Farmers’ delegation asks for a White Paper on status of land acquired in India so far

A delegation of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee, an umbrella outfit of 65 farmers’ outfits, met with the Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley yesterday with regard to the Land Acquisition Ordinance (May 31st 2015) and the amendments Bill. One of the media reports is presented below.

The memorandum submitted by the delegation to the FM can be downloaded here.


Land Bill: Farmers’ Leaders From Different Organisations Meet Jaitley
NEW DELHI | JUN 10, 2015

Farmer leaders from different organisations including NDA ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana today met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley demanding restoring the consent clause in the land bill and a white paper on the status of land acquired so far.

Intensifying efforts to take farmers’ concerns on board, Jaitley assured them the government does not want to ‘snatch’ their land and that a solution to the vexed issue will be found “to the satisfaction of farmers”, the delegation members said.

The delegation submitted a memorandum to the minister concerning various aspects of the bill, which the government claimed was arrived at after consulting more than 65 farmers’ bodies.

“There should be no land acquisition without seeking farmers’ consent. The compensation has to be minimum four times of market price of land. Irrigated land should not be acquired. We are ready to give land if it’s meant for national security, but in other cases, we won’t give it.

“He (Jaitley) has assured us that Government too doesn’t want to snatch farmers’ land. He also assured us to find out a way in which farmers are satisfied,” Lok Sabha MP and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetty told reporters here after the meeting.

The All India Kisan Co-ordination Committee, the umbrella union of 65 farmers’ outfits, insisted that the government retain a clause of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act under which land not utilised for five years for the purpose for which it was acquired was to return to the original owner.

They also asked the government to come out with a white paper on status of use of land acquired from farmers during the past 60-65 years for various projects.

The bill, which proposes various amendments including removal of the consent clause, a key feature of 2013 Act brought by the UPA-II government, is currently being discussed by a Parliamentary Joint Committee, which has met thrice so far.

Former BJP Kisan Morcha leader and Advisor to DD Kisan channel Naresh Sirohi said the government has agreed to consider “most of the demands” of farmers and senior ministers will hold deliberations on their main demands.

Sirohi said the Finance Minister has written to Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh on his discussions with the delegation, while other senior ministers will also discuss the issue at their level.

“And, I think, before the Monsoon Session 60-100 orgnisations from across the country will have sat with the government. Government has kept open both its doors for farmers and their organisations. One or two more meetings are likely to take place before Monsoon Session, a consensus is likely on the bill,” Sirohi claimed.

When asked why he and Shetty are protesting against their own government, Sirohi replied, “We are farmers first. Farmers’ interest comes first.”

Besides Shetti and Sirohi, other farmers’ leaders VM Singh, Pankaj Bhushan, Pankaj Jain, Dhirendra Singh Dhira and others were present.

This was the second meeting Jaitley had with farmers in a fornight. In the earlier meeting on May 28, Jaitley had constituted a committee to record the suggestions of farmers on the bill and present to him during future interactions. Over 30 farmers’ orgnisations had participated then.

The interactions have come at a time when the government is battling strident opposition to the bill and has indicated willingness to address their “misgivings” on various issues and take their concerns on board.

In the first meeting also, Jaitely had assured farmers that government would go ahead on the measure only after incorporating their suggestions and that their interests will not be ignored.

In a petition submitted to Jaitley earlier, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) had termed the new land bill as a “joke” on the years-long struggle of farmers and batted strongly for the 2013 land bill of the UPA.

One of the apprehensions some farmer representatives had was that the government could hand over land to corporates after acquiring it for various purposes. They have been seeking more clarity on issues like land acquisition for industrial corridors and acquiring fertile land.

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