Amaravati: State government’s decision to go for amendment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013-popularly known as Land Acquisition Act, 2013 is creating ripples in the capital city area. The local farmers, who successfully resisted the government’s efforts of taking over the green fields after the announcement of the capital city, are worried that their hopes to hold to the fields might shortly end.
The state cabinet on Saturday moved a proposal to study the recently amended Gujarat land acquisition with an ultimate aim to make similar amendments to the state law and go for forcible acquisition. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013 legislated by previous UPA regime, summarily prohibits acquisition of multi-crop irrigated lands for any purpose including for government projects.
In fact, the BJP led NDA government made vain bid to amend the land acquisition Act last year. It issued an Ordinance removing certain clauses from the 2013 Act citing that they are against the development. Following the countrywide uproar and protests even from the BJP’s own farmers wing-Kisan Morcha, NDA government made an attempt to pacify the farmers groups and moved a bill in the parliament. After failing to muster the numbers in Rajya Sabha, the government had finally allowed the Ordinance to face the natural death and gave up the attempt to tinker with the UPA Act.
However, BJP national leadership encouraged its own state governments to go ahead with the proposed amendments and get the President’s accent. Gujarat is the first government to go for such controversial amendments to the old Act in last August. The Gujarat government removed section 300 A of the Central Act which it made it mandatory for any government to follow a certain guidelines to acquire the land from the farmers. It also removed section 31 (A) of the Act which prescribed the stringent guidelines for the acquisition.
As per the guidelines, the conduct of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is a must for acquisition of land for any project. With the removal of this clause, the state government is empowered to take the land from the farmers by offering compensation without conduct of SIA. “Making such amendments is nothing but disregarding the Act made by the parliament and the democratic process,” alleged farmers leader and advocate Mallela Seshagiri Rao.
The Gujarat Act had also done with Chapter II and III which prevented the acquisition of multi-crop irrigated lands. “Acquisition of green fields was prohibited to protect the food security of the nation. Removing such a crucial clause is nothing but acting against the poor and farmers of the country,” said a farmer G Naresh Reddy of Penumaka.
Defending the need to change certain clauses of the 2013 Act particularly to take up projects like capital city, agriculture minister Prattipati Pullarao said that TDP government had offered a decent compensation to the farmers under Land Pooling Scheme (LPS). “How reasonable for 0.5 percent people to act against 99.5 percent who parted with their lands for the capital city. The government is left with no option but to go for acquisition in such case,” he explained. The state government acquired nearly 33,000 acres of land under LPS and planning to take over another 6,000-8,000 acres through acquisition mode after making requisite amendments to the Land Act.