The Government should take back its Anti-Farmer Land Acquisition Ordinance, lakhs of farmers to come together and start a movement against this.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has done injustice to the farmers of the country by coming out with the Land Acquisition Ordinance. As a result, it came under fire from all sides for being anti-farmers’ government. The farmers are hitting the streets at various places to protest. That has forced Narendra Modi Ji to come out with a statement saying, “If this bill does any injustice against the farmers, suggestions must be made to protect interests of farmers. We would definitely consider such proposals.” Therefore we are sending some suggestions to the government.
1) If the government considers the farmers’ interests, it should have carried out a ground mapping survey of the land in the country after attaining independence. After such a survey, the land should be divided in categories such as Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV, Class V, Class VI on the basis of its fertility. Fertile lands should be included in Class I, Class II and Class III and such lands must not be acquired for industrial purpose. Such a law was needed long back but it was never promulgated. The bill permits acquisition of even those lands on which two or three crops can be cultivated. This is unjust to the farmers. Irrigated land which is adding to the national produce must not be acquisitioned.
2) Though 68 years have passed since India attained its freedom, farmers are still being driven to suicides because the investments on agriculture are much higher compared to the earnings from the agricultural produce. The farmers must get prices of agricultural produce which are fixed on the basis of the costs incurred on cultivation of each crop. Doing this is not impossible. Any university in the country is capable of doing this work. The farmers go bankrupt as the investments on agriculture is much high and the prices of agricultural produce is rather low. As a result, a feeling of frustration grips him and he is driven to suicide.
3) The central government and government in each of the states must form Agriculture Commission. Such Agriculture Commissions must work for betterment and progress of farmers and increasing yield of agricultural produce.
4) Lands adjacent to the river banks are very fertile. They produce good yield. It is improper to acquire such lands for industrial purposes.
5) Fertile lands are converted to lands polluting water of sacred rivers.
6) Instead of acquiring the lands of farmers, the government must take farmers land on lease. The farmers whose lands are acquired, must be included in the projects concerned as stakeholders to ensure their financial wellbeing and that they are not forced to commit suicides.
7) Changing the judicial system too is required. Today, one does not get justice for years. Moreover, according to the Land Acquisition Ordinance, if farmers are to move the courts against injustice done to them by the government, they will have to seek prior permission from the government. The bill thus shuts the doors of the courts for farmers. This is against the democratic principles.
8) Summoning foreign companies and increasing the industrial area of our country is not the only way to address the challenges of unemployment that our country is facing. It is necessary to consider village as a unit, to give top priority to increasing agricultural produce in each such units and to promote agriculture based industries. These measures will produce employment for rural youths in villages themselves and stop their migrations to the cities.
9) As the industrial areas are increasing rapidly in our country, more foreign companies are arriving here. They have been consuming fuels such as petrol, diesel, kerosene and coal in large quantity which is resulting in increase in the pollution. The pollution has been resulting in natural calamities. People are suffering from different diseases. As a result, need for hospitals is increasing. Mahatma Gandhi Ji would often insist, “Do development in such a manner that it will not exploit the nature and humanity.” Development done on the basis of exploitation is not sustainable development. Such development is bound to result in destruction. Excessive consumption of fuel is resulting in not only pollution but also in rise in temperature, which is a major risk.
Hon. Narendra Modi Ji was born and brought up in Gujarat. His journey has been from being a tea vendor to being a Prime Minister. Under such circumstances, it is beyond comprehension why he does not understand the wisdom of Gandhi Ji. Increased agricultural produce can provide employment opportunities for rural youths in the villages. It would not result in pollution and help in maintaining the balance of nature. These are no mere words. There are people who have achieved this.
10) Mahatma Gandhi Ji would lay emphasis on smart self-dependant villages but the government’s thrust is on smart cities. Promoting smart villages would avoid exploitation of nature and humanity.
What is needed is to implement Mahatma Gandhi Ji’s thoughts and provide the legislative powers to Gram Sabhas, while considering village as main administrative unit. This must be done because the Gram Sabha is self-evolving and sovereign. The Gram Sabha changes constitution of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha after tenure of five years but never changes its own constitution. Every person who is of 18 years of age automatically becomes member of Gram Sabha and remains such member till his death. It has no elections because it is self-evolving. Therefore, a village is the owner of all natural resources such as water, forests, land etc in its jurisdiction. Therefore, law must be promulgated making it mandatory for the Government of India or a State Government to seek consent of Gram Sabha for the acquisition of any resource belonging to it if at all it wishes to make any such acquisition. That would bring in democracy in true sense. By introducing the Land Acquisition Bill, Modi Government has ended this right of Gram Sabha. Therefore, it is anti-democratic.
In a agrarian country, The government is doing injustice to farmers by coming out with land acquisition ordinance instead of thinking on measures it can take for betterment of farmers. The government is thinking for betterment of rich people. Democracy means government of the people, by the people, for the people. The Land Acquisition bill throttles the democracy.
Any private company wishing to acquire farmers land, democratic principle do not allow acquisition of farmers land without their consent.
The law of land acquisition promulgated by the British in 1894 was also unjust. Therefore, a new law was passed in the parliament with consent of all parties in 2013. The Bharatiya Janata Party was then in the opposition. Then nobody had opposed the law. Instead the bill was passed with consent of all parties. Under such circumstances, what were the reasons behind the haste of Narendra Modi Ji’s government to come out with the ordinance and then to convert it into bill. And no haste is being done to convert the bill into a law. The government is in no hurry to pass the important laws like, to curb the monster of corruption, lokpal & Lokayukta for betterment of citizens.
If any amendment was to be made in the law, it should have been debated in the Parliament and done with consent of all parties. A number of projects are pending in many states for a number of years. Lakhs of hectors of land of farmers has been acquisitioned for these projects but neither has it been used to set up the industries nor has it been returned to the farmers. As a result, lakhs of hectors of land in the country remains unused. A survey of all such lands must be made and the lands on which projects have not started within five years after acquisition must be returned to farmers.
Farmers’ lands have been acquired for some projects but they have not been provided either full compensation nor have they been rehabilitated. The government is turning Nelson’s eye towards this. There are several farmers whose lands were acquired and who lost their houses too but they were never given compensation or rehabilitated for 25/30/35 years. The government must consider their pains and agonies. But, the government has lost its sensitivity over the last 68 years.
The Land Acquisition Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha and now the nation is anxiously watching about what happens about it in the Rajya Sabha. If the Rajya Sabha too passes the bill, the citizens will have to think differently and show that the people’s parliament has the highest place. Considering this as our second freedom struggle, movement will start in the country in non-violent ways.
K. B. alias Anna Hazare