Karela Fry

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Land grab acts

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Here is the notorious text of the 2007 amendment to the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which was passed during the first tenure of the UPA government:

for clause (f), the following clause shall be substituted, namely:—
‘(f) the expression “public purpose” includes,—
(i) the provision of land for strategic purposes relating to naval, military and air force works or any other work vital to the State;
(ii) the provision of land for infrastructure projects of the appropriate Government, where the benefits accrue to the general public; and
(iii) the provision of land for any other purpose useful to the general public, for which land has been purchased by a person under lawful contract to the extent of seventy per cent but the remaining thirty per cent of the total area of land required for the project as yet to be required.’.
Explanation.—The word “person” shall include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not.’;

By virtue of the third provision, the government agrees to acquire land on behalf of private parties. The Congress was the driving force behind this regressive piece of legislation. It has also been a beneficiary of popular sentiment against it in West Bengal, where botched acquisitions, of precisely this kind, became the rallying point against the left front government. That the UPA government has been less than enthusiastic in repairing these amendments is clear from a news report in BS:

After a half-an-hour long meeting with the Prime Minister, the RLD chief said that he apprised the former about the violence over land acquisition in Noida and reminded him about his commitment to pass the Bill.

“I met the Prime Minister regarding the Land Acquisition Bill and reminded him that he had made a promise in October last year itself regarding the passage of the Bill. Rahul Gandhi had also met him and urged for passing the Bill.

“The Prime Minister had then said that he would ensure that the Bill be passed as soon as possible. But two Parliament sessions passed since then. I reminded him about his commitment. The Prime Minister has told me that the Bill will definitely be brought before Parliament in the next session,” the RLD leader told reporters here.

He also said that the Prime Minister assured him that he would ask Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to hold consultations on the amendment Bill after the RLD delegation pointed out many lacunae in the existing amendment Bill of the government.

The RLD chief said there are “many loopholes” in the government Bill including definition of “public purpose” that can be misused and hence consultations are required.

The government which has put into place mechanisms to institutionalize crony capitalism also wants to reap electoral gains out of ineffectual opposition to its own policies. Witness Rahul Gandhi’s publicity stunts in the last two day in UP, where there have been sporadic clashes regarding the land acquired for the Yamuna Expressway project. The Hindu reports the farcical goings on:

Rahul Gandhi in Noida

Analyze the body language: Rahul Gandhi in Noida

Riding pillion on a motorcycle, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi managed to give the Noida district administration the slip to reach Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Greater Noida around daybreak on Wednesday. Accompanied by AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh, Mr. Gandhi’s unannounced foray into the villages, which were affected by violence recently, not only caught the district administration off-guard, but also caused embarrassment in the government circles here.

Information about the Congress general secretary’s presence in the village was received by the Home Department here after he had reached Bhatta-Parsaul. Home Secretary Deepak Kumar said the information was received at 8 a.m. According to reports, the Amethi MP arrived in Bhatta-Parsaul around 5.30 a.m. and it was only after he interacted with farmers that the police deployed in the villages came to know about his presence.

Curiously, ban orders, which were imposed in Greater Noida in the wake of the clash between farmers and police that claimed four lives and left many injured, were not enforced on Wednesday. “Prohibitory orders under Section 144 were lifted on Tuesday and were not reinforced,” the Home Secretary told reporters.

When Sub Divisional Magistrate of the area met Mr. Gandhi to know what his demands were, he refused to talk to the SDM and said the government was aware of the farmers’ demands, Mr. Singh said.

The last sentence is curious: Mr. Gandhi does not seem to be able to give a coherent account of the political need for his action. Is the baby-faced descendant of Nehru nothing but an extra hired for a party scene?

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

May 12, 2011 at 3:06 am

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