By Anand Sinha
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
News has been doing the rounds that the Ministry of Rural Development is in talks with opposition parties and the heads of states of India to talk about the amendment of the land acquisition policies. Minister of Rural Development, Nitin Gadkari is in discussions with them to narrow down the differences about it, if any, and bring about a consensus on the issue.
The year old Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill made it mandatory to obtain the consent of at least 80% land owners for obtaining land for private projects and at least 70% land owners for obtaining land for public- private projects. Most likely, the degree of consent will be brought down to 50%. This step is to ensure smooth acquisition of land for industrial purposes. Most of the other such laws are also likely to be amended.
It becomes crystal clear that the cost of development will be paid by the farmers. Pro- industry commentators had called the UPA- led government’s law ‘anti- industry’ since it made way for many legal hassles that would arise in the process of acquiring land. It is rare that an almost corrupt political party like Indian National Congress makes a law favouring the land owners of the rural areas but it is never rare for the Bhartiya Janta Party to agree to the demands of the industrialists, clearly quid pro quo. BJP, in its election campaign, had itself hinted that it would consider amending the law if it comes to power. It shows how much the BJP is concerned about the common man.
The law would make it further difficult for the land owners and the people whose livelihoods are affected by the acquisition to seek rehabilitation and compensation. We are very well aware how poorly the affected people are compensated and the process of rehabilitation of the affected population is rarely implemented. There are numerous cases of police brutality against the rural and tribal population who protest against their own lands being grabbed. Despite being aware of these facts, the BJP government has decided to do away with whatever laws there were, to provide for the affected population of the rural region.
It clearly shows the kind of economic policies the BJP is about to implement in its tenure, which would further take away from the poor population and give it to the industries. An agricultural country keeps giving its land to the industries and it is a fact well known that the workers in the industries would make far little than what they might have made if they were farming on the same land. It should be taken for granted that most of the industrial houses would never care one bit about the concerns of the villagers or the environment. People supposedly vote for their representatives so that the latter would take care of the former. But very few MPs in the present date seem to be doing this. It is difficult to decide whether we should call such politicians immoral or amoral.
Currently based in Delhi, Anand is an English literature student at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, University of Delhi. After working as a content writer and editor for an online firm for a few months, he interned at Youth Ki Awaaz. Sinha defines his political stand as centre-left. His interests include literature, cinema, music, philosophy and world politics.