Skip to main content

Swaraj Abhiyan plans protest at Tata Nano in Gujarat, calls amendments to land Act worse than colonial law

From left: Prashant Bhushan, Anand Kumar and Yogendra Yadav 
By Our Representative
Swaraj Abhiyan, the split-away group of the Aam Aadmi Party, in a scholarly submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), has said that the Government of India’s the proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013 are ultra vires to the Constitution of India as also the stated objective of “participative, informed and transparent" consultation for acquiring land.
In its submission before the JPC, Swaraj Abhiayan says, the second amendment bill to the LAA, 2013 actually does away with “the need to ensure, in consultation with institutions of local self-government and Gram Sabhas established under the Constitution”, which suggests it is against the constitutional provisions of grassroots democracy.
Signed by its senior-most leaders, two of whom are well-known scholars -- Anand Kumar and Yogendra Yadav – and well-known Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, the submission believes, the amendments have being introduced for several “oblique purposes” as seen from the fact that it has set aside two of the main cornerstones of the LLA, 2013 – social impact assessment and consent ahead of any land acquisition.
Pointing out that this is clear from the fact that till August 2014, the present government found “nothing wrong with the LAA, 2013”, the submission says, suddenly, between August to December 2014, without having tried to implement the Act, the government found LAA, 2013 “dangerous”, declaring the need for major amendments”.
In fact, the submission says, the government did not care to try or test LAA, 2013. Thus, “it neither constituted the National Monitoring Committee (as stipulated under Section 48 of the Principal Act) nor any Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority (as stipulated under Section 51 of the Principal Act)”.
Taking strong exception to the provision which says that the government can go ahead with land acquisition for any “private entity” (as against “company”), the submission says, this is “intended to benefit a class or classes of people by providing them forcibly acquired land at low price, for profiteering.”
Coming to the provision which says land acquisition would be carried out for “affordable housing and housing for the poor”, Swaraj Abhiayan believes, the actual intention of the government is to “make land banks available to real estate lobby at cheap prices.”
It explains, “The distinction between affordable housing and housing for the poor is a clue to the real intent of the government – the wording indicates that these are two different things. Affordable is a relative term and can be applied for any class of society, including the rich.”
As for the provision for allowing land acquisition for industrial corridors for up to one kilometers stretch on both sides of the railway line passing through it, Swaraj Abhiayan says, it is nothing but “an invitation to the biggest land grab in the history of our country. The expression ‘industrial corridor’ has not been defined and can be interpreted to include housing and real estate projects.”
Objecting to the accountability provision of the LAA, 2013, the submission says, “The new amended section allows for prosecution only after taking sanction from the government under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is well known that this notorious provision has been used by successive governments in order to shield corrupt and errant officials.”
Finally, Swaraj Abhiayan objects to the term “market value” for providing compensation, saying, “It is well-known that recorded rates in Registration Offices are a small fraction of the actual rates at which land transactions take place.”
It says, “The experience of implementation of the Act has already shown that state governments have used this discretion to the disadvantage of the farmers.” Haryana, for example, issued a notification which in actuality gave compensation to the tune of 2 to 2.5 times, but “nowhere close to the promised 4 times”, as stipulated in the LAA, 2013. “This is gross injustice to the farmers”, it emphasizes.
Calling the proposed amendments worse than “the old, colonial and predatory Land Acquisition Act of 1894”, Swaraj Abhaiyan says, “The Act of 1894 at least provided the affected landowners the right to object and be heard.” However, the latest amendments to the Act seek to bypass “the entire procedural requirements, now the landowners would not enjoy even this minimal safeguard.”

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.