Latur (Maharashtra): Saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is concerned more about corporates than farmers, social activist Anna Hazare warned of another fast if the “anti-farmer” provisions in the NDA government-proposed Land Acquisition Bill are not removed.
“He (Modi) is concerned more about corporates than farmers,” Hazare told PTI in an interview here, as he sharpened attack on the BJP-led NDA over the land legislation. Stating that he would go on a fast as he did in 2011 on Lokpal issue, Hazare said, “if the government doesn't make changes in the Bill to safeguard farmers' interests, we will launch a nationwide jail bharo agitation.”
“The second alternative is my fast, like the one in 2011. If this happens, the government will have to take note and make necessary changes,” the 77-year-old campaigner said. “I have written to the PM to make pro-farmer changes. We are awaiting the response. We expect that the government will do something,” he said.
Some time has to be given to the government. They brought in the first ordinance and people's agitations began all over, he said.
“Then the government and the PM told us that if the Bill is against the interests of farmers, they are ready to make necessary changes. They also told us to suggest what changes we would like to see incorporated in the legislation. “That is why, when we noticed that no appropriate changes were made in the second ordinance of April 3, we wrote to the PM drawing his attention to the issues where we wanted the changes to be effected,” Hazare said.
“Congress government in 2013 came out with a Land Acquisition Bill in which there were restrictions on acquiring land for companies. Now, what the Modi government has done, as per its whim, is to replace the word ‘private company' with ‘private entities',” he said.
“We have written to the government, objecting to the removal of the word ‘private company' and replacing it with ‘private entity'. As a result of this change, any organisation registered with the charity commissioner can acquire land,” Hazare said.
The farmers would find it difficult to get their grievances arising out of the ‘anti-farmer' provisions of the bill redressed once their land is acquired, he said. “The objective behind this is very clear: You want to facilitate land acquisition for your people, people from your party. That is why you have made the change,” he alleged.
Drawing a comparison between present government and previous UPA rule, Hazare said though the Congress-led regime had done some good work for the farmers but not all their decisions were in the interests of the agriculturists, like doing away with the consent of the gram sabha to acquire land.
“If the Land Acquisition Bill comes into effect in the present format, there will be spurt in farmers' suicides. Rift between government and farmers will also sharpen as they will never surrender their land and the authorities will resort quelling the unrest including firing on the protesters,” he said.
Asked how long will he wait for the government to make the changes, Hazare said, “the government is now making some movements. If there is something wrong in the letter we sent you (Government), please mention it. Or else, correct the mistakes you made in the land legislation.”
“There is some movement from the government side. We are hearing noises from outside. The government is aware that if they try to table the Bill in the present format, it won't be passed,” he said.
“Now they are trying to split the opposition. They tried to woo Mamata Banerjee with a Rs 7,000 crore package for West Bengal. However, others are not willing to budge,” Hazare said.
“The picture today is that the present government does not think of farmers interests. Had that been the case, how it happened that there was no provision of leasing land of farmers, instead of acquiring it,” he said.
“If you want to allot land to an industrialist, give the shares in that company to farmers. That way, the farmer will get a permanent source of livelihood,” Hazare said. As per the existing provisions of the Land Bill, one km land on each side of the 62,000 km long railway lines in the country would be acquired. Similarly, one km land on each side of the 92,000 km long national highways in the country would be acquired, he said.
Also, one km land on each side of the 1.32 lakh km long state highways in the country would be acquired, he said.