Debate on Land Acquisition Bill in Lok Sabha

Today the House will discuss on a very important issue. First of all I would like to ask a basic question, whether this Government gives importance to agriculture produce? If the answer to this is ‘yes’ then we have to understand the structure of this country, we have to understand the needs of this country, we have to understand the call of the farmers and which we have to hear. Just now, my friend and my elder brother Kirti Azad had rightly said that if we look at the position of employment in the country, we would see that 65% population depends on agriculture and 35% population live their lives on manufacturing and services.

Will this balance of justice tilt in just one direction? This Government has to answer this question today, because if this happens then there will be a question mark today on the food security. Feeling the pulse of this and when Shri Rahul Gandhi had gone to Bhatta-Parsaul he witnessed that the land was being acquired in a haphazard manner. This is a democratic process. That seed was then sowed by Rahul Gandhi and on the basis of which the farmers of the country are drawing full benefit from their land.

If you had understood that agriculture was important, I believe that you would not have brought such a Land Acquisition Bill in this House, which is a murderous blow to the farmers, I am using these words, as the atmosphere that is being created in the nation. You forget about the situation fifty years back, because you are in the government today. It is your turn. Sitting there, play cricket on the front foot, not on the back foot.

I want to ask one question. Your slogan was ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. What happened to the 65% population, whom on the basis of this bill you are going to leave in distress? You said that there are many reasons behind this. This first thing is security of the country. The second is to provide full compensation to the farmers and thirdly, there are some small flaws which we have to remove. There is no mention of these three things.

Hon’ble President had said in his Republic Day address and I would like to quote, “It is not a healthy tradition in a democracy to implement a law without enough discussion and debate. Ordinance should only be brought in adverse and emergency conditions" The question today is whether this Government respectsthe Hon’ble President? When we had brought this Bill in 2013, we had discussed and thought over it for two years. We had discussed it with almost every social organization. We had discussed it with every political party.

A nation-wide discussion was held and the Standing Committee Chairman Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, who today happens to be the Speaker of this House, had discussed for a year and then gave the recommendations to the government, which were totally accepted by that government had placed that Bill in the Parliament. Will you not agree with that? It was discussed with 14 political parties. In them it was discussed with Sushma Swaraj of your party, we had discussed with your Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed it with Arun Jaitely ji.

Sushma Swaraj had given two suggestions for changes. By incorporating those changes we had brought back that Bill in the House. This is the beauty of democracy. Debate and discussion which your party always says that we shall hold talks with all, will discuss with all but discussions did not take place with anyone. Three ministers hold talks behind closed doors and bring out an ordinance, even other ministers did not know of it.

Today, the situation is that we had suggested for inter-action and discussion. When your government brought this ordinance, the Hon’ble President called your Ministers and asked for the responsibility as to why this ordinance was brought? We are sorry to say this in this House that when this government sent the Minister to the Hon’ble President, they did not send our Rural Development Minister, to explain to the President the prime reason behind this? There is also a question mark on the proceedings of the House. If you are bringing such an important ordinance then the reaction of the House is that it should be sent again to the Standing Committee. Why have you short-circuited it and why, because you have numbers. In democracy, every Member has a voice in Parliament. They too represent 16-17 lakh people in the House.

Sir, the question that today arises as to why we had to change the ordinance of 1894. There were flaws in it. Kirti Azad has talked about resettlement. There is no mention of amendment on resettlement, no reaction on compensation. There is no provision of appeal if the land is acquired compulsory. That is why the Congress brought the Land Acquisition Bill in 2013, the UPA Government incorporated six main portions in it. The process will be transparent, people from urban area will get double and the compensation will be four times for the people of rural areas, for the private sector, 80 percent approval of people is required, for PPP, 70% of people is required, we have banned the sale of land where multi-crop is grown which can be acquired only for national security purpose, apart from this multi-crop land will not be acquired. This was part of our Bill.

If the land is not utilized in five years it will be returned to the farmer and that was suggested by Sushma Swaraj, we should also remember this. Provision had been kept for social cause. In the guise of some changes your government has buried the soul of the act in this House and your government is trying to put that draconian law of 1894 again around the neck of the farmer. The reason that is being given is that we want development, we want progress. Every citizen, every MP’s want development and progress. But, everyone must get a fair deal. That is if the law is obstructive. I want to ask that at the moment the 490 parcels of land which have presently been to acquired for Special Economic Zone, the work on 40% of the land has not yet started. At present the land acquisition is a very small subject in the stream of development. Where is your capacity to implement in your slogan “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”, we want to ask you this question?

