Rajasthan’s new land acquisition bill undermines social consent and local bodies, proposes criminal steps against protesters

land acquisitionBy coming up with a new land acquisition law, the Rajasthan government has taken the lead in deciding to do away with few of the crucial provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement Act, passed in Parliament last year. Worse, the proposed law seeks jail and fine up to Rs 3 lakh to those opposing the process of land acquisition. Several people’s organisations came together to protest against the Rajasthan government move, and submitted a memorandum to chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Text of the memorandum:

It is extremely unfortunate for the people of Rajasthan that the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Bill 2014, was tabled in the Vidhan Sabha, on September 17. The introduction of such a bill itself is an effort by the Government to undermine democratic and Constitutional principles and traditions. What is being totally ignored is the fact that the passage of such a bill which will impact more than 75 per cent of the population of the state, changing it forever from a farming State to an urban state is being brought with haste and without any public discussion.

We the people of Rajasthan reject this bill and demand its withdrawal. We also are extremely upset with the game plan of your government in the name of passing the Judicial Appointments Bill.  You asked for this present special session to pass this law hurriedly so that you can hand over agricultural land to the corporate sector. This is what has been said in the statements of objects and reasons of the law, that the effort is to acquire land with speed and not care to know what people want.

As such the 2014 Rajasthan Draft Bill has completely ignored the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement Act, 2013. This law came out of a long process of more than thirty years of debate, discussion and struggle, and was finally passed by the Parliament, replacing the 1894 law. The 2014 Rajasthan draft bill not only removes all the provisions that were pro farmer in the 2013 law but has instead introduced sections that are against the people. You have justified the removal of the provision on Social Impact Assessment in the name that it is time-consuming, you have further removed the mandatory provision of rehabilitation. Even though we are against the change in use of agricultural land, and its commercialisation, The Bill is only provisioning for 5 to 9 times of the district level committee (DLC) rates and not market rates, which are many, many times higher.

This bill has provisions which make the law a draconian one. By provisioning in the law itself punishment of up to six months imprisonment  and up to INR 300,000 fine for carrying out protests, shows that you are willing to sacrifice people’s right to lawful assembly and dissent and prevent any challenge to Government  policy on development and industrialisation.

This law further undermines both rural and urban local bodies, panchayati raj Institutions and municipalities and panchayat extension to scheduled areas Act, by taking away the right to consent by the gram sabha.

We would like to reiterate that when there is already a Central law in place, then what is the justification of bringing in a new law which withdraws the positive provisions of the central law. It is well established that the intent of the 2014 Rajasthan Bill is simply one as to how to hand over fertile agriculture land, grazing land, Sawai Chak land and forests to the corporates in the name of Infrastructure Development.

We will not allow the Government to take away land which is sustaining people’s lives and livelihoods. This is not acceptable by us, we will stand in solidarity and struggle against its take-over. You as the Chief Minister of the State are well aware that several thousand acres of land acquired for the purpose of industry and urbanisation are just lying vacant. The figures of Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO) show that more than a third of land is lying unused and has not been leased out for industrial purpose.

The draft law was put on the website on the August 16, 2014 in English. It was not considered important enough to translate it into Hindi, so that the farmers who are going to be the ones affected most can send their comments to the draft law. The entire tokenism of feedback process was restricted to the website and the internet, which is outside the purview of the majority population. There was no official advertisement of the Government inviting suggestions through the newspapers or on TV channels. Only 10 days were given to send comments.

It is our humble appeal to you to drop this idea of making a new law, otherwise there will be a State wide agitation against this. If at all the State Government wants to do something and then on priority it must make the required rules to the 2013 central law so that it can be implemented with ease in the State.

Submitted by:
All India Kisan Sabha
National Alliance of People’s Movements
PUCL, Rajasthan
Nirman Avam General Mazdoor Union
Against Illegal Mining and Land Acquisition Sangarsh Samiti, Neem ka Thana
Bhaumiya Samiti, Dabla
Against Land Acquisition Sangharsh Samiti, Navalgarh
Rajasthan Samagrah Seva Sangh
Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan
All India Democratic Women’s Association
National Federation of India Women
Jangal Zameen Jan Aandolan
Vividha
Zameen Bachao Andolan, Alwar
All India Kisan Sabha

To see/ download the Rajasthan land acquisition bill click HERE 

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