Skip to main content

Gujarat's 2015 Bill seeks to "transfer" land meant for landless, SCs, STs, OBCs, to industrial houses

Persis Ginwalla
By Our Representative
Two senior Gujarat-based activists, one of them a development professional, have alleged that the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill, 2015 is a state government effort to “undermine” the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR), 2013, whose amendments were dropped by the Centre after their “anti-farmer” character was exposed through “nation-wide agitations”.
In a discussion paper, distributed to top Indian activists, Persis Ginwalla and Sagar Rabari, associated with Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) and Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), say that the Bill, which amends four laws, the most important being the Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act, 1960, has sought to “make transfer of land to industry and industrialists as easy as possible and at minimum cost to the purchasing industry/industrialist.”
The Bill, passed by the Gujarat state assembly in the absence the Opposition (it was suspended en masse) in August, is pending Presidential nod after the Gujarat governor decided not to sign it. The governor sent the Bill for a Delhi nod despite the fact that the Modi government has insisted upon states to pass their own amendments to “undermine” LARR, 2013. Already, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have followed suit.
The Congress has represented to the President, asking him not to sign the 2015 amendment Bill, as it would stop the process of transfer of surplus land to marginalized communities – SCs, STs and OBCs. According to rough estimates, there are 54 lakh landless workers who have yet to benefit from the surplus land, lying with the government.
Pointing towards the significance of the Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act, 1960, the paper says, “The rationale for the introduction of land ceiling was to end the monopoly on land ownership enjoyed by a few, and to redistribute this resource for more equitable society.”
The paper, which is perhaps the first major critique of the 2015 Gujarat Bill, says that even the Preamble makes it clear what the real purpose is -- for allotment of land “for industrial purpose or for the development thereof or for any public purpose”. It adds, there is a “problem” with the definition ‘public purpose’, wondering who will define it, Minister, Secretary, Collector, Mamlatdar, or someone else.
The paper says, the Bill talks of allowing land to be given/sold, after the payment of occupancy price for “any urban local body, for public purpose, when the land is situated within the areas of such local body”, and to “any person, for industrial purpose or for the purpose of development thereof, when the land is situated outside the areas of the urban local body”.
Suggesting tha this particularly undermines the Land Ceiling Act, which impose land ceiling on “large landholders”, and sought to distribute surplus land to “landless or small and marginal farmers”, the paper says, "This task the government never completed. With urbanisation, these unutilised lands remain vacant and have appreciated manifold in value”, adding, “The government is turning an asset of someone’s holding (the erstwhile landowner) into a tradeable commodity in the open market” enabling “some ‘favoured’ industrialists to earn landslide profits without doing anything.”
No doubt, the paper says, the 2015 Bill does seek to “make available equivalent quantum of agricultural land in the nearby vicinity”, but there are “two misgiving: Firstly, the phrase 'in the nearby vicinity' is vague and can be made to mean anything, and hence can be rendered useless. Secondly, the value of land within city limits and the price of land outside city limits, even if it is an equivalent quantum, cannot be compared.”
Yet another amendment, the paper says, stipulates that “... any land allotted either under clause (v) or (vi) of sub-section (1) of section 29, to any urban local body or any person respectively shall be of old tenure”, which suggests that the land “given under tenancy Act, Ceiling Act and Bhoodan lands, which were to ‘new tenure’ land regulations”, would be deemed as “old tenure.”
The paper comments, “This amendment removes this safeguard and brings this valuable asset within the ambit of the ‘land market’. Moreover, automatic conversion to ‘old tenure’ means that the premium amount for conversion is no longer payable. Can this be construed as yet another ‘subsidy’ to industry in the name of ‘growth’ and ‘development’?”
The paper says, the “most appalling of the amendment” is the district collector being allowed to come to the conclusion that if “the purchaser has failed to commence production of goods or providing of services within the period as specified”. In such a case, the land would “vest in the state government on payment to the purchaser of such compensation as the state government may determine”, and with the government having the right to dispose of the land “as it may deem fit.”
Comments the paper, this empowers the “district collector to determine the cost incurred by the industrialist in failing to use the land, and to pay such compensation to him/her.” This way, “the government is ... making it mandatory for itself to ‘rescue’ a rogue industrialist who fails in his/her undertaking to put up an industry and to compensate him/her 'adequately and appropriately’.”

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.