New Delhi: Targeting Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday called as "very unfair" the forcible acquisition of farmers' land in Aligarh and adjoining areas, an issue he raised with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
During the meeting, Singh assured the Congress leader that the pending Land Acquisition Amendment Bill will be brought in the next session of Parliament.
Singh gave the assurance to Rahul when the AICC general secretary met him with a delegation of Congress leaders and farmers from Uttar Pradesh who were agitating against "forcible" acquisition of land of farmers in Aligarh and adjoining areas in the state for the 165 km Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.
"Land acquisition is a very important issue. What happened in Aligarh is very unfair. We need to have a view on it," Gandhi told reporters. Gandhi took both the Mayawati government and Aligarh farmers by surprise on Saturday when he reached Tappal village, the epicentre of peasants protest demanding enhanced compensation for the acquired land.
Asked about the pendency of the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, Gandhi remarked "I am aware of it."
Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in-charge of UP, when asked whether the government will bring the bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act in the next session of Parliament, said "this is what we have been assured. The Prime Minister has said that he will try to get it passed as soon as possible." Singh was part of the delegation.
Asked about the stand of the Congress on the programme to 'gherao' Parliament tomorrow by some opposition parties and the farmers on the issue, Singh said "there is no point in this...I had talked to Ajit Singh (RLD chief) and told him that it doesn't make a sense to participate in the agitation..." He said if agitation has to be organised, let it be a 'gherao' of the state assembly.
The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which seeks to bring changes in the Land Acquisition Act, 1994, is being withheld owing to strong opposition of Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee who heads Trinamool Congress, a key UPA ally.
The Bill redefines 'public purpose' as land acquired for defence purposes, infrastructure projects or for any project useful to the general public. As per the bill, for acquisition resulting in large-scale displacement, a social impact assessment study must be conducted.
Tribals, forest dwellers, and those with tenancy rights are also eligible for compensation. Acquisition costs will include payment for loss or damages to land, and costs related to resettlement of displaced residents. While determining compensation, the intended use of land and value of such land in the current market is to be considered.
Asked about Banerjee's opposition to the Bill, Digvijay Singh said "when a way can be found out on the issue of nuclear bill through discussion, why can't this be done? The issue can be discussed with Mamata Banerjee. This is a minor point of difference that can be discussed."
Singh alleged that the land of the farmers is being taken by force in UP and there is no concern for the landless there.
Attacking the BSP government in UP, he said "we oppose the way the state government is acquiring farmers' land through intimidation and one-sided agreements...The way UP government is misusing Section 17 of the Act and carrying out land acquisition, it looks it will acquire 20-25 per cent of the state land". PTI