Skip to main content

New land acquisition bill will nullify food security, legitimise land acquisition for corporates, says NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), which is the apex body of more than a dozen mass organisations operating in different parts of India, has said that the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, passed in the Lok Sabha, seeks to provide legitimacy to land acquisition for 'private profit' in the name of public purpose. By introducing the Bill, “the UPA is hiding behind the poor and this brazen push for the land acquisition for the private companies will threaten food security and livelihood of millions”, NAPM has said in a statement.
Expressing the apprehension that the Lok Sabha may have passed the National Food Security Bill, but the land acquisition bill “will divert more agricultural land” for industrial use, NAPM said, “For decades people's movements have been struggling against the forced land acquisition, without any recourse to satisfactory rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R). Today, in an atmosphere, where everything from roads, hospital to tourism, mining, electricity developed by public or private corporations, is considered as public good, we feel that Bill will continue to betray the faith of people in development process.”
The attempt to repeal the 1894 Act was initiated in the context of the killings and land conflicts in Nandigram and Singur, yet “the whole debate is centred only around the growth and industrialisation”, NAPM said, adding, “Political and elite class of this country is driving this hype at the cost of alienating large section of population, who will only have the option to resist and challenge forced acquisition of their land and natural resources by corporations in name of development and growth.”
NAPM said the Bill has been renamed as Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, “with a claim to better reflect government’s commitment towards securing a legal guarantee for the rights of project affected, and ensuring greater transparency in the land acquisition process. It is also claimed that the Bill will ensure, in concert with local institutions of self-government and Gram Sabhas established under the Constitution, a humane, participative, informed, consultative and transparent process for land acquisition.”
“However, we feel that the Parliament should not pass the Bill, in its current form. It needs to be debated democratically debated by all and take those in account, rather than succumb to the private corporations interests and pursue undemocratic growth. Until then one must put a moratorium on all ongoing land acquisitions in the country”, NAPM said.
Pointing towards its objections one by one, NAPM said, “The definition of the term public purpose is restrictive. A decision on public purpose should be taken by a committee consisting of not just bureaucrats and representatives of the democratically elected local self government institution, but also Gram Sabha and Basti Sabha in consonance with the Article 243 provisions. This alone will democratise the development planning.”
NAPM said, “It is ironical that while food processing and other agriculture related secondary and tertiary sector industries have been brought in the public purpose definition, agriculture itself has not been considered a public purpose, something which would have meant no acquisition of agricultural land.”It added, “No forcible acquisition for private projects, or for public private partnership (PPP) can categorized as public purpose projects.”
NAPM emphasized, “In an era of neo-liberal economic reforms, private projects with corporate investment and interests are taking a much larger toll of land and other rich natural resources as also uprooting by killing communities which are generations old. This must come to an end and the same can happen only with stopping the State playing a role of facilitator and land dealer. At the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society, the state can't transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of 'public interest' and 'public purpose'.”
Coming to issues related with food security and agricultural land acquisition, NAPM said, there should be “no forcible acquisition of agricultural land, for non-agricultural purpose including single crop and multi crop land”, adding, “The proposed Bill leaves this to the state governments to decide, rather than take a clear stand on it. It makes provisions for acquisition of common property resources too.” It wonders, “How can the in-between farms that may be unirrigated, rain fed, single crop be left out? India has 75% of the agricultural land as rain fed and most of it single cropped. Such land is mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms. Protecting them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture, is a must.”
The Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended that all 16 central acts should be brought under the purview of the new act, to make all equal before law (Article 14 of the Constitution). Ignoring this, NAPM said, “the Ministry of Rural Development wants to exclude 13 out of 16 Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act and others from the purview of the new Bill. This means that 90% of the land acquired as on today will continue with injustice and force used, with no change at all.” NAPM recommends, “The standing committee recommendations must be upheld to end brutal unjust acquisition for all projects under various state and central laws”.
In yet another recommendation, NAPM takes exception to consent by majority of land losers in the proposed Bill. It says, “Consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in each and every project, including public projects for public purpose. 80% and 70% consent of the land losers for the private and public - private projects, respectively, alone is not sufficient. Also, why should the linear projects be left out? If it’s consent of 80% affected, there are to be a number of manipulations that people will have to face. Experiences of 70% consent in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme in Mumbai are quite telling”.
Opposing land bank instead of returning land to the farmers in case it remains unutilized for a specific period of time, NAPM said, “The ownership over the land is of those who till it and if not used and unutilized then it must be returned to the owners or distributed amongst the project affected people. We oppose any feature which will promote land bank, since it has promoted large scale acquisition in the past and later illegally transferred the same land to corporations for real estate and other purposes.
On the question of retrospective application of the R&R provisions, NAPM thinks, “It needs to be noted that nearly 100 million people have been displaced since independence and with a dismal 17-20 percent rate of resettlement and rehabilitation we had suggested that not only the retrospective application of the provisions of the new act but a National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission be established to deal with the claims of the projected affected people from various projects. Also the Land Acquisition Act 1894 needs to be repealed completely;, two acts dealing with the land acquisition will bring in legal challenges and also negate the whole purpose of bringing in a new legislation”.
On the crucial issue of R&R, NAPM feels the Bill’s provisions “don't stand up to livelihood based R&R, it merely promotes the principle of cash compensation”. It underlines, “It will be a retrogressive step since it negates the land and employment based R&R as mandated in the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award, and various other projects. The proposed provisions of compensating employment with money and high rates for land acquired will only lead to speculative land market and will destroy the fragile economy of the rural hinterland which will lead to further urban migration.”
Finally, NAPM feels, the Bill totally excludes the urban areas, where there is no land acquisition, but eviction, brutal and unjust, for any and every elitist real estate development to infrastructure without guaranteeing right to shelter, right to life and livelihood. “The only provision is to compensate with 20% of developed land for land owning families in urbanisation projects, which is not with regard to the cases where land belongs to the government or private entities but people are evicted. We demand a separate section or a separate Act for the millions of the urban persons and urban land from getting misappropriated.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

How retraints were imposed on academic freedom on the IIM-Ahmedabad campus

By Sandeep Pandey*  This is the seventh consecutive academic year when I would have gone as a visiting faculty member to the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad to teach an Elective course on Transformational Social Movements to the second year of Post Graduate Programme students. But the invitation has not come so far and it looks like it is the end of my teaching stint at IIM, at least, so long as the Bhartiya Janata Party remains in power at the centre.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there.