Somebody had asked Swami Vivekananda, I want to quote that. He asked, ‘what can be worse than losing everything? Swami Vivekanand replied, “that hope by which we can get back everything’.

Today, I want to say in this House that the farmers will lose all his hopes if this Bill and ordinance is passed in this House.

What are the main points in this ordinance Section 3(A) has been inserted. What is section 3(A) which has been explained. On the basis of that the sole purpose of the year 2013 Act has been defeated. Five plans under section 2 and section 3 have been given total freedom. What is section 2 - it is a clause for social cause. What is section 3, in this we had banned the acquirement of multi-crop land. Both these clauses have been wiped off. On the basis of this compulsory acquiring of land will be possible and all projects will come under the discretion of these five plans. This Bill can be used by every company, every person SIA (Social Impact Assessment) and to acquire multi-crop land and can be fully used for acquiring land. We had kept a clause that 80% of land for private projects have to get the approval of the people. You have erased that point. I want to ask you a question, that today the wealth of the farmer is his land, and that too you want to snatch away without his consent. You talk about us on this topic.

In the Rajya Sabha on 4th September, 2013, Vinay Katiyar ji and Jaishriben Patel, who is an MP from Gujarat had said in this House that we do not agree to 80% approval, there should not be 80% approval. We want that there should be 100% approval. This is the version of your MPs which you have murdered by bringing this ordinance. We had kept a provision for social cause. Many of the friends of the Government say that it will create big problems. What does the social clause do? At present the large part of the land is being acquired for one purpose but it is used for another purpose. You acquire land in the name of industrialization but is used for real estate. Some say that they want to acquire 100 acres of land, take approval, it is then made thousand. Social cause clause stops such things. Its first responsibility is to see whether the acquired land is used for public-welfare or not. Secondly, what is the number of affected families and what arrangements have been made of their livelihood. Only small portion of land should be acquired, in that SIA there should be the participation of people from social and Panchayat of the area and a report should be brought out in six months. If your Government is on ‘Minimum Government and Maximum governance, then why are they shying away from their responsibility of bringing out the report in six months. I can understand that if you say that if the report is not given in six months, a deemed permission will be given. But to destroy that process, I feel it cannot be a big injustice with farmers.

In this regard Rajnath Singh ji had said in the House, I will quote him. He said in his speech that the land acquisition may be of any kind, be it for private companies on for public purpose, Social Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Assessment is needed definitely.

One clause was kept, apart from this that multi-crop land should not be acquired. Today, danger will arise for food security if multi-crop land is acquired. Indiraji and Rajivji alongwith the Green Revolution and the White Revolution made the country self-reliant in food security.

Does this government once again want to make this county dependent on imports. This is one question which the people of the country are asking. Vinay Katiyar had said in the House. He said in the Rajya Sabha that the multi-crop fertile land should not be acquired on any ground. Rajnath Singhji said that I feel that an agriculture land should not be acquired without the consent of the farmers for any reason. I am repeatedly requesting that irrigated land, which means, land on which a crop can grow, do not acquire that land, if at all there is a need than barren land should be utilized. But agricultural land should not be acquired whatever may be the reason. These are your words, today you are denying it. But when time comes the people will take your test. We had kept one clause Section 24(2) in the land acquisition Bill, if earlier to the 2013 Act any land that was acquired from the farmer, and compensation was not given within five years or the land was not used then it should be returned to them according to the 2013 land acquisition Act the process of land acquisition should be started again.

On the basis of this there were two benefits to the farmers. First, the acquisition process will be new, secondly, he will receive four times more rate, which was not available earlier. Today, what changes you have brought in this Bill? Government has put one clause in this, that judicial adjournment order may not be adjusted in five year. What is the fault of the farmers? We had given a new deal to the farmers and you added insult to injuries and left them. In Section 101, we had said that if the acquired land was not utilized within five years then that land has to be returned to the farmers. This government changed that period of five years or the stipulated period set for the project, will depend on that. I can understand this clause, just as my elder brother Kirti Azad had said that for industrial corridor the five-year period was not enough, and other projects cannot be finished in five years. Where has your minimum government and maximum governance gone, you could have made one or two exceptions, Nishikant ji you have just erased it, with it you have erased the hope of the farmer. Rajnath Singh ji had said, I have seen many times that land is acquired more than needed, that land remains unused which has no meaning. Though land is a limited resource. If somebody acquires more land than needed than he should return the excess land to the farmer. When you sit here you say something, you continue to make U-turn over U-turn. We had put restriction on the private sector for private schools and private hospitals but you have made a mess of it.

