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
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".