Statement of Lok Raj Sangathan, 1st January, 2015

The recent Cabinet decision to promulgate an Ordinance amending the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, is thoroughly anti-people. Lok Raj Sangathan vigorously condemns this Ordinance.

The NDA government has passed this Ordinance in a hurry under pressure from big corporate houses whose investments are at stake. According to an estimate, 20 lakh crore investments are at stake due to restrictions imposed by the Land Acquisition Act 2013. Removing these restrictions will fetch super profits for corporate houses investing in real estate, industrial corridors and other large infrastructure and defence projects.

The government has amended Section 10(A) of the Act to expand sectors where assessment and consent will not be required. For five sectors, the consent clause has been removed. So the government or private individuals/companies will no longer need mandatory 80% consent for land acquisition in those five sectors. According to Arun Jaitley, the mandatory "consent" clause and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) will not be applicable if the land is acquired for national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor including public-private partnerships.

The existing law requires a social impact assessment of land acquisition on those are dependent on land. By doing away with this requirement the Ordinance violates the rights of people dependent on land for compensation and livelihood.
According to the Ordinance, whether the land is fertile or not will not be taken into consideration while acquiring it for these five specific sectors. Thus even if the land is extremely fertile like it was the case in Singur, it can be forcibly acquired if it fits the criterion of these five sectors.

The Ordinance has brought under it 13 other Acts, such as the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957, the National Highways Act 1956, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885, etc which were earlier excluded under the Land Acquisition Act 2013. All the above amendments will apply to these Acts as well.

The reason why the Modi government has pushed through this Ordinance at the fag end of the year is to assure the big monopoly and business houses that the reform agenda is under way and the government will do its best to enable maximum profits for them. Goldman Sachs, the global business rating agency, says that the ordinance will immediately benefit Power Grid to find it easier to get right of way (RoW) for power transmission & distribution projects, Container Corporation of India (a state-owned monopoly) to benefit through faster implementation of industrial corridors and for Larsen &Toubro in execution of PPP projects.

The Ordinance is a further reiteration of the colonial principle of Eminent Domain where the State has forcibly acquired right over all the land and natural resources of India. It is a violation of the principle that it is the people who are the owners of the land and natural resources of India, a principle upheld in pre-colonial times. It is also a violation of the principle that land use cannot be changed without the consent of people.

The Ordinance is against the interests of all sections of the Indian people including workers, peasants, fishermen, artisans and agricultural labourers.

Let us unitedly oppose this Ordinance by organizing meetings and demonstrations in mohallas, colonies, villages and other places!

 

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