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Land Bill: Govt assures farmers to take their concerns seriously

PTI 11 Jun 2015, 8:11:34 IST

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday said there was “very little” difference between the approach of the government and the farmers' organisations on the land issue and assured them that their concerns and suggestions will be taken seriously.

Intensifying efforts to take farmers' concerns on board on the contentious land bill, Jaitley today had a meeting with leaders of various farmers' organisations and NDA ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, who demanded restoring consent clause in the land bill and a white paper on the status of land acquired so far.

Asked about the meeting, Jaitley said he had explained the provisions of the bill to them and confirmed he will forward their suggestions to the “Minister concerned”.  “There is very little difference between the government's approach and their (farmers') approach. So I will send their suggestions to the concerned minister and I will talk to him,” he added.

The farmers' delegation submitted a memorandum to Jaitley concerning various aspects of the bill, which the government claimed was arrived at after consulting more than 65 farmers' bodies.

The Finance Minister assured them that he will forward suggestions made by the organisations to Minister concerned (of Rural Development department).

“There should be no land acquisition without seeking farmers' consent. The compensation has to be minimum four times of market price of land. Irrigated land should not be acquired. We are ready to give land if it's meant for national security, but in other cases, we won't give it.  

“He (Jaitley) has assured us that Government too doesn't want to snatch farmers' land. He also assured us to find out a way in which farmers are satisfied,” Lok Sabha MP and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana president Raju Shetty told reporters here after the meeting.

All India Kisan Co-ordination Committee, the umbrella union of 65 farmers' outfits, insisted that the government retain a clause of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act under which land not utilised for five years for the purpose for which it was acquired was to return to the original owner.

They also asked the government to come out with a white paper on the status of use of land acquired from farmers during the past 60-65 years for various projects. The bill, which proposes various amendments including removal of the consent clause, a key feature of 2013 Act brought by the UPA-II government, is currently being discussed by a Parliamentary Joint Committee, which has met thrice.

Former BJP Kisan Morcha leader and Advisor to DD Kisan channel Naresh Sirohi said the government has agreed to consider “most of the demands” of farmers and senior ministers will hold deliberations on their main demand.