Saturday, August 27, 2011

BKU Memorandum on the Draft Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011

Shri Jairam Ramesh                                                                                          23rd August 2011
Hon’ble Union Minister of Rural Development
Ministry of Rural Development
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject:           BKU Memorandum on the Draft Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011

Dear Sir,

We, the representatives of the Bhartiya Kissan Union (Non-Political), would like to congratulate you for the timely formulation of the draft legislation on Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR), 2011. We are also thankful to you for presenting a comprehensive bill with Rehabilitation and Resettlement as intrinsic part of the Bill, which addresses the concerns of farmers and all those whose livelihoods are dependent on the land being acquired.

However, as members of the farming community, we are quite disappointed that the bill is only driven by a desire to make land acquisition for industrialization, while completely ignoring the larger picture of food security and feeding the masses in this period of food crisis and high inflation. Though the bill puts some check in protecting the multi-cropped and irrigated land from acquisition by saying that “under no circumstances should multi-cropped, irrigated land be acquired”, yet it failed to address the larger challenge of extensive diversion of agricultural land across the country for non-agricultural purposes and the consequent impact on the nation’s food security.

Since you have sought comments on the Draft LARR Bill 2011, we have following points for your consideration.

1.         We are quite disappointed by the provision on “minimum compensation” for land acquisition in the bill which says that in rural areas, the compensation will amount to six times the ‘market value’ of the land while in urban areas it would be at least twice the ‘market value’. The mechanism to determine the ‘Market Value’ is quite flawed because it does not take into consideration the “actual value” but the ‘minimum value’ specified in the Indian Stamp Act 1899 for registration of sale deeds in the area or by average sale price of 50 % sale deeds registered during past 3 years. As per this method for determining the land value, the landowners will never get the actual value of their land because, in general practice in India, the sale deed registrations is done on much lower stamp duty than the actual rate paid to the landowner in order to avoid paying the registration charges to the government. There is always a big gap between the stamp duty price and market value of the land and it will be a grave injustice to the farmers if we relate ‘stamp duty’ with the ‘market value’. Therefore the market price must be determined as the operative price of the land at the time of purchase. We demand that the minimum compensation for the agricultural land must be fixed at 25 times of operative/ actual price at the time of purchase in Rural Areas and 10 times of operative/ actual price in Urban Areas.

2.         Secondly the value of a patch of land multiplies manifold when it gets converted from agricultural to commercial. Therefore the compensation should take into consideration the future price and value increase for the next 33 years as a result of the change in the land use. Moreover the provisions of R&R in the bill only applies to one family (landowner) irrespective of the fact that in each family there may be more than one adult member/s who may also dependent for their subsistence on the land acquired. This bill does not take into consideration the joint family system in rural India where sons and grandsons are all dependent on the family land for their livelihood. Therefore we demand that the every adult member of the landowner family must be made entitled for R&R provisions and instead of one, every adult member of the affected landowner’s family must be given employment compulsorily. This can never be substituted with a onetime payment of just rupees two lakh. We would like to insist again that for livelihood loser (including landless) there must be mandatory employment guarantee for every adult member/s of the affected family.

We hope that you and your Ministry would take the necessary steps to make these crucial changes in the draft legislation on Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR), 2011, in the interest of millions of small and marginal farmers whose only source of sustenance are their meager piece of lands which are under great threat of acquisition to foster industrialization.
Please find enclosed herewith some important suggestions.
Anticipating a positive and timely response

We would be grateful for your cooperation.

Signed by: 

Ch. Naresh Tiket, President, BKU
Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary, BKU (+91-9868146405)
Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson, BKU-09219666799
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, BKU Punjab
Jagdish Singh, State President, BKU Madhya Pradesh
Gurnam Singh, State President, BKU Haryana,
Rajpal Ponia, State President, BKU Rajasthan
S.S. Gill, State President, Himachal Pradesh
S.S. Cheema, BKU Uttrakhand,

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