Amid the simmering controversy in Nandigram over acquisition of farm land, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday opposed using government agencies for the purpose and said companies should deal with farmers directly.
"We should avoid using government machinery for acquiring land," he told reporters here when asked about his views on the violence at Nandigram in West Bengal over land acquisition for Indonesia's Salim Group's proposed special economic zone.
"My ministry would be happy if instead of using government machinery to acquire land, we encourage dialogue directly from farmers and if farmers and entrepreneurs come to an understanding, then we have no objection," he said.
Pawar said he was not against industry or industrial growth, but it must be ensured that the land to be acquired for such projects is not fertile irrigated land.
"If we have to set up some project we will require land... But this should not be fertile irrigated land which is giving one, two or three crops to farmers," he said.
"We should see that the land is essentially barren and non-fertile," he added.
At least 14 people were killed and nearly 100 injured at Nandigram when police opened fire on a violent crowd of about 5,000 early this month. Villagers have been protesting for the past three months against the acquisition of land.
The Nandigram incident followed similar protests at Singur in West Bengal over land acquisition for Tata Motors' car project. In both cases, land was being acquired by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.