January 04, 2015

Oppose Authoritarian Anti-People Land Acquisition Ordinance

THE All India Kisan Sabha, in a statement issued on December 31 has condemned the BJP government’s undemocratic move to amend the Land Acquisition legislation through an ordinance by subverting the parliament. The move smacks of authoritarianism and is clearly aimed to promote profiteering and real estate speculation by the corporates and land mafia. It further dilutes the existing Act which itself was flawed and loaded heavily against interests of the peasantry, land owners and dependents on land. The ordinance ignores genuine concerns of farmers and millions of persons dependent on land. AIKS rejects this anti-farmer and anti-poor ordinance. It shall build broad united movements at all sites of indiscriminate, unjust land acquisition and fight to protect the rights of the peasantry, tenants, agricultural workers and all affected persons. The ordinance removes even the existing weak norms requiring consent of the land owners and social impact assessment which are central to dealing with the problem of indiscriminate and forcible land acquisition. It also dilutes the existing definition of public purpose and will bring private companies and their activities of unbridled profiteering into public purpose and promote further unregulated takeover of land by corporates. Even the weak provisions seeking to address food security concerns have been revoked making it possible to easily acquire multi-cropped fertile land as well as productive rain-fed and semi-arid land for industrial corridors, infrastructure projects including the PPP projects. Along with multi-cropped irrigated lands, protection for rain-fed, dry-land, semi-arid land as well as paddy lands, common property resources are indispensable to ensure food and livelihood security. Food security of the nation will be under threat as there are no effective safeguards against take-over of agricultural land, paddy lands, water bodies and protection for productive rain-fed, dry and semi-arid land although majority of cultivation in India is under such regions. The government’s claim of bringing 13 Acts under the purview of the Land Acquisition Act would be rendered hollow by the new changes as well as the diluted nature of the provisions. Rather than resorting to the ordinance route what was required was to arrive at a democratic legislation by correcting the anomalies present in the Act relating to definition of public purpose, affected persons, ensuring stringent adherence to the principle of prior-informed consent and social impact assessment, addressing food security concerns, effective compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement. Promotion of food security and livelihood security through the adherence to an equitable and sustainable national as well as state land use plans monitored by land use commissions at respective levels should have been emphasised. The ordinance ignores all such issues and merely is an instrument for speedy expropriation and facilitation of land acquisition in a quick, cheap and easy way with little concern for consent, adequate compensation and rehabilitation of landowners and other dependents on land. It has only shifted from a “colonial” to a “neo-liberal” legal framework which is as draconian if not more. The AIKS will resist any moves to hand-over land for corporate profiteering and without ensuring prior informed consent. The BJP government’s anti-people move will be defeated by the peasantry and the toiling masses through intense united struggles.