines 'public purpose' as land acquired for defence purposes, infrastructure projects or for any project useful to the general public. As per the bill, for acquisition resulting in large-scale displacement, a social impact assessment study must be conducted.

Tribals, forest dwellers, and those with tenancy rights are also eligible for compensation. Acquisition costs will include payment for loss or damages to land, and costs related to resettlement of displaced residents. While determining compensation, the intended use of land and value of such land in the current market is to be considered.

Asked about Banerjee's opposition to the Bill, AICC general secretary in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh said "when a way can be found out on the issue of nuclear bill through discussion, why can't this be done? The issue can be discussed with Mamata Banerjee. This is a minor point of difference that can be discussed."

The AICC leader said relief and rehabilitation policy of Congress-ruled Haryana, which provides farmers the market rate for their land and also provides them with an annual cash payment for 33 years should be treated as a model policy and sent to all other states.

He alleged the land of the farmers is being taken by force in Mayawati-ruled Uttar Pradesh and there is no concern for the landless there.

Asked whether the government will bring the bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act in the next session of Parliament, Digvijay Singh said "this is what we have been assured. The Prime Minister has said that he will try to get it passed as soon as possible."

The delegation comprising of Rahul Gandhi, Digvijay Singh, UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, CLP leader Pramod Tiwari and farmers from the state also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister to press for their demands.

"The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 is still applicable in the country. Under your leadership, the government tried to change it but has not been successful so far. In almost all the states of the country, the old Land Acquisition Act is being opposed," the memorandum to the Prime Minister said. It said the Land Acquisition Act was too old and had become impractical in the context of today's economy. Asked about the stand of the party on the programme to 'gherao' Parliament tomorrow by some opposition parties and the farmers on the issue, Singh said "there is no point in this...I had talked to Ajit Singh (RLD chief) and told him that it doesn't make a sense to participate in the agitation..."

He said if agitation has to be organised, let it be a 'gherao' of the state assembly. Attacking the BSP government in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress leader said "we oppose the way the state government is acquiring farmers' land through intimidation and one-sided agreements...The way UP government is misusing Section 17 of the Act and carrying out land acquisition, it looks it will acquire 20-25 per cent of the state land".

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 21:17

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