The chairman of your committee, our Speaker Sumitra Mahajan was the Chairman of the Standing Committee, she herself had said as far as possible land acquisition should not be possible in private sector and for PPP. This was her statement. You do not keep the honour of your Home Minister, of your Speaker sir. Today, people of the country are looking towards you, if there was a need of any amendment at present then we could have brought amendment in one sector, in which sector, we could have strengthened the time limitation, we could have fixed the deadline for implementation, if you had brought that issue, we could have thought over it.

But here you have brought an ordinance, I would give an example, it is like taking out the soul from the body, removed flesh, removed blood, removed bones and have presented a deal body in fornt of this House. This is the situation arisen out of this ordinance today. If we wanted a change for the farmer it would have been a blessing. By giving more space in developed blocks we could have participated in the development of the nation. You had a slogan, talent in every hand, water for every farm, so this also remained just a slogan? There is no provision for displaced families. For training, my brother Rajiv Pratap Rudi is sitting here. He is the Minister of that Department. I very happily greet him, if this clause of training would have been there for our youth. Just as Kirti Azad ji had said, if clause of training should have been there, but there is no provision of a clause to training the youth for employment.

In 2013 the UPA Government passed an Act for the farmers and the downtrodden class. But this government has brought this ordinance for the rich people. This ordinance is like this, this is presently like a kick on the stomach of the farmer and have agreed to the voice of the industrialists. This is the situation in the country today.

Sushma Swaraj ji herself represented her party in this debate two years ago. She had given 12 suggestions before the UPA Government, when Kamal Nath ji had called a meeting in April, 2013 as a Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. She had said that the Bill should have provision for social cause and for public organization. This statement of Sushma Swaraj is just like, which one MP from Gujarat Kannu Kalasriya had said. When land was being acquired compulsorily in Gujarat, he moved throughout Gujarat by taking up this issue. He roamed the state for opposing this compulsory land acquisition and the same thing Sushma Swaraj had raised that the farmer should have gain from his participation. At that time, that is, in 2013, BJP had given total support for this Bill.

They had supported by thumping the tables, by patting our backs. On 6th April, the Prime Minister had tweeted that our farmers should get fair price? Did he not do any work? To make farming as a profitable profession. That the minimum support price would be 50% more than the cost of input, cost of production, which means it would be the cost of production. When on 21st February your government gave a statement in the Supreme Court, at that time it was said that this was not possible. It was another U-turn by your government. The farmers are depressed, because there is no fertilizer, no electricity and no water. Today, you have also taken the land from the farmers. Today, the whole country is opposing this ordinance. It is being opposed in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. I want to say one thing that if the land of the Adivasi community is acquired, then this government should be cautions that it would again start the naxalite activities. It has the objection of the Sangh Parivar, has the objection of Bharat Kisan Sangh, has the objection of organizational parties and of Shiv Sena, SAD and other organizations are against this. There was no talks either with the farmers’ organization. Whenever it is talked about this Bill then it is said that the Congress is raising this issue for the benefit of the farmers. I want to clear that this is a issue of food security and the Congress has always acted as a watch dog for the farmers on this issue.

India cannot develop in isolation. We have to develop as an ocean. We cannot have islands of prosperity and we must have oceans of prosperity. If you crush the rights of the farmers than remember that the anger of the farmer and his hatred will wipe out your ego of victory.

We had heard of ‘Make in India’ campaign some months back. There was a word ‘Lion’ with the heading. As any person I too maybe felt that we had to impress the whole world of our capacity. But looking at this ordinance today I am feeling that this ‘Lion’ is by internally hurting the farmers of the country, by devouring them, will destroying them completely. The ordinance that will snatch the land of the farmers, that will kill their animals. The Congress Party has the right and responsibility to oppose this ordinance from the streets to Parliament. I want to show this belief to you all.

Tomorrow there will be voting on this issue. This is no ordinary ordinance. This is an ordinance that will influence all the people of the country. I know that voting in the House is on the basis of a whip. Today, I request with folded hands to all my colleagues in the House on this issue, that when they press the button, watch the voting on the screen, you should remember that we should vote on the basis of the voice of our conscious because the impact of it will not only be on our minds till the end of our life but also in the hearts of people of our country.