Don't acquire fertile land, say Lok Sabha MPs

New Delhi


Fertile land should not be acquired and instead waste land should be used for industrial development, MPs from various parties said Thursday while supporting the land acquisition bill during a discussion in the Lok Sabha.

The members said the consent of the farmer was key in any land acquisition and suggested that fair compensation should be paid to him.

The land acquisition and rehabilitation bill seeks to give fair compensation to those who lose their land. The bill seeks to replace an almost 120-year-old law enacted in 1894 during the British rule.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said: "Don't acquire fertile land. Instead use waste land to develop industry."

Terming the bill anti-farmer, Bahujan Samaj Party member S.S. Nagar said: "Change of land use is a controversial point."

Noting that "the SEZ was a big scam", Janata Dal-United leader Rajeev Ranjan said: "It is a toothless bill. The fertile land should not be acquired."

Trinamool Congress member Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the earlier "draconian" law was applied on farmers of Nandigram and Singur and "how they fought under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee is history".

This led to protests from the Left party members.

Bandyopadhyay thanked Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for making efforts to make the bill acceptable.

He, however, said that his party was totally opposed to the forcible takeover of land from farmers.

"We believe 100 percent land should be purchased by private groups. Industries should be set up on mono-crop land or barren land only," he said.

The Trinamool Congress leader said the new bill was a necessity of the hour.

DMK member T.K.S. Elangovan also supported the bill.

Communist Party of India-Marxist member Basudeb Acharia said the bill when enacted would be a draconian law.

"There was no forced acquisition in Singur and Nandigram. Not a single inch of land was acquired in Nandigram. There is a difference between announcement and acquiring," he said, countering the Trinamool charge.

The Trinamool and Left members then had a heated exchange.

Acharia said: "Many good proposals are not there in the present act which was enacted during the British rule. Social impact assessment, resettlement, compensation... these were not there.

"The act ignores share-croppers," he said.

"We wanted that there should be a comprehensive act. Nobody is there to listen to the problems of the farmers. When this bill is converted into an act it will be draconian."

According to Acharia: "The bill says that in case of urgency and exigency any land can be acquired. After this no environmental and social assessment will be done. That means 80 percent of land will be acquired using this provision. The minister should clarify this to the house. Our agricultural land is gradually disappearing."

Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh earlier said: "We feel that if the farmer does not agree to acquisition of land under agriculture, it should not be done under any provision." - IANS