03/26/2015, 00.00
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India’ Narendra Modi to speed up adoption of "anti-farmer" law

The Hindu nationalist-led government wants to change existing legislation to make it easier to expropriate land for large companies. To do so, the prime minister plans to employ a legislative measure only used three times since independence. For the opposition, this will promote divisions and social disharmony.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are in a hurry to change an existing law to facilitate the process of land acquisition by private interests.

In their view, this would speed up investment in India. However, it could also be their worse faux pas because of the harm it could inflict on Indian farmers, who represent 60 per cent of the country’s population.

Back in December Modi issued an executive order that exempted investments in defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors or government partnerships from the need to obtain local support.

The amendment was eventually adopted in mid-March by the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament. However, it goes against ‘The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’.

Under this law, when the government acquires land for private companies, it needs the consent of at least 80 per cent of the project-affected families. In case of public-private projects, it requires at least 70 per cent of the affected families.

For the BJP, the 2013 law has led to a deadlock. For opposition parties the ordinance allowing land expropriation is bad for of farmers.

Critics also complain that compensation for expropriated land would not be adequate and allow farmers to buy other land or start new businesses.

The Congress party rallied more than a dozen parties to ask President Pranab Mukherjee to “protect the interest of our farmers”.

For Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, “All the progressive, secular, democratic and forward-looking forces are determined to defeat the Modi government’s design to promote divisions and social disharmony”.

To become law, changes have to be adopted by the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, where Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) holds a majority.

Currently, the government has until April 5 to pass them into law before the ordinance authorising them expires.

This leaves Modi with the option of calling a joint session of parliament, a legislative manoeuvre that has been used only three times since India won its independence in 1947.

It was employed for the first time in 1961 to ban dowries for marriages, in 1978 to repeal a law establishing a commission to select bank employees, and in 2002 to pass a tougher anti-terrorism law.

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See also
Kalpitiya: Muslim woman defeats mega tourism project over land expropriation
Bengal communists at war with the farmers
Uttar Pradesh, three die in clashes between farmers and police over expropriation of land
Orissa: unacceptable police violence against demonstrators defending their land
Save our farmers, says S Korean Church


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