New Delhi, March 21: Amid the simmering controversy in
Nandigram over acquisition of farm land, Agriculture Minister
Sharad Pawar on Wednesday opposed using government agencies for the
purpose and said companies should deal with farmers directly.
"We should avoid using government machinery for acquiring
land," he told reporters here when asked about his views on
the violence at Nandigram in West Bengal over land acquisition
for Indonesia's Salim group's proposed Special Economic Zone.
"My ministry would be happy if instead of using
government machinery to acquire land, we encourage dialogue
directly from farmers and if farmers and entrepreneurs come to
an understanding, then we have no objection," he said.
Pawar said he was not against industry or industrial
growth, but it must be ensured that the land to be acquired
for such projects is not fertile irrigated land.
"If we have to set up some project we will require
land... But this should not be fertile irrigated land which is
giving one, two or three crops to farmers," he said.
"We should see that the land is essentially barren and
non-fertile," he added.
At least 14 people were killed and nearly 100 injured at
Nandigram when police opened fire on a violent crowd of about
5,000 early this month. Villagers have been protesting for the
past three months against the acquisition of land.
The Nandigram incident followed similar protests at
Singur in West Bengal over land acquisition for Tata Motors'
Car project. In both cases, land was being acquired by West
Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.