Even as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday will make a symbolic start towards fulfiling the promise of providing government jobs to farmers who surrendered land for the Rae Bareli rail coach factory, minister of state for railways Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary has criticised the “jobs-against-land” policy.
“The 2010 policy — initiated by then railways minister Mamata Banerjee — is flawed. If this policy is retained, no railway project will ever get implemented,” Chaudhary told HT.
The railways distributed forms to 1,434 land losers at Rae Bareli asking land losers to apply for jobs.
“The promise is now being fulfiled. The UPA chairperson will hand over a few appointment letters at Wednesday's function,” a senior railways official said.
“A commitment was made to land losers so this case is a different matter. But jobs-against-land policy, if uniformly implemented, will lead to a complete chaos. The policy needs to be done away with,” Chaudhary added.
Clarifying that he was speaking in his personal capacity, the minister said that no instructions had so far been issued to amend or scrap the policy.
Chaudhary said the issues of compensation or rehabilitation would be adequately addressed by the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill - expected to be introduced in the winter session.
The 2010 policy does not technically apply to the Rae Bareli coach factory, as rules provide that “these would not apply in cases where the land acquisition process has been concluded by way of possession of land by the railways (before the formulation of the policy)”.
Even as the Railways have been struggling with the modalities of implementing the policy, the public transporter has been denuded with applications from land losers. “There are two lakh claimants for government jobs in West Bengal alone,” sources said.
Banerjee's policy has also raised the hackles of the Finance Ministry and departments including the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), as there are apprehensions that the policy might spark off similar demands in other government departments.