Wednesday, 11 March 2015 16:00

Give farmers a stake in development, says LokSatta Party


New Delhi: Dismissing the shrill 'debate' over the Land Acquisition Bill as nothing more than political cacophony aimed at scoring brownie points, the LokSatta Party has offered an innovative solution to the current impasse over the law.

Urging all parties to refrain from petty politics and to analyse the issue objectively, LSP National vice-president Dr. Ashwin Mahesh said we would be living in a fool’s paradise if we ignored the land needs of a large number of projects that are essential for India's development (such as infrastructure projects) or its security (defence projects). At the same time, he said, issues relating to land must be handled "carefully, fairly and lawfully" so that landowners get justice.

"Farmers have historically been cheated by the land acquisition law," Ashwin said. "The only way to ensure they are not cheated is to give farmers trade-able stake-holding rights in projects that come up on their lands."

Ashwin said any ‘compensation’ that is limited to the act of acquisition would continue to cheat farmers irrespective of the amount offered. "Land-losers should have the opportunity to benefit from projects in the same way as the promoters,” he suggested

LSP's senior leader and  Delhi chief, Achyutam Kallani suggested that a win-win situation can be created if the land owners are given a right to buy-back a fraction of the land at acquisition cost plus a reasonable development cost so that the land-owner benefits from the future increase in market rates. In this context Government’s move to allow 20% of the land to be bought back is welcome.

Achyutam also added that the LSP is strongly against the proposed clause that would make prior sanction from the government necessary to initiate legal proceedings against any erring official. Such provisions, he said, are not healthy for the rule of law. "Offences committed should be examined by the judiciary," he said. "The government should not pre-empt prosecution of its officials.”

LSP National President Surendra Srivastava hoped good sense would prevail and the various parties would work together to safeguard the interests of farmers without jeopardizing the country's future.

Following is the LokSatta Party’s stand on various issues in the proposed law:

LokSatta Party calls upon the Government and the Opposition to rise above the narrow political interests and negotiate the changes to the Land Acquisition Law which is fair, just and pragmatic. LSP urges urgency in this regard so that the impediments to our critical infrastructure projects are removed and the economic vitality is restored.