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No forcible land acquisition - Mayawati's new deal for farmers

Thursday June 02, 2011 09:53:10 PM, IANS

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Thursday tried to placate angry farmers saying that under a new acquisition policy no land would be forcibly taken from farmers and the government would only play facilitator as far as development projects of the private sector were concerned.

Claiming this was the first time any chief minister in the country had held an open dialogue with farmers before drawing up a land acquisition policy, Mayawati also accused the central government of dilly-dallying on amendments to the land acquisition law.

However, the new policy is not expected to benefit the farmers of Bhatta-Parsaul in Greater Noida which has been a site of violent clashes.

"Henceforth, the state will only play the role of a facilitator when it comes to acquisition of land for development of large industrial or infrastructure projects by private companies, who will have to necessarily go for direct negotiations with the owners of land," Mayawati said at a press conference here elaborating on the new policy which comes into effect immediately.

"The state government would come into play only where land is to be acquired for public purposes for building roads, highways, canals or for development by urban development or industrial development authorities, as per the master plans prepared by the administration."

The practice of direct negotiations and mutual agreement would also apply in case of acquisition of land required for public purposes.

In a significant departure from existing policy, Mayawati has decided to ban all forcible acquisition.

"We are against any kind of forcible acquisition and in case 70 percent of the affected farmers do not agree to give away their land, the state will put the project on hold and take a fresh look at the whole project," she said.

"While we had already framed our land acquisition policy in September 2010, we have made major changes in accordance with the suggestions made by representatives of farmers who have converged here from different parts of the state."

She chose to call her farmers' meet a "kisan panchayat". The meet came after widespread criticism of her government on account of repeated clashes between farmers and the state police over acquisition of land in parts of western Uttar Pradesh over the past few months.

In the most recent clash at Bhatta-Parsaul villages under Greater Noida, four people including two cops, were killed last month. The violence prompted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to launch a tirade against Mayawati and her governance.

However, the new policy will not benefit the farmers of Bhatta-Parsaul. "Since farmers in Bhatta-Parsaul had already received their full and final compensation in terms of the then prevailing policy, the revised policy would not apply to them," Mayawati clarified in reply to a question.

Yet, she claimed: "I am confident that my government's revised land acquisition policy looks far ahead of what is still being deliberated by the central government, which had been sitting over the land acquisition amendment bill for a long time now."

In a warning, she said: "I wish to make it clear that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will raise the issue during the forthcoming monsoon session of parliament; and in case the central government fails to introduce the bill during that session, we will lay a siege around parliament."

Speaking on the new policy, she said: "Apart from being free to enter into a direct contract with the developer company, a farmer would also have the liberty to choose the kind of compensation - between an outright amount settled through negotiation or a deferred payment.

"Besides, he would also have yet another option to take up to 23 percent fully developed land in lieu of the total acquired agricultural land, which would entail a waiting period of up to three years."

"In case of instant payment of a negotiated compensation, the farmer would also be entitled to a 33-year annuity at the rate of Rs.23,000 per acre with an annual increment of Rs.800," she said.

"And for those who do not wish to go for such a long term arrangement, a provision has been made for payment of a one-time flat rehabilitation package at the rate of Rs.2.76 lakh per acre."

In an effort to keep farmers in good humour, she said: "Even as we have drawn up a blue print of the new policy, we will continue to keep the doors open to accommodate more suggestions from farmers."




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