Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The issue of land acquisition in various parts of the country, specially from the poor agriculturalists and tribal community is becoming a major issue of concern to all those who do not use "exclusive growth" only as a slogan. Mrs. Mamta Banerjee is being targeted for shifting Tata from West Bengal, but the hard reality of great harassment, mental torture and mafia kind treatment received by the agriculturalists of the area actually gave rise to such a situation. The poor agriculturalists and tribal do not have a lobby and our politicians are experimenting various alternatives on how to keep them happy so that their land can be acquired without any noise or opposition.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has recently advocated Haryana kind of a package including therein a life time annuity. Some of the governments are exploring to offer equity shares in lieu of land and offer employment. Ms. Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has also offered some inflation linked benefit to be passed on over a period of time. Who will judge the adequacy of the compensation and on what parameters? In case un-educated tribal or agriculturalists are offered low level employment or are given some equity shares which may not give any return or the level of annuity is so low that after 10 years, inflation itself fully negate the benefit. The right solution is still not there and an open debate is needed. The crucial question is whether any of the aforesaid benefits
can provide adequate compensation to the agriculturalists and the tribal community. The thinkers may judge that if a similar treatment is given to their own house or their own factory or any other assets on which their employment is based, whether they will feel adequately compensated. All those who are big-wig are able to lobby or use courts or use pressure to avoid any such eventuality happening to them. We would like to advocate that as a matter of policy acquisition of agricultural land for setting up of industries or creating commercial complexes or residential colonies has to be completely banned and could be undertaken only in very extreme and extraordinary circumstances or where land is to be developed by state agencies for a transparent public use and not for a few private developers or individuals. For example for a Metro or rail network or other similar utility or infrastructure are to be created and there is no other alternative but to utilize a particular piece of land. In such cases market price should be paid as compensation. The government should commit itself to develop Special Economic Zone or residential complexes and colonies, in areas which are barren or are not useful for agricultural purposes. The threat is not only on livelihood of the poor agriculturalists but the major threat is to the whole society of major food shortage, hunger, retardation of industrial
growth and so on. The population is growing and the food production is almost standstill. The growth of agriculture is only 1% to 3%, whereas the economy is growing at 8% to 10%. The recent price rise of agricultural commodities, fruits and vegetables, pulses and other basic needs sourced from agriculture are only indication of the severe impact, it can have on the society and economy. The consumption level of food is going up by increased earning of the population and India need to plan not only for industrial growth or growth in services but the major challenge we are facing is perishing agricultural economy. Some very serious long ranging plan is required to save India from the position, which the western world is currently facing in terms of dependence on import for basic food needs.


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