Farmers in Barmer object to acquisition of their lands
Farmers of Barmer, Rajasthan, recently gathered at the district headquarters to protest against the state government's decision to acquire their lands in the name of public utility sans mentioning the purpose.
A delegation of the agitating farmers called on the land acquisition officer and apprised him about their predicaments.
Ritesh Sharma, a protesting farmer, said: "The farmers fear that the government will take away their lands and give these to the private players. In the past, it has already happened in a few districts of the state. It seems the governments do not trust the farmers anymore. Also we have serious natural issues. That is why this protest has been organised. Water treatment plants etc are being made near the city, whose population is already increasing. If this acquisition goes through then this city will collapse because there will be no space for the city to grow."
More than a century after it was drawn up by British colonial rulers, India's land acquisition law is finally set for a revamp that promises to breathe life into scores of frozen industrial and infrastructure projects and help lift the sagging economy.
However, the reality is that the new law will make the cost of land much higher for businesses and is unlikely to put a stop to protests by millions of people determined to defend their livelihoods or get fair compensation for losing their land.
The new Bill, presented to the parliament, will govern land acquisition by the government for itself and by private firms to provide public services.
This will embrace a wide range of projects in sectors from power and telecommunications to transport and education.
Safeguarding farmland against the creep of industrialisation to ensure food security is a priority for the left-leaning government led by Sonia Gandhi's Congress party, which relies heavily on rural voters for support.
In 2004, when it came to power, Congress pledged to overhaul a law whose wide definition of 'public use' means people can be evicted without much ado off their lands, and which omitted to lay down rules for compensation and rehabilitation.
The government now appears confident that the Bill - whose final contours have yet to be made public - will at last be passed despite the fierce partisanship of the main opposition party, which has made a habit of blocking reform.