Union information and broadcasting minister and Ludhiana member of Parliament (MP) Manish Tewari on Sunday warned the Punjab government against the forcible acquisition of land in nine villages in Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan Canal on Northern bypass for setting up an industrial park and township.
Questioning the very rationale behind setting up of the industrial park when the existing industrial areas and industrial focal points were crying for attention, the union minister said even if the state government needed to acquire the land, it should acquire it under the new Land Acquisition Act enacted by the central government in the previous session of the Parliament.
Tewari assured a delegation of the people from the nine villages led by Ujjagar Singh Gill that he would ensure that the state government was not allowed to forcibly acquire their land, and if at all the land was needed to be acquired, it would be only with the consent of the local people and under the provisions of the new Land Acquisition Act.
The union minister said farmers in nine villages were served the acquisition notices under the old law passed in 1894, even as the new farmer-friendly law had already been passed.
Observing that this was being done to deny the farmers the benefits of the new law, he expressed surprise over how a government claiming to be farmer-friendly could deny them benefits under the new law?
He said under the new law, the government was bound to pay compensation to farmers, which should be four times the prevailing market rate of the land in rural areas, while compensation for urban areas was double of the prevailing market rate.
Besides, there must be consent of 80% people whose land had to be acquired before the government could initiate the acquisition process, he added.
Tewari said the state government was planning to acquire 2,100 acres in nine villages in Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan Canal on the northern bypass.
“The government is learnt to be planning an industrial park and a water-front city. Nobody has any objections if the government's intentions are genuine about development, but this cannot be done while devastating hundreds of farmers,” he said.