Congress Asks Gujarat Governor Not to Sign Bill Amending Land Acquisiton Act

The amended bill goes against Supreme Court directives and will be hurtful to farmers, state Congress members said.

Ahmedabad: On Wednesday, Congress, the opposition party in Gujarat, requested governor O.P. Kohli not to give his assent to a state government bill that amends the Central Land Acquisition Act of 2013, alleging that it was against the interests of farmers and land owners.

A delegation of Congress MLAs met Kohli to express opposition to the “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2016”, passed in the Assembly in the absence of Congress MLAs on March 31.

The delegation, led by senior Congress MLA Shanktisinh Gohil, handed over a memorandum to the governor, claiming that the amendments were against the Supreme Court’s order and against the true spirit of the Act passed during the UPA rule in 2013.

The memo refers to a controversial clause, whereby the BJP government has proposed to bypass the requirement of social impact assessment for land acquisition for certain social sector projects and industrial corridors.

The bill also does away with the need for consent of 80% of the landowners for certain social sector projects.

According to the memorandum, “[Social impact assessment] study is a key provision of the original act…this government wants to take away the land of poor farmers and land owners without carrying out such studies. Further, there won’t be any food security to the land loser”.

The UPA Act was as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the Congress claimed.

The party has also objected to another provision, whereby the collector has got wide powers and farmers lose the right to seek an inquiry.

As the Bill amends a Central Act, it falls into the ‘concurrent list’, where the assent of the president is also necessary.

Terming the Bill as “black legislation”, Gohil told reporters that Congress will also meet President Pranab Mukherjee if needed and move the high court or the apex court against it.

Featured image: File photo of a wheat farm in Gujarat. Credit: Meena Kadri/Flickr CC BY 2.0