United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday assured farmers that the government will introduce a bill in parliament to protect farmers' interests in land acquisition deals.
Speaking at a massive gathering of farmers in Dadri here, Gandhi said that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had conceived of Noida for the fast economic development of the region and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken forward her idea. However, subsequent non-Congress governments in Uttar Pradesh "arbitrarily grabbed" farmers' land in the Noida region at throwaway prices and rendered them landless.
In contrast, the Congress government in Haryana paid farmers handsome compensation of Rs.1.2 million/Rs. 12 lakhs per bigha even for inferior land and involved farmers in every project being developed on acquired property. The UPA government has therefore decided to bring a bill in parliament to protect such farmers whose land is acquired for development, she added.
Elaborating on her government's help to farmers, Gandhi said the UPA government had waived off farmers' bank loans worth over Rs.640 billion/Rs. 64,000 crores and 40 million farmers would be benefited by the move. She said a national pool had been created by the government for the farmers.
She said the government had introduced several welfare schemes, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, workers health schemes and women welfare schemes for people. And to improve the power situation, the UPA government was pushing through the nuclear deal.
She also voiced her unhappiness over "increasing corruption" in dispensing farmers' welfare funds.
The meeting was convened by the Congress party and attended among others by state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal, Union Minister of State for Steel Jitin Prasada, MP Sachin Pilot and other party stalwarts.