New Delhi: The Left-parties backed Bhumi Adhikar Andolan on Friday condemned the way in which the NDA government was ignoring procedure and good faith in trying to pass the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill. In a press conference attended by Hannah Mollah and Anand Raj of the All India Kisan Sabha, Roma of the All India Union of Forest Working People, Bhupinder Singh Rawat of the NAPM among others, Raj condemned the fact that the Joint Parliamentary Committee was only being given a month to make its suggestions on the Bill. He said that initially the government had made a mockery of the entire parliamentary democratic setup by passing an ordinance while a Bill on the same topic was under consideration in Parliament. Having been unable to pass the Bill, the government had to send it to the JPC under pressure, but there it is not allowing enough time for the committee to function properly, he alleged.
Andolan members emphasized the need to grant the JPC more time. They argued that the Bill, if passed, would affect the lives of millions of farmers, and it was important to take their opinion into consideration before making any decisions. The one month provided to the 30-member JPC does not even give them time enough to go to their own 30 constituencies and ask people their opinion, let alone make recommendations on behalf of the entire country. They felt that a wider, more extensive process involving consultations, public meetings and public hearings was necessary.
Roma said that the deadline is not even known to the people in the villages who wish to make representations to the government or the JPC. There has thus been a complete breakdown of the democratic system, she said, where the government is ruling by an undemocratic ordinance, and the JPC is unable to factor in the opinion of the people.
The land ordinance and the land acquisition Bill have been central to the politics of the current government. Many of its flagship ventures, such as the Smart Cities and the industrial corridor projects are dependent upon being able to easily acquire vast quantities of land. Consequently, exceptions have been created within the Bill for easy acquisition of land when needed for such projects.