UP land protest halts Delhi | delhi | Hindustan Times
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UP land protest halts Delhi

delhi Updated: Aug 27, 2010 00:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Delhi-Agra expressway

After the rains threw traffic out of gear on Wednesday, parts of Delhi were jammed again on Thursday, this time by protesting farmers.

They crowded the centre of the city, demanding justice for three farmers killed on August 14 in police firing during a protest in Aligarh. The protest was in demand of more compensation for land being acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government for a Delhi-Agra expressway.

Commuters with offices in Connaught Place were hit the hardest since the protests were centred around Parliament. Morning office traffic in north and central Delhi went haywire.

As Delhiites fought the traffic mess, the UPA government seemed to be heading into a political one. Virtually the entire Opposition turned up to support the farmers and their demands. Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, a Lok Sabha MP, drafted the support of the Left and BJP to press for a new law on land acquisition.

The takeover of private land for public projects has been a politically sensitive issue.

The Congress's Rahul Gandhi had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to demand a fair deal for those who lose their land.

Opposition leaders addressed over 15,000 farmers, saying they would pile pressure on the government and stall "anti-farmer policies".

They included BJP's Arun Jaitley, CPM's Brinda Karat, CPI's A B Bardhan, JD-U's Sharad Yadav and LJP's Ramvilas Paswan among others.

India's existing land acquisition law, which allows the government to take over land for public projects, is deemed archaic. The government has proposed a new draft legislation to ensure "market prices" for acquired land. Disagreements among ruling allies over its provisions have kept it in abeyance.

Ajit Singh said he had extracted a promise from the PM for introduction of the law in Parliament's next session.

The draft legislation provides for sharing of profits by private developers with those whose land is taken away and assessment of social impact of acquiring land for big-ticket projects. Pulling it off remains a challenge for the UPA.