National Council Meeting (Raipur-Chhattisgarh), 12th-13th June, 2010

Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 2007

Cultivable and cultivating land is the most precious commodity in the world today. In India which has 18% of the population of the world, and 2% of land and out of which 60% are cultivable, land becomes the most crucial commodity to ensure the protection of food security of all the people of the country.

15% of the worlds cattle are in India and they are also dependent on the land and huge parts of the Indian village population live on this cattle wealth and therefore destruction of the said land would destroy the very basis of this cattle population in India.

However this cultivable, arable and cultivating land is under serious onslaught from MNCs and Corporates who with the help of Governments are accumulating and taking over more and more arable, cultivable land from the poor farmers who depend on the land for their livelihood and very existence.

Poor tribals and landless labourers have been displaced from the land in which they have lived and sustained themselves for centuries only to satisfy the greed of corporates.

As a result the Governments have become middlemen in dealing of land and land collectors for the land banks being constructed by the corporates and MNCs.

All the while the ordinary people have been fighting the corporates and governments and resisting their attempts to grab land from the poor farmers and tribals, whether they be the struggle against SEZs in Goa, against Tata in Singur, against the CPIM Government in Nandigram, against Vedanta in Jagannath Puri, against mining corporates through out the country. The resistance of small people have been extraordinary. The viciousness with which the Governments and Corporates have tried to break the resistance of the people have also been glaring. There has also been increasing demand that land not used for the purpose of acquisition be returned to the tillers. The Government has therefore brought forth a Bill called the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which though seeming to give everything takes away everything in a back handed manner. This act is filled with numerous deliberate loopholes and is meant to deliberately circumvent the actual specific concerns of the small farmer, tribal and village people while seeming and sounding to be progressive.

The SJM therefore under the above mentioned circumstances demands that the Bill placed before the Parliament be changed:

1. that all acquisition of any cultivable land be banned for now and forever.
2. that a policy be formulated whereby land is returned to the original owners of land if the allottees of the land can not use it for the purpose for which the land has been acquired.
3. that the method of accumulation of land by the process of land banking by corporates should be banned and severe punishment be imposed in those corporates found indulging in the same.
4. that any “public purpose” in which a land is to be acquired must be certified as “public purpose” by the Gram Sabha, before the land is notified as to be acquired. Any “emergency” be so certified as well.
5. that the law recognize the rights of people working on the land, as well as tribals and animal herders who have sustained themselves on the land for centuries.
6. that the law recognizes that forest and grazing lands be protected from encroachment as well.
7. that the benefits of the land when in occupation by others pending transfter to the end user should be apportioned amongst the original owners.

The SJM therefore demands in conclusion that the above questions be addressed in any amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 be withdrawn forthwith and a new people friendly, farmer friendly and tribal friendly land acquisition policy and bill be formulated and placed before the Parliament without delay.