Land Acquisition Bill: The farmers are mad as hell and won’t back down

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February 25, 2015

Gurgaon, Haryana – Despite having a total landholding of 12 acres in Gurgaon, farmer Harpal Singh (60) is not a happy man today. It has nothing to do with the Centre's ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act 2013, but he's worried; once it comes into effect, his situation might worsen.

February 25, 2015

Gurgaon, Haryana – Despite having a total landholding of 12 acres in Gurgaon, farmer Harpal Singh (60) is not a happy man today. It has nothing to do with the Centre's ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act 2013, but he's worried; once it comes into effect, his situation might worsen.

"I've small pieces of land in four pockets in the adjoining villages in Gurgaon. Two years back, I got notices that those pieces of land would be acquired for development. But, they still have not been acquired, now have I received any compensation against it. Since, then I couldn't use my land to raise any crop worrying that anytime it might be acquired," he said.

Adds Harpal, "In two years, the price of land has increased multi-fold, but I'll be paid (I don't know when) at an older rate. It's a loss for me however I look at it, as I didn't get any money for the past two years and when I get, it'll be less than the current market rate. I'm also worried about what will happen, if this ordinance comes into effect."

Though thousands of farmers from various states gathered at Jantar Mantar to express solidarity with the anti-ordinance movement, many aren't aware of the details of the Act. They have only one fear – what will happen if their piece of land, the only means of their livelihood — is acquired by the government?

"I've come with this group of farmers led by our village head. I'm struggling to get compensation against the small house and a piece of land I had, which has been acquired. No development work has begun on that land, and I have not received any compensation either. Where should I live now? I want my land and house back, and don't want any money," says Khulau Bai from a village under Uda Kishanganj block in Bihar.

Like Khulau Bai, who has come to join the movement in Delhi, many farmers are not aware that land acquired by the government, won't be given back under normal circumstances – whether any construction begins or not with immediate effect. They don't have any idea about rehabilitation and resettlement either.

With Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal joining Anna Hazare, the farmers' agitation against the ordinance has got a boost, but there are a few points in the ordinance that have emerged as a matter of concern.

Most important of these: are farmers aware of the fine print in the UPA's Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and in the NDA's Ordinance 2014?

  1. No consent of villagers/farmers required for acquiring land (earlier it was 70%) for the purpose of industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.
  2. Multi-crop irrigated land can be acquired for these five sectors.
  3. The right price for compensation and the acquirer namely the state continues to determine compensation.
  4. Time period to take possession of the land against which notice has been issued to a farmer and no compensation has yet been paid.
  5. Rehabilitation and resettlement.

On the first day of the movement on 23 February, Anna Hazare appealed to farmers' organizations to go back to their villages and create awareness on the matter. "After four months we'll be back and stage a mass movement from Ramlila Maidan," Hazare had said.

"In Madhya Pradesh, thousands of farmers have already declared their ownership on the basis of the legislation passed by the previous UPA government. The MP Chief Minister has declared that he will allot any land to the corporates – wherever they put their finger. Now, every farmer is feeling threatened because of the ordinance, which has done away with consent clause in five sectors. They are skeptical that the government may acquire their land even without asking," says Dr Sunilam, former Samajwadi Party MLA and founder president of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh.

Adds Shravan Lamba, a farmer from Madipur, "After going back from this movement, I want to bring awareness among the farmers in our area regarding the Act and the Ordinance. Large number of farmers is still unaware of the rules." Physically disabled Lamba is also an activist.


Courtesy: Firstpost