Posted by : Sainadh Reddy Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Mounting food insecurity and rush to acquire land for companies in the country
Today the country is facing the brunt of the government's apathy to farming. In 1990-91, the per capita availability of food grains was 510 gms which now is only 427 grams per day. The per capita availability of pulses has declined to less than half. In terms of edible oils also we have become dependent on foreign countries. All this is a result of the government's apathy towards agriculture. According to official figures, 1,850 hectares of agricultural land has declined to a mere 1830 million hectares. Farmers are being displaced. Because of the lack of reasonably priced agriculture has become loss making proposition. The government objective to pass food security bill in hurry is to garner votes. Non availability of sufficient food grains has increased the risk of dependence on imports. In such a situation it is important to make farming profitable by providing suitable price for the farm products. Snatching of Farm lands must also stop forthwith. But nearly for over a decade, farmers are being deprived of land sometimes in the name of SEZ; sometimes for industrialization, sometimes in the name of public-private partnership projects, and sometimes in the name of universities. Based on satellite images it is clear that green land in the country is constantly declining. Government in such a situation has come out with Land Acquisition Compensation and Rehabilitation Bill. The growing food insecurity is neither mentioned nor any solution suggested. This bill has been changed several times. Government is patting its back for compensation and rehabilitation associated with land acquisition bill. But, is silent on the food security issue. In older version of the Bill it was clearly mentioned that in the states where cultivable land is less than 50% of the area not more than 5% can be acquired. But in the new legislation decision is left to the State governments. Similarly, it was said in the earlier bill that only one cropped land will be acquired. But the new bill opens the way for acquisition of multi-cropped land.
According to the Land Acquisition Act 1894 land could be acquired for the public purpose only. The new Bill has expanded the definition of public purpose. The government seems to be working to acquire land for companies as their agent.
National Council of SJM demands that-
1. New Land Acquisition and Resettlement Bill should not be passed in hurry and it should have adequate provisions for ensuring food safety.
2. acquisition of agricultural land should not be allowed and multi cropped land shall not be acquired under any condition.
3. Unused land lying with industrial houses and public sector undertakings should be returned to the farmers, or the land may be made available for other industries.
4. Land requirement for industries and other functions need to be properly fixed and no land be acquired for non-essential functions.
5. Government must ensure that all the land owned by farmers is cultivated.
6. The compensation to landless laborers in case of Land acquisition be ensured.
7. Forest land should not be acquired at any cost.