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Gujarat government revives LARR Ordinance, reveals its anti-farmer face

Statement by Jamin Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG) following the state assembly passing the controversial bill on March 31 bill which does away with consent and social impact assessment in land acquisition:

The Government of Gujarat (GoG) has passed in the State Assembly the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2016. What the the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance (in short LARR Ordinance), 2015 had proposed to do but could not, the GoG Bill is doing in Gujarat. With a few changes, the tone and tenor of the Gujarat LARR Bill is almost the same as the LARR Ordinance 2015. The meagre safety and rights that were guaranteed to the farmers by the LARR Act, 2013 are set to be snatched away, once and for all.
The major amendments being brought by the GoG to the LARR Act, 2013 are (this is not a comprehensive list):
(1) Amendment 3 of the Bill exempts projects listed in section 10 A from requirements of “Consent of affected families” and “Social Impact Assessment”, over and above those contained within the definition of ‘public purpose’, which were the heart and soul of the new LARR Act, 2013. The new exemptions include:
Such projects vital to national security or defence of India and every part thereof, including preparation for defence; or defence production;
Rural infrastructure including electrification;
Affordable housing and housing for the poor people;
Industrial corridors; and
Infrastructure and social infrastructure projects including projects under public private partnership where the ownership of land continues to vest with the Government.

(2) Section 23A has been inserted after Section 23, which essentially gives the district collector the power to decide on the matter of land acquisition and compensation amount without enquiry, with mutual consent of the parties.
(3) Section 24(2) stipulated that in cases where land had been acquired under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act of 1894 but physical possession had not been taken or compensation had not been paid, then the proceedings were to be deemed to have lapsed and the matter would have to be started afresh under the provisions of this Act. The Ordinance amends this provision by adding a proviso which essentially means that any delay on account of litigation (court mandated stay or injunction), or where the compensation amount lies unclaimed in the court, then such period will not be factored into the computation of the period of limitation.
(4) Section 87 stipulated when and under what conditions a government officer could be held guilty and proceeded against in a court of law. It removed the earlier constraint, viz. “the previous sanction of the appropriate Government” and would therefore act as a deterrent to bureaucrat-businessman nexus which was always detrimental to farmers’ interests. This section has been amended by the Ordinance and restores the previous limitation of government sanction for prosecution of a government employee.
The amendments in the Bill are a clear statement of the intentions of the government about its priorities and its leanings, if any is yet required. The industrialists and the corporate lobby had made it amply clear that it was ‘displeased’ with the LARR Act, 2013 and that it needed action, and fast. The GoG has obeyed the dictats. The GoG and the ruling party which, since the recent debacle in the local government elections, has been crying itself hoarse about its rural and farmer centric policies and programmes has clearly shown its true colours. It never did and does not have the interests of the rural and the farming community at heart. All the Krishi melas and the Krishi raths that they can muster together cannot hide this simple fact.
We the undersigned, in our individual and collective capacities, severely condemn and oppose this absolutely anti-people and anti-farm piece of legislation. We demand that the amendments be dropped and the central LARR Act of 2013 be adopted in its place.
While we condemn the ruling party in Gujarat for its anti-farm policies, we also ask the opposition party, in this case the Congress, whether it will go beyond mere photo-ops and do something concrete to fight this piece of legislation, as it had led the campaign against the Ordinance at the national level.

Signatories:
Sagar Rabari, JAAG
Persis Ginwalla, JAAG
Ashok Shrimali, Secretary General, Mines, Minerals and People
Hasmukh Patel, JAAG
Jimmy C. Dabhi
Mahesh Pandya
Charul Bharwada
Vinay Mahajan
Bharatsinh Jhala
Eklavaya Sangathan, Gujarat
Agriculture worker Union, Gujarat
Pankti Jog
Vijay Bhartiya
Sarup Dhruv
D. N. Rath, Movement for Secular Democracy
Rohit Prajapati, JAAG
Krishnakant, JAAG
Mallika Sarabhai
Gautam Thakar, National President, Indian Radical Humanist Association
Xavier Manjooran
Sonal Mehta, JAAG
Karan Desai, Maldhari Vikas Sangathan
Dashrath Desai, Maldhari Vikas Sangathan
Vimlaben Kharadi, Adivasi Yuva Vikas Sangathan
Naresh Damor, Adivasi Yuva Vikas Sangathan
Ashim Roy

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