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Once you take away the land, you deprive next 5 generation of farmers
Those who vociferously support the Land Ordinance brought by the NDA government list the following plus points among many others: (1) It will fetch better compensation to the farmers. (2) Stalled rural infrastructure like schools, hospitals, road, power, irrigation projects etc will get a boost. (3) Industrial projects will provide employments to the rural people. (4) Defence projects will enhance nation's security.

The opposition parties are blamed for sabotaging a well-intentioned step by Modi Sarkar. Choice abuses like anti-nationals are liberally sprinkled at the critics. The trouble started only from the farmers across the nation. Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, farm wing of the ruling party, is in the forefront of this agitation.

Anna Hazare and other political parties joined the protest in due course. Apart from the farmers, tribals, Dalits and fish workers also came to Delhi in the middle of Feb in large numbers to protest against the bill. If the Congress alone opposed this Bill, Modi's job would have been made easier. It will be like a Rahul Gandhi campaigning against the BJP in an election.

Better Compensation: A Deception

Compensation whether fair or unfair is not everything. Once a hookah smoking zamindar Chaudhary is now pulling a rickshaw in the streets of Delhi, after exhausting the meager compensation received. His land is now decorated with multiplexes acquired in the name of public purpose.

In Haryana, many a parents who received hefty compensation for their lands are a worried lot. Their wards are harassing them for money to purchase cars and motor cycles. These youth are sleeping all through the day and spending their night hours in clubs.

How long will this sustain is the parents' anxiety. Such compensation which destroys them culturally, socially and economically is no substitute for sustainable livelihood-based rehabilitation.

Employment to the rural people in the industrial projects: A big hoax

The record of the industry providing employment to those displaced is shameful. Rather their livelihood avenues were destroyed duly turning them economic refugees in their own places. Nearly 40 million people have been such victims since 1947. About 40% of them are tribals.

Tribals and Dalits ruined by the modern India's projects taking out a peaceful Janadesh yatra from Bhopal to Delhi a few years ago to meet PM Manmohan Singh seeking rehabilitation and resettlement tells the real misery.

Vast majority of farmers want to quit farming as farming is hardly economically viable. 

The Census 2011 data reveal that actually the share of cultivators in total working population has gone down in the last decade by 6.8%. But the share of total workers engaged in agriculture has come down only by 3.3 percent. Instead what has happened is the cultivators have become now agriculture workers. The share of agriculture workers in total working population has increased from 26.5% in 2001 to 30% in 2011.

Additionally, whatever non-farm employment opportunities are available for most of the poor illiterate, semi-literate or less educated workers are of low paid jobs, in unorganised and informal sectors, without any job security or workplace facilities, safety measures and social security.

Rural infrastructural projects will benefit farmers - National security via Defence projects: Good comedy

The government should explain us how many state schools, hospitals, power, irrigation, road projects are stalled for want of land. It is a clever ploy to confuse the issue. Why should a farmer lose his land for a private school/hospital or private power project which is created purely for private revenue?

Can the farmer get admission for his children in such posh schools? Will he be allowed enter the hi-fi hospital proposed to be built in his land? The state is shamelessly acting as brokers for such private business ventures which have nil relevance to the would-be victims.

Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is the first pre-conditional phase before any rehabilitation. It is an analysis of the impact of the project on displaced peoples' livelihoods, whether they would become jobless with cash but no permanent source of livelihood; whether their relationship with natural resources, the ecosystem will be affected; whether their community integration, as in the case of tribals and even non-tribals in rural India, will be shattered and they would be dispersed, as also, the effect on forests, fish and the food security when agricultural lands are going to be taken away.

The maximum land acquisition and maximum social impact will be in irrigation projects; but those have been excluded from SIA and consent.

"If consent of farmers and SIA clause are incorporated in respect of a defence project, Pak will come to know about the project. It will jeopardise the national security," observes Arun Jaitley.

It is just ridiculous. In which age is our FM living? Assuming this is true, why are these clauses given a goodbye in the case of other public and private projects? If the project is not started in 5 years, the land has to go back to the farmers as per 2013 Act. Citing the possible delay in nuclear power plants, the lands acquired for all projects are permanently kept under the promoters as per the Ordinance. What sort of justice is it?

Public Sector Undertakings acquired lands much beyond their needs decades ago. Defence establishments are notorious in this aspect. This vast area of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land available right now with the state can easily be used for defence projects without any difficulty. But government wants only farmers' land. Perhaps PSU's surplus land is reserved for projects like Lavasa!

The surplus unused land available with Indian Railways can accommodate industrial corridors for decades to come. Why can't that land be detached from railways?

Of the 576 Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projects approved, 392 were notified but only 170 are operational. While less than 48% of the existing SEZs are engaged in export activity, only 3.8 per cent exports came from these zones in 2013-14. Out of the 45,635.63 hectares of land notified for the development of SEZs, actual operations took place in only 28,488.49 hectares or 62 per cent of the land acquired.

In a scathing comment, CAG says "Acquisition of land from the public by the government is proving to be a major transfer of wealth from the rural populace to the corporate world." With 50 per cent land lying idle, many developers had put the land to other industrial uses or used it for building real estate hubs and even mortgaged it to raise finances. Why not the Commerce Minister releases this land for the infrastructure needs?

In a scathing indictment, the Supreme Court, while quashing the notifications for land acquisition in Greater Noida, observed thus in July 2011: "Do you think judges live in a fool's paradise? Look at your own (builders) brochure. It is saying about swimming pool, spa, tennis court, badminton court, beauty parlour, Ayurvedic massage, etc. All these are for poor people? Land is given for development which must be inclusive. The State is taking advantage of the law against the poor. A sinister campaign is made by various State governments. The State is doing a totally anti-people thing. The purpose of the land acquisition was being defeated. The poorest man in society should benefit in the public interest but you [State] are responding in such a way that the poor are driven out. What farmers get are lathis and litigation. Men are arrested and women are raped. In the name of globalisation poor people are marginalised; why are terrorist activities increasing? Why so many people commit suicide? They are pushed to the wall. (The) Land Acquisition Act has become an engine of oppression for the common man. You (State) have virtually demolished every area for the benefit of a particular society for which you work. There is greater danger to society. They take to crime. Once you take away the land, you deprive the next five generation of farmers of their livelihood."

PM says, ''Planning Commission is a vintage organisation in the free market era''. But in the market economy regime, can the state act as a land broker to dig holes to enable the corporates to plant money yielding trees?

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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