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BJD says will support land bill but conditions apply

The Biju Janata Dal is prepared to support The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 if the government amends the proposed legislation to incorporate the party’s suggestion to make those who lose land partners in business and commercial projects. This was stated by BJD floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab here on Sunday.

The party has 20 members in the Lok Sabha and seven members in the Rajya Sabha.

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Mahtab said the BJD position was in consonance with the policy of the government headed by Naveen Patnaik in Odisha. He said the BJD manifesto for the 2014 elections had laid down: “In addition to what has been provided in the Land Acquisition Act, the state government will make it mandatory for the industries to provide shares to gram panchayats and people from whom land is acquired and make them shareholders in the projects to as to ensure continuous income for the gram panchayats and people.” The manifesto, including this particular provision, according to him, had been adopted as its policy by the Patnaik government.

The issue had come for a discussion during the brief interaction of Patnaik with BJD MPs during his visit to the Parliament. When Mahtab sought his directive on the issue, Patnaik told party MPs they could vote in favour of the bill if the government amended it to accommodate the BJD view.

The experience of the BJD regime had been that the system of employing land-oustees did not work. Since farmers were mostly illiterate or nominally educated, they did not qualify for important jobs. Nor were they trained for working in factories. Therefore, they end up losing their employment. The cash component of the compensation could not keep pace with the rising price index. What was considered a fair compensation at a time, appeared highly inadequate after a substantial gap.

Therefore, the party had realised that a guaranteed partnership was the most suited long-term arrangement for protecting the interests of farmers. It checked the sense of deprivation and alienation among farmers after the acquisition of their lands and prevented social tension from building up, particularly in Adivasi areas.


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