The government was on Monday under attack from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and farmer organisations over the contentious land acquisition Bill, with activist Medha Patkar leading the protest against changes brought in the 2013 land law of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Several organisations, including National Alliance for Farmers Movement (NAFM), All India Coordination Committee of Farmers, Bhartiya Kisan Union (A) and Shetkari Sangathan, made their representation before the Joint Committee of Parliament going into the issue on the fourth day of consultations.
Citing the “experiences” from Narmada Valley Projects, in particular Sardar Sarovar Project of Gujarat, Patkar made a strong pitch for not only retaining the ‘social impact assessment’ and ‘consent’ clauses of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, but even “expanding” their ambit, sources said.
Maintaining that SIA and Consent are crucial and these cannot be excluded for any category of projects, Patkar, who represented the National Alliance of People's Movements, said every project initiated and proposed either by a state agency or from within a community, whether governmental project or a private plan, must pass through these two criteria.
"Narmada experience shows how without the two preconditions the project like Sardar Sarovar was pushed without a full or good plan and people's sanction, inevitably leading to controversies that continue to affect the project till date," she said.
The NAPM demanded mandatory 'free prior informed consent' of gram/basti or ward sabha, following the spirit of Article 243 of the Constitution for any kind of land acquisition developed by government corporation, private corporation or through PPP mode.
It also said that scope of seeking consent from land owners should be expanded to include public purpose projects implemented and developed by the government and not only be limited to the private projects and PPP projects.
Flagging the threat to multi-crop irrigated in particular and cultivable lands in general, the organisation demanded that there should not be any acquisition of agricultural land, single or multi-cropped land by the government for infrastructure projects and in case of emergency situation, a similar amount of compensatory land must be developed elsewhere.
The NAFM made nine suggestions to the panel including land for land, house for house and employment for employment arrangements in rehabilitation of those affected by the land acquisition. It demanded that the suggestions should be incorporated in the new land bill of NDA.