Strongly advocating that the government should not acquire land without the consent of farmers and landowners, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday urged the Centre to adopt the Punjab land acquisition policy as a role model for the national policy on the proposed land acquisition bill.
Expressing these views at a high-level meeting of chief ministers convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, Badal said he was of the firm view that land acquisition, whether for state or central projects, should be left to the state governments and the land should be acquired only with the consent of owners, solely for public purposes.
He said the general perception of farmers and farm labourers is that the bill on land acquisition was anti-farmer.
He said agriculture is a losing profession resulting in heavy debt and farm suicides. In light of the grim scenario, the land acquisition bill had caused great concern in the minds of farmers and farm labourers, he added.
Outlining Punjab's land acquisition policy, Badal informed Modi that the land acquisition had so far been smooth, peaceful and hassle-free in Punjab. He said that under this policy, the land is acquired with the consent of the owners and the farmers were paid market price plus displacement allowance. He said the district price fixation committees decided the market value of the land to be acquired in the state. These committees included local MPs, MLAs, sarpanches and the heads of municipal committee in case of urban land, he said.
The chief minister also enumerated the advantages of land pooling policy being followed in the state, adding that when land was acquired for residential/commercial projects under the policy, the landowners were free to choose the market price or 1,000 square yards of residential areas and 121 square yards of commercial area in the developed property for every acre of land acquired.
The chief minister also proposed that social impact assessment clause to ensure the process of land acquisition far more transparent and accountable. Responding to other agenda items, Badal urged the Centre to frame rules after the bill finally became an Act. He said the state government had already fixed the multiplication factor besides appointing administrators and commissioners for rehabilitation and settlement of the affected population in the land acquisition processes.